Archive for the ‘digital revolution’ Category

Evaluation 2.0 – the Slidecast

August 2nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Late last year Jenny Hughes made a keynote presentation on Evaluation 2.0 for the UK Evaluation society. And pretty quickly we were getting requests for the paper of the presentation and the presentation slides. The problem is that we have not yet got round to writing the paper. And Jen, like me uses most of her canvas space for pictures not bullet points on her slides. This makes the presentation much more attractive but it is difficult sometimes to gleam the meaning from the pictures alone.

So we decided we would make a slidecast of the presentation. But, half way through, we realised it wasn’t working. Lacking an audience and just speaking to the slides, it was coming over as stilted and horribly dry. So we started again and changed the format. rather than seeing it as a straightforward presentation, Jen and I just chatted about the central ideas. I think it works pretty well.

We started from the question of what is Web2.0.Jen says “At its simplest, it’s about using social software at all stages of the evaluation process in order to make it more open, more transparent and more accessible to a wider range of stakeholder.” But editing the slidecast I realised we had talked a lot more than about evaluation. This chat really deals with Web 2.0 and the different ways we are developing and sharing knowledge, the differences between expert knowledge and crows sourced knowledge and new roles for teachers, trainers and evaluators resulting from the changing uses of social media.

Digital Transformations with Internet Radio

July 22nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Sorry for the lack of posts here lately. I have been travelling, firstly in Wales, then London, on to the PLE conference In Southampton, from there back to London, Bremen and then on to Porto where I am now. This has left me with a serious backlog of posts which I will try to get on topof next week.

I am in Porto for the Gary Chapman International School on Digital Transformations. The school, according to the web site, is for advanced students and emerging professionals, social entrepreneurs, and activists from around the world with an interest in digital technology and the enrichment of civil society. It aims to explore the potential for digital media to empower citizens, strengthen communities, and contribute to a more vibrant civil society.

I am still not quite sure what is really being meant by digital transformations. Indeed, I am not vven sure that we are not overly focusing on technologies, whilst lacking a shared vision of how we want society to develop. But I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to talk with so many talented epople from different disciplines, interests and cultures.

Togther with Cristina Costa, I was invited to join the ‘faculty’ for the school. And they told us that they welcomed novel and active approaches to the one and a half hours allocated for each faculty memmber to present their work. So Cristina and I pooled  our time and instead of a formal presentation ran a workshop on using internet radio. Particpants had two and a half hours working in groups to plan their slots, followed by a half hour live internet radio broadcast. It turned out to be great fun. We were not really sure how such a workshop would work with a large group of people with so much expertise in different fields. But what was very encouraging was the intense discussions the workshop tasks provoked around the meanings of the different apsects of digital transformations and how much the participants enjoyed the event (at least they told us they did!).

Many thanks to eveyone who took part. Special thanks to audio engineer Rui Silva who agreed at very short notice to support us and ended up running a workshop himself om the techncial side of internet radio. Rui also did the post processing for the podcast version posted here.

Education, the knowledge society and employment

March 3rd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

An important article in the Guardian newspaper entitled “The awful truth: education won’t start the west getting poorer”. The article challenges a number of assertions which seem to have become accepted ‘facts’ over the last few years.

Anyone who has written proposals for the European Commission will know the mantra of the Lisbon Agreement. By the year 2010 Europe will be the most advanced knowledge economy of the year. Now quietly forgotten , this bombastic policy goal was based on a number of unproved assumptions. First was the nature of the economy itself. Yes, we may have a greater proportion of knowledge as capital in the production process than in previous times and the numbers involved in service industries have increased but the capitalist economies remain relaint on production as the primary source of wealth and indeed of employment.

And whilst the number of occupations and jobs requiring higher skills and knowledge levels has increased, there remain many low skilled jobs, especially in the growing services sector.

There were two main ways Europe was to achieve its preeminent status in world economies. The first was through implementing ever higher levels of technology. Once more the link between technology, productivity and economic growth are contestable and difficult to measure. technology can increase productivity and lead to growth. however, there have been a number fo studies showing that the implementation of new technologies has actually reduced productivity, at least in the short term. And if technology merely reduces the workforce, this can inhibit economic growth and stability.

There has also been a long running assumption that higher levevls of education and qualification will also lead to higher productivity and higher wage levels. Botha re unproven. And as the data quoted in the Guardian shows real wage levels in teh UK are actually falling.

In fact it is some of those occupations lauded as the jobs of the future that pay rates have fallen most dramatically in comparative terms. Computer programmers pay has been steadily falling for the last five years in the UK.

The Guardian also points out how so called knowledge jobs are being deskilled “They are being chopped up, codified and digitised. Every high street once had bank managers who used their discretion and local knowledge to decide which customers should receive loans. Now software does the job. Human judgment is reduced to a minimum, which explains why loan applicants are often denied because of some tiny, long-forgotten overdue payment.”

The Guardian quotes Brown, Lauder and Ashton who call this “digital Taylorism”, after Frederick Winslow Taylor who invented “scientific management” to improve industrial efficiency.”

And of course with Globalisation and new forms of communciation many of these jobs are simply being shifted or outsourced to workers in other countries, especially to lower wage economies. At the same time, countries such as India and China are rapidly expanding their education systems, with a dramatic growth in science and technology graduates.

In many ways this is a perfect storm, hence the title of the Guardian article. it certaibly adds focrce to teh growing debate about the Purpose of Education abd challenges the idea that educations hould merely focus on so called employability skills. Secondly it may lead us to rethink what sort of jobs we want in society? I am interested in the survival of the craft sector in gemrany, depsite the assumption in the UK that such jobs had no future. Indeed its eems that thsoe countries with strong apprenticeship systems, valuaing handicraft and applied skills and knowledge may be better placed for the future than thiose such as UK which went down the road of developing a mass higher education system for the knowledge society.

Don’t blame the technology!

March 29th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
Sometimes I wonder why people want to use technology in their practice. Is it because it’s a recognised trend in their professional sphere/discipline? Is it because others are doing it? Is it because it makes them look cool and modern? …maybe it is a bit of all…? And in a way they are all plausible answers. [...]
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    Zero Hours Contracts

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

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


    Resistance decreases over time

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


    Postgrad pressure

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

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

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


    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


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    @mimirinis thanks Mike - looks interesting

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