Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Digital Literacies – Post 1

October 6th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This is a blogpost is based on a presentation I recently did for the Flexible, Distance and Online Learning open module that Chrissi Neranzi and her colleagues are currently running. It was part of Unit 2 that focuses on the theme of Digital Literacies.

Digital literacies is a very “hot” topic right now, and one that deserves our attention given the influence of the web on our working and social lives. And worthy of note is that the web is not only influencing the way we work nor solely the way we use it to socialise. The separation between formal and informal, public and private spaces has never been less straight forward and, as many would argue, the boundaries are blurry(ing) (See here, here, and here, for instance).

In its Developing Digital Literacies briefing paper, JISC state that
digital literacies define those who exhibit a critical understanding and capability for living, learning, and working in the digital society. 

I think this is a good definition. It goes beyond the initial concerns regarding the searching and retrieving of information online – as important as they are – to reflect the participatory culture that the social web supports because of its very interactive nature.

Yet, not everyone perceives the web in this way nor does everyone value it for its social(lisation) potential. The web as a field of participation and socialisation is not deprived of tensions, and it is far from being evenly distributed in the current global and network society [just to throw a couple of more ready made phrases in there!]. Consequently, different practices, and agendas, co-exist in a space that aggregates a wide variety of groups of people with a multitude of approaches on how the web can be appropriated to serve their needs.

This takes me to consider the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents debate initiated by White and Cornu. In wanting to take the digital native discussion to a new level, the authors devised a topology that looks at the frequency of use and explores the needs and motivations of individuals when using the web. This is translated into two different types of users: those who have embedded the web in their day-to-day practice (the residents) and those who use it sporadically for specific purposes (the visitors). Attached to this dichotomy between intense and occasional use of the web is a feeling of belonging, with the former feeling more attached to the “online world” than the latter. Although the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents metaphor provides us with an understanding on how individuals are taking to the Social and Participatory Web, it still offers, in my opinion, a binary interpretation of a more complex reality; one that educational institutions are struggling to get to terms with. And that has as much to do with how learners are using the web as it has to do with why some learners are more predisposed to do so than others, not to mention those who may be excluded of this topology altogether because of other factors that may preclude them from having access to technology or perceiving it as a useful tool for learning.

This makes me wonder what role individuals’ social, cultural and economic background play in prompting them to engage with the web for living, learning and working.

And more important even, it leads me to question as to the role (or duty) of educational institutions in cultivating and enhancing learners‘ cultural capital in a world mediated by technology.

Providing access to technology and wifi is necessary, but it’s effects will only be felt if the implementation of such technological infrastructures are accompanied by practices that promote its effective use.

The University of Southampton has recognised that and launched a module on Living and Working on the Web in an attempt to equip their students with relevant skills for the changing job market that the so called digital economy is bringing about. In our preliminary study we realised that the student population participating in the module was very diverse, not only in terms of their digital literacies but also, and above all, in terms of their attitudes with regard to digital forms of working and learning. This might be related to the way students have been socialised into learning and how they are predisposed to engage with digital practices. In this sense, I wonder how different these students are from staff who also feel less keen in changing their practices and attitudes to accommodate digital practices.

With learning technologies (and implicitly digital literacies) starting to feature heavily in Educational Institutions’s policies, what does it really mean to (and in) practice?

Critical thinkers in the 21st century …

May 18th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

The last few weeks have been extremely hectic but also rather exciting with participation in some EC projects, the writing of a new module for our Masters in Education and participation in events both in and outside my institution. I promise to translate those experiences in blogpost during the weekend [There you go. I've declared my intentions in writing, now I have to do it!]

Meanwhile I want to share the diagram below from mentoringminds.com  because I think it’s a very useful one to have in mind for my future courses.

Courtesy of: Mentoring Minds
This week someone told me you cannot teach young children Critical Thinking. I disagree. I think everyone is capable of it … even if the degree of depth might vary according to the knowledge and  experiences we manage to accumulate. All it takes is to create the appropriate learning context for it to happen and allow learners to engage with it.  Having said that, sometimes that accumulated experience can also get into the way we think… critically! I think the use of digital technologies in education is a good example of that.
I am yet to develop a convincing message for those who see technology as a threat [and me as a lunatic]. Technology, or the Web for that matter, as a form of accessing information or allowing teachers to create sleek content seems to be popular amongst teachers. Everyone likes that feature. But when it comes to use the web as a form of participation, networking and co-creation of knowledge people’s opinions seems to change… almost radically, because apparently children and teenagers might not be ready for it!! …that is for me when that critical thinking vanishes, minds are no longer open to new ideas and new experiences do not materialise because people refuse to accept that using the features of the current web implies to re-think their approaches to practice.
I participated in several events in the past weeks where technology in education was discussed. For me all of those events were marked by one single sentence: “I’m useless with technology”. I have heard variants of this sentence time and time again in the last few weeks. It’s a popular statement. One that is culturally accepted between many educators too. I was puzzled that it  seems to work as a perfect excuse not to look further into how technology can add something to the teaching and learning experience.  Would we allow our pupils and students to say they were rubbish at maths or spelling and let them get away with it? … the answer is “certainly not”.  So why can we?
As you can note from this post, I’m frustrated with such attitude, but I am even more frustrated with myself for not being able to convey the message in an effective way. But I will not give up. I’ll keep working and refining my message…

The changing world of work

October 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

As explained in my previous post, last week I visited the Hub Westminster in central London. The Hub is located on the first floor of New Zealand house, the New Zealand embassy near Piccadily.

The hub website explains

We believe there is no shortage of good ideas to solve the issues of our time. But there is an acute lack of collaboration and support structures to help make them happen. The HUB was founded to address this need.

We set out to create spaces that combine the best of a trusted community, innovation lab, business incubator and the comforts of home. Spaces with all the tools and trimmings needed to grow and develop innovative ventures for the world. But above all, spaces for meaningful encounters, exchange and inspiration, full of diverse people doing amazing things.

The idea has been spreading like wildfire and resulted in the emergence of a global movement. To date, there are 25+ open HUBs and many more in the making, from London to San Francisco, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Milan.

Not withstanding the hype, the Hub was impressive. It consists of a large open working space, with different small work areas, and different meeting areas. there must have been some 60 or 70 people there last Friday. some spaces seemed to be for particular teams, others were hot desking areas.

True, the tech area is very different to more traditional industrial and craft sectors. But it illustrated to me how work is changing. And although European Commission policy recognises the centrality of small enterprises for future employment and economic growth, I think they have been slower to think through the implications of this in social and education policy terms.

Probably the biggest problem for micro and small businesses remains access to capital. and for micro businesses without fixed assets, and with a business plan that is yet to show profits, banks may be even more unwilling to lend that to start ups in more traditional areas of the economy.

Equally such start up businesses are heavily reliant of skills and knowledge. yet the traditional education and training systems seem slow to adapt to new and growing areas of the economy and to the needs for higher level continuing learning than traditional qualifications structures provide.

If SMEs are to play such a key role they are going to need state support. The present EU policy seems to be based on reducing legislation and providing targeted help. Yet the ‘system for targeted help may be to inflexible and slow to meet real needs on the ground. I am also unconvinced that merely exempting SMEs from employment legislation is the right answer. Germany has some of the toughest employment legislation in Europe, yet has a record of thriving SMEs.

One of the issues may be the level of decision making and the forms that decision making takes. More transparency and social involvement in decision making processes could improve the quality of support for SMEs. equally there is a need for more localised economic planning. This, in turn, means better access to data and ideas for those responsible for such planning.

I am not arguing against private sector initiatives to support SMEs and job creation. But I would argue that the public sector has a key role to play and that we need more democratic and open processes if that support is to be effective.

Similarly, we need to re-look at social systems to see how they can be adapted to changing patterns fo work including access to food and recreation systems, transport, nursery provision and education and training.

 

 

The Great Disruption?

September 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This years meme at ed-tech conferences is disruption. There seems to be two opposing discourses. One says that education is not in a period of disruption – rather that the system is evolving to take account of the possibilities that technology offers for teaching and learning.

The other says we are entering a period of disruption with the existing system fundamentally unable to respond to needs and that the take up of technology will lead to fundamental change. The rush to deliver and accredit MOOCs is seen as the tipping point.

I think both sides are wrong. Firstly there are massive differences in different countries. Whilst there is little doubt of the speed of change, uncertainty and even disruption in the US and UK higher education sectors, in Germany and the Netherlands, for example, life seems to be going on as before.

What this suggest to me is that it is not technology as such that is the major factor in disruption. Rather it is social and ideological drivers which are leading to the more apocalyptic scenarios. We probably have reached a tipping point in that the use of technology for learning is becoming mainstream. And the availability of high quality learning opportunities outside the classroom means that educational institutions can know longer claim a monopoly on learning or knowledge. Equally the power of smart phones is opening up new contexts for learning. Of course these developments will lead to changes – particularly in pedagogy – within institutions.

But the promise of such developments is to extend education to all who wish to learn, rather t5han the present minority who are able to access higher education.

But this i9s a political and social decision. Technology can be used in many different ways – for good and for bad, In the US and in the UK the technology argument is being used as part of an ideological drive to extend the remit of capital to include education – in other words to privatise education. And of course the new private institutions will be  driven primarily by the need to make a profit – rather than by pedagogical imperatives.

Lets look again at MOOCs. the early MOOCs – now known as c-MOOCs – were developed by people like Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier and Jim Groom. The idea of massive open online courses was not to make money. Quite the reverse : they were struggling to find models to sustain the programmes. They were motivated by the idea of new pedagogical approaches to using technology for learning.

Now MOOCs have been picked up by the mainstream system. Coursera is an international consortium of elite universities using a proprietary platform to deliver free online courses. Apart from their use of video these courses are somewhat traditional in their pedagogic approach. At last weeks EFQUEL conference, Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal of Knowledge Management at Edinburgh university, a founder member of the Coursera consortium, was quite explicit about their interest in MOOCs. We are there to make money, he said. And if we do not make money within four years we will close the MOOCs down (it is worth reading Audrey Watters extremely amusing account of the education session at the TECHCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco earlier this week).

Same technology – but very different pedagogic approach and motivation. So it is not technology per se which is the driving force behind the great disruption. Rather it is the economic crisis and political and ideological responses to that crisis. As a society should we be retaining free education and investing in education as a response to the fall in productivity and high levels of unemployment. Or should be be seeking to cut back by privatising education? That is the real debate.

 

Changing Education Paradigms

July 19th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

Great graphics from Ken Robinson on the changing face of education

Loved this video – especially the stop motion animation. Content remarkably similar to a few Pontydysgu presentations. Ah well! Great minds ….

What role does technology have in shaping a new future in education?

January 3rd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The first blog of the new year looks at what I see as something of a contradiction for those of us wanting to change and hopefully improve education. Lets look at two trends from 2010.

In terms of the use of technology for teaching and learning we saw limited technical innovation. OK, the UK saw an increasing trend towards providing Virtual Learning environments (mainly Moodle) in primary schools. Applications like Google docs and Dropbox allowed enhanced facilities for collaborative work and file sharing. However neither of these was designed specifically for educational use. Indeed the main technical trend may have been on the one hand the increased use of social software and cloud computing apps for learning and on the other hand a movement away from free social software towards various premium business models. Of course mobile devices are fast evolving and are making an increasing impact on teaching and learning.

But probably the main innovation was in terms of pedagogy and in wider approaches to ideas around learning. and here the major development is around open learning. Of course we do not have a precise or agreed definition of what open education or open learning means. But the movement around Open Educational Resources appears to be becoming a part of the mainstream development in the provision of resources for tecahing and learning, despite significant barriers still to be overcome.  And there is increasing open and free tecahing provision be it through online ‘buddy’ systems, say for language learning, various free courses available through online VLEs and the proliferation of programmes offered as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) using a variety of both educational and social software. Whilst we are still struggling to develop new financial models for such programmes, perhaps the major barrier is recognition. This issue can be viewed at three different levels.

  1. The first level is a more societal issue of how we recognise learning (or attainment). at the moment this tends to be through the possession of accreditation or certification from accredited institutions. Recognition takes the form of entry into a profession or job, promotion to a higher level or increased pay.
  2. The second level is that of accreditation. Who should be able to provide such accreditation and perhaps more importantly what should it be for (this raises the question of curriculum).
  3. The third is the issue of assessment. Although traditional forms of individual assessment can be seen as holding back more innovative and group based forms of teaching and learning there are signs of movement in this direction – see, for example the Jisc Effective Assessment in a Digital Age, featured as his post of the year by Stephen Downes.

These issues can be overcome and I think there are significant moves towards recognising broader forms of learning in different contexts. In this respect, the development of Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks are an important step forward in allowing access to both technology and sources of learning to those not enrolled in an institution.

However, such ‘progress’ is not without contradiction. One of the main gains of social democratic and workers movements over the last century has been to win free access to education and training for all based on nee4d rather than class or income. OK, there are provisos. Such gains were for those in rich industrialised countries – in many areas of the world children still have no access to secondary education – let alone university. Even in those rich countries, there are still big differences in terms of opportunities based on class. And it should not be forgotten that whilst workers movements have fought for free and universal access to education, it has been the needs of industry and the economic systems which have tended to prevail in extending access (and particularly in moulding the forms of provision (witness the widely different forms of the education systems in northern Europe).

Now those gains are under attack. With pressures on econo0mies due of the collapse of the world banking system, governments are trying to roll back on the provision of free education. In countries like the UK, the government is to privatise education – both through developing a market driven system and through transferring the cost of education from the state to the individual or family.

Students have led an impressive (and largely unexpected) fightback in the UK and the outcome of this struggle is by no means clear. Inevitably they have begun to reflect on the relation between their learning and the activities they are undertaking in fighting the increases in fees and cutbacks in finances, thus raising the issue of the wider societal purposes and forms of education.

And that also poses issues for those of us who have viewed the adoption of technology for learning as an opportunity for innovation and change in pedagogy and for extending learning (through Open Education) to those outside schools and universities. How can we defend traditional access to institutional learning, whilst at the same time attacking it for its intrinsic limitations.

At their best, both the movements around Open Education and the student movement against cuts have begun to pose wider issues of pedagogy and the purpose and form of education as will as the issues of how we recognise learning. One of the most encouraging developments in the student movement in the UK has been the appropriation of both online and physical spaces to discuss these wider issues (interestingly in opposition to the police who have in contrast attempted to close access to spaces and movement through he so-called kettling tactic).

I wonder now, if it is possibel to bring together the two different movements to develop new visions of education together with a manifesto or rather manifestos for aschieveing such visions.

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 [...]

What’s the role of narrative inquiry in my research project?

April 8th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
Well, this is a question many people have been asking me. This is equally a question I ask myself. Simply because it is still hard to articulate my purpose and choices in such a way it becomes clear enough to those who ask. As Einstein once said, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t [...]

Moving along with the change…

February 10th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
A couple of weeks ago I went to see Nitin Sawnhey talking about his career. I must say, to my embarrassment, I knew nothing about this artist before that day, but I was quite pleased to come away from this event with a little bit more understanding about his music and influences, and, especially, about [...]

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.

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    Consultation

    Diana Laurillard, Chair of ALT, has invited contributions to a consultation on education technology to provide input to ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, which was set up in England in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts.

    The deadline for contributions is 23 June at http://goo.gl/LwR65t.


    Social Tech Guide

    The Nominet Trust have announced their new look Social Tech Guide.

    The Social Tech Guide first launched last year, initially as a home to the 2013 Nominet Trust 100 – which they describe as a list of 100 inspiring digital projects tackling the world’s most pressing social issues.

    In  a press relase they say: “With so many social tech ventures out there supporting people and enforcing positive change on a daily basis, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource that allows us to celebrate and learn from the pioneers using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives.

    The Social Tech Guide now hosts a collection of 100′s of social tech projects from around the world tackling everything from health issues in Africa to corruption in Asia. You can find out about projects that have emerged out of disaster to ones that use data to build active and cohesive communities. In fact, through the new search and filter functionality on the site, you should find it quick and easy to immerse yourself in an inspiring array of social tech innovations.”


    Code Academy expands

    The New York-based Codecademy has translated its  learn-to-code platform into three new languages today and formalized partnerships in five countries.

    So if you speak French, Spanish or Portuguese, you can now access the Codecademy site and study all of its resources in your native language.

    Codecademy teamed up with Libraries Without Borders (Bibliotheques sans Frontieres) to tackle the French translation and is now working on pilot programs that should reduce unemployment and bring programming into schools. In addition, Codecademy will be weaving its platform into Ideas Box, a humanitarian project that helps people in refugee camps and disaster zones to learn new skills. Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy, says grants from the public and private sector in France made this collaboration possible.

    The Portuguese translation was handled in partnership with The Lemann Foundation, one of the largest education foundations in Brazil. As with France, Codecademy is planning several pilots to help Brazilian speakers learn new skills. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company has been working closely with the local government on a Spanish version of its popular site.

    Codecademy is also linking up up with the Tiger Leap program in Estonia, with the aim of teaching every school student how to program.


    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


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