Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

What is the discourse behind the Open Education Challenge

January 23rd, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I don’t know quite what to think about the Open Education Challenge. It is good that the European Commission is working to support start up companies in education and especially interesting to note the impressive list of people available to help mentor new start ups. However, 20 companies hardly represents a critical mass and secondly I am not sure that the trudging successful applicants for twelve weeks around “successive European cities: Barcelona, Paris, London, Berlin and Helsinki| is the best way to do things.

And although the project is running under the new EU Open Education strap line, it is a bit hard to see just what is open about it (apart from anyone can apply). Worrying is the language of the web site: Europe will be the leading education market for years to come. Is this just another step to using technology to privatise and marketise education? True the talk is of transforming education, not disrupting it. But i am not quite sure what they mean by “All projects are welcome; the only condition is that they must contribute to transforming education.”

I am much impressed with Martin Weller’s blog on the The dangerous appeal of the Silicon Valley narrative. He argues that the popular discourse around MOOCs  conforms to the silicon valley narrative, proposing a revolution and disruption. He quotes Clay Shirky as saying  “Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC)”. It also suggests that the commercial, external provider will be the force of change, stating that “and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup”. Martin Weller goes on to say MOOCs “were established as separate companies outside of higher education, thus providing interest around business models and potential profits by disrupting the sector. This heady mix proved too irresistible for many technology or education journalists.”

So where does the EU Open Education initiative fit in terms of different discourses. Is it a project aiming at opening up education and developing new pedagogies or is it a market orientated initiative aiming to develop the Silicon Valley discourse in Europe?

 

Badge of honour

January 22nd, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Some ideas flourish and then die. Others start slowly and then take off. Although all the talk is about MOOCs my feeling is that the Mozilla Open Badges project may have a more profound influence in changing education than online courses. The following text is an excerpt from the quarterly online magazine, Holyrood Connect.

Scottish education authorities have started to imagine a new way to record and recognise educational achievement. Instead of certificates and test results, learners would have an authenticated, permanent digital record of their accomplishments that could never be lost, because it would live in the cloud.When looking for a job or further learning opportunities, their achievements could bear detailed testimony of what they learned, by linking back to the skills provider online. Most of all, learners could display their badges on their own websites or on social media, alongside Facebook updates or tweets about their regular lives.That vision is behind the concept of ‘open badges’ for education, an idea that isn’t altogether new, but may be coming of age as it begins to be applied to education.

Open badges are an initiative of the Mozilla Foundation, the non-profit organisation that created the popular Firefox browser. The technology involved in making the actual badges is open source – free and open to use for anyone on the web.Badges that have been ‘won’ currently have to be collected using the Mozilla Backpack service, although that piece of software will also eventually be made open source. That allows any organisation that provides education or training of any kind to create its own badge, including a verification mechanism and the necessary information for an employer or other educational institution to assess what skills the holder has.

In April, a collection of schools, colleges and Scottish education authorities formed the Open Badges in Scottish Education Group OBSEG, dedicated to exploring the potential of badges and their application in Scottish education. That partnership approach has yielded significant support: and in October, the Scottish Qualifications Authority SQA announced that it would work with Mozilla to push for their adoption.

via Badge of honour – Holyrood Connect.

Theorizing the Web

January 14th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of everyday life? We begin with such a broad question because, though the relationship between society and digital technologies is profound, we are only just beginning to make sense of their entanglement. Our understanding is limited, in part, because so much thinking about the Web is rooted in empirical analyses too disconnected from theory, from questions of power and social justice, and from public discourse. We need new priorities in our conversations about the Web.

We invite you to propose a presentation for the fourth annual Theorizing the Web, which—by popular demand—is now a two-day event. Theorizing the Web is both inter- and non-disciplinary, as we consider insights from academics, non-academics, and non-“tech theorists” alike to be equally valuable in conceptualizing the Web and its relation to the world. In this spirit, we’ve moved the event away from conventional institutional spaces and into a warehouse. We have some plans for how to use this space to help rethink conference norms (and also to have some extra fun with this year’s event).

via Theorizing the Web.

Survey on online learning in the UK

January 14th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian newspaper has published the headline results of an interesting survey of people in the UK, undertaken in conjunction with the Open University. I’ll comment on a few of the findings.

48% of (presumably those with degrees) stated that they felt their degree has been beneficial in terms of getting a job in today’s economic climate. And that leaves a somewhat surprising 52% who felt their degree had not helped them get a job! Over 50% of 18-24 year olds feel obliged to get additional qualifications – once more possibly casting doubt of the value of an initial degree, especially given how expensive higher education is in the UK.

39% if those who have spent time developing their skills have done so online and one in five people have done or are currently doing an online course. However 45% said they would only consider doing an online course if it led to an official certificate and only 8% had heard of MOOCs.

This leads to a lot of questions. Sadly the original data – including the wording of the questions is not available on the Guardian web site. It would also be important to know more about how the sample was selected. And whilst the form of the presentation is graphically engaging, I am not sure how useful such headlines are for serious research.The Guardian has published the survey to Extreme Learning, “a special series run in association with the Open University, which will examine how online learning is evolving – and what this means for students, lecturers and universities.”

The problem with the launch article is that they appear to be conflating online learning with MOOCs and then using current academic and press scepticism about MOOCs with the future of online learning. I suspect that after the MOOC hype dies down MOOcs will become another a regular part of the online learning scene. But they will be by no means the only part. And once more depending on how the sample was selected, its seems to me more remarkable that 8% of the population has heard about MOOCs rather than the 92 per cent who had not.

The accreditation issue is concerning. Here i have only questions. To what extent is it the case that employers do not recognise learning achievement without certification and to what extent is that a perception by learners. If it is so, is this a cultural peculiarity of the UK, or a wider phenomenon (I know that in Spain everything seems to have a certificate). What chance does this give for initiatives like Mozilla badges to take off and what would they have to do to get badges (socially) recognised.

I hope the Guardian and the Open University will move on to consider other forms of online learning. In particular I would hope they think about informal and self directed learning which is probably more important than all the online university courses put together. And I hope too they look at work based and vocational learning, rather than just focusing on university courses.

 

 

 

More about Pontypridd

January 14th, 2014 by Graham Attwell


Archive film of Pontypridd, the home town of Pontydysgu. With the forthcoming launch of the DysguPonty project, I am wondering how digital media changes the sense of space and communication, particularly in a small town such as Ponty.

Why the world needs OpenStreetMap

January 14th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

This clipping is from an excellent article in the Guardian newspaper about OpenStreetMap. With Geocoding and mapping becoming central to many of the apps we use today – especially on mobile, stopping the commercialisation of location data is important.

Why do we need a project like OpenStreetMap? The answer is simply that as a society, no one company should have a monopoly on place, just as no one company had a monopoly on time in the 1800s. Place is a shared resource, and when you give all that power to a single entity, you are giving them the power not only to tell you about your location, but to shape it. In summary, there are three concerns: who decides what gets shown on the map, who decides where you are and where you should go, and personal privacy.

via Why the world needs OpenStreetMap | Technology | theguardian.com.

It’s my web! A ten week course to teach the basics of web design

January 6th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

One of our current interests at Pontydysgu is teaching children to code. Jen Hughes has been doings some great work producing and testing floor cards for use with primary school children to learn how to create basic algorithms (for more on her work see the Taccle 2 site). The Mozilla Foundation is also working on this and over Christmas published ‘Its my Web!’ – a ten week course to teach the basics of web design. I guess this is aimed at 10 year olds and above and it looks pretty good.

I’d be interested to hear about other resources for all age groups.

Below is the introduction to the Mozilla course.

The Web is a good place to begin learning about how technology works, and fundamental ICT concepts such as programming. It is everywhere and familiar, easy to learn compared to other programming platforms, and there is a lot of help available due to the Web’s largely free and open nature. This course will aim to teach children some background information on how the web works and why the web is so interesting, the basic fundamentals of HTML (the language used to structure data on the Web) and CSS basics (the language used to style and layout the Web), possibly then moving on to some more advanced CSS and JavaScript (the web’s main programming/logic language) if there is time.

via It’s my web! A ten week course to teach the basics of web design.

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    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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