Archive for the ‘21stCenturySkills’ Category

Training teachers in effective pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning

August 10th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am doing a literature review at the moment focused primarily on pedagogic processes for using technology for learning in vocational education and training and in adult education. In particular I am interested in how we can provide both initial training and continuing professional development for teachers and trainers in teaching and learning with technology. I think such a study is apposite – whilst previously teachers have been often seen as a barrier to the introduction of Technology Enhanced Learning because of their perceived lack of skills in using such technologies, we are now coming to realise that the need for new pedagogic approaches is perhaps the biggest challenge, especially since most new teachers are confident in their own use of computers.

Here are some of the issues I am looking at:

  • Teacher training and continuing professional development
  • eLearning and pedagogic approaches to the use of technology for learning
  • The development and use of social software and web 2.0 technologies and its impact on education and learning
  • Future technologies and trends and their possible impact within education

Specific issues to be examined may include (but will not be limited to):

  • Pedagogic theories of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Pedagogic practices of use of technologies for learning and implications
  • Effective Practices in different sectors / subject areas
  • Use of technology for initial training of teachers and CPD
  • Impact of technologies on pedagogy in practice
  • Digital literacies and digital identities for teachers
  • Present qualifications for teachers and approaches to pedagogy and use of technology for learning
  • Effective practices in initial teacher training and CPD in use of technology for learning
  • e-Assessment and evaluation

I would be very grateful for any references, reports or other materials you think I should include in such a review. I would be particularly grateful for references to studies or reports on the training of teachers in other countries than the UK. All help will be gratefully acknowledged and in due course I will publish the results of the review on the Pontydysgu web site.

Generation Y researchers, open content and open source

July 22nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The UK based Jisc published an interesting report yesterday. The Researchers of Tomorrow study presents emerging findings from the first annual report of a major three-year study into the information seeking behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students. According to Jisc “the research shows that there are striking similarities between students born between 1982 and 1994 and older age groups.” As such it represents yet another blow to Prensky’s idea of Digital Natives.

The first annual report of the longitudinal study includes evidence-gathering from three groups of doctoral students in the UK, including: a cohort of 60 Generation Y doctoral students from 36 universities; responses to a national context-setting survey returned by over 2,000 Generation Y scholars and responses to the same national context-setting survey returned by 3,000 older doctoral students.

Generation Y students and older students concur on a number of areas:

–    Open access and open source – like students of other ages, Generation Y researchers express a desire for an all-embracing, seamless accessible research information network in which restrictions to access do not restrain them.  However, the annual report demonstrates that most Generation Y students do not have a clear understanding of what open access means and this negatively impacts their use of open access resources, so this is an area to be followed up in the next year.

–    Networked research environment – both Generation Y and older students express exasperation regarding restricted access to research resources due to the limitations of institutional licenses.  This is born from a sophisticated knowledge of the networked information environment and students regularly speak favourably about sector-wide shared services and resource sharing.

The research indicates, however, potentially interesting and important divergences between Generation Y and older doctoral students; for example, where students turn for help, advice and support and attitudes to their research environment.

–    Supervisor and librarian support – Generation Y scholars are more likely to turn to their supervisors for research resource recommendations than older doctoral students.  Also, 33% of Generation Y students say they have never used library staff for their support in finding difficult to source material.

–    Using library collections and services – Library collections are used heavily by students in their own institutions, but only 36% of Generation Y students have used inter-library loan services compared to 25% of older students, with 42% of arts and humanities students using these services regularly compared to 13% among science students.

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.researchersoftomorrow.net.

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat (24th-25th May 2010)

June 3rd, 2010 by Jo Turner-Attwell

My trip begins in Cambodia and I have travelled through Laos with a group tour from GAP adventures and next I head to Vietnam and then Thailand. The journey to Siem Reap in Cambodia started well with us only being a few minutes late downstairs to leave Bangkok. All my clocks were a bit messed up as I seemed to have got the time difference wrong, but still we were ready on time.
Day twos activities were mainly driving and border checks, which involved a lot of writing made difficult with no pen, in epic heat. I did see the first of many geckos though which was pretty cool, wandering up walls and I did get to use my lovely lovely passport photos. I think my parents are in for a shock when I come home as I now really want a pet lizard and may just bring one back with me!
The bus journey though, despite taking around 6-8 hours altogether, wasn’t actually too bad. It passed waaaay quicker than I had expected. And when we arrived in Siem Reap we were extremely happy to see that the hotel had a pool!!
Anyway on a more interesting note, in the evening we headed out onto the biggest freshwater lake in south east asia, Tonle Sap. On the way we all had a bit of a culture shock. It was very different to anything I had ever seen before, the houses were only really huts and the poverty we saw there I think is the worst I have seen so far.
The boat trip on the lake itself was nice though. We went out to a restaurant floating on the lake, where the had aligators captured underneath! It was mad. As we were going along in the boat though children would jump on and try to sell us things for a dollar. This one boat came up with two boys on. One jumped on the boat but the other had a MASSIVE snake round his neck. Luckily at we arrived at the floating restaurant at exactly this moment and managed to jump off the boat just in time.
On the floating restaurant we could climb up some stairs and see a view of the sunset which was lovely. The sun set right over the floating houses which apparently belonged to people fleeing from Vietnam around the time of the Vietnam war, but they were not allowed to enter Cambodia. So they settled out on the Lake were they could fish and live. We even saw a school!!
We then all piled back on the boat and headed back under very beautiful skies. As we got off the boat a child took my hand and walked me up the short diagonal platform to get back to the bus. I tried to shake him off but he had a really firm grip!! Then as I reached the bus he asked for one dollar, and we were surrounded by other children chanting the same trying to sell us things. One woman had even snapped our pictures as we were getting on the boat and put them on to plates.
At the end of the day we went for a meal on pub street and I had my very first tuk tuk ride (a south east asian taxi, look it up).
The next day was far more full of typical tourists with cameras, we were still hassled though, one girl in particular had really really good english. We left for Angkor Wat insanely early to try and get there to see the sunrise, I think it may have been 5.00. Anyway both me and my roomate Sylvia managed to get our clocks wrong, even the room clock was wrong and woke up at 5.08 and in the rush downstairs I managed to forget both my camera and Patrick, mine and my friends travel bear. Disaster. Angkor Wat was amazing though. I’m not sure I can really find another word, it was just amazing. And because it was so early we saw dragon snakes in the water. We did a full day of temples and I did get chance to go get my camera at breakfast so I managed to get a picture of Patrick with the temple used in Tomb Raider. That was very cool, big trees were like embedded into the structure of the temple as during war times they weren’t preserved and were therefore damaged. Made for some good photos though. We saw a fair amount of temples. There was one I liked in particular with faces of Buddha everywhere withall the big ones having different expressions.
By the end of the day we were dying in the heat though, it was unbearable!! Never have I been so sweaty in my entire life. Not a pretty image but it’s true.
Our last temple of the day was at the top of a mountain where we could also watch the sunset, but before it could really start a storm started rolling in from the other side, so at one point we had a sunset on one side and massive fork lightening on the other. When it rained, after revelling in the feeling of actually being cold we climbed down the elephant track (supposedly easier as elephants carry people up on it though I am not convinced) and then went for dinner.
The first of a lot of very good days.

Cyfrowi tubylcy i gra w szkołę

May 28th, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

Czy nauczyciele w Polsce są dobrze przygotowani na pokolenie cyfrowych tubylców? Opdowiedzi na to pytanie szukałam w rozmowie z Lechosławem Hojnackim – nauczycielem i konsultantem, zajmującym się implementacją nowoczesnych technologii informacyjnych w procesie kształcenia dorosłych, przede wszystkim nauczycieli.

IB: Ten kto zajrzy na Pana stronę internetową  http://www.hojnacki.net odkryje szybko, że jest Pan aktywny na wielu serwisach internetowych. Czym się Pan aktualnie zajmuje zawodowo?

LH: W tej chwili pracuję jako wykładowca w  Kolegium Nauczycielskim w Bielsku-Białej. To taki niszowy w Polsce system kształcenia nauczycieli na poziomie trzyletnich studiów zawodowych, zbliżony bardziej do szkoły (niewielka liczba studentów, sporo praktyk) niż uniwersytetu. Jednocześnie pracuję jako konsultant w Regionalnym Ośrodku Metodyczno-Edukacyjnym “Metis” w Katowicach i zajmuję się implementacją tzw. nowych technologii w procesie dydaktycznym.

IB: Ma Pan więc szerokie spojrzenie na zastosowanie TIK (technologii informacyjno – komunikacyjnej) w edukacji. Czy szkolenia nauczycieli w Polsce obejmują standardowo  tematy e-pedagogiczne? W jakim zakresie szkoleni są nauczyciele w temacie e-learningu 2.0? Jak to wygląda w przypadku czynnych nauczycieli,  a jak w przypadku studentów-adeptów?

LH: Czynni nauczyciele w pewnych okresie swojego rozwoju zawodowego muszą się wylegitymować dowodami opanowania TIK. Na poziomie awansu zawodowego na nauczyciela mianowanego są to “umiejętności wykorzystywania w pracy technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej;” natomiast na poziomie nauczyciela dyplomowanego (najwyższym) – „podejmowanie działań mających na celu doskonalenie warsztatu i metod pracy, w tym doskonalenie umiejętności stosowania technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej”. Od nauczyciela stażysty i kontraktowego (najniższe) nie wymaga się w tym zakresie niczego. Nie ma jednak sztywnych reguł, co to znaczy “wylegitymować się” i duża część nauczycieli korzysta w tym celu ze szkoleń prowadzonych przez ośrodki doskonalenia nauczycieli lub inne instytucje, m.in. w ramach projektów unijnych. W praktyce posiadanie pewnej liczby zaświadczeń o ukończeniu szkoleń, ocenianych częściej w kategorii liczby godzin niż treści i poziomu – jest wystarczającym dowodem posiadania stosownych umiejętności. Członkowie komisji oceniają tylko dostarczone dokumenty określające umiejętności związane z TIK w warsztacie dydaktycznym i czynią to przez pryzmat własnej wiedzy i świadomości.

Są to najczęściej spotykane źródła systemowej motywacji zewnętrznej dla nauczycieli. Jak widać nie ma tu miejsca na rozróżnienia dotyczące stosowania konkretnych metod, konkretnych typów serwisów, sposobów komunikowania się, w tym e-learningu 2.0. Ponadto, idąc dalej tropem systemowych uregulowań, komisje powoływane dla oceniania dokonań nauczycieli na kolejne stopnie awansu zawodowego nie tylko nie mają wytycznych, ale nawet możliwości kompetentnego oceniania metodycznych aspektów TIK – nie muszą mieć w swoim składzie ekspertów w tej dziedzinie.

Są też uwarunkowania hamujące rozwój e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach:

1. Organy nadzoru pedagogicznego (kuratorzy oświaty)  otrzymali wytyczne, aby czynnie zapobiegać ujemnym zjawiskom takim jak cyfrowa agresja i inne niebezpieczeństwa ze strony Internetu, dlatego dyrektorzy szkół (notabene w Polsce posiadający bardzo mały w stosunku do wielu krajów rozwiniętych zakres samodzielności) często uznają –  bardzo racjonalnie – że większym zagrożeniem dla ich interesów służbowych jest nadmiar kontaktu uczniów z Siecią, niż wielostronne jego obwarowania, a w praktyce – ograniczenia.

2. Chyba większość polskich szkół dysponuje pracowniami otrzymanymi z, nazwijmy to, centralnego przydziału. Zdecydowana ich większość jest oparta na Windows oraz serwerach SBS o specyficznej konfiguracji. Konfiguracja ta opiera się na tzw. “filtrach treści niepożądanych” oraz kontrolowaniu i analizowaniu całego ruchu sieciowego przez serwer, który w efekcie, w standardowej konfiguracji blokuje nie tylko niepożądane strony, słowa i złośliwe skrypty, ale także wiele pożądanych stron, nieszkodliwych słów oraz bardzo potrzebnych skryptów. W praktyce w wielu szkołach używa się w związku z powyższym komputerów, na których nie da się uruchomić np. większości serwisów z epoki Web 2.0, ponieważ poprawnie działają tylko stare, statyczne strony nie zawierające żadnych skryptów (np. osadzonych filmików, edytorów online etc.). Takie pracownie skutecznie chronią szkołę przed Web 2.0. W związku z czynnikami opisanymi w punkcie 1. oraz z braku stosownych umiejętności, a często i świadomości, ta bardzo zła z punktu widzenia nowoczesnego korzystania z Sieci konfiguracja nie jest modyfikowana.

IB: Wnioskuję z tego, że sieć społeczna jest przez szerokie grono ludzi traktowana jako zagrożenie?

LH: To niestety powszechna postawa. Czasem artykułowana dość wprost np. w kategoriach zagrożeń, agresji, groźby uzależnienia lub jako bezwartościowy strumień śmieciowej informacji. Czasem świadomie lub częściej nieświadomie ta postawa ukrywana pod poglądami typu “nic nie zastąpi książki”, “skoro ONI używają ciągle Sieci to ktoś wreszcie musi ich nauczyć obywać się bez niej lub posługiwać się innymi narzędziami”, “a jak nie będzie komputera, kalkulatora, a jak braknie prądu, to będzie katastrofa”.

IB: Muszę przyznać, że w Niemczech sytuacja wygląda jednak lepiej, ponieważ osiągnieto poziom, na którym przeważa już pragmatyczne pytanie „jak?“, np. „Jak możemy wporowadzić elementy sieci społecznej w szkołach?“. A jakie sa pozostałe wyzwania związane z kształceniem nauczycieli w tematyce e-learningu 2.0? Jakie strategie pedagogiczno-dydaktyczne sprawdzają się w praktyce? W jaki sposób wprowadza Pan nauczycieli w świat sieci społecznych?

LH: Dziś wyraźnie widać, gdzie wiekowo przebiega granica między typowymi cyfrowcami, a bardziej tradycyjnie ukształtowanym pokoleniem uczniów. Nauczyciele szkół podstawowych zapoznani z faktami, zestawieniami, wynikami badań, naturą ważniejszych zjawisk – dość gremialnie dają się łatwo przekonać, iż jest to problem, z którym muszą się zmierzyć, bo po prostu otrzymują obraz sytuacji dobrze wyjaśniający obserwowane przez nich u uczniów zjawisk społecznych wywołanych  Web 2.0. Dla odmiany statystycznie zdecydowanie najtrudniej jest pracować z nauczycielami szkół ponadgimnazjalnych. W tej grupie nauczycieli najczęściej spotykam się z odmową, obrazą nawet. Nie widzą jeszcze konieczności zmiany metod pracy, populacja ich uczniów jeszcze nie jest w pełni cyfrowymi tubylcami i jeszcze da się próbować pracować po staremu. To smutne zjawisko, bo rozsądek wskazuje, że młodzież licealna byłaby najwdzięczniejszą grupą uczniów do metod i form pracy epoki Web 2.0.

Czynnych nauczycieli zatem staram się na początku przekonać, że ich “klienci” zmienili się i będą się zmieniać dalej, w związku z czym oni muszą starać się podążać za zmianami (uwaga) wbrew ustrojowi organizacyjnemu szkoły, który rzeczywiście niesłychanie utrudnia postęp (uwaga: także w aspektach przeze mnie wcześniej tu nie wymienionych). Staram się także zaczynać od najprostszych technologicznie rozwiązań, które dają maksimum efektu przy minimalnych umiejętnościach, ale jakoś przynależnych do Web 2.0. Na przykład na początek wprowadzamam bloga na Bloggerze jako tablicę ogłoszeniową. Zaczynam więc od przekazu jednokierunkowe, ale z łatwością podejmowania dalszych kroków.

Studentów traktuję zgoła inaczej, ponieważ tu jestem w stanie ustalić bardziej drastyczne reguły. Niezależnie od treści programowych, specjalności, roku i trybu studiów, wprowadzam jako obowiązującą metodę grupowy projekt oparty (przynajmniej  technicznie) na serwisach Web 2.0. Treści merytoryczne stawiam na drugim planie za zasadami współpracy, samozarządzania, angażowania ekspertów z zewnątrz, publikowania efektów, autoprezentacji w Sieci itd. Moje podejście wynika z tego, że zdecydowana większość studentów po raz pierwszy w życiu spotyka się z faktyczną metodą konstruktywistycznego projektu grupowego dopiero po maturze! Wielu z nich wykazuje także zasadnicze braki w podstawowych umiejętnościach komunikacyjnych związanych z TIK, wbrew kilkuletniemu cyklowi nauki tego przedmiotu w poprzednich etapach kształcenia.

IB: Tak ten deficyt mają też studenci w Niemczech. Wynika to często z tego, że większości nauczycieli/wykładowców brakuje po prostu doświadczenia i umiejętności w wirtualnej współpracy, kooperacyjnych technikach, samoorganizacji na poziomie grupowym. A czy Pana zdaniem szersze kompetencje, lepsze zrozumienie mają uczniowie lub studenci? Kto rozumie zalety wirtualnej pracy grupowej i potrafi pracować/uczyć się w zdecentralizowanych, nieuporządkowanych hierarchicznie, wirtualnych grupach?

LH: TAK, dzieci i młodzież żyją w Sieci bardziej i głębiej, niż sami to widzą, bo dla nich Sieć jest  przezroczysta. To zjawisko jest podobne w swojej naturze do szczerej deklaracji uczniów, że nie PISZĄ tylko esemesują, czatują. Oni nie nazywają tego pisaniem, traktują tak, jak my rozmowę. Natomiast dość powszechnie oddzielają tego rodzaju aktywności od szkoły, nie tylko ze względu na uwarunkowania, o których mówiłem wyżej lub takie jak powszechny zakaz używania komórek w szkole. To zjawisko tzw. “gry w szkołę” oznacza, że obie strony procesu (nauczyciel i uczeń) w szkole  używają reguł, których nie traktują jako przekładalne na świat zewnętrzny. Ani nauczyciele nie mają motywacji do uczenia np. komunikowania się w Sieci, ani uczniowie tego od nich nie oczekują.

IB: Wspomniał Pan, że dzieci i młodzież nie piszą tylko esemesują i czatują. Na pewno często spotyka się Pan z pytaniem, czy takie praktyki nie zagrażają podstawowym kompetencjom pisania i czytania? Jak odpowiada Pan na takie pytania?

LH: Jeżeli uznać, że taki rodzaj kompetencji, do którego przyzwyczaiły nas doświadczenia poprzednich pokoleń i nasze własne, to kompetencje prawdziwe, jedynie słuszne, stosowalne w przyszłości, albo nawet tylko “potencjalnie akceptowalne dla większości populacji cyfrowców”, to oczywiście czaty i esemesy stanowią zagrożenie.  Przy całym moim osobistym przywiązaniu do sztuki pisania i czytania oraz wielkiej literatury (proszę zauważyć, odruchowo zacząłem odpowiedź od zasygnalizowania, że stoję po tej samej stronie barykady, co inni imigranci cyfrowi), widzę wyraźną analogię do skądinąd bardzo słusznego twierdzenia, że rozwój motoryzacji zagraża zdrowym nawykom długich spacerów oraz kompetencjom jazdy konnej. Sam jeżdżę konno dobrze i od zawsze. Jednak na codzień poruszam się samochodem, a koń jest tylko moim hobby, ukłonem w stronę tradycji, zdrowym spędzaniem wolnego czasu i gimnastyką. To samo spotyka dziś tradycyjne formy przekazu tekstowego.

IB: I na tym moglibyśmy już właściwie zakończyć naszą rozmowę, ale zadam jeszcze jedno pytanie: Czy udało się już Panu zarazić swoim entuzjazmem dla nowych technologii wielu nauczycieli?

LH: Uchodzę za skutecznie zarażającego. Jeżeli ktoś mnie personalnie do czegoś wynajmuje, to znacznie częsciej do zarażania, inicjowania, uświadamiania niż np. do późniejszego systematycznego szkolenia. Niestety ciągle szkoła w Polsce obfituje w czynniki zrażające bardziej niż zarażające, ale w ciągu ostatnich dwóch lat widzę bardzo wyraźną zmianę nastawienia nauczycieli – na lepsze.

Jakie są Wasze/Państwa doświadczenia i opinie na temat wprowadzania e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach? Dziękujemy za komentarze!

Stories of a dinosaur

May 7th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
I am still in Porto, at the Faculty of Engineering , in the University of Porto. Yesterday I did a short presentation about the use of Social Media in Higher Education for the eLearning @FEUP workshop. I mainly focused on some projects I have been developing at the University Salford, but everything went so quickly [...]

It’s all in the connection!

March 16th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
This is what started to be a very short post where I aimed to share D’arcy’s really interesting video about ‘How do you connect to people online’?, which Irmeli Aro shared with me via FB.   But I ended up tying it with today’s session on social media to raise of researcher profile. How do you connect [...]

New Skills for New Jobs – many words but not much action

February 9th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I have just finished reading the ‘New Skills for New Jobs: Action Now‘ report by the Expert Group on New Skills for New Jobs prepared for the European Commission. it is hard to know how important these advisory reports are – but there is little doubt that they reflect the direction of thinking of both the European Commission and European Member States. Furthermore, the European Commission is a major funder of training through the European Social Fund, and also sponsors research and pilot programmes through the Lifelong Learning programme.

The report is interesting in that the self congratulatory hyperbole of the Lisbon Declaration and various follow up initiatives has all gone.

No longer are we to be the most innovative and best educated region of the world by some future date.

Instead the first part of the report presents a sober and somewhat pessimistic viewpoint towards education, skills and employment in Europe.

“Nearly one third of Europe’s population aged 25-64, around 77 million people, have no, or low, formal qualifications and only one quarter have high level qualifications”, the report says. “And those with low qualifications are much less likely to participate in upskilling and lifelong learning. Furthermore, nearly one third of Europe’s population aged 25-64, around 77 million people, have no, or low, formal qualifications and only one quarter have high level qualifications. And those with low qualifications are much less likely to participate in upskilling and lifelong learning. Furthermore,of the five European benchmarks in education and training set for 2010, only one is likely to be reached. Worryingly, the latest figures show that 14.9 % of pupils leave school early with several countries suffering from extremely high drop-out rates; the performance in reading literacy is actually deteriorating. This is not only unacceptable but means that we are way off
meeting the 10 % European target of early school leavers. We are, indeed standing on a ‘burning platform’.

Europe aims to be amongst the most highly skilled regions in the world, yet many European countries are not even in the top 20.flexible learning pathways, and focus on the development of essential skills as well as job-specific skills.”

The report summarises “these essential, transversal, skills” as “mother tongue; foreign language; maths, science and technology; digital competence; learning to learn; social and civic competences; sense of initiative and entrepreneurship;
and cultural awareness/expression.”

The second half of the report is given over to a series of policy recommendations. And despite a promising start in calling for  “‘skills ecosystems’ in which individuals, employers and the broader economic and social context are in permanent dynamic interaction”, there is little new. Much seems to be an exhortation to greater activity and effort but with few practical proposals for change other than more flexibility, more openness and more attention to the labour market.

“It is essential that the European Commission, Member States and employer organisations, in close co-operation with
education and training providers and trade unions, ‘make the case’ for skills and use modern information, communication and marketing techniques to encourage greater commitment to skills upgrading by individuals, employers and public agencies.training and employment.”

Where genuinely radical proposals are put forward they seem designed to shift more responsibility on the individual for ensuring their skills needs match market demand, albeit with some incentives.

“In order to rise to these challenges, education and training must be made more relevant to labour market needs, and more responsive to learners’ needs. This requires more than tinkering with systems and institutions: it compels us to rethink what we want from education”, the report says. But where is that rethinking, other than reshaping educational organisations to meet market needs (and this is hardly new).

There are four sub areas to the recommendations:

1. Provide the right incentives to upgrade and better use skills for individuals and employers.
2. Bring the worlds of education, training and work closer together.
3. Develop the right mix of skills.
4. Better anticipate future skills needs.

Worryingly in providing an example of measures which can help promote higher skills levels the report turns to vouchers – as piloted and discredited in the UK some years ago.

“Two tools to do this are learning vouchers and learning accounts; in the latter an employee can save and accumulate public and private funding and time off from work in order to undertake periodical training.”

The report says “Public spending on labour market programmes, education and training should not be reduced in times of uncertainty (someone should tell that to Peter Mandelson). However its proposes that such funding should be “directed to effective preventive and curative measures.”

Indeed the report goes on to more directive advice for the role of public education organisations or Public Employment Services (PES). “PES should consistently design their training schemes according to market needs as well as to stimulate entrepreneurship and self-employment.”

At the level of design of training programme sand qualifications the report calls says “A systematic matching of job profiles, breaking down job vacancies to their individual components (both of job specific and generic skill requirements), can serve as the basis for effective and efficient matching.”

The call to “Prioritise guidance and counselling services and motivational support for individuals improve the quality of these services and ensure that they tackle stereotypes”, is welcome. Far less is the proposal to establish league tables for courses through  publicising ” in a visible and comparable format on the web the opportunities and offers, as well as the prices and returns, of public and private education and training courses, so that individuals can make informed choices.”

In terms of pedagogy it is little surprise that the report backs the present initiative by the European Commission to promote learning outcomes based programmes. “The learning outcomes approach can serve best the needs of both the learner and the labour market, provided that employers are involved in defining, designing, certifying and recognising learning outcomes. It can help to develop a common language: instead of classifying jobs by occupational type and required qualification, as has been the case so far, we can now move toward describing both in terms of skills and competences.”

There is an interesting section which further refers to transversal skills, here far more narrowly defined. “Moreover, young people often complain that they feel unprepared for the world of work when they get there. The missing link, in
part, lies in a set of desirable skills such as the ability to work quickly, analyse and organise complex information, take responsibility, handle crisis, manage risk and take decisive action.”

There is surprisingly little discussion of digital skills and identities. However the report does say: “Digital and media literacy will be crucial both for life and work, and we should tend to the new goal of digital fluency. For an increasing number of jobs, indeed, digital fluency is increasingly required.”

Learning through work is also promoted but with few examples as to how this can be developed. Indeed much more attention is given to the idea of mini companies within education – the report says these should be introfuced at all levels to help students learn to be entrepreneurial.

All in all a disappointment. I would share the authors concerns over the state of education and skills in Europe and also that spending should be increased and not cut back. But they have failed to propose anything new. Indeed most of the practical policies strongly resemble the attempts by the UK Labour government to reform education and training to be more responsive to market needs and to promote individuals taking more responsibility for their skills and employability. And look where that got us.

Crowd sourcing the European foresight study: your chance to be an expert

January 20th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Here is a bit of fun. I have been invited as an ‘expert’ “to participate as an expert in a vision-building process on the future of learning aimed at assisting European policy-makers in addressing the challenges that lie ahead. This is a great opportunity for you to have an impact on European policy making and actively shaping the Future of Learning.”

The invitation continues: “Before giving you instructions on what we are asking you to do, we would like to briefly introduce the context and methodology of the study.

The context of this study
The European Commission has recently launched a foresight study on “The Future of Learning: New ways to learn new skills for future jobs”. This study intends to develop visions and scenarios on the ways in which new skills and competences will be learned in Europe in 2020-2030. The study addresses the following dimensions:
(1) Emergent skills and competences associated with future jobs
(2) New ways and practices of acquiring knowledge, skills and competences
(3) Associated changes in the roles of the participants in the learning process, i.e. learners and teachers
(4) Implications for existing Education and Training institutions, systems and policy frameworks
(5) The role of information and communication technologies in transforming and supporting creative and innovative learning
(6) Changes and challenges to assessment, certification and accreditation
(7) Implications of the envisaged changes for present policy action and support

The project team is made up of researchers from the European Commission Institute for Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS) in Seville; TNO, the applied research and technology organisation of the Netherlands; the Open University of the Netherlands; and AtticMedia, a specialist learning communications agency from London. This team will, over the next 12 months, develop a number of visions and scenarios on the future of learning and review their implications for policy making.

Your contribution to the study
As a first step in this project we would like to invite you as an expert to contribute to a vision building process using the group concept mapping method (GCM). As communicated in the invitation, you will be involved online (using e-mail) in two stages of the methodology, namely (a) individual brainstorming of ideas and (b) individual sorting and rating of ideas. In the brainstorming phase you will be asked to generate ideas about specific aspects of education of the future. This phase will typically take between 10 and 15 minutes. A week later, you will receive an aggregated list of ideas generated by all experts involved to, first, sort the statements in groups of similarity and then rate them on some scales (e.g. importance and feasibility). If you would like to know more about the GCM methodology, a short description with examples from various projects is attached to this e-mail (Concept System Introduction). Those of you familiar with the classical concept mapping approach, will probably notice substantial differences with the GCM methodology.

Please read the following instruction for the brainstorming phase of the study carefully.

Instruction to the first phase of the study
We all have the feeling that education in 20 years will have to be different from education today. Education then will possibly deal with a new set of skills and competences, new curriculums or types of curriculums, innovative ways of learning and assessment, different roles for teachers and educational institutions, different impacts of technology, just to mention a few.

1.       We ask you to generate statements about your thoughts about education in 20 years, and to do this using the following format:

One specific change of Education in 20 years will be that:”

I am not sure about my qualifications as an expert in this study, nor indeed that experts are the answers to such a study.

Anyway my somewhat esoteric list is posted below. But what do you think. Post your ideas in a reply – who knows, we might do better than the “experts”, and if enough reply I will find a way to move to stage 2 which involves the sorting and rating  of proposed changes

My ideas

  • We will recognise people for what they do rather than what qualifications they have
  • Open learning through the internet will become common
  • Learners will be expected to take control of their own learning
  • Formal learning  will become more episodic with people entering and leaving education at various points in their career path
  • Digital identities (and portfolios) will replace traditional CVs
  • Management of digital identities will become a crucial competence
  • The workplace will become a major context for learning
  • Mobile internet enabled devices will become the major tool for learning
  • Practice will become a focus for learning and will be captured through mobile devices and integrated with cloud based portfolios
  • Augmented reality applications will be a major tool for learning
  • Schooling will become a less important focus for learning as learning moves into the workplace, community and home
  • Higher education will return to its traditional core purpose of research
  • Vocational education and training become the major organisational form of learning
  • Systems and services will be developed to allow mutual peer group learning between groups of interested learners
  • Text books will be replaced by electronic multi media publications
  • Blogs and other internet based multi media will be recognised as legitimate publications for researchers
  • Multi User Virtual Environments will render physical attendance in school and university unnecessary
  • The financial crisis will lead to the increasing privatisation of universities
  • High course fees will deter many working class students from attending higher education
  • Open Educational Resources will become widely adopted
  • Virtual mobility will break down barriers between national education systems
  • There will be a lowering of the school leaving age as it is recognised that other contexts for learning may be more effective and more motivating than school
  • We will cease to rely on experts as the source of knowledge and curriculum and move towards quality based on use and endorsement through internet systems
  • Context specific learning materials and tasks will lead to more localised learning
  • Personal Learning Environments will replace institutional Virtual Learning environments
  • Occupational profiles will become broader incorporating elements of what are now seen as individual occupations
  • It will become common for people to move between occupations with learning key to supporting such moves
  • Traditional disciplinary boundaries will break down with learners pursuing individual learning programmes based on multi and inter disciplinary learning
  • Educational institutions will be reinvented as community knowledge centres serving both geographical communities and wider dispersed communities
  • Inter sector and inter subject networks of institutions will combine to form networks based on purpose and interest

Framing curricula for Open Education

January 5th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

More on scoping Open Education. In this series of blog posts I am trying to extend beyond our present focus on Open Educational Resources and look at the different dimensions of Open Education. These include include artefacts and tools, communities, Curriculum, pedagogy and the organisation and recognition of learning

I am not going to try to define any of these, still less to try to put forward any form of construct for measuring openness. Instead I want to try to explore the dimensions of these different ways of understanding open education and what they might mean in practice.

I have already written extensively on the artefacts and tools which mediate activities and learning. Artefacts and tools include Open Educational Resources and open repositories, cloud and social software as well as Personal Learning Environments.

What is missing at the moment is easy tools for resource discovery (Google is still fairly poor at finding Open Educational Resources).

Communities to support Open Education are more problematic. Institutional communities remain largely limited to those enrolled on a particular course. As David Wiley has pointed out one of the problems of Virtual Learning environments is that the tools and artefacts of such groups are usually deleted at the end of a particular course..

And, of course, we have seen the emergence of communities of practice around different topics, practices and occupations. Such communities are by definition emergent (as practices evolve) and vary greatly in structure and purpose.

According to Wenger, a community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

  • What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members.
  • How it functions – mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity.
  • What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artefacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

Rather than looking to learning as the acquisition of certain forms of knowledge, Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger in their book “Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation” have tried to place it in social relationships – situations of co-participation. As William F. Hanks puts it in his introduction to their book: ‘Rather than asking what kind of cognitive processes and conceptual structures are involved, they ask what kinds of social engagements provide the proper context for learning to take place’. It is not so much that learners acquire structures or models to understand the world, but they participate in frameworks that that have structure. Learning involves participation in a community of practice. And that participation ‘refers not just to local events of engagement in certain activities with certain people, but to a more encompassing process of being active participants in the practices of social communities and constructing identities in relation to these communities’

Lave and Wenger see the process of integration in communities as coming through involvement around practice – what they called legitimate peripheral participation. And evidence suggests that may work well for many learners, particularly those in vocational education and training. However it may be far more problematic for academic education or for those whose learning needs (or desires) lay outside present participation in am occupational practice.

We also have a growing number of free and open online courses. However there still remain issues.  Firstly, participating in a community of practice, particularly a dispersed community using technologies for communication, does not necessarily provide access to the support learners’ may need. We still lack is an easy way of peer matching for learners – what Vygotsky called a “More Knowledgeable Other.”  As Illich said in 1971: “It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.”

Secondly – and even if a leaner has managed to develop their own Personal Learning Network and has configured their Personal Learning Environment – there remains the issue of how to structure their learning. Traditionally learning has been structured around curricula or course outcomes. Yet traditional curricula, based on expert knowledge of a domain area may not be appropriate to present day needs characterised by the ready availability of information through the internet or indeed to the ideas of open education providing increased leaner autonomy. Dave Cormier says that the present speed of information based on new technologies has undermined traditional expert driven processes of knowledge development and dissemination. The explosion of freely available sources of information has helped drive rapid expansion in the accessibility of the canon and in the range of knowledge available to learners. We are being forced to re-examine what constitutes knowledge and are moving from expert developed and sanctioned knowledge to collaborative forms of knowledge construction. Social learning practices are leading to new forms of knowledge discovery. Cormier sees a movement from expert defined curricula to community based curricula but does not elaborate on how this process might happen.

In putting forward a metric for measuring openness in education, George Siemens talks about the “Systemic integration of openness – i.e. openness is part of the curriculum development process, not as an after market add on.” However, this would appear to be an appeal for transparency in the development process and for linking curriculum development to Open Educational Resources, rather than a basis for open education curricula.

The work of Joss Winn and Richard Hall has probably not received as much attention as it deserves. Joss Winn is particularly concerned with the dependency on tools and services underpinned by oil and technocentric economic, social and educational development in a world faced by growing uncertainties due to declining oil production. In a long blog post entitled “Towards a resilient curriculum for HE”, Richard Hall considers how curricula could prepare learners to deal with uncertainty and change. He also refers to the UK JISC funded Learning Literacies for the Digital Age project. The project final report highlighted the urgency of supporting a differentiation of identities and engagements in multiple spaces:

“there is a tension between recognising an ‘entitlement’ to basic digital literacy, and recognising technology practice as diverse and constitutive of personal identity, including identity in different peer, subject and workplace communities, and individual styles of participation.”

Hall continues

“Illich saw this as critical and believed that a “convivial society should be designed to allow all its members the most autonomous action by means of tools least controlled by others”, in order to overcome regimentation, dependence, exploitation, and impotence. He saw tools as mediating relationships, and as emancipatory where mastery of them in a specific context could be achieved.

There is a complex interplay between the theoretical opportunities of social media for personal emancipation through engagement in contexts for narrative and authorship, and our understanding of how those tools are deployed and owned in reality …. One key issue is how technologies are (re)claimed by users and communities within specific contexts and curricula, in-line with personal integration and enquiry, and in an uncertain world.”

Richard Hall goes on to look at “how to frame a curriculum that enables individuals-in-communities to learn and adapt, to mitigate risks, to prepare for solutions to problems, to respond to risks that are realised, and to recover from dislocations. This demands curricula that may be:

  • authentic and meaningful, framed by decision-making and agency;
  • enquiry-based, in which skills, approaches, decisions and actions are developed and tested in real-world situations that demonstrate complexity and context;
  • cross-disciplinary, and linked to a guild or craft-style experience rather than a Fordist, factory approach;
  • negotiated in scope, governance and delivery within authentic, rather than false, communities;
  • accredited through the specification of expertise and experience developed within real-world processes and outcomes;
  • framed by mentoring and coaching; and
  • focused upon co-governance, rather than co-creation”

In seeking to frame a curriculum to allow individuals in communities to deal with the challenges of the changing environment, Hall puts forward the basis for curricula design for Open Education.

The ideas put forward by Richard Hall are remarkably similar to those advanced by Willem Wardekker in comparing Critical and Vykotskian ideas of education.

Wardekker outlines key aspects of Vygotsky’s theory:

  • Identity becomes understandable only in connection with social relations.
  • Vygotskian theory has the ability of conceptualizing the plurality of such relations. It can recognize that positions, perspectives, and cultural resources may be inconsistent with each other without one or more of them being false.
  • Plurality may be seen in Vygotskian theory not only as a characteristic of society, but also as a characteristic of human personality.  It is not the social structures themselves that are internalized, but the meaning the individual learns to give to these structures in its interaction with others and in relation to what it has learned before. Internalization is an activity of meaning-giving and digestion … Learning does not mean being fitted with a totally new repertoire of behavior; it consists of qualitative changes in an already existing repertoire. At the same time, learning means learning about yourself: building perspectives on yourself in relation to the learning situations you find yourself in. This may generate a certain continuity, without taking the form of a unified perspective which could be called identity in the accepted sense. In different situations, before different audiences, the individual may be guided by different perspectives which may be partially incompatible. Nor does learning have a definite end; as long as there is contradiction in the social relations, learning occurs and identity keeps changing.

Vygotskian theory, says Wardekker, “has a positive attitude towards such change. … This holds on the individual level (that is, the individual development does not have an end) as well as on the level of society (we can only speak of ‘history’ if and where development takes place).”

Wardekker goes on to look at openness in relation to education.

“In the course of his or her development, each individual learns to handle the facts of change and contradiction in a certain way: either negating them or valuing them negatively, or seeing them as opportunities for development and using them in a positive way. Thus, individuals learn, or do not learn, to manage their own development and that of cultural resources. Education can play a crucial part here by stimulating certain ways of handling contradictions. The stimulation Vygotsky-oriented educators offer will go not in the direction of consistency but of openness. Contradictions should not be resolved or covered too soon. A ‘pluralist attitude’ (Rang, 1993) is an aim of education here. Ideology critique is aimed at situations which impede openness.”

These ideas can provide a starting point for a discussion around curricula for Open Education.  Key is the idea of authentic learning in engagement with real-world situations that demonstrate complexity and context. Open education can support learners in developing and exploring their own identities through developing meanings and coping with change and contradictions, both in their own personal contexts and in relation to wider society.

Extraordinary Educators

November 29th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
Today a really good friend of mine emailed to tell me about her impressions on a conference she has recently been to about innovation and creativity. Her thoughts and feelings about it are interesting…what (I think) she let us read in between the lines of her reflection is even richer. For those who can’t read Portuguese, Teresa [...]
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