Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

More technology predictions

May 27th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), with the support of Dell Inc. and Intel, have jointly released the Technology Outlook for Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges 2013-2018: An NMC Horizon Project Sector Analysis . This report applies the process developed for the NMC Horizon Project, with a focus on identifying and describing emerging technologies likely to have an impact on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry in two-year higher education institutions around the world. Twelve emerging technologies are recognized across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period, giving campus leaders and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

The Technology Outlook for Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges 2013-2018 identifies BYOD, flipped classroom, online learning, and social media as technologies expected to enter mainstream use at community, technical, and junior colleges in the first horizon of one year or less. Badges, games and gamification, learning analytics, and next generation LMS are seen in the second horizon of two to three years; the Internet of Things, natural user interfaces, virtual assistants, and virtual and remote laboratories are seen emerging in the third horizon of four to five years.

Reaching out to Developers

May 27th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

One of the things I am working on in the Learning layers project is user engagement.

Learning Layers is based on user centred design model, involving end users and organisations in developing solutions to promote both formal and informal learning using technology in clusters consisting of:

  • Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • Regional Education and research institutions; typically upper secondary level and tertiary level)
  • regional authorities, national and European – policymakers responsible for incentive systems for regional growth and innovation, and for developing policies and initiatives for initial and continuing vocational education and training
  • Investors, banks, investment funds, business angels, public bodies- funding and supporting innovation.

Engaging with users and involving them in design of new solutions is also part of the research strategy. Layers researchers obtain research data from the interaction with users in the design based research model.

I am basing the strategy on a model of open innovation and will publish more about our ideas on this over the next few days. One of the things is to move away from the traditional project approach of dissemination of the end results to potential users and stakeholders to a model based on active participation – and on an architecture of participation. We have produced a table of different stakeholders in the project and are trying to understand from what direction their interest might come, what they want to get out of the project and what active contribution they might make.

Based on this we are putting forward a number of concrete initiatives the project can take over the next three and a half years.

One such idea is Layers PBL, standing for Layers Problem Based Learning, Practice Based Learning or Project Based learning depending in your way of looking at it (I see it as all three). This involves connecting outwards to engage with student groups, who in computing or business ICT are often required to undertake a one semester programme undertaking a real project in conjunction with companies.

We have piloted this approach with a team of students from HsKA, the Technical University of Karlsruhe. They are working on an idea for an app based on talks we had with a doctor at a Layers meeting held in Bradford earlier this year. The idea is that in their limited free time (in the car between appointments and meetings) users can reply to a series of questions on their phone. They can move between questions through a voice command and the app will communicate with a webs interface to produce a transcript of their answers which can then be edited and downloaded. The web interface also allows people to build their own (scaffolded) sequence of questions – which we call a stack – and to share them with other users if they wish. They can also rate different stacks.

So far it is going pretty well. The web interface is pretty much finished and they are now developing the mobile interface. The students are using SCRUM programming with weekly sprints. We usually meet online for about 20 minutes a week for them to present their progress and for us to provide feedback.

Last week I talked with Chris Whitehead who ia programmer with Tribal, another partner in the Layers project. Chris has helped develop m-learning. a content development tool for mobiles. And he suggested that we could link the app being developed by the Karlsruhe students (code named Reflect) to the m-learning application. I talked about this to Andreas Vratny, one of the Karlsruhe lead developers, on Friday. And hey presto, by Sunday we had an API and an OAuth system to allow single log in to the two systems.

The present version of the app is being developed for the Android operating system. We will release it on the Pontydysgu site as soon as it is ready, as well as on the Android store. If it catches on we will try to port it to iOS. And we are thinking about extending our development activities to further universities with a the development of a Layers Design Library to support developers. If anyone is interested please get in touch.

 

MOOCs to take off in Germany?

May 21st, 2013 by Graham Attwell

The German educations ystem can be slow to change. But when initiatives are taken they are taken seriously! And Germany is now moving into the world of MOOCs.

The Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and iversity, has launched a “MOOC Production Fellowship” contest.

Their web site explains:

The contest seeks to identify ten innovative concepts for massive open online courses (MOOCs). Fellows will receive funding as well as assistance with course production. Stifterverband and iversity hope to raise awareness for the tremendous potential of digital technology in education and seek to activate a process of creative adaptation within the academic community.

Up to ten instructors or teams of instructors will be awarded a fellowship for their innovative Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concepts. Fellows will receive a 25,000 Euro stipend to pay for the production of their courses. The aim is to have at least five courses online in the fall of 2013. Up to five courses may go online in the spring of 2014. The courses will run on the iversity platform and will be available to the public free of charge.

Fellows will receive 25,000 Euros to implement their MOOC concepts. There will be a public award ceremony, and fellows with receive ongoing support during both the production and marketing phases of the project.

The grant will enable the fellows to manifest their course concept vision. ….

Ulitmately, fellows are free how they want to produce the course: whether all by themselves, alongside other fellows, with outside service providers, or in collaboration with development partners we recommend. The fellowship funds can be used for production costs, research and/or student assistants, equipment or a teaching buyout.

The winners of the competition will be decided based on votes on a public web site and on the considerations of a jury.

In best German fashion the web site provides guidance on the ‘didactic’ design of a MOOC including:

  • Course structure
  • Video
  • Feedback and assessment
  • Peer to Peer learning

And in best German fashion there are strict entry requirements: only assistant, associate or full professors are eligible.

The section on peer to peer learning is somewhat curious. It starts off by explaining “A third element of open course instruction is peer-to-peer learning. Students can post, browse and respond to other students’ questions in the context of a course forum. They can vote for questions, bringing the most pressing queries to the instructor’s attention.” Not so much peer to peer learning but a forum for asking the ;instructor questions. And it ends even more curiously by insisting “These online courses are supposed to be xMOOCs rather than cMOOCs.”

Perhaps this is something to do with the organisations behind the competition. According to TechCrunch, Iversity is a Berlin-based startup, founded in 2011 to offer online collaboration tools for learning management, which has relaunched itself as a platform for massive open online courses. Iversity’s existing investors, says TechCrunch,  include BFB Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg, bmp media investors AG and the Business Angel Masoud Kamali.

Course content will be provided by universities and individual professors. It remains open as to what business model is seen as appropriate for the still publicly funded German education system, but it seems it may include certification fees for students.

Where do you go to for your research?

May 20th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

I remember back in the mid 1990s, when I was first employed as a researcher at the University of Bremen, I used to travel every three months to Surrey university, whi9ch at the time had the easiest university library to reach from Bremen.I would run a series of searches on their computerised reference system, collect together a pile of journals and then buy a photocopying card to frantically copy all the articles i might need for the next couple of months. Fortunately this was in the days before airlines restricted baggage weight, so i could copy all I could carry.

Time have changed.  Most researchers I know rely on online sources these days. Despite attempts by some publishers to prevent open access, many authors place a pre-publication copy of their work online anyway. This is merely anecdotal. But  a new survey (pdf downland) by the UK Jisc covers a range of areas from how academics discover and stay abreast of research, to their teaching of undergraduates, how they choose research topics and publication channels, to their views on learned societies and university libraries, and their collections.

The survey comes up with some interesting findings. According to Jisc the “Overarching themes are an increasing reliance on the Internet for their research and publishing activities and the strong role that openness is playing in their work.” They go on to say key findings include:

  • Access limitations – While 86% of respondents report relying on their college or university library collections and subscriptions, 49% indicated that they would often like to use journal articles that are not in those collections.
  • Use of open resources – If researchers can’t find the resources or information they need through their university library, 90% of respondents often or occasionally look online for a freely available version.
  • The Internet as starting point – 40% of researchers surveyed said that when beginning a project they start by searching the Internet for relevant materials, with only 2% visiting the physical library as a first port of call.
  • Following one’s peers – The findings suggest that the majority of researchers track the work of colleagues and leading researchers as a way of keeping up to date with developments in their field.
  • Emergence of e-publications – The findings show that e-journals have largely replaced physical usage for research, but that contrasting views exist on replacement of print by e-publications, where print still holds importance within the Humanities and Social Sciences and for in-depth reading in general.

But these are just the headlines. it is well worth delving into the full report, based on over 3000 respondents.

Researchers were asked “Typically, when you are conducting academic research, which of these five starting points do you use to begin locating information for your research?”

Although there were variation between researchers form different disciplines (as noted above) some 40 per cent replied general purpose search engine on the internet or world wide web. About 25 per cent use a specific electronic research resource/computer database, up to 20 per cent their online library catalogue, 18 or so per cent a national or international catalogue or database, while less than 10 per cent physically visit their library.

That is a massive change in a relatively short time period. I will try to read the report thoroughl;y in the next few days and work out what it all means!

Does Google Glass have a serious potential?

May 14th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

The whole debate over Google Glass is a bit of a puzzle. There is certainly plenty of coverage of the initial limited public trails. The tech press is generally in raptures, perhaps because they have at last an innovative new toy to play with (or at least to dream of playing with).

The popular press has run a series of rather contrived stories about how Glass can give you headahes, is dangerous for drivers, is a threat to privacy and how users are showing no respect to others etc. etc. Oh, and someone comes up with an unsupported (and probably non working) plug in that takes a photo when you wink and gets aches of coverage.

What there seems to be no discussion of is the potential for serious applications for Glass. We are looking hard at the possibilities of wearable computers for vocational education and training. We haven’t got our hands on a prototype from Google (we aren’t rich or famous enough). But there are other manufacturers who have already released production versions of glasses with similar if more limited functionality and we hope to be trying these out at Bau ABC, a construction industry training centre in North Germany. I am especially interested in the potential for informal learning.

And there are a whole series of research groups looking at the potential of Glass like products in the medical field.

It would be nice to think that Google would be working with such research. But instead its policy of releasing a number to “Glass Explorers” who pay 1500 dollars each for the privilege looks more like a publicity stunt than any serious attempt at research.

 

LMI for All – coming soon

May 12th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

A quick and overdue update on the Labour Market Information for All project, which we are developing together with Raycom, the University of Warwick and Rewired State and  is sponsored by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

LMI for All will provide an online data portal bringing together existing sources of labour market information (LMI) that can inform people’s decisions about their careers.  The database will contain robust LMI from national surveys and data sources providing a common and consistent baseline to use alongside less formal sources of intelligence. Due for release at the end of May 2013, access to the database will be through an open API. the results of queries can then be embedded by developers in their own web sites of apps. We will also provide a code library to assist developers.

The project builds on the commitment by the UK government to open data. despite this, it is not simple. As the Open Data White Paper (HM Government, 2012)highlights,  data gathered by the public sector is not always readily accessible. Quality of the data, intermittent publication and a lack of common standards are also barriers. A commitment is given to change the culture of organisations, to bring about change: ‘This must change and one of the barriers to change is cultural’ (p. 18).

We have talked to a considerable number of data providers including government bodies. It is striking that all have been cooperative and wishing to help us in providing access to data. However, the devil is in the detail.

Much of the data publicly collected, is done so on the condition that is is non disclosive e.e. that it is impossible to find out who submitted that data. And of course the lower the level of aggregation, the easier it is to identify where the data is coming from. And the more the data is linked, the more risk there s of disclosure.

We have developed ways of getting round this using both statistical methods (e.g. estimation) and technical approaches (data aggregation). But it remains a lot of work preparing the data for uploading to our database. And I guess that level of work will discourage others from utilising the potential of open data. It may explain why, transport excluded, their remain limited applications built on the open data movement in the UK.

It may suggest that the model we are working on, of a publicly funded project providing access to data, and then providing tools to build applications on top of that data, could provide a model for providing access to public data.

In the meantime if you are interested in using our API and developing your own applications for careers guidance and support, please get in touch.

 

The real voice of young London

May 3rd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Radioactive 101 is the internet Radio station set up through the Nominet Trust funded Radioactive project and the EU funded Radioactive Europe project. Pontydysgu are proud to be a partner in both projects which aim to give a voice to people excluded from access to mainstream media though Internet radio.

Tonight sees another in the series of broadcasts from Dragon Hall, a youth centre in central London.

Dragon Hall invites you to join their next Radioactive 101 broadcast, happening this Friday (May 3rd) between 19.30 and 20.30pm (GMT). The theme for this will be young people’s participation, with our presenters, interviewers, reviewers, performers and musicians showing that there is more to them than lying on the sofa playing Xbox.

In addition to the material from young people in Covent Garden & Holborn, our friends at The Squad have pre-recorded a ‘live’ showcase event especially for this show. Expect drama, music and chat. Oh and lots of laughing!

We are also really proud to include some guests from abroad- two German young women who worked at Dragon Hall for 2 weeks on work experience and another mixed Swiss/ German group who were just visiting the sights. Both groups talk about their experiences of London and how it differs to back home.

Finally, we are pleased to be hosting some young people from our Radioactive 101 partner YOH in Hackney. They will be talking about their experiences of Further Education, as well as an insightful piece on alcohol.

So we hope you are free to listen and support the real voice of young London.

To listen to the show just go to http://uk2.internet-radio.com:30432/live.m3u in your web browser and the stream should open in your MP3 player of choice (e.g. iTunes).

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


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