Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Useing mobile technologies to facilitate learning across formal and informal contexts

December 20th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I.ve been looking at literture on mobile learning as part of the :earning Layers project. Although there has been much literature published in the last couple of years, there is still very little focusing on informal learning in the workplace.

Christoph Pimmer and Norbert Pachler have published a new paper which has been submitted for review. The paper called ‘Mobile learning in the workplace. Unlocking the value of mobile technology for work-based education‘ (PDF download) is scheduled for publication in  M. Ally & A. Tsinakos (Eds.), Mobile Learning Development for Flexible Learning: Athabasca University Press.

Not only does the paper provide a very useful discussion on how to use mobile devices to support learning in different contexts in the workplace, but it also provides number of useful examples – most from the healthcare sector.

The main conclusion is the:

affordances of mobile devices allow the realisation of the following rich pedagogical strategies that can enhance work-based education: (1) creating and sharing of content such as multimedia materials and digital stories in the form of audio, text, images and video; (2) connecting learning for work and learning “just-in-time” by supporting competence development directly in the processes of work; (3) bridging individual learning and problem solving with social interaction, for example by means of social mobile networking, or tagging and locating of experienced colleagues; (4) facilitating learning across formal and informal contexts, for example by documenting on-the-job learning experiences by means of e-portfolios or reflective questions and discussing them in (more formal) classroom or mentoring settings. By applying these strategies, (5) the underlying educational paradigm is shifted from cognitive to situated, socio-cognitive, cultural and constructivist perspectives of learning, moving the learner away from a passive consumer to an active producer and distributor and co- creator of learning processes.

Sounds of the Bazaar: Question Time at OEB 2012

December 20th, 2012 by Dirk Stieglitz

We had great multimedia fun at Online Educa Berlin. Besides presenting two of our by now traditional live radio programmes from the main bar at the conference, we also staged a Question time session. This offers a topical debate following the popular BBC Radio 4 format for sharp analysis, up-to-date knowledge, insights and a fresh view on education 2.0.

Participants (the audience) were invited to put forward questions to a panel for discussion.

The programme was chaired by Graham Attwell. The panel members were:

Paul Glader, WiredAcademic LLC, Germany

Kirsten Winkler, EDUKWEST, France

Melanie Campbell, Bau ABC Rostrup, Germany

Nick Kearney, Andamio Education and Technology, Spain

Using web 2.0 and social media in European projects

December 20th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, UK from Web2LLP on Vimeo.

There is growing interest in how to use social media in European research and development projects. The Web2LLP project aims to improve web strategies and maximise the social media presence of lifelong learning projects. Their web site explains they provide “personalised support and training (a week-long face-to-face course and free webinars), and shares best-practices and resources.”

One of those resources is a video gallery including interviews with project managers who have used social media in European Commision sponsored Lifelong Learning Programme projects.

And when Maria Perifanou asked me for an interview how could I refuse. I talked to Maria about how we used social media in the G8WAY project. The G8WAY project was based on the idea that the growing availability of web 2.0 allows for bridging the present gap between the structures developed to support students in mastering today’s educational transition and their formulation in an institutional perspective through learner centered and connective approaches, with a chance to more effectively manage educational transition.  “G8WAY  developed web 2.0 enhanced learning environments, to enable learners to reflect and develop their creativity potentials and transitional skills in the light of their own and others’ learning experience, made visible through a variety of media sets and PLE tools, each of them designed to meet the requirements of transition envisaged, and all of which are mapped into one single pedagogy framework.”

Real MOOCs ?

December 17th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Hardly a day goes by without the announcement of a new MOOC or a new tie up between universities to offer MOOCs. this despite widespread scepticism amongst educationalists as to the pedagogic model being offered by the ‘commercial’ or x-MOOC providers or indeed any particularly convincing financial model.

And yet the original idea behind the MOOC as developed by Downes, Siemens and others is not dead.

Today I received an email from Yishay Mor about a new MOOC being launched in early 2013.

The OLDS MOOC “Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum” is a project based 9 week course. We expect 500-1000 participants, and we hope a large portion of these will be working on a group project throughout the MOOC, dedicating 3-10 hours a week to it, and producing an innovative, robust and meaningful design for a learning activity or curricular resource.

We aim to provide a semi-structured, highly interactive, constructive and collaborative learning experience. This means that we set the scene – but you determine the plot.

In order to make that work, we need to provide simple, effective, and powerful learning practices.

This looks interesting. So what distinguishes in from the so called x-MOOCS with the power of the so called world leading educational institutions behind them.

First the MOOC is based on research and development work – not just on a traditional curriculum.

Secondly and perhaps even more important the people behind the MOOC are not contracted instructional designers but researchers and teachers with an interest, stake and passion for their work and a desire o share that passion with others.

Thirdly although they are providing an infrastructure through the Open University Cloudworks environment amongst other tools, participants are free to use whatever tools they wish.

And the organisers are supporting the establishment of study groups to support and scaffold learning.

Of course all of this is a lot of work. As so it should be. Supporting 500 to 1000 students in a sic week course is not and should not be seen as trivial. But I am afraid many of the more commercial MOOC providers think a quick injection of instructional design time plus videoing some lectures is a quick fix for education.

If anything the divide between different MOOC offerings continues to widen. But at least, amongst all the hype, we still continue to see the emergence of some excellent looking open courses.

 

2012 PLE Conference papers now online

December 17th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

In these days of repositories and Open Online Resources publishing should be easy. But it is still not so simple. For one thing there is all the editing and checking = for another developing / begging or borrowing the technical infrastructure.

The PLE Conference organisers are committed to publishing all contributions to our annual conference online with a Creative Commons License. And thanks to hard work by Carlos, Luis and Sara, the proceedings of the 2012 conference, held in Aveiro, Portugal, are now online here.

Check it out – if you have any interest in Personal Learning Environments you will find much of interest.

Only 15 per cent of UK companies offer apprenticeship training

December 14th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has published an interesting survey of Employer Perspectives Survey, the second in a series of biennial, large scale surveys of employers designed to provide a UK-wide picture of employer perspectives of, and experiences in, the recruitment and skills landscape. The draw attention to the following key findings:

  • There are perhaps unexpected signs of business confidence amongst private sector employers: almost half of establishments expect their business to grow in the coming year, and there is also greater confidence amongst younger businesses than older ones.
  • Employers typically use a range of channels when they are looking to recruit. They tend to make most use of private recruitment services which they do not have to pay for. Indeed, the single most common channel employers used to find candidates to fill vacant posts was ‘word of mouth’.
  • Candidates’ qualifications play a role in most employers’ recruitment processes and decisions, and a significant role for more than two in five. Academic qualifications continue to be better regarded than vocational qualifications.
  • Whilst the majority of employers train and plan their training there is a significant core of employers that do not.
  • Employers are more likely to provide training internally than to access the external workforce development market, although overall around half of employers do use external channels to deliver workforce development for their staff.
  • Employers most commonly look to commercial providers (private sector training firms or third sector providers) when they are looking outside of their own organisation to deliver training.
  • Overall take up of vocational qualifications remains at a steady level. However, there has been qualitative improvement in satisfaction with vocational qualifications amongst those employers that offer them.
  • Only a minority of all UK establishments offer apprenticeships (15 per cent). However, almost a quarter of those who don’t currently offer Apprenticeships expect to in the coming 2-3 years.
  • Employers are open to the recruitment of, or providing opportunities to, young people. Just over a quarter of all establishments, or 62% of those who had recruited, had recruited a young person in the previous 12 months. A quarter of all establishments had offered a placement to schools, college or university students.

A number of these findings appear significant. Employers still often rely on word of mouth – i.e. informal networks – when recruiting. And if qualifications play significant role for more than two in five decisions about who to recruit this means for three out of five they do not! The report also notes that

Academic qualifications continue to be better regarded than vocational qualifications and that when employers are looking to recruit new employees to key occupational roles, they usually anticipate that they will need to develop these new recruits’ skills, at least to some extent. UKCES report that employers are more likely to provide training internally (63 per cent did so) than to access the external workforce development market. Furthermore there is a wide sectoral variation in the provision of external training, ranging from 86 per cent in the Non-Market Services to 49 per cent in Trade, Accommodation and Transport sector.

Prospects for young people are problematic. “Amongst those active in the labour market in the last 12 months, the recruitment of young people was highest in the Trade, Accommodation and Transport sector at 71 per cent falling to between 55 and 59 per cent in all other sectors. This reflects the roles they are recruited to: 21 per cent of all employers recruiting young people reported that their most recent recruit was to a Sales and Customer Service role and 20 per cent to an Elementary occupation.”

Just 15 per cent of enterprises were offering apprenticeships. And of those that were: “Approaching a third of those who offer formal Apprenticeships (31 per cent) offer Apprenticeships that take 12 months or less to complete, and five per cent offer Apprenticeships with a duration of six months or less.”

All in all the report reveals some pretty big challenges ahead if the UK is going to develop an advanced education and training system, especially where employers are concerned.

 

Open Standard for Social Apps

December 10th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I think this is important. For day to day work – both research and teaching and learning – we use a lot of different social software programmes. We  know we cannot rely on these in the long term. Intrusive and inappropriate advertising can render applications useless. Services may disappear. Others move from being free to being paid for. And yet others change the conditions of use. But with a multiplicity of services and with new applications appearing almost daily, it is usually possible to find something which will do the job.

At the same time for more critical services – such as web sites or database services – we use our own leased servers. That too works fine.

The problem comes with longer term development projects – such as the Learning Layers project. On the one had we need the advanced infrastructure that better funded social software providers are able to offer. But we also need some guarantee of longevity and stability in terms of service provision plus an openness to allow us to develop on top of these platforms. And here we have a problem.

Mozilla seems to be developing an answer to this problem. According to webmonkey, Mozilla’s “newest Social API demo removes the need for social websites entirely, tapping emerging web standards to create a real-time video calling, data sharing app — one part Skype, one part Facebook, all parts web-native.”

The Social APi is built through WebRTC, which is a proposed web standard that Mozilla and others are working on in conjunction with the W3C. The RTC in WebRTC stands for Real-Time Communications, and the core of WebRTC is the getUserMedia JavaScript API, which gives the browser access to hardware features like the camera and microphone.

As the Firefox blog explains:

Prior to WebRTC, video calling applications were either stand-alone, isolated apps (like Skype) or browser plug-ins which lacked the tight connection to the browser internals to guarantee a good quality call.

We share data in WebRTC using DataChannels, which Mozilla is the first to implement.  DataChannels is a powerful component of WebRTC that can be used by itself or combined with an audio/video chat to send almost any data that the browser can access.

This could have huge potential for developing new applications – both for business and learning – and free us from the dilemma of either using proprietary applications or being forced into substantial infrastructure development..

Anonymising open data

December 6th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Here is the next in our occasional series about open and linked data. I wrote in a previous post that we are worki8ngt on developing an application for visualising Labour market Information for use in careers guidance.

One of the major issues we face is the anonymity of the data. fairly obviously, the mo0re sources of data are linked, the more possible it may become to identify people through the data. The UK information Commissioner’s Office has recently published a code of practice on “Anonymisation: managing data protection risk” and set up an Anonymisation Network. In the foreword to the code of practice they say:

The UK is putting more and more data into the public domain.

The government’s open data agenda allows us to find out more than ever about the performance of public bodies. We can piece together a picture that gives us a far better understanding of how our society operates and how things could be improved. However, there is also a risk that we will be able to piece together a picture of individuals’ private lives too. With ever increasing amounts of personal information in the public domain, it is important that organisations have a structured and methodical approach to assessing the risks.

The key points about the code are listed as:

  • Data protection law does not apply to data rendered anonymous in such a way that the data subject is no longer identifiable. Fewer legal restrictions apply to anonymised data.
  • The anonymisation of personal data is possible and can help service society’s information needs in a privacy-friendly way.
  • The code will help all organisations that need to anonymise personal data, for whatever purpose.
  • The code will help you to identify the issues you need to consider to ensure the anonymisation of personal data is effective.
  • The code focuses on the legal tests required in the Data Protection Act
Particularly useful are the Appendices which presents a list of key anonymisation techniques, examples and case studies and a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each. These include:
  • Partial data removal
  • Data quarantining
  • Pseudonymisation
  • Aggregation
  • Derived data items and banding
The report is well worth reading for anyone interested in open and linked data – even if you are not from the UK. Note for some reason files are downloading with an ashx suffix. But if you just change this locally to pdf they will  open fine.

Impressions and trends from Online Educa Berlin

December 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Online Educa Berlin was hectic for us. We produced two 40 minute magazine radio programmes from the main bar at the conference, a 40  minute Question Time radio programme and organised a symposium around the recently launched Learning layers project. We will get posts up with recordings of the radio and presentations from the symposium in the next couple of days.

And we still found time to talk to friends new and old. Online Educa Berlin is a great meeting place, a chance to catch up on the latest personal and work related news and gossip from the educational technology community worldwide.

And it is also a good place to pick up on the emerging debates and on the latest in technology. In the conference, somewhat unsurprisingly, all the buzz was around massive Open Online Courses. And despite a recognition of the potential benefits in extending access to education, most delegates I spoke to were fairly dubious of the benefits of the emergent so called xMOOC model. Firstly it was hard to see a viable business model behind the new MOOCs, other than selling accreditation. And many delegates were sceptical about the pedagogic model underpinning the xMOOCs from the likes of Coursera. One person said to me that MOOCs are taking us backward ten years in pedagogic approaches to using technology for learning.

it was encouraging to see the growing strength of the business strand at the conference and an increased focus on work based learning.

The exhibition at Online Educa Berlin always provides a good snapshot of trends. Whilst there are a number of stands from national organisations and form projects most of the 90 odd exhibition stands are from vendors and companies, big and small. Whilst a few years ago the largest stands were usually organisations like the UK Jisc and Surf from the Netherlands  this year continued on last years trend of Middle East countries dominated the larger exhibitions pace. Last year Saudi Arabia took centre stage, this year is was EgyptOn, although it was a little hard to see what their stand was about, other than perhaps announcing their arrival in the community.

Last year was the year of the interactive Whiteboard. This year I did not see one stand promoting whiteboards! Trends change fast. This year was the year of the video with perhaps as many as 15 per cent of stands featuring video products, hardware and software. Having said that it was a little difficult to see the benefits of many of these commercial offerings. OK, they packaged features nicely. But I didn’t really see anything which couldn’t be done with everyday social software or consumer applications. And although there was some general feeling that we are moving towards a more visual approach to learning, rather than the previous domination of text, there were only limited examples of pedagogic innovation in using video.

Although the  usual VLE vendors were present as always, there was perhaps a feeling that their finest days are over. And it was surprising that there were few vendors focusing on mobile learning, although plenty of iPad apps were on display.

I should add I suppose that this is not based on any scientific enquiry but just is an impressionistic view of what was going on. But it is probably as reliable in predicting trends than the usual rush of end of year predictions to which we are about to be subjected.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came on our radio shows and with whom we enjoyed a natter. And to those we missed, lets hope we get a chance to meet up next year.

Sounds of the Bazaar live from Online EDUCA Berlin 2012 (2)

December 3rd, 2012 by Dirk Stieglitz

Here is the podcast version of our second live internet radio show from Online EDUCA Berlin 2012. Details about people and programme will follow.

The music we played came from the album “Elixir” by “The TenGooz“. This and more you find on the great music website Jamendo.com. And as pre-programme music we had some great tracks from good old Woody Guthrie.

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    1. Coursera – 23 million
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