Introduction

    Welcome to the Wales Wide Web

    October 25th, 2007 by Dirk Stieglitz

    Wales Wide Web is Graham Attwell’s main blog. Graham Attwell is Director of the Wales based research organisation, Pontydysgu. The blog covers issues like open-source, open-content, open-standards, e-learning and Werder Bremen football team.

    You can reach Graham by email at graham10 [at] mac [dot] com

    Wales Wide Web

    Understanding the gender pay gap

    December 5th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    We have written before about the gender pay gap in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics the average hourly (gross, excluding overtime) gender pay gap in the UK for all employees fell from 17.8 per cent in 2018 to 17.3 per cent in 2019. However, nee research has revealed cross-national gaps vary from as much as -5 per cent in Wigan to 32 per cent in Slough suggesting that only focusing on a national perspective might be overly simplistic.

    The Centre for Cities has found that 7 of the 10 cities with the highest gender pay gap are located either in the South East or East of England. They say that “as cities in these regions tend to perform economically better than cities in the North of England, economic performance seems to influence the gender pay gap in cities. In general, cities with higher average weekly earnings (e.g. Cambridge, London, Reading, Crawley, Slough) tend to have a higher gender pay gap.”

    Another factor the Centre for Cities things is driving higher gender pay gaps in the south of England is the bigger difference between men and women holding a managerial position. While 5.2 of men and 3.2 per cent of women in the north east hold such a position, 8.1 per cent of managers in the south east are men while only 4.4 per cent are women (data is not available below regional level).”

    Six out of the ten cities with the smallest gender pay gap are located in the North of England: Wigan, Burnley, Warrington, Sunderland, Blackburn and Middlesbrough. These cities have weaker economies and lower rates of employment

    The Centre for Cities has looked at the industrial composition of the labour market in Warrington and Wigan, finding that both cities have a higher share of jobs in education, human and health activities and social work than cities with higher gender pay gaps such as Slough and Crawley.

    The composition of sectors in and around cities is seen as important and since women are more likely to be employed in the public sector, for instance, as teachers, social workers and nurses, the gender pay gap tends to be lower in cities with a higher proportion of public sector jobs such as in Middlesbrough, Blackburn, Swansea and Glasgow.

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    The Circular Economy for Youth

    December 3rd, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    These are my slides from the recent online kick off meeting for the European Erasmus Plus Circular Economy for Youth project. The project will last two years and is coordinated by Pontydysgu. Other partners are from Greece, North Macedonia, Italy, Belgium and France.

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    Readings on AI and Education

    November 18th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    In an early activity in our new project on Artificial Intelligence in Vocational Education and Training, we are undertaking a literature review. Although there seems to be little about AI and VET, the issue of AI in education is thsi years hot trend. Of course there seems to be more talk than actual practice. Any way, here is a quick summary (just notes really) of things I stumbled on last week.

    Perhaps most interesting was an online webinar organised by the European Distance Education Network (EDEN) as part of European Distance Learning Week.  According to the online platform there were 49 of us present and four presentations. Sadly the recording is not yet available but I will link to it once it is online. What was most interesting was that almost everyone who spoke, and I recognised quite a few prominent researchers in the contributions, were pretty much opposed to AI. Too dangerous, no benefit, just hype, developers with no idea about learning etc. Really only one speaker, Alexandra Cristea from Durham University could see potential.

    I found teh follwing publiscation by her. Demographic Indicators Influencing Learning Activities in MOOCs: Learning Analytics of Future Learn Courses (PDF) by Alexandra I. Cristea  and Lei Shi from the University of from Liverpool University  looks at pre-course survey data and online learner interaction data collected from two MOOCs, delivered by the University of Warwick,in 2015, 2016,and 2017. The data is used  to explore how learner demographic indicators may influence learner activities.Recommendations for educational information system development and instructional design, especially when a course attracts a diverse group of learners, are provided.

    Meanwhile in the UK, NESTA are continuing to promote AI. However, they too emphasis ethical issues with the use of the technology. In ‘Educ-AI-tion rebooted? Exploring the future of artificial intelligence in schools and colleges’ they say

    Although challenges for the ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence and the sharing of data are common to many sectors, schools and colleges present a distinct combination of properties and considerations. The sharing of data needs to be governed in a manner that realises benefit for the public, and AIEd must be used ethically and responsibly.

    AIEd’s potential and risks is reflected in the views of parents. 61% of parents anticipate that AI will be fairly or very important to the classroom of the near future. However, many are fairly or very concerned about consequences of determinism (77%), accountability (77%) and privacy and security (73%).

    Finally, I had a look at the X5GON project website. X5GON is a large scale European research programme project, bringing togther a number of leading European Universities. It appears to be developing AI driven tools. particarrly focused on Open educational Resources. The project website says:

    This new AI-driven platform will deliver OER content from everywhere, for the students’ need at the right time and place. This learning and development solution will use the following solutions to accomplish this goal:

    • Aggregation: It will gather relevant content in one place, from the projects case studies as well as external providers and other preferred resources.
    • Curation: AI and machine learning will be key to curate relevant and contextual content and external students at the right time and point of need.
    • Personalization: It will make increasingly personalized recommendations for learning content to suit students’ needs, based on the analysis of relevant factors.
    • Creation: Large, small and medium-sized universities have tacit knowledge that can be unlocked and re-used. This approach will allow any organization to release and build their own content libraries quickly and conveniently to share with the world and vice versa.

    I’ll keep writing up my findings, in the form of notes on this site. And if anyone has any recommendations of what else I should be reading please add in the comments below.

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    Circular Economy for Youth

    November 13th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    school-strike-4-climate-4057783_1920Tomorrow is the kick off day for our new project on the Circular Economy for Youth (CEYOU). Below is a short description of the project. As always we welcome participation from non project partners: just email me or leave a message if you would like to know more.

    In 2019, young people and students from Europe and all over the world have taken to the streets to demand action to halt environmental and climate change. On a day of action in March organizers said there were more than 2,000 protests in 125 countries. The student movement was inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, now nominated for a Nobel Prize, who kicked off a global movement after she sat outside Swedish parliament every Friday beginning last August. Young people have included the need for the environment to be included in the school curriculum.

    The development of the circular economy is seen as central to reducing damage to the environment and developing positive chance. In 2015 the European Commission adopted an action plan to help accelerate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, promote sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

    The action plan sets out 54 measures to “close the loop” of product lifecycles: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. It also identifies five priority sectors to speed up the transition along their value chain (plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition, biomass and bio-based materials). It puts a strong emphasis on building a strong foundation on which investments and innovation can thrive. DG Environment has also published a recent report showing the impact of circular economy policies will lead to a reduction of the negative impacts on the environment while increasing the employment levels at the same time. In particular, more than 700000 jobs are expected to be created in comparison to Cedefop baseline scenarios. These will be stemming from the additional demand for recycling plants, repair services and savings from collaborative actions.

    A seminar at the European Parliament in 2019 organised by ACR + through the Erasmus Plus CYCLE project and focused on adult education brought together experts on the circular economy and educational leaders. One of the key conclusions was the need for dialogue and exchange between these two communities of professionals.

    This context and background frames the objectives of the Circular Economy for Youth project:

    1. To develop guidelines for the establishment of permanent forums for dialogue between youth organisations and local authorities to promote circular economy practices.
    2. To develop and implement training programmes and activities for young people in the field of the circular economy/
    3. To promote a dialogue through bringing together organisations in the field of the Circular economy and youth organisations on a European, national and regional basis and to promote an exchange of information and best practice. To develop initiatives and projects (including the promotion of entrepreneurial enterprises) for young people in the field of the circular economy and to produce a interactive map of projects and activities in this field.
    1. To develop and exchange Open Educational Resources (OERs) for young people to support the occupational profile of a circular economy facilitator and to certufy it through Open Badges.
    2. To develop a mobile application to guide young people in setting up initiatives around the Circular Economy.

    Central to the project design is the bringing together of youth organisation and networks, together with Circular Economy associations at European, regional and municipal levels including local governments. The aim is not only to exchange initiatives and best practice but to establish a permanent forum for dialogue including around policy and practice. Such goals will develop the capacities of all participant organisations and build the foundation for longer term collaboration in this area.

    The training programmes (including both formal and informal learning) and OERs to support the development of Circular economy facilitators are further intended to develop capacity in both youth organisations and in local governments.

    The CEYOU project will involve representatives of: youth associations, students associations, NGOs and civil society organizations, Local Authorities and youth councils, social entrepreneurs.

    The needs have been identified separately by Circular Economy organisations wishing to turn towards youth for support and by young people themselves wishing for more education around environmental concerns. The challenge of environmental and climate change has been recognised as an issue for Europe as a whole; the development of transnational responses, actions, cooperation and exchange of best practices is a strength for Europe in responding to such a pressing challenge. In this respect, it is important that the participating organisations are all active at a European level and have extensive networks. These networks will not only be used for dissemination, but network members will be invited to become active participants as Associate Partners.

     

     

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    More Circularity, Less Carbon

    November 12th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    acrIn just one week, ACR+ will unveil its new campaign “More circularity, less carbon”. Participating cities and regions are committing to reduce their carbon emissions linked with local resource management by 25% by 2025!

    But how? Make sure you attend the launch event on 19 November 2019 to discover the steps that public authorities will take to reach this ambitious target. You will also understand how local circular economy strategies could contribute to reduce the global carbon footprint.

    And Pontydysgu are proud to be launching a new project funded by Erasmus Plus on the Circular Economy for Youth. ACR + are a partner in the project along with the municipality of Vesuvias and youth organisations from Greece, North Macedonia and France.  The first online meeting is Thursday and I will be reporting on the project 0n this blog

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    AI needs diversity

    November 6th, 2019 by Graham Attwell

    As promised another AI post. One of the issues we are looking at in our project on AI and education is that of ethics. It seems to me that the tech companies have set up all kinds of ethical frameworks but I am not sure about the ethics! they seem to be trying to allay fears that the robots will take over: this is not a fear I share. I am far ore worried about what humans will do with AI. In that respect I very much like this TEDxWarwick talk by Kriti Sharma.

    She says AI algorithms make important decisions about you all the time — like how much you should pay for car insurance or whether or not you get that job interview. But what happens when these machines are built with human bias coded into their systems? Kriti Sharma explores how the lack of diversity in tech is creeping into our AI, offering three ways we can start making more ethical algorithms.I wonder too, how much the lack of diversity in educational technology is holding back opportunities for learning

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