Archive for the ‘Digital Literacy’ Category

Living, learning and working on the web: developing a new habitus

September 19th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

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Higher Education is not a provider of content but rather a source of cultural capital says Cristina Costa in this engaging 50 slide romp through digital theory and practice.

Intelligent machines or intelligent humans? Herebe monsters!

September 16th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I’m not normally a big fan of keynote speeches. But I greatly enjoyed Audrey Waters presentation at Alt C 2014. According to the video blurb: “What does it mean to create intelligent machines? What does it mean to create intelligent teaching machines? What does this mean in turn when we talk about using these technologies to create intelligent humans? A romp through literature and the cultural history of ed-tech to talk about teaching machines and monsters.” And I love a good romp.

Learning literacies do not come free with the latest technology

May 21st, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I have always liked David White’s ideas about digital visitors and residents. And in the training sessions we run we find an increasing individual differentiation in people;s confidence and competence in using digital technologies. In this video David White (@daveowhite, http://twitter.com/daveowhite) of the University of Oxford explains how the Visitors and Residents model provides a framework to understand individuals’ engagement with the Web based on motivation and context. In part 1 of this series, he argues that the metaphors of ‘place’ and ‘tool’ best represent the use of technology in contemporary society and allow us to better adapt to the challenges of new forms of academic practice.

Badge of honour

January 22nd, 2014 by Graham Attwell

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

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

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

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

via Badge of honour – Holyrood Connect.

Emerging consensus in england around teaching computing in school?

November 4th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Willard Foxton is an investigative journalist and television producer. According to his profile in the right learning UK Daily Telegraph newspaper “he writes on skulduggery wherever he finds it, especially in the world of technology.”

Two weeks ago Foxton achieved something few online reporters can claim. He received 897 comments on an article entitled “The Government wants to teach all children how to code. Here’s why it’s a stupid idea.” And almost all opposed him!

Foxton wrote:

My Telegraph Blogs colleague Jack Rivlin is looking for a developer, and is frustrated because he can’t find one in Shoreditch. Jack is the perfect poster child for why our kids can’t code – he’s a normal person, rather than an exceptionally dull weirdo, like the bulk of developers.

I’m all for people to learning to code – I wrote a piece arguing we should teach it in prisons earlier this year – but I think we need to be aware of its limitations. Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair.

As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people – the aforementioned dull weirdos.

As you can imagine, there were many incensed replies. But what is interesting is that there would now appear to be a consensus, at least from those who read the Daily Telegraph technology pages, that programming is a subject that should be taught in schools. And I doubt that such a consensus existed a few years ago. Of course there remain challenges for the English target of introducing the subject from next year, not least in curriculum development and in professional development and support for teachers. But teaching 5-7 year old kids key ideas like understanding the definition of an algorithm  as well as being able to “create and debug a simple computer program” is no longer seen as the crazed imagination of a weirdo!

Thinking about a career developing apps?

September 16th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Last week I wrote about projections of future demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM – or in Germany – MINT) occupations. I suggested that predictions of skills shortages were overstated.

The same applies to computer programmers. According to the European Commission, “many vacancies for ICT practitioners cannot be filled, despite the high level of unemployment in Europe. While demand for employees with ICT skills is growing by around 3% a year, the number of graduates from computing sciences fell by 10% between 2006 and 2010.

If this trend continues, there could be up to 900 000 unfilled ICT practitioners’ vacancies in the EU by 2015.”

This is not the first time the European Commission has predicted skills shortages for ICT practitioners. Prior to the Millennium bug, there were once more predictions of a massive shortage of programmers. And I suspect, with a little internet searching, it would be possible to find annual predictions of skills shortages and unfilled vacancies, especially from industry lobby bodies.

One reason for this, I suggested in my previous article, is that the ICT industry has an interest in keeping wages down by ensuring an over supply of qualified workers. In this respect, a report last week on the size and value of the apps industry in Europe is interesting. The  report published by industry trade body ACT, claimed that there are currently 529,000 people in full-time employment directly linked to the app economy across Europe, including 330,000 app developers with another 265,000 jobs n created indirectly in sectors like healthcare, education and media, where apps are increasingly prominent.

At first glance then, this is a rosy area for young people with a good future. But digging deeper into the data suggests something different. According to the Guardian newspaper, “In the UK specifically, the report claims that 40% of organisations involved in developing apps are one-man operations, while 58% employ up to five people. It also points out that 35% of UK app developers are earning less than $1,000 a month from their work.”

1000 dollars a month is hardly a living wage, let alone a sufficient level of remuneration to justify the expense of a degree course. However this does not discourage the industry group who amongst other measures are lobbying the European Commission to strengthen the single market and develop “a flexible and supportive business environment for startups and entrepreneurs.” In other words, more deregulation.

There are a number of problems in looking at skills shortages in this area. My suspicion would be that although the numbers graduating from computer science have fallen, graduates in computer and ICT related courses has risen. And demand for ICT practitioners covers a wide range of occupations. Rather than increasing the number of computer science graduates, more useful would be to ensure that ll graduates are skilled in designing and using new technologies. Of course developing such skills and competences should start at a much younger range. It is encouraging the ICT has been included in the primary school curriculum in England from next year.

The EU policy on future employment is based on the idea of job matching – of trying to match skills, qualifications and vacancies. Of course this does not work. What they should be doing is looking at prospective competences and skills – at giving young people the educations and skills to shape the future of workplace3s and employment. That could include the ability to use technology creatively in a socio-technical sense. But of course that would not suit the various industry lobby groups who are more concerned with protecting there profits than shaping the future of our society.

 

 

RadioActive: Inclusive Informal Learning through Internet Radio and Social Media

September 3rd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Andrew Ravenscroft, Casey Edmonds and James Dellow are presenting the Radioactive project at the British Educational Research Association co0nference in Brighton, UK today. Below is a summary of the presentation.

Addressing how disenfranchised young people can be included and engaged within relevant work-related vocational learning paths is one of the key challenges within the UK and across the globe. Weakening social and economic conditions linked to cut-backs in education is arguably producing a ‘lost generation’ of young people who are excluded from education and training, particularly within the UK and Europe. The challenge of including, engaging and educating these marginalised young people, in innovative and low-cost ways, so that they can become active and engaged citizens, who contribute to legitimate economies, is a substantive problem linked to research priorities within the UK and EU.

Our RadioActive initiative addresses these challenges directly, through two related Community Action Research projects, one focussed in London and the UK (RadioActive UK, funded by Nominet Trust), and the other focussed on the broader European landscape (RadioActive EU, funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme). Collectively, these projects provide a broad international application of internet radio for inclusion, informal learning and employability.

The project is implementing a radical approach to conceptualising, designing and developing internet radio and social media for informal learning within ‘lived communities’. It embodies the key pedagogical ideas of Paulo Freire (1970) and his notion of transformational (or emancipatory) learning through lived experience.  This is achieved in the UK context through embedding the radio and content production within the existing practices of established youth organisations. The internet radio is used to catalyse, connect and communicate developmental practices within these organisations, leading to rich personal and organisational learning, change and development. In particular, exploring rich and varied personal and community identities, and promoting their articulation, expression and positive transformation, are pivotal to RadioActive. It also embodies a new approach to social media design – that is conceived as an intervention in existing digital, and mixed-reality, cultures. Hence, the application of our approach captures, organises and legitimises the digital practices, content production and critical and creative potential of disenfranchised young people to provide a new and original community voice. This voice combines the intimacy, relevance and ‘touchability’ of local radio with the crowd sourcing power of social media.

This talk will present:  our original rationale and pedagogical approach; the new learning design methodology linked to the resulting RadioActive platform; some exemplar broadcasts and content; and, an evaluation of the degree to which RadioActive has led to personal and community learning and development within participating youth organisations.

Radioactive Europe – Wir Machen Radio

April 23rd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu is involved in a great project at the moment using internet radio. The project, called RadioActive101 and funded by the Nominet Trust,  stemmed from a series of discussions regarding using radio for disadvantaged young people in Hackney in London.

We explained the ideas in our paper for the PLE conference (Ravenscroft, A., Attwell, G., Blagbrough, D. & Stieglitz, D. (2011). RadioActive -„Jam Hot!‟: Personalised radio ciphers through augmented social media for the transformational learning of disadvantaged young people. Proceedings of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) 2011, 11-13 July, Southampton, UK.) :

The aim was to develop a Critical Pedagogical Framework that would “empower the students, together with the teachers, to challenge marginalizing social contexts, ideologies, events, organizations, experiences, texts, subject matter, policies and discourses.” (Williams, 2009). Important in this was the development of an identity that is consciously critical through learners acting as active agents who can take control of the construction of their own being.

We are currently using this cipher concept as a metaphor for designing digitally enabled ciphers within RadioActive. This is a hybrid internet-radio and social media platform to support the transformational learning of disadvantaged young people.

Critical to this is the appropriation of technologies as a form of expression of popular cultures and their use of technologies within those cultures to explore and develop a critical approach. This re-formulation of Freire‟s (1970) seminal notion of developing a critical pedagogical framework in his work on literacy is an attempt to develop new critical literacies through the use of new media.

Over the last nine months we have been working with two youth clubs, Yoh and Dragon Hall, in London and have produced some six or so trail programmes. Now we are working on developing a regular broadcasting schedule. In a future article I will write something about this work.

Since the start of this year, we have extended the project to Europe through an EU funded project, RadioActive Europe, with partners in Germany, Malta, Portugal and Romania. Each country is working with different groups to develop their own internet radio station. To set these up we are holding kick off workshops in each country, with the objective of broadcasting an initial programme. The first of the workshops will be in Germany this Saturday.

The   Mehrgenerationenhaus website explains the idea (as translated by Google)

With the project “Internet Radio by citizens for citizens,” the MGH treading new ground. For this, the multigenerational people still look all ages who wish to participate. The kick-off workshop will be held on Saturday the 27.04.2013 at 10.00 clock in the MGH. At 13.00 clock then the first webcast (Internet radio) goes live on the air. Then the group will meet regularly with the aim of Internet radio reports to send to local issues. Accompanied and guided professionally in the long term, the project of Andreas Auwärter, Radioactive Europe, Knowledge Media Research at the University of Koblenz-Landau, an official partner of the multi-generational house.

Even programs designed to prepare first of all a lot of fun and is also very easy. The audio format offers a variety of design options, from interviews with experts on property reports and coverage to small acoustic scene games are open to all possibilities. And last but not least Radio is an interplay between mental cinema and stories. Make radio works best in a team. From this we learn not only methods to acquire and evaluate information, but also how to structure them, and presents. But the biggest compliment is to be dialogue with the listeners, who certainly can not wait too long.

There are many ways to contribute its skills do not end automatically at the microphone. A radio needs editors, interview Preparer, appointment coordinators, people with ideas and imagination, writers, presenters, audio designer and much more. Of course, this modern media are actively used all the people to give a voice to the spot. With years of experience of the group Radio Active Europe partners each participant has the opportunity according to their own prior knowledge to learn everything necessary at their own pace.

Radioactive Europe is a two-year research project under the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union, and especially the older generation would like to introduce them to modern information and Communication. Radioactive Europe has set itself the goal to actively use this medium to give people a voice. It particularly interested in those who are otherwise little heard.
Information and registration at MGH 02631 Neuwied call 344,596.

Follow us on Twitter or visit us on Facebook.

For more information, see http://de.radioactive101.eu

Digital Scholarship

April 18th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

I have recently had a series of conversations with Cristina Costa on ideas around digital scholarship (we might even publish something together on this in the future!). And by luck I found this interesting presentation by Cristobal Cobo Romaní. The presnetation is based on a paper he has written. Cristobal says on his blog: “Widespread access to digital technologies has enabled digital scholars to access, create, share, and disseminate academic contents in innovative and diversified ways. Today academic teams in different places can collaborate in virtual environments by conducting scholarly work on the Internet. Two relevant dimensions that have been deeply affected by the emergence of digital scholarship are new facets of knowledge generation (wikis, e-science, online education, distributed R&D, open innovation, open science, peer-based production, online encyclopedias, user generated content) and new models of knowledge circulation and distribution (e-journals, open repositories, open licenses, academic podcasting initiatives, etc.).:

Mobility Shifts

October 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I was in New York last Friday presenting at a panels session at the Mobility Shifts Conference on In, Against and beyond the Institution. The panel was chaired by Mike Neary and comprised of myself, Josie Fraser, Richard Hall and Joss Winn. Somewhat surprisingly to me some 15 people turned up despite it being scheduled at se4ven o’clock on a Friday evening.

Joss presented the  Student as Producer project which re-imagines students role in the design, development, and critique of the curriculum. The process of teaching learning is decoupled from traditional power relationships so students become an integral part of the governance of an institution rather than solely its customer (there is a paper available on this written by Joss together with Mike Neary.

Richard considered how students and teachers might dissolve the symbolic power of the University into the actual, existing reality of protest, in order to engage with a process of transformation (for more see his blog).

Josie talked about the transformative aspects of digital literacy. And I looked at changing pedagogies in work based learning and developmental competence – the capacity of the individual to acquire and demonstrate the capacity to act on a task and the wider work environment in order to adapt, act and shape (design) it.

All good stuff. I found some of the ideas hard – and we certainly did not reach any conclusions. But the very fact that we are having such discussions – and the renewed interest in critical pedagogy – is testimony both of the crisis which pervades our univeristies and the growing opposition and questioning of the purpose and organisation of education including the role of researchers and teachers. To that extent I think the title – In, Against and Beyond – is helpful in linking the attempts to transform practices and roles within universities to growing protest movements outside the institutions – including the many initiatives – particularly in the UK – to explore alternative structures to the established universities.

More on this when I am less tired. in the meantime Doug Belshaw has written a  series of excellent blogs talking about some of the many wide ranging discussions which took place at Mobility Shifts.

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    News Bites

    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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