Archive for the ‘edupunks’ Category

Hangouts on Air

May 9th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Personally I am not a great fan of Google+, although as Google increasingly integrates its different services it is hard to avoid. But, as Stephen Downes points out in the ever valuable Oldaily, citing an original blog post by David Andrade, “by far and away the best thing about Google+ is the Hangout feature, essentially a way to have a videoconference with ten of your friends. This latest upgrade allows you to broadcast your Hangouts to as large an audience as you want. “With Hangouts on Air, you will be able to broadcast yourself publicly to the entire world, see how many viewers you have, and even record and reshare your broadcast. The public recording will be uploaded to your YouTube channel and to your original Google+ post.”

With free skype video calls limited to two people and the increasing cost of proprietary synchronous elearning platforms like Blackboard Collaborate, Hangouts could become the system of choice for open online courses.

Restart Education

March 1st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the Imaginarium in Romania, an event organised as part of the Restart Education campaign in that country. Restart Education is a partnership between the Romanian American Foundation, TechSoup, CROS and Microsoft, and according to their website “creates a framework for innovation in learning and education – harnessing the power of technology to develop new ‘user’ centric tools for Romanian education. ”

The website goes on to explain their motivation for the project.

Education and the approach to pedagogy are in need of constant innovation and reinvention to keep up with an accelerating pace of change.  The world is shifting from a paradigm based on memorization to valuing abilities to synthesize available data and collaboration.  Thankfully, the tools of the information age that demand new approaches also provide systems for collaboration and consumer led development; offering the opportunity to answer the question of ‘what will make education more relevant and valuable in real time?.’

The event was designed as a mixture between an unconference, a workshop and a game with some 100 participants, mostly young people.

The first session was devoted to exploring a model for the future of education developed by the CROS NGO. In the second session the groups or ‘tribes’ brainstormed ideas for new applications to support learning. That resulted in some 169 ideas which were then grouped and on the second day participants further developed their ideas and made a short pitch around them. At that point I sadly had to leave to catch a plane but I gather there was going to be a vote with the most successful ideas receiving development and marketing support.

I was relying on interpreters so may not have fully understood all of the ideas. Some seemed to struggle to advance their thinking outside present assessment and classroom paradigm but a  number seemed very promising. And most encouraging was the enthusiasm of the participants who had given up a weekend to0 attend the event. I would love to see this model repeated elsewhere and also was left wondering how to get peopel to truly explore more radical models for education.

The organisers had invited Leonard Turtin from Summerhill School, myself, Fred Garnet and Cosmin Alexandru to make short inputs, I guess to try to promote an alternative vision for education.

Clearly this was just the beginning of a longer process and I hope to be able to keep in touch with the development. many thanks for CROS for inviting me (I will write another post on the remarkable structure and activities of the student NGOs in Romania and thanks to to all the people with whom I had such stimulating discussions. I don’t know about the Romanian participants but I came away awed and inspired by the energy and vision of what could be. Now the question is how to realise those ideas.

You can find out more on the Restart Education Facebook page and on Fred Garnett’s blog which he set up for the event.

Raspberry Pi released

February 27th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

There seems to be a real buzz developing about the release of the Raspberry Pi computer. This  QR code poster nwas developed by Jonas Butz, a high school student from Germany. But before I go on to look at what the Raspberry Pi is, lest explain why I think it is so important.

There has been a long debate in the UK on what kids should be taught about computers. fairly obviously the ‘old’ curriculum which all too often focused on the ability to use things like spreadsheets or worse still Powerpoint was inadequate and failed to interest many students.

I don’t think the latest government policy of introducing a GCSE (the single subject qualifications students take at around 16 years old) in computing science is really the answer (even with a focus on programming).

I am still worried about how we can move from the idea of digital literacies to critical literacies (although I guess this depend a little on how you define these terms.

And I increasingly feel we should be able to teach kids how not just to hack software and to have a critical understanding of the role of digital technologies in society but also to be able to hack the hardware itself. Steve Jobs always talked about Apple’s aim to be at the interface of engineering and the liberal arts. But in many ways Apple’s closed infrastructure and its obsession with locking down devices (to the extent of even using special screws which cannot be removed without Apple tools) has stopped young people being able to explore hardware and try out their own hardware solutions. Surely hacking hardware is the best way of learning engineering and at the same time thinking about what role technology might play in our societies.

So I am excited by the launch of the credit card sized Raspberry Pi computer which it seems is now shipping at a price of 25 dollars for model A and 35 dollars for model B. OK this is without a keyboard, mouse, monitor or case. But, in my experience, the first thing geek kids do is remove the case from their computer!

This video talks about the Fedora Linux release which is being recommended for the Raspberry Pi.

The ‘About us‘ section of the Raspberry Pi website is modest (take note Apple – and, for that matter, OLPC) in explaining their ambition:

We don’t claim to have all the answers. We don’t think that the Raspberry Pi is a fix to all of the world’s computing issues; we do believe that we can be a catalyst. We want to see cheap, accessible, programmable computers everywhere; we actively encourage other companies to clone what we’re doing. We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can’t use the internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children. We think that 2012 is going to be a very exciting year.

Imaginarium – changing the DNA of education

February 20th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The backlog of work has not been helped by me having flu. But I am back at my desk today. And late Thursday I fly to Romania to speak at a conference organised by the ever inventive CROS

Traian Bruma emailed me to explain the purpose and format of the conference.

“The project’s public name is Restart in Education and the Launch Event it’s called Imaginarium. It’s only 20% a conference, it’s 30% an un-conference because the participants will generate ideas and self-organize around ones that attract them. And it is 50% a creative workshop. We put up a website in romanian: www.restartedu.ro but you can check out you pictures here: http://www.restartedu.ro/cine-vine/

Our aim with imaginarium (the event) is to change the DNA of education in Romania and as George Bernard Shaw put it “The imagination is the begining of creation”. This is why the event is called Imaginarium – because it’s a place devoted to the imagination of the future of education in Romania.

The event is set up like a Game with 4 levels. We thought to have a presentation at the beginning of each Level. If it ok with you, we arranged them this way:

Level 1. Discovering the opportunities

Opened by Leonard – about democratic education; This will help them disconnect the notions of education and industrial schooling model. I think that the Summerhill philosophy about education will inspire them and free their minds to think in a different way about learning and education and to discover that there are opportunities in doing things differently.

Level 2. Creating the Imaginarium – the teams connect oportunities discovered and generate 100 ideas of online platforms
Opened by – Fred; – helping them understand how you can connect new ideas about how people learn with opportunities like technology, laws, demographics or other things similar

Level 3. Idea marketplace – Choosing 20 ideas and 20 leaders with their teams

Opened by Cosmin – about why champion an idea and what the business world needs

Level 4. Shaping Ideas – preparing the ideas so they can be submitted on the restartedu.ro platform and a Pitch Fest at the end with SMS voting and feedback

Opened by Graham – help them start shaping the ideas focusing on the interaction of technology, community, educational philosophy, thinking about the opportunities of different technologies and mashups to create new ways for people to organize themselves, interact and learn.

What we said above are only guidelines. It is not so important to link the talk to the game level as it is to provide inspiration and food for thought. We need them to think as far out of the box as possible.”

This sounds like a lot of fun and a brilliant format that could be adopted elsewhere. I shall report on how it all, goes.

#TentCityUniversity

October 25th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Tent City Uni teach-in outside Bank of England from Jon Cheetham on Vimeo.

The wave of protests against the failure of the world capitalist system and the banking collapse are throwing up all kinds of alternative education events and movements. The #OccupyLondon protest has set up TentCityUniversity and this video reports on one of their seminars.

Flipping Something out of Nothing

October 25th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education from sam seidel on Vimeo.

I had the pleasure to present alongside Mike Neary and Joss Winn at the Mobility Shifts conference in New York. They are working on the idea of students as producers. This theme is also taken up in this excellent video, which looks at the theme of students as producers within hip hop culture.

After the event – what are the lessons from organising the Bremen Mobile Learning Conference?

March 30th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Just a few quick comments about the Mobile Learning Conference Bremen, which took place last week. By all accounts it was a big success – at least if the feedback from participants is to be believed. And I enjoyed it greatly.We had about one hundred delegates – from 19 different countries according to Judith Seipold. What were the lessons for the future?

1. The conference theme – ‘Mobile Learning: Crossing boundaries in convergent environments; allowed us to look at learning from a  number of different perspectives including from pedagogy, the arts and entertainment as well as from technology. As learning is embedded in ever wider contexts these perspectives can provide us with a richer and wider perspective on our work.

2. The venue is important. Although it raised some eyebrows when we said we were holding the conference in a youth hostel – the deign and location of the building – allowing different interlinked spaces with lots of light and right by the river (with a sun terrace) – facilitated informal discussions and learning linking the formal presentations and workshops with that valued ‘out of conference’ time.

3. Conferences do not need to be so expensive. We only charged 50 Euro per delegate and provided free access to students. How did we do it? Firstly the youth hostel gave us an excellent deal – considerably cheaper, I suspect, than we would have been charged by purpose built conference venues or by universities. And it was a no frills conference – no gala dinner and no free iPads. We managed all the administration ourselves using free or open source software – EasyChair, Twitter, Google forms etc. (The most tricky bit was negotiating with PayPal which took for ever).We begged and borrowed equipment.

Ok it was a bit touch and go – we haven’t paid everything yet but my guess is we will make a profit of about 45 Euro. But if we can do it so can others – the cost of conferences at the moment excludes many people resulting in a poorer discussion.

3. We encouraged multiple formats including workshops and demonstrations. the poster sessions was particularly good. And although the multiple strands meant some of the sessions were quite small it was those sessions which in my experience were the most interesting.

I think we still have some way to go in integrating unconferencing sessions properly in the agenda. Unconferencing takes a lot of organization and facilitation. But perhaps we should stop thinking about a dichotomy between conferencing and unconferencing and look at how we can encourage the maximum involvement and participation in all of our work.

4. We have got some sort of record of our conference on Cloudworks. But that took a lot of work and we need to look again at how we can pull together diverse information sources from the different places – slideshare, twitter, blogs etc which people use to show their work and ideas. This links back to the idea of how we amplify conferences and events.

5. We had a relatively small local organising committee. This has pros and cons. On the good side this allowed us to work together informally and intensely. On the down side it resulted in a few individuals ending up with a lot of work. We also had recruited a lot of reviewers prior to the conference which spread out the time consuming work of reviewing proposals. And we were extremely lucky to be able to draw on support from students from the local university who did this work for free as part of their studies.

And people are already asking about next years conference. I think we should do it again. But one suggestion is we might stick with the Crossing Boundaries theme but move on with the technology. After all mobiles are not alone in crossing those boundaries!

Solidarity with the students

November 13th, 2010 by Jenny Hughes


Graham and I have just got back to Germany after a meeting of the Politics project team in Cardiff. We were following Wednesday’s demonstrations against the proposed hike in university fees live on TV at Cardiff airport – both of us getting very excited and cheering a lot.

The occupation of the Conservative Party headquarters in London was an impressive piece of collective action so to all those involved in the organisation and to all those that turned up on the day, a message of support from Pontydysgu!

However, it did make me wonder how we ever used to do all this without mobile phones, computers or social networking media. Apart from using print media, I seem to remember a lot of organising time spent in public telephone boxes pressing button A and button B. In fact, one of my early ICT competences was learning how to tap the receiver rest up and down to mimic the operation of the dial in order to save the 4d (less than 2p) it cost.

Developing a post-web-2.0 strategy for learning – a twitter conversation

September 16th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I moaned on twitter this evening about the intrusive advertising now showing on Slideshare. Fairly obviously, Slideshare are trying to persuade people to sign up for the recently introduced Premium Accounts. The end of free is in sight with many social software providers turning to premium account models in an attempt to monetize services (or at least pay for bandwidth). And of course this was bound to happen. Whilst in the initial days of Web 2.0, service providers could make money on advertising by poaching advertising budgets from print publications, there has to be a point where advertising money runs out, especially in a recessions.

But this provides a big challenge for using technology for teaching and learning. the last two years has been a period of great innovation, with an increasing focus on pedagogy, rather than technology per se. That in turn has been facilitated by teachers (and learners) being able to themselves choose what applications to use, free from institutional diktat be it by managers, accountants or systems administrators. whilst the cost of premium accounts is generally low (although interestingly not for high bandwidth applications such as video streaming), teachers and learners are going to be forced to decide which of the many available services they wish to subscribe to. And most teachers do not have access to a budget for applications. So does power return to the managers? Will we be forced back to the Learning Management Systems and Virtual Learning Platforms so beloved of systems admins.

In a series of tweets Scott Wilson suggested “we need a new post-web-2.0 strategy” and that “open source and the open web are going to be at the heart of it, and new partnerships with IT departments.” He pointed out that “IT departments are under pressure to cut costs and outsource services; this is a key leverage point and educational technologists may be able to help.”

Scott Leslie joined in the discussion, suggesting that my original tweet fearing a move from the free use of social software by teachers to managerial and IT administrator control “is a false dichotomy that confuses ‘Agency’ with ‘Autonomy’ – there’s a role for system-wide/inst….” He suggested “provisioned systems to replace the “free” ones, but done in ways that maximize learner/teacher agency and choice.” And as an example of such a strategy Carlos Santos proposed the SAPO Campus model. Scott Wilson agreed with Scott Leslie saying “also work on ensuring centrally managed platforms are extensible and flexible for adding new edu tools and apps (even sharepoint!).”

An interesting discussion and one that urgently needs to be taken forward. I wonder if this could be continued as part of the #PLENK2010 course?

Blackboard, Elluminate, edupunk and PLEs: looking to the future

August 9th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

George Siemens has written a blog post about Blackboard’s take over of Elluminate and Wimbla.I agree with him in saying this is an astute move by Blackboard – however I am not quite sure what he means when he talks about integration allowing mangers to buy the educational process. OK – so Blackboard moves beyond being just a VLE. But the educational process is still dependent on pedagogy, whatever tools are integrated in a single application.

I am also very dubious about his view on the evolution of online learning environments. George says:

Over the last eight years, the market has experience enormous change (web 2.0, virtual worlds, social media, networked learning). But many things have settled in the process. Some universities are beginning to focus on a big-picture view of technology: making learning resources available in multimedia, integrating technology from design to delivery, using mobile technologies, and increased focus on network pedagogy. Blackboard (and LMS’ in general) have been able to present the message that “you need an LMS to do blended and online learning”.

To counter this view, the edupunk/DIY approach to learning has produced an emphasis on personal learning environments and networks. To date, this movement has generated a following from a small passionate group of educators, but has not really made much of an impact on traditional education. I don’t suspect it will until, sadly, it can be commoditized and scaled to fit into existing systemic models of education. Perhaps Downes’ Plearn research project, or OU’s SocialLearn project will prove me wrong (I really hope they do!!). For the purposes of this post, however, the brave new world of online learning will be dominated by LMS like Moodle, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and regional players like Fronter.

I have never seen edupunk being a movement which would move in and takeover the traditional education system. What edupunk does provide is an alternative to traditional pedagogy as well as showing there are other routes than commercialisation of education through technology. I don’t expect any institutional manager to announce a new policy based on edupunk? But what we are seeing is increasing numbers of teachers using social software for tecahing and learning. The impact of that is far harder to measure than the number of VLEs adopted by different educational institutions. It will also probably have a far more profound impact of tecahing and learning and pedagogic approaches to using technology.

The second impact of PLEs, edupunk and social software is in the developing ideas and practice around Open Learning. Knowledge and learning is escaping from the institution. And long term that will be the greatest impact of all.

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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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  • Very interesting post by @francesbell on An Interactive Exploration of the Near Future in Educational Technologies francesbell.wordpress.com/201…

    About 3 hours ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via TweetDeck

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