Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Jen Hughes

October 28th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

jen
I am very sad to report the death of my friend and colleague Jen Hughes. I first met Jenny in 1984 when I signed up for a summer school course for trainers. Jen was the tutor. My only previous experience of courses had been dry ‘talk and chalk’ and Jen’s experiential approach to teaching and training inspired me.

We became great friends and in 1988 Jen encouraged me to apply for a job at the Welsh Joint Education Committee where she was working at the time. Two years later I followed her to work for Gwent County Council, where she had been appointed Deputy Director of Education, and subsequently at Gwent Tertiary College, where we set up the Training Shop, a research and development unit. We both later left the college and in 2004 Jen joined me at Pontydysgu.

An intrepid traveller, Jen worked on educational projects throughout Europe, mainly funded by the EU, and in the wider world, working as an evaluator for the UN Development Programme in Kosovo and, she claimed, all of ‘the Stans’. She was particularly committed to access to education for girls and young women

Jen was an inspired and inspiring teacher and trainer. Over the last ten years she became convinced of the importance of integrating technology in the curriculum. She taught herself to program and produced hundreds of Open Educational Resources on using technology in the classroom and more latterly on teaching computing and computational thinking in primary schools through the series of Taccle projects. She developed and tested the resources at the local primary School, Ysgol Evan James, where for many years she served as a school governor. She facilitated staff development programmes and workshops for teachers on the use of technology throughout Wales and in Germany, Finland and other European countries.

A prodigious cook, Jen’s pies,  welsh cakes and buffets became legendary in Pontypridd, especially at the Welsh Club, Clwb y Bont, where she served for a time on the committee. She was also a great rugby fan, originally as a Newport supporter, then as ‘dinner lady’ for the London Welsh and finally becoming a stalwart supporter of Pontypridd as well as the Wales national rugby team. Jen was also a great fan of the Archers radio soap series. Earlier this year we wrote a successful proposal for a paper to be presented at the Archers Academic Conference in 2019, sadly too late for her. She was also a proudly pedantic grammar expert, over the years correcting hundreds of my split infinitives and always ready to help others with their grammar.

Perhaps the most abiding memory of Jen was her enthusiasm for whatever she became involved in and her generosity of time and spirit for supporting, helping and teaching others outside her day job. Condolences from all at Pontydysgu to Alex and to Jen’s children and grandchildren. Jen will be missed by many people: she cannot and will not be forgotten.

Data literacy and participation in adult education

October 17th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

DavidPollardIRL_2018-Oct-15I am ever more interested in the issue of data literacy and agree very much with Javiera Atenas from the Open Education Working Group, London who says “Learning how to use data and information is not just a subject among others, it’s an essential part of civic education.”

But it is not just learning how to use data and information. Perhaps more critical is how to understand and make critical sense out of data. Take the chart above as an example. The difference in participation in adult education are very substantial and on the face of it Nordic countries lead the way. Interesting too that Germany is well back in the middle of the pack. However I am not sure it is quite as it seems. I suspect the data is compiled from national data by Eurostat from the European Labour Force Survey. The issue may be that different countries classify participation in education in different ways.

When I get a free hour or so I wil try to follow this up. Meanwhile any comments and ideas from readers would be welcome.

Why we need technology for training teachers

October 5th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

I have been doing some research on the training of teachers, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The figures make sober reading. A report ‘Digital Learning: Reforming Teacher Education to Promote Access, Equity and Quality in Sub-Saharan Africa’ by Bob Moon and Charmaine Villet points to the scale of the issue:

UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics (UNESCO, 2015b) has estimated that, globally, 25.8 million extra teachers will need to be recruited by 2030 to meet EFA targets (to put that in context, this is equivalent to the population of Ghana).

Of these, 3.2 million would be filling new posts and 22.6 million would be replacing teachers retiring or leaving the profession. There were 59 million children out of school in 2015. To have them all in school would require the recruitment of 2.7 million teachers if pupil-teacher ratios are not to exceed 40:1.According to the Institute’s forecasts, without such recruitment, 33 countries will not have enough teachers to achieve universal primary education (UPE) by 2030.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces the biggest challenge. of any major world region in this respect. For every 100 children beginning school in 2015, there will be 142 in 2030. And the figure is projected to continue growing at this rate through the middle years of the century. Of the 3.2 million posts to be filled worldwide, Sub-Saharan Africa will need 2.2 million to deal with this growth and, at a conservative estimate, 3.9 million teachers will be required to replace those leaving the profession.

Pretty clearly there is little chance of meeting these targets through scaling up traditional teacher training institutions, nor even through school based teacher training. That is why there is increasing interest in using technology – Open and Distance Learning, MOOCs, video and multi media, Open Educational Resources – in Sub-Saharan Africa. This development is often being led through different aid programmes run by UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning, USAid and other organisations. Early evaluations seem promising – although the real challenge will be in scaling up, mainstreaming and sustaining development projects. But researchers and developers working on initial and continuing teacher education in Europe and other richer countries could do well to look at what is happening in Africa.

 

Is a degree needed to do a graduate job?

October 4th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

Sometimes media use seems to go in circles. Over the last couple of years there has been a return to the old fashioned newsletter – even if sent the ‘modern’ way by email. Since I am contemplating crafting a couple of newsletters for projects, I have been looking for examples of good practice and design.

One of my favourites is the Marchmont Employment and Skills Observatory monthly mail called South West Skills Newsletter. The title is a bit misleading and if you are interested in labour markets, employment and vocational education and training it is worth subscribing, even if you do not live in the south west of England.

Here is a taster from this months newsletter.

One in eight young people without degrees work in graduate jobs

One in eight young people without degree-level qualifications are working in graduate jobs, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics. In 2017, 12% of non-graduates (327,303) aged 22 to 29 were working in a graduate job – defined as a role where the tasks typically require knowledge and skills gained through higher education. Sales, HR, and retail and wholesale management most common graduate jobs for non-graduates.

This compares with 54% of graduates (1,273,336) in the same age group who had a graduate job.

Like so much labour market survey  data it is a bit hard to know what to make of this. Is it that the Office of National Statistics definition of skills is off the mark or more likely that employers know that thes eskills can be gained without going to university. And of course there is still a very large number of 46% of graduates wh9c are not working in graduate jobs.

Autonomy and the importance of teachers

October 1st, 2018 by Graham Attwell

The technology industry spends millions trying to disrupt education. And one of their fantasies is that machines can replace teachers. I don’t think they can or should. On International Teachers day it seems appropriate to point again to the importance of well trained and supported teachers having teh autonomy to shape and support learning.

And by chance I found on Twitter today this excellent bog post, writing just about the need for autonomy.

@HeyMissSmith says:

I have watched with incredulity as the idea of scripted lessons and highly controlled curriculum content has grown. The idea that knowledge can be packaged nicely and given to teachers. That you can in some way control knowledge. That it is prepackaged food a teacher microwaves for her class (as per instructions). Not so. Knowledge when it meets a class of thirty individuals plus a (hopefully) excited teacher becomes something else; it becomes an ocean of possibilities. It becomes the universe, past, present and future. A skilled and enthusiastic teacher will take knowledge, and their class reactions to it and will shape the conversations. Steer children through the endless sparks and dead-ends they create with it. They will cover much ground, but what that ground is is not apparent until the class is in front of them.

What am I saying? That we have to trust teachers with knowledge.

Leaving home

October 1st, 2018 by Graham Attwell

living at homeI’ve had this graphic hanging around for quite a while, so it may be out of date. I think the point of it is that like much data the figures are fascinating but it is quite difficult to interpret. Why do boys leave home earlier than girls? Why is there such a big difference between countries. Although obviously there will be differences between those countries where young people normally leave home to go to university and those where they usually move to another town or city. And I am sure some of it is explained by socio- economic factors. It costs money to leave home. But I am not sure this explains it all. I would be very interested in anyone else’s perspective on this data.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information


    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


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