Archive for the ‘e-portfolios’ Category

Personal Learning Environments in the Cloud?

January 24th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I am surprised that there has not been more discussion of the UK Open University’s decison to sign up to Google Education for cloud computing services.

On his blog Niall Sclater says:

“In our first foray into cloud computing, Google will be hosting for our students:

  • email (gmail)
  • contacts
  • instant messaging and presence
  • calendar
  • document creation, storage and sharing
  • websites”

Interestingly, The OU, the UK’s largest univeristy, will not at the moment be giving staff access ot the system, presumably becuase of concerns over security and confidentiality.

Niall explains the reasons for the decision :

“Growing numbers of institutions are now adopting cloud-based systems such as Google Apps for Education, particularly in the US. The arguments for hosting your own student email are becoming increasingly weak when it can be done externally for free, or at least much more cheaply. Google will provide a service level agreement with higher levels of availability than we could achieve ourselves. In addition there are other services included such as instant messaging that we don’t currently provide to students but could help them to connect more with each other.”

However the decision has interesting implications for pedgogic approaches. Niall says:

“These systems will increasingly start to compete with some of the features of learning management systems / virtual learning environments such as Moodle and Blackboard. They provide a higher level of individual control for students and potentially remove some of the administrative burden from the university. …

Another area for investigation is the use of Google Apps as an eportfolio system. Our initial research has shown that it would work for some of the key aspects of eportfolio provision such as the storage of documents under the control of the user, the exporting of these so they can be taken with them through life, and the creation of templates for the collection of structured data for a variety of purposes. We still need to work out how we can freeze or export eportfolio content where it is being for formal assessment.”

In a comment on the blog, Tim Hunt, also from the Open University, says:

“The VLE is the University’s space where it publishes its courses, and students come to study that material and perform some course-specific activities.

Google tools / ePortfolio / PLE / student’s own laptop are the student’s spaces for keeping and managing their learning.

In a traditional bricks a and mortar, chalk and talk setting, the VLE is the lecture room and labs; and Google tools are the student’s room in the hall of residence, or possibly their leaver-arch file.

I think it is clear that you need both types of space, and that they complement each other. However, there are some activities that could take place in either space.”

Manish Malik from Portsmouth University, which is already giving access to Google cloud services to all students, tries to distinguish between PLEs, VLEs, loosely coupled applications and what he calls a “CLE or Cloud Learning Environment”

The cloud can be seen as one big autonomous system not owned by any educational institution. Let the Academics or Learners be the users, of some cloud based services, who all equally share the privelages like control, choice, sharing of content etc on these services. Then this is different from a PLE, a VLE and a PTE. For example Google Apps for universities is hosted on the cloud, not fully controlled by any educational institution and certainly not owned by one. The tools on it are to a great extent academic or learner controlled. Each “Google Site”, for example, can be owned by an academic or a Learner and both users be given the same rights/control by one another (depending on who creates first). Likewise Google Docs can be owned and shared between learners themselves or learners and academics under their own control.

This gives all parties the same rights on same set of tools. This clearly has potential to enable and facilitate both formal and informal learning for the learner. Both the academic and the learner are free to use the tools the way they wanted and share and collaborate with anyone they wanted.”

I think Malik is wrong is distinguishing between PLEs and CLEs (and to be honest, we really need just to advance our understandings of PLEs, rather than invent yet more acrobyms and terminology). If we go back to the blog entry which strated it all – Scott Wilson’s “The Future VLE?”, it was always clear that a PLE would include different third party services  (even though cloud computing was not a term invented then as far as I know).

However, there are a number of interesting issues raised by the move towards cloud services for students.

Firstly, the services provided by Google make it very easy for s student to develop their own PLE. One of the long running concerns about PLEs has been whether or not all students have the knowledge and skills with technology to develop their PLE. This may overcome such concerns. Furthermore, in a podcast interview with Niall I made three years ago, he expressed the concern that university computer services had a duty to provide support for all applications a university was using for tecahing and learning. If PLEs were to be introduced he argued, this would be impossible due to the very diversity of different platforms and applications. Presumably, the deal with Google overcomes that issue.

Of course it is all to easy to see Google as the new evil empire, taking over education. But unless the nature of the deal between universities totally ties down systems, it should be relatively easy to integrate third party services with the Google apps, at least for someone with reasonable digital skills. And although Niall Sclater refers to ePortoflios, I see little difference in the way this is developing to a PLE.

Of course, there are worries about trusting a PLE to third party commercial companies. But data is not locked down on Google in the way it is on platforms like Facebook. it should be relatively simple for a learner to keep copies of important work and data on their own computers (and indeed to update those copies when they change computers).

Interesting, from my present interests, it  should be relatively simple to integrate Google apps with the Android platform, this making mobile learning much cimpler (ignoring of course the problems with cross paltform use).

Of course the proof will be in the use. Will teachers start moving to Google apps rather than use the Open Univeristiy’s Moodle platform? Will learners develop their own PLEs? How will the Google apps integrate with univeristy services and applications. Will data be secure and will Google continue to support student PLEs even after they have left university: Is this just a new form of lockin? And how reliable are Google services? Do the moves by Portsmouth and the Open University herald a large scale shift by educational institutions to cloud services?

Most of all – will the use of these services provide new pedagogic affordances which will lead to changing practices in teaching and learning? Tims will tell.

Open Educational Resources and the future of institutions

December 28th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

One of the most positive developments in technology Enhanced Learning over the past year has been the ‘mainstreaming’ of Open educational resources’ (OERs). What do I mean by ‘mainstreaming’? Instead of being confined to the fringes in funded projects the creation and distribution of OERs are increasingly being seen as a strategic approach ro institutional educational strategies. At the same time there has been an increase in fundfing avaiable for the creation, distribution and discovery of OERs together with added awareness of what OERs are and how they might be used.

That is not to say every issue has been resolved. The resourcing of OER creation is till an issue, although some institutions seem to be absorbing the cost into the overall budgets. There remain issues over how to develop OERs, given that materials often include artefacts that are covered by copyright. Discovery – finding suitable OERs – is still not always easy. Academic practices (and terms of service) are not always aligned with the idea of open publishing. And of course we still do not as a community have a single agreed understanding of what constitutes an OER. But all thes eissues can be resolved given a little time.

However, the movement towards OERs conceals bigger issues. Firstly what do we mean by an Open Educational Resource. I am not  talking here about definitional squabbles. More important for me is who the resources are aimed at. many of the early OER repositres have comprised of materials for teaching and not for learning. these are not the same. Of course lecture notes and overhead presentations may be helpful to support learning (and certainly helpful for teachers). But, I am not sure that reading and watching course materials constitutes a learning programme in itself. Neither have many of the institutions providing OERS intended it to be. Why make free courses available online of it would compete with courses offered by an institution.

Yet, at the same time, organisations such as the BBC, are publishing increasing amounts of  learning (not teaching) materials aimed at a wide range of age groups and a wide ability range. YouTube contains hundreds of videos providing help in how to do almost anything. Web tutorial sites abound. And the growing power of mobile devices and if rumour is to be believed, the immanent arrival of smart tablet readers, allows integration of learning into everyday work and leisure activities. In other words, learning is moving outside teh institution at an ever increasing rate. It is these materials which will be of most profound influence on the future of our education systems

My prediction of trends for 1010 is that the crisis over the future role of institutional education will continue to deepen. The crisis, engendered largely by technological and social change, can only be exacerbated by the financial cutbacks facing higher education in many countries. At the moment education institutions can fall back of their function in providing recognised qualifications. Although the degree of regulation regarding qualifications and the weight such qualifications carry for employment varies between sectors and countries, in general we might expect that increasingly employers will look to a person’s digital identity and digital record of learning, rather than accepting qualifications as the basis for employment.

So do educational institutions have a future? I think they do but this will require profound change. Already a few pioneers like Dave Wiley, George Siemens and Stephen Downes have tested new models for online courses including both participants registered for a course credit and those not registered. But more fundamentally institutions may have a role in motivating and supporting the learning of students at particular phases in their (lifelong) learning. But this requires far more flexibility than our present (higher) education systems provide. Although I do not agree with his motives the Prince of Darkness, UK Business Minister Peter Mandelson, may be right when he talks of more flexible degree offerings including both full time two year degrees and more work based degrees. And we may even have to question the degree structures. Why not start recognising the learning that takes place whilst following a course in an institution, rather than referring to the course which frames that possible learning?

And of course such (personal learning) programmes will have to start from the point of where learners are at – recognising their previous learning and their learning needs (and desires). Much of that learning will have come from engaging with OERs in a workplace or social setting. That doesn’t mean there is no place for the seminar, workshop or even lecture. But it does mean that the regimentation of courses may become a thing of the past. Different learners will have different prior experiences and different learning needs. Why not conceive of university as an university such as an extended bar camp or unconference. Students could opt to follow particular elements and could themselves support the learning of others. Support would still be needed to help learners get from where they are now to where they potentiality could be. Universities could become an intense learning experience, unlike the present exam factories, often marketed on the basis of the social life around the institution.

If course I might have been reading too many science fiction novels over Christmas. But the times are a changing, however slowly and the increasing availability of Open Education Resources or Open Learning materials are part of that change.

Cartoon Planet – A Pedagogy of Change

October 6th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Reflection is a big buzz word these days. But there sometimes seems a inverse relation between researchers talking about reflection and examples of how reflection can be facilitated in practice. For this reason I very much like the work I have been doing together with Cristina Costa and Helen Keegan from the University of Salford in the European Commission funded ICONET project. We have written a paper called ‘Cartoon Planet: Micro-reflection Through digital Cartoons – a Case Study on Teaching and Learning with Young People’. Just to make sure praise goes where it is due: Cristina designed and ran the workshops.

NB Scroll to the bottom of the paper for a downloadable PDF version.

INTRODUCTION

When considering formal and informal learning, we can see that the way young people today play, interact with others and take part in the surrounding world also represents the way they learn (Brown, 2002). Whist young learners in the 21st century are seen as being increasingly independent, simultaneously group skills are more important than ever before. Flexibility and adaptability are key to lifelong learning in a networked society, as are personalised learning opportunities (Green, Facer, et al 2005). However, such approaches may be missing from formal education where the focus on standard content, in a drive to measure and assess learning, means that sometimes there is little scope for learners to participate in school life in an engaging and relevant way. This becomes even more challenging when working with ‘disadvantaged’ young people, who often lack the confidence as well as the opportunities and supporting environment to develop a stronger self-awareness (i.e. awareness of their personal skills and abilities). Educational activities, which promote self-reflection and encourage young learners to engage in a learning journey by mixing fun with pedagogy through web technologies, can provide a powerful recipe in the classroom (Passey, Rogers et al, 2004). It not only increases the level of enthusiasm, it can also boost the pupil’s motivation and help create new ways of fostering learning and social engagement, in addition to new forms of teaching (John, 2005).

This paper focuses on the development of innovative learning activities and teaching and mentoring methodologies as part of the European ICONET Project, which is piloting a range of approaches to the recognition of informal learning in different countries and for different target groups. In this paper, the authors will consider the recognition of informal learning in the school setting, encouraging personal and joint reflection on formal and informal competencies with the use of web cartoons and micro activities supported by a hands-on, exploratory learning approach. We describe how young people were encouraged to use computers as an effective, hands-on, creative medium to develop self-awareness and engage in reflection on their own skills and competences. We also explore the advantages of giving learners access to the web and the issues to be addressed when working with them, and report on how this experience helped the researchers realize the potential of web-based activities to promote active engagement and reflection by young people. The importance of the presence of the teacher/tutor as a mentor to provide personalized support will also be considered as a key factor for the success of this experience. We conclude with suggestions for future research in the area of web 2.0 technologies, new educational trends and innovative practices as a contribution to creative learning experiences.

TRANSFORMING THE CLASSROOM

Education should aim to provide a transformative experience (Torosyan, 2001). With the spread of digital media and social computing this ideal may be seen as easier to achieve. In a society where new technological innovations are released daily, creative innovation in today’s education is to be expected. Yet, the panorama is somewhat different from optimistic predictions by educational theorists. According to the latest IPTS report (Ala-Mutka, Punie and Redecker, 2008), despite the wider availability of technology and the Internet, most classroom practices still fail to provide learners with innovative, creative and social approaches to augment and motivate learning. The ‘educational shift’, grounded on social and personalised pedagogies, as advocated by most of the literature, is still in progress (Williamson and Payto, 2009). Nevertheless, in the last decade there have been numerous policy initiatives, programmes and projects to adapt educational systems and institutions to the digital age (PLTS, 2009). Web based interactive environments can contribute to a shift in pedagogy and learning approaches. Such approaches are not new (the debate on educational change has been long running), but access to social computing offers new opportunities for radical pedagogic approaches to teaching and learning (UNESCO, 2004).

Even so, the transformation of the classroom does not rely so much on the technology as on the instigation of strategic approaches to modernising education and the willingness of the practitioners to adopt such approaches (Travers and Decker, 1999).

A Pedagogy of Change

A pedagogy of change does not mean that teachers become irrelevant. On the contrary, they become more important than ever (Redecker, 2009), in providing and mentoring learning experiences. The construction of new knowledge through collaborative and cooperative activities, which are personally meaningful to the learners, are core to a pedagogy of change (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2007). However it is often argued that learning, as a dynamic process, is dependent on the learner’s willingness to interrelate with his/her learning in order to develop understanding (Barr and Tagg, 1995), it is equally contended that an effective learning experience is also influenced by those who help foster learning through active methodologies and personalised support.

Modern pedagogy, based on social processes, is not new. The idea that learning develops through dialogue and active processes has been much discussed, although not always practiced (Alexander, 2005). Learning relies both on granting the individual an active voice and creating an environment for collective listening and mutual support (UNESCO, 2002). That is probably one of the most radical changes the contemporaneous pedagogical approach is seeking to encourage. However, education systems are still based on an industrial age with the purpose of delivering mass-education (McLuhan and Leonard, 1967). The use of digital technologies is playing an important role in promoting change in education (Anderson, 2007). Participatory media has focused attention on the idea that teaching and learning practices have a strong social component, and that learning is a dynamic activity and naturally embedded in daily life (Bull, Thompson, et al, 2008). The interactive web not only enables collective understanding; it can also facilitate personal development and reflection through social engagement. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of learning environments is dependent more on human interaction than on technology. A pedagogy of change relies strongly on the actions of practitioners to promote such change, and also on the institutional support that is given to it. (Pritchard and McDiarmid, 2006) Equally it is dependent on the engagement of learners. Effective practices in teaching and learning rely on the commitment of both parties.

Formal education remains important. Whilst there is still a need for learning centres, these centres have to be become less formal, and provide different learning contexts, to remain relevant to those seeking meaningful learning opportunities (Du Bois-Reymond, 2004). This is especially true when working with ‘disadvantaged’ learners who may not relate to a programmatic and standardised education, but who are able to show, and most importantly, realize their potential, when engaged in different and less formal approaches to learning. A pedagogy of change could be rooted in the development of innovative learning activities, focusing on the learners’ personal and collective experience, with tutors/teachers acting as guides and mentors in the construction of knowledge and the understanding of experiences in the communities and networks in which learners participate. The school of life is a good teacher, but the learning from daily activities still needs to be recognized and capitalized as part of a formal education. Social computing can help in this as it can link the school setting with other environments where students learn in a more informal manner.

Innovative Learning Activities – Using the web to bridge learning (formal and informal)

In the recent years there has been a growing acknowledgment of the importance of informal learning (Cross, 2007; Attwell 2007). Life experience is recognised as relevant to personal and professional development, with lifelong learning taking place in a variety of scenarios and settings. Competences and skills are developed through experience and social interactions although frequently are not formally accredited as they remain outside the formal curriculum (Burley, 1990). This can demoralize and alienate those who fail to achieve formal academic qualifications but still possess skills and competences achieved in other contexts. As Cross (2007) points out, most of the skills and knowledge acquired are developed through informal learning. How we capitalize on that acquired knowledge and recognize learners’ skills is something that needs to be addressed, as recent debates in this area suggest[1].

The development of Internet and web environments is providing increasing access to free and informal learning opportunities and communities. Although learning has never been restricted to a classroom, it has met with boundaries, however internet has pushed these boundaries wider than before(Lindsay and Davis, 2007), and now even within the classroom, learning no longer is bound to a single place.

However there remain a number of outstanding issues: how to capitalize on those ‘marginal’ learning experiences, and valorise the competences and skills acquired through daily life, while assisting still learners in reflecting and realizing their full potential. The social web may assist in the development of learning activities which enable the engagement of students with their own learning. However, as pointed out before, the panoply of web applications currently available is not a solution per se. A pedagogical strategy focusing on effective engagement of students and promoting reflection on their learning is fundamental in leveraging the relevance of the technology. The ‘distractive’ side of the Web can hence be converted into a powerful learning and reflective tool. That is partly what the ICONET- Cartoon Planet project approach, described in this paper, tried to achieve. Through the development of a learning strategy ‘camouflaged’ by elements of ‘excitement’, ‘fun’ and ‘play’ with the use of interactive learning activities and digital cartoons for micro-reflection about personal skills and competences, we were able to engage learners in a way that activities with the same purpose, but with different strategies, might have not.

THE ICONET PROJECT

“There’s something wrong when a person is able to do something really very well, but is not considered smart if those things are not connected with school success” (Howard Garden)

The University of Salford is a partner in the European Commission funded ICONET project. This builds on the previous ICOVET project focused on developing and testing validation procedures for vocational skills gained by young people outside the framework of institutional education. The ICONET mission is to build on those experiences and develop new approaches and pedagogical tools for the validation of informally acquired competencies by disadvantaged young people. The main goal is to develop a space within the education system to introduce informal learning methods and pedagogical approaches targeted at engaging the learners with their own learning through active reflection.

The ICONET approach was incorporated into both Year 8 and Year 10 of the Salford Young People’s University (SYPU), a Summer School Programme for 11-16 year olds, providing a first-hand experience of life at the University with an opportunity to meet current students and lecturers. SYPU is a community outreach initiative aimed at young people who traditionally would not tend to go to University. The Year 8 SYPU Summer School is sponsored by AimHigher Greater Manchester, ‘a Government’s initiative to widen participation in higher education in England through activities that raise the aspirations of young people’.

The ICONET intervention was developed in conjunction with the SYPU. The curriculum criteria were based on three broad aspects of teaching and learning:

  • an interactive approach;
  • a focus on informal learning and skills;
  • attractive, diverse strategies for class engagement.

The approach focused on the use of interactive web and game-based reflection to involve learners from the Salford Young People’s University with their own learning in a fun, meaningful and personalised way.

The pupils taking part in this programme were between 11 and 16 years old. Classes were usually comprised of pupils from different backgrounds. However, most of them came from disadvantaged social environments and educational backgrounds, and were considered to be at risk of not pursing further education as it is not part of their family culture. This can often cause them to unconsciously discard Further and Higher Education as a possibility to progress their formal education.

ICONET – Cartoon Planet – Approach

The University of Salford’s ICONET approach was based on engaging the young learners from SYPU in interactive situations that would stimulate reflection about their own skills in a familiar environment, and thus help them realize their own potential. Hence, two-hour face to face workshops were planned and offered by the researchers/tutors. The workshops, entitled ‘Cartoon Planet’, aimed to promote the idea that learning can be exciting. The sessions were organized around activities that were supposed to be fun and stimulate active participation. The aim of the workshops was:

I. To stimulate guided reflection about the learners’ strengths and skills with different peer groups through group activities.

II. To utilise Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to empower students to communicate their skills and competences in an interactive and personally meaningful way.

To fulfil the workshop’s main goals, two different sections were planned and developed as part of the workshop. During the first part of the workshop, the pupils were invited to take part in a set of activities which aimed at introducing them progressively to the topic under focus: the recognition of their skills and competences. These activities were not only designed to prepare them for the second phase of the workshop, but also to involve the learners in discussions and guided reflection around the areas ‘they were good at’. The role of the tutors was to mentor the learners in their discussions and to help them understand and describe their skills in a more CV orientated language, and most importantly to facilitate reflection and self learning.

The second part of the workshop required the use of computers and took place in a computer laboratory where learners were asked to (re)create themselves online, as avatars (a digital representation of oneself), and describe their skills using voice and text. The avatars were later published and presented to the rest of the class at the end of the workshop.

THE WORKSHOPS IN PRACTICE

Preparing the ICONET workshop

The researchers worked closely with the SYPU team to diagnose the needs and requirements of the participants. They also attended the training session offered by the SYPU coordinating team for the tutors who would be working with the young people during the summer school. This was useful in providing an understanding of the SYPU coordinating team’s epistemological approach to teaching and learning with disadvantaged young people and an exploration of innovative strategies to reach out to learners through the use of active learning approaches. Ideas from the training session were incorporated in the ICONET – Cartoon Planet approach.

As a result, the workshop sought to create a learning environment focused on personal and group engagement and support, where there would be scope for personalization, and where the learning activities were designed to be flexible and adaptable for the different groups of students that would participate in the sessions. Furthermore, the ICONET – Cartoon Planet design was based on the Mind Friendly Learning Framework (Greenhalg, 2001), which is based on a process of stimulating learning through a series of pedagogical steps developed to enhance learning with ‘more inclusive and powerful experiences which develop learning to learn skills’. The eight steps of the Mind-friendly learning framework are:

1. To create a friendly and positive learning environment through engaging ice-break activities that will pose exciting challenges to the learner;

2. To connect learner’s previous knowledge with new learning experiences;

3. To provide a general perspective on what the learning activity entails;

4. To negotiate the learning process and outcomes to achieve

5. To develop a diverse teaching strategy to enable multi-sensory learning

6. To engage learners actively with their own learning through an exploratory approach

7. To show provide opportunities for learners to share their learning with others

8. To encourage reflection and inquiry throughout the learning process

The workshop was planned and designed to accommodate the eight principles of the framework presented above, offering a variety of learning activities which aimed at creating a lively, engaging learning experience for the SYPU participants.

Cartoon Planet Sessions during SYPU 2008

The Cartoon Planet sessions took place in July 2008 as part of the SYPU 2008 programme[2]. An average of 12 students, both male and female, took part in the daily sessions.

The sessions started with a brief introduction about the aims of the workshop and were followed by an “Introduce Yourself” activity. Pupils were asked to share aspects of their experience that they were proud of and that they would like to share with their peers. This helped to create an environment of trust and provided pupils with the confidence to communicate with one another and the tutor.

Afterwards, the facilitator of the session introduced the idea that people have skills and competences which might not solely relate to their formal school learning activity, but which are all the same relevant to be included in their CV. This was explained in a language that was familiar to them (no educational jargon was used) and learners were prompted to reflect about “things” they were good at and proud of while using their own words. The facilitator explained this would help them later to ‘translate’ the knowledge of their skills into a more academic language, which they could include in their future résumé. The workshop activities proceeded with learners being asked to work in pairs and to take part in an interview role play – playing both the interviewer and interviewee – where they had a chance to ask and answer questions that would lead them to reflect about the topic they were exploring. This activity gave learners a sense of achievement and as the learners progressed in their activities, the tutors could notice the learners’ own excitement and interest in exploring their own skills and sharing their abilities with their peers. A mix of amazement and enthusiasm is probably what best describes the ICONET – Cartoon Planet workshop. As noted down in the researcher’s field notes, ‘the learners were delighted to find about themselves through themselves, and also through the eyes of their classmates’. For example, one of the pupils approached the tutor to ask question about one of her peer’s skills. She asked if ‘being good at doing people’s makeup’ was a skill. Her classmate had reported about such activity and she thought it could be added to that pupil’s skill list. The tutor prompted both pupils to think about what it meant ‘to be good at doing people’s makeup’ and how that could be articulated with one’s competences. Together they concluded that those were relevant artistic and social skills. As the researcher wrote down in her notes, a sense of realisation of that pupil’s potential had been understood by the pupil herself and that shone through the light of achievement in her eyes. Such small anecdotes as this may seem irrelevant, yet are important in developing confidence and recognition about skills and competences developed outside the traditional school curriculum.

This was followed by a group activity. The entire class was asked to form a round table. The facilitator introduced learners to the formal skills concept, explaining what was meant by the terminology used in the EUROPASS CV regarding skills and competences. Afterwards, the interviewers were asked to present the findings of their interviews. At this stage all students were prompted to help their colleagues verbalise their skills. The entire class participated in this joint reflection, contributing to the collective knowledge of the class.

To introduce the second part of the workshop students were given a card where they were asked to write down a sentence which would summarize their skills including interests, hobbies, sports, and social activities. This would be their “passport” to the next phase of the workshop which was the key to the “Cartoon Planet’. The game component added some vibrancy to the activity and learners were still enthusiastic about being in class. Once the cards were completed they were granted access to the Computer Lab and asked to explore the use of cartoons to express what they had learnt about themselves. They were asked to create an Avatar (an interactive, digital cartoon) to symbolize their ‘selves’ and their learning too. [At this stage it is important to note that secure access to the internet was provided through an application called NETSUPPORT limiting student access to the web application used for the avatars. To enable this, special software called NETSUPPORT was used.]

The creation of the speaking cartoons aimed at introducing a fun element to the session. It also aimed at analyzing how these tools can motivate learners’ and their engagement.

The learners remained focused and did not attempt to browse other sites [this had been one of the main concerns of the SYPU tutors, moderators and coordinator, when considering the Internet as a learning tool].

The understanding of the use of online learning tools appeared quite straightforward The participants were enthusiastic and most were proficient in working with computers. Even those with less experience were fast at mastering it.

However there were no assumptions about learners’ digital proficiency and support was provided through brief demonstration of the use of the tool. Nevertheless, participants were quick to understand the concept, although it was the first time they had used that specific application.

Although students were quite fast in reflecting on their strengths, they required help in expressing their competences in the formal or academic language of a CV. They also required support and personal guidance to focus on the task. Reflection was an exercise they didn’t seem to be used to.

In summary, the ICONET – Cartoon Planet approach supports learners in recognising their own skills and competences and thus realizing their potential outside the formal school setting. By providing tools to support reflection, the ICONET approach encourages young learners to tell their own stories in a more confident and exciting way. Furthermore, the reflective component, which can be problematic in a school setting (Reference), seemed to work well. This is probably due to the fact that the concept of ‘reflection’ was not evoked throughout the workshop. The tutors rather embedded this component in the activities in a way so that they were ‘disguised’ by the environment and the different tasks. It is almost the case that the learners were learning without thinking they were doing so. In day to day life learning happens naturally and reflection is integral to that process. It is only when we try to ‘make’ people learn that it often goes wrong.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

From the verbal feedback we received from the learners themselves, and the mentors and coordinators who spent more time with the learners, the Cartoon Planet sessions seemed to have been popular. The young participants’ informal feedback indicates this was a successful approach in terms of applying ICONET methodology. Feedback included “this is fun” and “now I can use these skills in my CV”. Learners were reported to have enjoyed the way the topic was presented to them and the way they were asked to explore their skills. The micro activities helped motivate the learners’ involvement in the workshop, whilst also allowing students to learn more about themselves while they engaged in this micro-reflection exercises.

A longitudinal study would be needed to fully analyse the impact of the ICONET tool in recognising informal learning. Unfortunately the workshop was offered only once and the regulations of the SYPU did not permit follow up contact. It was therefore not possible to identity the longer term effect of the ICONET – Cartoon Planet approach. However we believe that this approach can help foster deeper and ongoing reflection about informal skills in an appealing way to learners.

It is our impression that the two different sections of the workshop played a vital role in the success of the session. The personalised mentoring and constant support provided by the tutor to the small group of young people, as well as the freedom they were granted to collaborate with each other while exploring their skills seem to have enhanced motivation and active involvement in the workshop.

The fact that learners were allowed to use computers to create their own avatars appealed to their creativity and reinforced learning from the first part of the session.

In short, we would like to argue that there are a number of key elements that can enable the engagement of young people in this area:

  • Face to face contact – as a strong (initial) component of the learner activity (young people need personalised guidance);
  • The creation of a friendly, flexible and interactive learning atmosphere by the tutor;
  • Tutor’s constant and personalised support to facilitate learners’ engagement with the activities (small groups of students are advisable);
  • The use of ICT to help keep the learners’ interest and motivation;
  • The development of activities based on social learning approaches;
  • The inclusion of a fun component as an integral part of the learning activity.

The approach also raises issues around internet safety. The aim of the workshop was not to focus on digital literacy, but rather to use an interactive web application to enable self and group reflection about informal skills. Hence, net safety was not a focus for the workshop. The workshop provided only restricted access to the internet in line with concerns expressed by the organisers of SYPU. However, if this workshop was to be developed as part of a longitudinal study, with more sessions behind offered over a longer period of time, it would be interesting to develop a parallel strategy on e-safety and digital literacy to build on learners’ computing skills and thus empower them deeper understanding and know-how about both the benefits and pitfalls of social computing.

PDF Version

You can download a PDF version of this paper here.

References

[1] Anderson, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies, implications for education. JISC Technology and Standards Watch. Retrieved from, from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701b.pdf Last accessed 29/04/2009

[2] Ala-Mutka, Punie and Redecker, (2008): ICT for Learning, Innovation and Creativity – Policy Brief, European Commission , Joint Research Centre , Institute for Prospective Technological Studies . Retrieved from http://74.125.77.132/search?q=cache:7cZ04SNLIucJ:ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC48707.TN.pdf+Ala-Mutka,+Punie+and+Redecker,+(2008&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk&client=firefox-a Last accessed 29/01/2009

[3] Alexander, R. (2005), Education, Culture and Cognition: intervening for growth International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology (IACEP), 10th International Conference, University of Durham, UK.

[4] Attwell G., (2007): Personal Learning Environments the future of eLearning? 1. Vol 2, Nº 1 January 2007 ISSN 1887-1542. Retrieved from http://www.elearningeuropa.info/files/media/media11561.pdf . Last accessed 26/01/2009

[5] Barr, R. B., & Tagg. J. (1995). From teaching to learning. Change, 27(6), 13-25.

[6] Bull, G., Thompson, A., Searson, M., Garofalo, J., Park, J., Young, C., & Lee, J (2008). Connecting informal and formal learning: Experiences in the age of participatory media. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(2), 100-107

[7] Burley, D. (1990) ‘Informal education – a place in the new school curriculum?’ in T. Jeffs and M. Smith (eds.) Using Informal Education, Buckingham: Open University Press.

[8] Brown, J. S., (2002). Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn. United States Distance Learning Association. Retrieve from http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/FEB02_Issue/article01.html Last accessed 29/03/2009

[9] Cross, J., (2007), Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance, Pfeiffer, an imprint of WILEY, San Franscisco, CA

[10]Du Bois-Reymond, M (2004) Youth – learning – Europe, YOUNG, Vol. 12, Issue 3, pp. 184-203.

[11]Green, Facer , Rudd, Dillon and Humphreys, (2005), Personalisation and digital technologies, FutureLab Report, Retrieved from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/publications-reports-articles/opening-education-reports/Opening-Education-Report201/ Last accessed 19/05/2009

[12]Greenhalgh, P. (2001) Reaching Out to all Learners. Stafford: Network Educational Press. (A useful aide memoire produced at a very low cost to enable organisations to buy multiple copies. Provides an overview of mind friendly learning.)

[13]John, P., (2005), Teaching and Learning with ICT: New Technology, New Pedagogy?, Education, Communication and Information, Vol. 4, No. 1., 101.

[14]Learning and Teaching Scotland, (2007), Teaching for Effective Learning – Learning Together, Retrieved from http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/learningaboutlearning/collaborativelearning/research/learningtogether.asp Last accessed 29/04/2009

[15] Lindsay, J., and Davis, V, (2007), Flat Classrooms, Learning & Leading with Technology, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education)

[16]McLuhan, M., & Leonard, G. B. (1967). The future of education: The class of 1989. Look, February 21, 23-24.

[17]Passey, D., Rogers, C., Machel, J., and McHugh, G., (2004), The Motivational Effect of ICT on Pupils, DfES Publications.

[18]Pritchard, R., & McDiarmid, F. (2006). Promoting change in teacher practices: Investigating factors which contribute to sustainability. In Conference Proceedings Dunedin 2006: Teacher Education Forum of Aotearoa New Zealand.

[19]PLTS Framework, Retrieved from http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/key-stages-3-and-4/skills/plts/index.aspx?return=/key-stages-3-and-4/skills/index.aspx Last accessed 20/05/2009

[20]Redecker, C., 2009, Review of Learning 2.0 Practices: Study on the Impact of Web 2.0 Innovations on Education and Training in Europe, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, IPTS. Retrieved from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC50704.pdf Last accessed 20/05/2009

[21]Torosyan, R. (2001). Motivating students: Evoking transformative learning and growth. Etc58 (3), 311-328

[22]Travers, A. & Decker, E. (1999) ‘New Technology and Critical Pedagogy’, Radical Pedagogy Retrieved from http://radicalpedagogy.icaap.org/content/vol1.1999/issue2/01travers1_2.html Last accessed 20/05/2009

[23]UNESCO. (2002). Information and communication technology in education: A curriculum for schools and programme of teacher development. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001295/129538e.pdf Last accessed 20/05/2009

[24]UNESCO, 2004, A Shift in Pedagogy and Integrating ICT in Education, retrieved from http://www.unescobkk.org/education/ict/online-resources/features/ict-pedagogy/ , Last accessed 20/05/2009

[25]Wesch, M., 2008, “A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do)”, retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/ . Last accessed 20/05/2009

[26]Williamson, B. and Payto, S., 2009, Curriculum and Teaching Innovation – Transforming classroom practice and personalisation, A Futurelab Handbook, retrieved from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/publications-reports-articles/handbooks/Handbook1246 Last accessed 20/05/2009


[1] See discussions in the SCOPE community as ain example: http://scope.bccampus.ca/mod/forum/view.php?id=1691

[2] http://www.edu.salford.ac.uk/summerschool/year8

e-Portfolios – WTF

September 4th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last year’s F-Alt fun was kicked off by a strange tweet by Scott Wilson from Warrington Station, if I remember rightly. Pondering, he said on e-Portfolios, WTF. WTF, we asked him, what are your ideas? And so the debate was born.

A year on, it seems apposite to think again about e-Portfolios. Over the past few years, I have worked on a series of e-Portfolio projects, including the European MOSEP project and a series of projects seeking to develop e-Portfolios for both advisers and students for careers advice, guidance and counselling.

We have used a variety of applications including Mahara and Freefolio (based on WordPress) with varying success. The projects have generated a fair bit of enthusiasm (and certainly have attracted much effort from teachers, researchers and other learning professionals). Yet I cannot really say any have been an unreserved success, nor are they really sustainable. Hence the return to Scott’s question.

The problem as I see it, is that however designed and configured, e-Portfolios are only a container for student work. At worse the recording and reporting of such achievement is constrained by course objectives or outcomes, at best learners are encouraged to report on wider learning from outside institutional courses. But the limitation remains.

There are four key functions an e-Portfolio could fulfil to help learners.

The first is in developing their digital identity – as a learner – though a dynamically generated profile.

The second is in reflecting on learning.

The third is in reporting on that learning – flexibly and creatively.

The fourth is developing and sustaining a personal learning network

The problem is that e-portfolios are remarkably poor at doing any of these. A profile is something you fill in when you set up your e-Portfolio and all to often little happens to it after it is set up. Reflection is something everyone says is important but then passes on quickly to the next issue. reporting is still horribly static and usually amounts to little more than the ability to develop a slideshow or to write about a collection of artefacts. And as for social networking, most e-portfolios still assume learning and achievement is something that either takes place through classroom or assignment groups or as an individual activity.

However, I think we can develop Technology Enhanced Learning applications to support all of these activities – if we break away from the idea of e-portfolios as a container. I am working with a group of Careers Personal Advisers in the UK on a project. Instead of trying to implement an e-portfolio application, we are working on developing loosely coupled web tools to support instances of reflection and learning., The enthusiasm and creativity of the Personal advisers is truly awesome. Freed up from the constraints of the e-portfolio, they are developing ideas which they see as promoting effective learning. many of those ideas are focused on helping learners to explore their own identities as learners – and in the process ot develop their identity. Instead of a constraint, they see the use of multi media as a medium for exploring, for bringing the activities to life. And as developers, instead of explaining what an application can do, we are using our expertise to try to implement their ideas.

I understand the concerns of e-Portfolio enthusiasts to ensure that young people have a personal electronic record of their achievement. But, with disk space so cheap, and with the increasing skill of young people in using computers, I do not think we need yet another institutionally approved container for that purpose. It is much the same argument as that over whether we need VLEs. Lets retain all that was good about the idea of e-portfolios but stop trying to manage and contain learning. Lets try to release the natural creativity – not just of learners but of teachers as well.

A reflection on reflection

May 28th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Reflection is increasingly seen as a key process in learning, particularly for work based or practice based learning. This involves reflecting of what you have done and what it means. Reflection may be especially important in making explicit tacit learning and in scaffolding new knowledge and ideas.

Yet reflection is not always an easy learning process. It may be particularly sterile when learners are told to go and reflect! Whilst it is possible to teach or practitioner the skills involved in reflection – active listening, questioning, commentating – reflection is difficult to undertake on demand.

Furthermore, the forms that we use to report on academic learning – essays and papers – may either not be particularly conducive to immediate reflection or may be far too time consuming – especially for work based learners.

Personally I see reflection as a conversation, with myself or with others. And that works best for me out of the office or at the end of the day. That is when I think on what I have done and what it might mean. I often sit in my local pub with my iPod Touch or just a back of an envelope and furiously scribble notes or more often somewhat chaotic mind maps. The fact that I often never look at the results (and sometimes cannot read them anyway) does not seem to matter – it is the process which counts.

This is where I think audio can come in. I have been greatly impressed with the Jisc funded Sounds Good project.  The main aim of Sounds Good was to test the hypothesis that using digital audio for feedback can benefit staff and students by:

  • saving assessors’ time (speaking the feedback rather than writing it)

and

  • providing richer feedback to students (speech is a richer medium than written text).

The project has in general been extremely successful. But if speech is a richer medium for staff providing feedback then why not for students reflecting on learning.

And the increasing availability of easy to use recording technologies utilising mobile devices makes this process simple. Anyway here is a short audio reflection on e-portfolios and data security and on using audio for reflection!

Here is an audio comment from our colleague Jenny Hughes “Reflections on Reflection”:

E-learning, work based learning, e-portfolios, mobile devices and more – the podcasts

May 24th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I did a series of interviews to gather materials for last weeks Jisc e-Learning Show radio broadcast. If course we could only use very small parts of the interviews in the programme.

Now we are releasing the full version of the interviews as podcasts. There is some rich material here for anyone interested in the use of technology to support e-Portfolios, work based learning, mobile learning, the exchange of course information etc. This is the first of two posts – the second will contain the remaining interviews.

Bob Bell is Fe in HE coordinator for the Jisc Northern Regional Support Centre. In this interview he talks about work based learning.

Clive Church works for EdExcel. He is particularly interested in the development and use of e-Portfolios.

Derek Longhurst is Chief Executive of Foundation Degree Forward. In this interview he looks at the challenges changing forms of learning and knowledge development pose for universitie sand discusses future policy options.

Lucy Stone is project manager at Leicester College, where she is introducing mobile technologies to support work based learners.

Lucy Warman is developing a Jisc project designed to involve students in sharing experience at the University of Central Lancashire.

Thanks to all the interviewees for their time and ideas and to Dirk Stieglitz for post production work.The music is called Musiques en Principauté de Boisbelle and is composed and played by DaCapo. It can be found on the Creative Commons music web site Jamendo.

The music is by

More about the eLearning Show

May 20th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I have spent the last two days putting the finishing touches to tomorrows pilot internet radio programme – the Jisc eLearning Show. The programme, which is being broadcast at 1800 UK Summer Time, 1900 Central European Time, is based on a symposium on Lifelong Learning, led by Jisc earlier this spring. Part of the programme is prerecorded and I have spoken to both policy makers and to project developers about the issues. The interviews were very interesting – indeed my major problem was choosing what not to include in the final edit for the programme.

The projects are engaging in much more than the introduction of technology and developers were keen to talk about changing pedagogic approaches and the policy implications of the work they were doing. The projects covered a wide range of applications – including the use of mobile technologies and of ePortfolios to support learners. It was encouraging to hear of the degree of engagement with learners in developing technology based projects. There was much discussion on who the ‘new learners’ were and what were their needs. The issue of change management was a recurrent theme, as was that of sustainability. Many of the projects were looking at the process of embedding developments within the every day practice of institutions. But this could raise cultural issues, especially when it came to work based learning. From a work based learning approach this was involving new partnerships with employers.

And as Tony Tool pointed out – elearning raises many issues for the funding models presently being used. Equally the development of work based learning may call into question the present policies for extending participation in higher education.

Fascinating stuff. Tomorrows programme will pick up on these issues and more with a live panel comprised of Oleg Liber from CETIS, Claire Newhouse from the Lifelong Learning Network national forum and Andrew Ravenscroft from London Metropolitan University. You can listen to the programme by going to http://radio.jiscemerge.org.uk:80/Emerge.m3u . The stream will open in your MP3 player of choice. You can take part in the chat room at http://tinyurl.com/sounds08. Just add your name and press enter – no password required. And you can leave comments and questions on the Jisc elearning blog.

We will also be making the full versions of the interviews available on the elearning blog as podcasts after the show.

The e-Learning Show

May 12th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Regular readers will know of our slightly irreverent, somewhat wacky fun LIVE internet radio show, The Sounds of the Bazaar. We like making Sounds and form feedback we gather our listeners enjoy it too.

But, for some time now, we have been wanting to branch out and make other types of programmes. We experimented with two documentary programmes, The Dragons Den, earlier this year.

And now Jisc has commissioned a pilot of a new programme, the e-learning show. The pilot programme will be broadcast next Thursday, 21 May at 1800 UK Summer Time, 1900 Central European Time.

The following blurb provides the rundown for the show:

“Thursday, 21 May sees the pilot programme of a new Jisc live internet radio programme, ‘the Elearning Show’. The programme which is to be broadcast at 1800 – 1855 UK summer time, is based on issues raised at the recent Jisc Lifelong Learning Symposium.

These issues include how university and college cultures need to change to support work based learning, who the new students are and what are their needs, how e-Portfolios can be used both for recording learning and for providing information, advice and guidance and the use of mobile technologies.

The programme considers both current and emergent practices in elearning and the development of policies to support such practice.

The programme will be presented by Graham Attwell and guests include Derek Longhurst from Foundation Degree Forward, Clive Church from Edexel, Lucy Stone from Leicester College, Tony Toole from the University of Glamorgan, Bob Bell, HE in FE consultant for the northern region, Sandra Winfield from Nottingham University and Rob Ward from the Centre for Recording Achievement

The programme will also feature a live panel. with the opportunity for listeners to skype or email their questions and comments and their will be a live chat room for listeners.

To listen to the programme go to http://radio.jiscemerge.org.uk:80/Emerge.m3u This will open the LIVE radio stream in your MP3 player of choice.

You can take part in the chat room at http://tinyurl.com/sounds08. Just add your name and press enter – no password required.

If you like to send us questions for the panel in advance of the programme, email Graham Attwell – graham10 [at] mac [dot] com or skype to GrahamAttwell.”

Although the programme is based on developments in the UK many of the issues to be discuassed on the programme will have relevance for listeners interested in the use of technologies for learning wherever they are.

And if you are missing the old Sounds of the Bazaar, don’t worry, we haven’t gone away. The next programme planned in that series will be broadcast live from the ProLearn european Summer School in Slovakia in the first week of June. Further details as soon as we can agree on a timeslot for the programme.

Web 2.0, e-Portfolio. PLEs and much more

January 16th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Before Christmas I did an interview over Skype with Janine Schmidt, Dennis Brüntje, Franz Büchl, Oliver Härtel from the University of Ilmenau in Germany. the title of the interview was ‘Identität 2.0 durch E-Portfolios’ – Indentity 2.0 through e-Portfolios. They have very kindly sent be a transcriot of the interview. A slighly edited versiona appears below. You can also see n more of teh project work on the students’ web site.

JS: Okay. What was the most impressive and effective usage of an ePortfolio you came across so far? Could you please specify your experience?

GA: It’s a hard question. Most impressive and effective use of an ePortfolio. (…) I’ve seen many different people using ePortfolios in many different ways. But of course, it really depends on how you defining ePortfolios in those terms. I think probably the most impressive I’ve seen in formal education was a vocational college in northwest of England where they were using ePortfolios on an auto-mechanics course. And one module on this course they were making a custom car, and they were getting kids who probably haven’t got lots of qualifications really recording their experiences as they went of the work they were doing and reflecting on the work they were doing, so that greatly impressed me.

JS: Okay. So ehm. The second question will be like focal topic for definition and classification of ePortfolios: How do you define ePortfolios and which significant characteristics do ePortfolios have compared to conventional portfolios?

GA: Well firstly and obviously what distinguishes an ePortfolio from an ordinary portfolio is the use of some kind of electronic interfaces, some kind of electronic media. I’d have to say as well I’d say that ePortfolio can be very much mixed, but pretty obviously the use of electronic media gives us a whole new series of capabilities. But after that the definition starts to break down a bit: and I think you can see vaguely three or four different ways in which ePortfolios had been developed and been used. Unfortunately, the predominant thing comes from they’re using higher education and especially from the USA, where they’d been very much used as an assessment vehicle allowing students to record a progress towards preset learning outcomes. Now I don’t think that’s helpful because the students are tended to see them as a part of an assessment regime and in many cases higher education students are already over assessed. And it’s very much limited, the potential of what is seen as legitimate learning. You’ve had another tendency in the UK to see them as a vehicle for planning learning, PDP-processes, which is another way to look at them. Or you’ve got another tendency, which is more of what I favour, which is to see ePortfolios as a way of recording all your learning including informal learning. And of course there is a strand in the literature certainly in the research of ePortfolios which sees ePortfolios as a powerful vehicle or potentially powerful vehicle for reflection on learning. Though I have to say that how that process of reflection is scaffolded and undertaken is less well researched or less well understood and perhaps just a matter of recording, so you got a powerful point about recording learning, assessing learning, reflecting on learning, etcetera, etcetera many different processes and how ePortfolios been used and what they’d been used for, different processes had been emphasized by different people. And to some extend, and this is quite important, some of those processes had been hard coded in ePortfolio-software and series of assumptions made and those assumptions aren’t always made transparent by the people who have developed the ePortfolio applications.

JS: Okay. So the next question would be: Would you rather consider ePortfolios as a loosely composed tool construct or as a specific method used in educational context? Or do you even have a complete different point of view?
(more…)

Open education – Spring programme

January 9th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

It is the season of predictions for 2009. Here is mine – 2009 will be the year of Open Education. Seminars, workshops, lectures, courses – all available on line and for free. I am not sere I trust my  star-gazing ability – or my ability to predict technology development trends for that matter – so we are doing our best to make sure it comes true by organising a series of events ourselves.

Over the next few days I will be posting details of a whole series of different events. First up, here is the spring Open Seminar series being organised by the JISC Evolve network in collaboration with the German Educamp Network who are staging a series of conferences around Web2.0 social software and elearning. is organising the third EduCamp in Germany.

Emerging Sounds of the Bazaar Live

26 January 1900 CET, 1800 UK time – Dragons Den special – Learning and Multi user Virtual Environments

23 February 1900 CET, 1800 UK time – The reality of communities

March 2009 – time and date ot be announced – LIVE broadcast from JISC Emerge conference.

You can listen live to all the programmes by going to http://tinyurl.com/6df6ar in your web browser. This will open the live stream in your MP3 player of choice.

Emerging Mondays Seminars

The open online seminars will take place on the Elluminate platform. We will announce the address for the events shortly, together with the final line line up of presenters. Each seminar will feature tow short introductions with most time being given over to discussion.

PLEs and E-Portfolios – is this the future of education?
January, 19th 2009, 1900 CET, 1800 UK time. Click here for access to Elluminate.
Speakers: Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu
Moderators: Thomas Bernhardt and Marcel Kirchner

  • What does a PLE look like?
  • What is PLE? A technical concept or a pedagogic method?
  • How can we use e-Portfolios and PLEs in practice?What is the difference between a PLE and an E-Portfolio?
  • Is the PLE the future of education?

Careers and the Internet – how does Web 2.0 impact on our Online Reputation and Identity
February, 16th 2009 – 1900 CET, 1800 UK time. Click here for access to Elluminate.
Speakers: Steven Warburton, Kings College, Eduserve funded Rhizomes project
Moderators: Cristina Costa and Marcel Kirchner

  • How can we use E-Portfolios and other tools for applying for jobs and building identities
  • The risks and opportunities in developing a web identity
  • Privacy 2.0

Enterprise 2.0 – the potential of Social Software for learning in enterprises
March, 16th 2009 – 1900 CET, 1800 UK time. Click here for access to Elluminate.
Speakers: Timothy Hall, University of Limerick, Ireland
Moderators: Cristina Costa and Steffen Büffel

  • How is social software being used for learning in enterprises
  • Can social software support communities of practice
  • How can social software support informal learning

Edupunk – Free the educational system
April, 6th 2009 1900 CET, 1800 UK time
Speakers: Dr. Martin Ebner and Steven Wheeler, University of Plymouth
Moderators: Thomas Bernhardt, Marcel Kirchner and Cristina Costa

  • Edupunk – hype or reality
  • Does e-teaching need a pedagogical apprenticeship?
  • Why and how far students should be involved in the developing process of courses?

ThoughtFest 09

5-6 March, Salford, Manchester, UK
Thought Fest is a two-day event being organized by Pontydysgu with the support of the JISC Evolve network and
the European Mature-IP project.

The event will bring together researchers in Technology Enhanced Learning in an open forum to debate the current issues surrounding educational technologies and discuss how and where research impacts on practice and where practice drives research.

Whilst there will be keynotes by Graham Attwell and Steven Warburton, Thought Fest is a user driven workshop and we welcome ideas for sessions, demontsrations activities. Accomodation and food for free – you juts have to pay for your travel.

More details here or sign up on this page.

Educamp
April 17th – 19th
Venue: Ilmenau, Thuringia, Germnay
What is the EduCamp all about?
The EduCamp-Network (http://educamp.mixxt.de/) is organising the third EduCamp in Germany. This will also be the first international EduCamp. The event will take place from the 17th to the 19th of April, 2009 in Ilmenau, Thuringia. Details of previous EduCamps can be found at http://educamp.mixxt.de.

There will be some initial structure for the programme, but after the panel discussion on Friday, the EduCamp will be organized as a barcamp. Sessions and workshops will be organised by participants at the beginning of the event. On Sunday the topic under discussion is “EduOpenSpace” (OpenSpace?). Participants will form clusters to discuss some of the related topics.

Topics
The issue of how we can use social software, such as weblogs, podcasts, wikis, micro-blogging, VoIP in education in schools, universities and companies is a subject attracting much interest. Developing connections to other people and joining learning networks is central to the Information society. Mulitple knowledge resources all access to the exchange of experiences and the construction of knowledge.

The last EduCamps meeting discussed ‘Teaching and Learning 2.0’. This meeting will continue those discussions.

EduCamp is an open event and everyone interested in welcome to attend. It will take place at the Humboldtbau at the Technical University of Ilmenau.

The main topics for the EduCamp are Corporate Learning 2.0 and e-learning in schools or universities. Other topics include the use of E-Portfolios, Digital games and virtual worlds in education. In line with the idea of barcamp, everyone is invited to propose their own topics for discussion.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information


    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.”


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    Working on a handbook for teacher CPD on using technology for teaching / learning. Would welcome examples of effective practices.

    About 5 hours ago from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Tweetbot for Mac

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