Archive for the ‘ICT’ Category

New steps in the Layers fieldwork – Part 1: Layers goes to NordBau

September 12th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the summer months it has not been possible to report much on the fieldwork for the Learning Layers (LL) project. Due to the holiday periods there have been no major events. Yet, thanks to the efforts in May and June and due to preparatory measures by several colleagues, we have been able to take several steps forward when coming back from holidays and conference trips. In this first post I will give a report on the LL partners’ visit to the German construction fair NordBau that took place yesterday.

The annual NordBau fair in Neumünster, near Hamburg, is the biggest sectoral fair for construction industry and craft trades in North Germany. The exhibition halls present products, tools and services whilst the large outdoor areas are filled with heavy machinery by all major suppliers. Bau-ABC is a regular visitor and this event has served as a major opportunity for contacting suppliers and cooperation partners. This time we decided that Melanie Campbell, Kerstin Engraf and I will make a one-day-visit to join the trainers – Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte, who were attending the whole time. We agreed that we three will first explore the exhibition area of ICT service providers and then join Mr Grewe and Mr Schütte with their talks with the suppliers.

1. Observations in the exhibition area of ICT service providers

We were interested to find out, to what extent the ICT service providers were presenting services for construction workers and their supervisors in the construction sites – based on mobile devices. From this point of view the general picture was far more traditional – most of the exhibitors were presenting CAD/CAM software for design work or business management software . Very few exhibitors were promoting mobile applications – and they also were primarily addressing architects or business managers. Yet, we got brochures from some software providers to have a closer look from the LL perspective.

A special compartment was the BIM exhibition container (Building Information Modelling) that was provided by a German research project consortium. involving several universities and software developers. The project demonstrated use of RFID-technologies and integrated software solutions with which the modelling covers the whole supply chain. Starting from product design and actual production (adjusted to customer needs), following through the logistic chain (including reporting, tracking and quality control) the software solutions gave information to the point of using the products in the construction project (and reporting of good match or eventual mismatches). Here, the emphasis was on integration of software and different steering/controlling technologies. From the LL point of view it was interesting to note that this project had been working with prototype solutions without involvement of real application partners and that the engagement of real users was seen as a task for different spin-off and follow-up projects.

2. Talks with supplier companies

The second part of our visit consisted of short visits and stakeholder talks in the outdoor areas in which suppliers to construction companies were presenting their machinery and equipments. Altogether we visited the areas of the following supplier companies:

  • Liebherr
  • Wirtgen Group
  • TractoTechnik
  • Vetter GmbH Kabelverlegetechnik
  • Tramann + Sohn
  • Wacker Neuson

These visits had been orchestrated and scheduled by Mr Grewe and they were part of his normal agenda for meeting suppliers to make arrangements for cooperation in training users of such machinery in the context of initial and continuing training programmes. This time, however, during most of these visits we had discussions also on the Learning Layers project and in particular on the Learning Toolbox. To me it was important that the colleagues from Bau-ABC had already integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of their partner companies) to their normal business talks. Also, in these talks the colleagues from Bau-ABC were very attentive concerning the possible benefits that the company representatives could see (and very convincing in eliminating eventual misunderstandings). Yet, it was clear to all of us that our counterparts in these talks were the sales persons (and only in few cases the managers/owners of the companies). Thus, the agreements on subsequent pilot workshops were to be made with the management representatives.

At the end of the day we could conclude that our visit was well-timed and that we got good feedback regarding the Learning Layers project:

  • Concerning the ICT exhibition area and the BIM projects, we noticed that there is a gap in providing services for construction workers on the site and in engaging them in co-design processes. From this perspective both the task of the LL project and its approach can be seen as pioneering work.
  • Concerning the talks with the supplier companies, the colleagues from Bau-ABC demonstrated clearly that they had integrated the promotion of Learning Toolbox (and engagement of partner companies into pilot activities) as an essential part of their cooperation with business partners.

Also, the fact that such cooperation is valued became clear during our chance meeting with the team from the company W. (who had just participated in a pilot workshop on Learning Toolbox – see my next blog). So, we felt very much empowered and are looking forward to the next steps.

More blogs to come …

 

 

Critical thinkers in the 21st century …

May 18th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

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

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

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

Do we really share a vision?

June 23rd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

As I guess most of you will know the UK has a new right wing coalition government. As always, being a new government, they have announced a raft of new policy measures including in education. the major tenet of the government policy is to use the financial crisis to impose wide ranging cuts on public services. In the education area, early policy announcements have included allowing schools to opt out of local government control (and the introduction of private sponsorship), cuts  in funding of university places (and strongly rumoured rises in tuition costs), a two year freeze on pay rises, cuts to free school meals and the abolition of the British Education Communication and Technology Agency (Becta).

I think it would be fair to say few of these measures have found favour with educationalists! But how should we react to these policies. especially given that the government is only two or so months old? Perhaps I am old fashioned but I think the only answer is to build a broad alliance to oppose government policies. So I am a little bemused by the following letter, available on the NAACE web site,  signed by a broad coalition of organisations involved in Technology Enhanced Education seeking to enter a dialogue with government education minister Michael Gove:

At a meeting on 4 June 2010 Naace, the ICT Association, brought together leaders from key organisations from across the education system to discuss the future of Information Communication Technology in Education.

Agreement was reached on a joint vision statement. We now circulate this to you and other interested parties. We seek assurances from you that the new government recognises the importance of ICT to learning, to learners, to management, and to the overall success of the whole education system.

The freedoms promised to schools, colleges and beyond by the coalition government provide new opportunities for teachers, lecturers and learners to make the best possible use of ICT to support, enrich and extend learning across and beyond the curriculum, thereby improving achievement, enabling personalisation and ensuring employability.

Responsibility for leadership in this field must be shared between schools, colleges, providers of adult learning, local authorities, industry, and government. If we work together, through membership organisations, subject associations and looser networks and communities of educationalists, technologists and policy makers, we can provide the mutual support and challenge that will be needed if the learners in our charge are to continue to benefit.

When used well and managed wisely, ICT is a powerful tool to ensure that:

  • curriculum and pedagogy stay relevant to an increasingly digital world and economy;
  • all learners are included, protected, and empowered;
  • teachers and lecturers have efficient, effective and economic access to digital resources, together with the tools to create and deploy these resources themselves.

The education system is ripe for the development of new models that:

  • maximise the return in learner achievement from investment in ICT;
  • support effective pedagogy;
  • provide an evidence‐base to inform decision‐making;
  • enable efficient procurement of software, hardware, infrastructure, and services through improved market competition and collaborative purchasing;
  • assure the quality and independence from commercial or ideological bias of support available for those in leadership roles.

The success of the country depends on the long term strength of the economy and for this, fluency in ICT matters as much as does competence in English and Mathematics. In short, a digitally literate and digitally creative workforce is of vital importance to every citizen, and achieving this demands an entitlement to the best possible use of ICT in education – by learners, by schools, colleges and institutions, and by educational leaders.

We look forward to confirmation that the newly elected government shares our vision for ICT in education, and we look forward to working with government on putting the vision into practice.

Most of the statement seems fairly innocuous although I am not sure it amounts to a ‘vision’. And although I know we have got used to justifying projects in terms of economic goals, I am not happy with phrases like “the success of the country depends…” to say nothing of the statement recognising the opportunities of the freedoms (read cutbacks and privatisation).

I also see the need for dialogue if we are to even defend the present education system let alone provide increased learning opportunities. But to me the real subtext is – we know you are going to make cutbacks but please don’t cut our part of the system. And that is not a constructive dialogue at all.

Cyfrowi tubylcy i gra w szkołę

May 28th, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

Czy nauczyciele w Polsce są dobrze przygotowani na pokolenie cyfrowych tubylców? Opdowiedzi na to pytanie szukałam w rozmowie z Lechosławem Hojnackim – nauczycielem i konsultantem, zajmującym się implementacją nowoczesnych technologii informacyjnych w procesie kształcenia dorosłych, przede wszystkim nauczycieli.

IB: Ten kto zajrzy na Pana stronę internetową  http://www.hojnacki.net odkryje szybko, że jest Pan aktywny na wielu serwisach internetowych. Czym się Pan aktualnie zajmuje zawodowo?

LH: W tej chwili pracuję jako wykładowca w  Kolegium Nauczycielskim w Bielsku-Białej. To taki niszowy w Polsce system kształcenia nauczycieli na poziomie trzyletnich studiów zawodowych, zbliżony bardziej do szkoły (niewielka liczba studentów, sporo praktyk) niż uniwersytetu. Jednocześnie pracuję jako konsultant w Regionalnym Ośrodku Metodyczno-Edukacyjnym “Metis” w Katowicach i zajmuję się implementacją tzw. nowych technologii w procesie dydaktycznym.

IB: Ma Pan więc szerokie spojrzenie na zastosowanie TIK (technologii informacyjno – komunikacyjnej) w edukacji. Czy szkolenia nauczycieli w Polsce obejmują standardowo  tematy e-pedagogiczne? W jakim zakresie szkoleni są nauczyciele w temacie e-learningu 2.0? Jak to wygląda w przypadku czynnych nauczycieli,  a jak w przypadku studentów-adeptów?

LH: Czynni nauczyciele w pewnych okresie swojego rozwoju zawodowego muszą się wylegitymować dowodami opanowania TIK. Na poziomie awansu zawodowego na nauczyciela mianowanego są to “umiejętności wykorzystywania w pracy technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej;” natomiast na poziomie nauczyciela dyplomowanego (najwyższym) – „podejmowanie działań mających na celu doskonalenie warsztatu i metod pracy, w tym doskonalenie umiejętności stosowania technologii informacyjnej i komunikacyjnej”. Od nauczyciela stażysty i kontraktowego (najniższe) nie wymaga się w tym zakresie niczego. Nie ma jednak sztywnych reguł, co to znaczy “wylegitymować się” i duża część nauczycieli korzysta w tym celu ze szkoleń prowadzonych przez ośrodki doskonalenia nauczycieli lub inne instytucje, m.in. w ramach projektów unijnych. W praktyce posiadanie pewnej liczby zaświadczeń o ukończeniu szkoleń, ocenianych częściej w kategorii liczby godzin niż treści i poziomu – jest wystarczającym dowodem posiadania stosownych umiejętności. Członkowie komisji oceniają tylko dostarczone dokumenty określające umiejętności związane z TIK w warsztacie dydaktycznym i czynią to przez pryzmat własnej wiedzy i świadomości.

Są to najczęściej spotykane źródła systemowej motywacji zewnętrznej dla nauczycieli. Jak widać nie ma tu miejsca na rozróżnienia dotyczące stosowania konkretnych metod, konkretnych typów serwisów, sposobów komunikowania się, w tym e-learningu 2.0. Ponadto, idąc dalej tropem systemowych uregulowań, komisje powoływane dla oceniania dokonań nauczycieli na kolejne stopnie awansu zawodowego nie tylko nie mają wytycznych, ale nawet możliwości kompetentnego oceniania metodycznych aspektów TIK – nie muszą mieć w swoim składzie ekspertów w tej dziedzinie.

Są też uwarunkowania hamujące rozwój e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach:

1. Organy nadzoru pedagogicznego (kuratorzy oświaty)  otrzymali wytyczne, aby czynnie zapobiegać ujemnym zjawiskom takim jak cyfrowa agresja i inne niebezpieczeństwa ze strony Internetu, dlatego dyrektorzy szkół (notabene w Polsce posiadający bardzo mały w stosunku do wielu krajów rozwiniętych zakres samodzielności) często uznają -  bardzo racjonalnie – że większym zagrożeniem dla ich interesów służbowych jest nadmiar kontaktu uczniów z Siecią, niż wielostronne jego obwarowania, a w praktyce – ograniczenia.

2. Chyba większość polskich szkół dysponuje pracowniami otrzymanymi z, nazwijmy to, centralnego przydziału. Zdecydowana ich większość jest oparta na Windows oraz serwerach SBS o specyficznej konfiguracji. Konfiguracja ta opiera się na tzw. “filtrach treści niepożądanych” oraz kontrolowaniu i analizowaniu całego ruchu sieciowego przez serwer, który w efekcie, w standardowej konfiguracji blokuje nie tylko niepożądane strony, słowa i złośliwe skrypty, ale także wiele pożądanych stron, nieszkodliwych słów oraz bardzo potrzebnych skryptów. W praktyce w wielu szkołach używa się w związku z powyższym komputerów, na których nie da się uruchomić np. większości serwisów z epoki Web 2.0, ponieważ poprawnie działają tylko stare, statyczne strony nie zawierające żadnych skryptów (np. osadzonych filmików, edytorów online etc.). Takie pracownie skutecznie chronią szkołę przed Web 2.0. W związku z czynnikami opisanymi w punkcie 1. oraz z braku stosownych umiejętności, a często i świadomości, ta bardzo zła z punktu widzenia nowoczesnego korzystania z Sieci konfiguracja nie jest modyfikowana.

IB: Wnioskuję z tego, że sieć społeczna jest przez szerokie grono ludzi traktowana jako zagrożenie?

LH: To niestety powszechna postawa. Czasem artykułowana dość wprost np. w kategoriach zagrożeń, agresji, groźby uzależnienia lub jako bezwartościowy strumień śmieciowej informacji. Czasem świadomie lub częściej nieświadomie ta postawa ukrywana pod poglądami typu “nic nie zastąpi książki”, “skoro ONI używają ciągle Sieci to ktoś wreszcie musi ich nauczyć obywać się bez niej lub posługiwać się innymi narzędziami”, “a jak nie będzie komputera, kalkulatora, a jak braknie prądu, to będzie katastrofa”.

IB: Muszę przyznać, że w Niemczech sytuacja wygląda jednak lepiej, ponieważ osiągnieto poziom, na którym przeważa już pragmatyczne pytanie „jak?“, np. „Jak możemy wporowadzić elementy sieci społecznej w szkołach?“. A jakie sa pozostałe wyzwania związane z kształceniem nauczycieli w tematyce e-learningu 2.0? Jakie strategie pedagogiczno-dydaktyczne sprawdzają się w praktyce? W jaki sposób wprowadza Pan nauczycieli w świat sieci społecznych?

LH: Dziś wyraźnie widać, gdzie wiekowo przebiega granica między typowymi cyfrowcami, a bardziej tradycyjnie ukształtowanym pokoleniem uczniów. Nauczyciele szkół podstawowych zapoznani z faktami, zestawieniami, wynikami badań, naturą ważniejszych zjawisk – dość gremialnie dają się łatwo przekonać, iż jest to problem, z którym muszą się zmierzyć, bo po prostu otrzymują obraz sytuacji dobrze wyjaśniający obserwowane przez nich u uczniów zjawisk społecznych wywołanych  Web 2.0. Dla odmiany statystycznie zdecydowanie najtrudniej jest pracować z nauczycielami szkół ponadgimnazjalnych. W tej grupie nauczycieli najczęściej spotykam się z odmową, obrazą nawet. Nie widzą jeszcze konieczności zmiany metod pracy, populacja ich uczniów jeszcze nie jest w pełni cyfrowymi tubylcami i jeszcze da się próbować pracować po staremu. To smutne zjawisko, bo rozsądek wskazuje, że młodzież licealna byłaby najwdzięczniejszą grupą uczniów do metod i form pracy epoki Web 2.0.

Czynnych nauczycieli zatem staram się na początku przekonać, że ich “klienci” zmienili się i będą się zmieniać dalej, w związku z czym oni muszą starać się podążać za zmianami (uwaga) wbrew ustrojowi organizacyjnemu szkoły, który rzeczywiście niesłychanie utrudnia postęp (uwaga: także w aspektach przeze mnie wcześniej tu nie wymienionych). Staram się także zaczynać od najprostszych technologicznie rozwiązań, które dają maksimum efektu przy minimalnych umiejętnościach, ale jakoś przynależnych do Web 2.0. Na przykład na początek wprowadzamam bloga na Bloggerze jako tablicę ogłoszeniową. Zaczynam więc od przekazu jednokierunkowe, ale z łatwością podejmowania dalszych kroków.

Studentów traktuję zgoła inaczej, ponieważ tu jestem w stanie ustalić bardziej drastyczne reguły. Niezależnie od treści programowych, specjalności, roku i trybu studiów, wprowadzam jako obowiązującą metodę grupowy projekt oparty (przynajmniej  technicznie) na serwisach Web 2.0. Treści merytoryczne stawiam na drugim planie za zasadami współpracy, samozarządzania, angażowania ekspertów z zewnątrz, publikowania efektów, autoprezentacji w Sieci itd. Moje podejście wynika z tego, że zdecydowana większość studentów po raz pierwszy w życiu spotyka się z faktyczną metodą konstruktywistycznego projektu grupowego dopiero po maturze! Wielu z nich wykazuje także zasadnicze braki w podstawowych umiejętnościach komunikacyjnych związanych z TIK, wbrew kilkuletniemu cyklowi nauki tego przedmiotu w poprzednich etapach kształcenia.

IB: Tak ten deficyt mają też studenci w Niemczech. Wynika to często z tego, że większości nauczycieli/wykładowców brakuje po prostu doświadczenia i umiejętności w wirtualnej współpracy, kooperacyjnych technikach, samoorganizacji na poziomie grupowym. A czy Pana zdaniem szersze kompetencje, lepsze zrozumienie mają uczniowie lub studenci? Kto rozumie zalety wirtualnej pracy grupowej i potrafi pracować/uczyć się w zdecentralizowanych, nieuporządkowanych hierarchicznie, wirtualnych grupach?

LH: TAK, dzieci i młodzież żyją w Sieci bardziej i głębiej, niż sami to widzą, bo dla nich Sieć jest  przezroczysta. To zjawisko jest podobne w swojej naturze do szczerej deklaracji uczniów, że nie PISZĄ tylko esemesują, czatują. Oni nie nazywają tego pisaniem, traktują tak, jak my rozmowę. Natomiast dość powszechnie oddzielają tego rodzaju aktywności od szkoły, nie tylko ze względu na uwarunkowania, o których mówiłem wyżej lub takie jak powszechny zakaz używania komórek w szkole. To zjawisko tzw. “gry w szkołę” oznacza, że obie strony procesu (nauczyciel i uczeń) w szkole  używają reguł, których nie traktują jako przekładalne na świat zewnętrzny. Ani nauczyciele nie mają motywacji do uczenia np. komunikowania się w Sieci, ani uczniowie tego od nich nie oczekują.

IB: Wspomniał Pan, że dzieci i młodzież nie piszą tylko esemesują i czatują. Na pewno często spotyka się Pan z pytaniem, czy takie praktyki nie zagrażają podstawowym kompetencjom pisania i czytania? Jak odpowiada Pan na takie pytania?

LH: Jeżeli uznać, że taki rodzaj kompetencji, do którego przyzwyczaiły nas doświadczenia poprzednich pokoleń i nasze własne, to kompetencje prawdziwe, jedynie słuszne, stosowalne w przyszłości, albo nawet tylko “potencjalnie akceptowalne dla większości populacji cyfrowców”, to oczywiście czaty i esemesy stanowią zagrożenie.  Przy całym moim osobistym przywiązaniu do sztuki pisania i czytania oraz wielkiej literatury (proszę zauważyć, odruchowo zacząłem odpowiedź od zasygnalizowania, że stoję po tej samej stronie barykady, co inni imigranci cyfrowi), widzę wyraźną analogię do skądinąd bardzo słusznego twierdzenia, że rozwój motoryzacji zagraża zdrowym nawykom długich spacerów oraz kompetencjom jazdy konnej. Sam jeżdżę konno dobrze i od zawsze. Jednak na codzień poruszam się samochodem, a koń jest tylko moim hobby, ukłonem w stronę tradycji, zdrowym spędzaniem wolnego czasu i gimnastyką. To samo spotyka dziś tradycyjne formy przekazu tekstowego.

IB: I na tym moglibyśmy już właściwie zakończyć naszą rozmowę, ale zadam jeszcze jedno pytanie: Czy udało się już Panu zarazić swoim entuzjazmem dla nowych technologii wielu nauczycieli?

LH: Uchodzę za skutecznie zarażającego. Jeżeli ktoś mnie personalnie do czegoś wynajmuje, to znacznie częsciej do zarażania, inicjowania, uświadamiania niż np. do późniejszego systematycznego szkolenia. Niestety ciągle szkoła w Polsce obfituje w czynniki zrażające bardziej niż zarażające, ale w ciągu ostatnich dwóch lat widzę bardzo wyraźną zmianę nastawienia nauczycieli – na lepsze.

Jakie są Wasze/Państwa doświadczenia i opinie na temat wprowadzania e-learningu 2.0 w szkołach? Dziękujemy za komentarze!

Internet based Careers Information, Advice and Guidance in New Zealand

May 6th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

nzcareers

I have been doing a lot of work over the last year looking at how Information and communication Technologies can be used for Careers Advice, Information and Guidance, both in terms of providing direct services to young people and adults and in terms of supporting careers advisers. New Zealand seems to be leading in this work. This post is taken from a report I produced earlier this year, along with Jenny Bimrose and Sally Anne Barnes.

‘Career Services’ is the name by which the national organisation that delivers careers guidance support is known in New Zealand. It is a government funded organisation that regards itself as ‘New Zealand’s leading provider of independent career information, advice and guidance’. It aims to provide all people living in New Zealand with ‘access to the best careers information, advice and guidance to achieve their life goals’.

The Career Services’ website (http://www2.careers.govt.nz/home_page.html) is well used and has become a focal point for service delivery. Internet-based guidance is currently being integrated into mainstream service delivery, via the telephone, chat-lines and email, with the face-to-face service remaining available as an option. Telephone guidance is a particular feature, with text-based services being developed alongside this facility. Internet-based services are described on the Careers Service website as follows:

Advice line
Our Advice Line is a small team of trained career advisers located in central Wellington. We’re here to help you with your career planning. When you contact us (by phone or online via web chat or email), we’ll assess your situation and suggest career options suited to your needs. If you need more in-depth support, we’ll make an appointment for you to talk to one of our guidance staff either over the phone or in person. We’re open from 8am – 8pm weekdays, and on Saturday from 10am – 2pm.

Following the successful pilot, the advice line (contact centre) team has grown to 15. This team currently offers a service to clients of all ‘ages and stages’ all around the country, both by telephone and face-to-face. Careers practitioners have had ‘significant training and coaching in asking more open questions, making greater use of the interactive tools on the website with the client, identifying client need and referral processes’. The practitioners actively involved in delivering this new service have indicated how the conversations they have with clients are more direct than those they have face-to-face. The pace is more intense, with pauses and silences amplified, and rapport is being built up throughout the call (rather than at the early stage of the interaction). Practitioners have also reported that this method of delivery is more demanding on their energy. Supporting practitioner self-care has consequently become more of a priority for the service.

The Quality Standards Manual for the Careers Guidance Services is currently being re-written with sections on telephone guidance and online guidance being developed. This manual contains minimum quality measures for service delivery by telephone (e.g. total delivery time will not exceed 1.5 hours per client, including administrative tasks); an outline structure for a phone career guidance sessions (that is, a six stage model of guidance); and the key skills required (micro-counselling skills; excellent listening skills; solution focused counselling skills and the ability to use scaling questions).

Text-based guidance options are advertised on the Careers Service website in the following way:

Chat online about your career options

Looking for information or want some personal help? Chat online to a career adviser, who can give you independent advice to help you with career planning. Our advice line is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.

Use the form to the right [on-line questionnaire] to ask us a question. We’ll respond within four hours if you email us between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

The Careers Service has also recently piloted a curriculum vitae (CV) feedback service, from October, 2008 to January 2009. As part of this pilot, young people (under 25) were offered an email based feedback service on ‘starter’ CVs, which were created using a particular CV tool. The feedback was provided by a team of four practitioners with different levels of expertise in guidance and one team leader in the advice line. The offer of e-mail feedback came at the end of the CV tool, as a client saved their CV. The response from pilot clients was overwhelmingly positive, with clients reporting how they felt more confident about putting together their CV as a result of the feedback received. Professional practice observations, detailed in the internal evaluation report on the pilot, included:

  • the importance of shared team values;
  • the advantages of combining the skills and expertise of staff at different levels in the organisation;
  • the ability to adapt practice to a more condensed and intensified medium than face-to-face or telephone guidance;
  • The introductory pilot for the telephone guidance ran from July 2007 to end of February, 2008. It involved one experienced consultant who was based at the Careers Services’ advice line. During the pilot year, the practitioner dealt with 226 clients. The process of introducing this telephone service highlighted potential advantages for clients together with challenges it poses for practitioners. Flexibility emerged as the key advantage of this service for clients, with practitioners needing to use already acquired skills in slightly different ways as well as develop some new skills (England, van Holten and Urbahn, 2008).

  • the impact on delivery of not having background contextual information about clients;
  • working with a client within an advice context rather than a full guidance context; the shift required by the pilot team around comfort levels with the final product being a starter CV and the service delivered being about learning;
  • the value of quality monitoring and peer feedback.
  • An important feature of the shift towards internet-based guidance was the introduction by the Career Services in New Zealand of a needs assessment model, based on the client’s self-efficacy, confidence with self-help via the web and level / complexity of need. As part of their change management strategy, the Careers Service created a blog for staff, where careers practitioners could express their feelings, ask questions and have debates around the use of technologies in service deliver The animator placed the following question on the blog:E-mail may be the most important, unique method for communicating and developing relationships since the telephone.’ (John Suler, The Psychology of Cyberspace, 2004).

    Most career practitioners agree that one of the career profession’s foundational and ongoing principles is that a face-to-face, facilitative relationship is an essential component for effective career counselling. There is also an unwritten assumption that visual clues and non-verbal communications are superior to written text in forming and maintaining an affective relationship.

    Do career practitioners believe that face-to-face interactions are deemed more effective than online ones, and John Suler and other online advocates are talking nonsense?’One response is typical of the views expressed by P.A.s who participated in the research undertaken for this study.

    “I’d have to say I sit firmly in the face to face camp here. So many cues are picked up at both a conscious and subconscious level that just can’t be gained otherwise. I focus a lot on interview techniques in my work, and relationship building, body language, eye contact etc. is best learned while it is being demonstrated. Sure there’s some great on-line tools, but counselling involves all the senses (…except maybe taste!)”

    ’The other response provides a more measured viewpoint: “Surely it’s about the needs of the client? For some, yes face to face is always going to be the preferred option for some but having an OPTION of telephone guidance or online or self help or group planning or a combination of these surely means that we are more responsive to the needs of our clients. One of the real beauties of having this flexibility is that someone who lives in a remote area is still able to access services.”

    For some people it might be that they start in a face to face environment and then move to telephone or email, or perhaps it’s the other way – they start with email and as they develop their confidence and trust they may feel ‘ready’ to meet face to face.’

    Whilst this service’s engagement with flexible methods of delivery, including internet-based guidance, is relatively new, it provides an illustration of a large, national service addressing the staff capability issues that this venture implies, in a measured way. From this and other respects, it can be regarded as an interesting and excellent model practice.

Technical woes – do online meeting systems really work?

February 8th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I spent a lot of time yesterday evaluating ‘virtual classrooms’ or spaces for online simultaneous communication.

The background: over the last two years I have recognised, presented and participated in a considerable number of seminars, workshops and conferences using Elluminate. Whilst it has its bad days, in general Elluminate is reliable and I am fairly confident in getting people online and in facilitating communication on the platform. So when I was asked to help organise an online course for careers guidance professionals, I based it around a mix of self directed activities using PBWorks and simultaneous online sessions in Elluminate.

Then came the problem. Elluminate is a Java based application and requires both Java to be installed and the opening of a couple of ports which are sometime closed by systems administrators. Indeed the ports had been closed but that obstacle could be overcome. But, for one reason or another (I am not quite sure what), the application could not be got to run on Windows XP machines on the clients network. So I was left looking for an alternative.

First on the list was Net Webinar. I was not much taken by this given the web page marketing hype (and the price) but we had been recommended to use it by our client. It is Applet based avoiding the need for Java or downloads and I could set up a free month’s trial. The application seemed very much to emphasise the role of the presenter. There was no shared whiteboard and the main role of participants seemed to be to ask text questions. Sadly last night the person I was collaborating with was unable to access the webinar I set up (I suspect an issue with Windows 7 netbook version). Today I tried again with another colleague and it all worked quite well but I couldn’t hear any audio from her. The manual is also curious, seeming to focus more on toll paid telephony than anything else!

Next we looked again at Flash meeting. Although I use it regularly for project meetings I had never tried it with the whiteboard and tools enabled. For interactivity, this requires each user to have their own account. Furthermore the design does not really work, neither are the presentation tools far developed. Flash meeting is as the name suggests a meeting tool, I think.

On to DimDIm. I like the design, although functionality is limited by only five microphones being available. And the big failing of many of these system seems to be that the Flash system they use is unreliable. When switching between modes – whiteboard, presentation etc. it seemed to do things to my audio. And this morning, trying it amongst three of us, one person could hear everyone, whilst two of us could not hear each other. Promising but two buggy to risk with a non techie audience.

At this point I tried a skype shout out. The first reply was from Nergiz Kern. “NergizK @GrahamAttwell @cristinacost Maybe a bit unconventional but what about http://www.scribblar.com/ ? (If all else fails).” I liked the approach , unconventional or not. But once more the audio failed miserably. On skype someone (by now I have forgotten who) recommended WizIQ. oh dear, the moment I tried to invite Cristina Costa (who by now I had inveigled as a fellow tester), the whole site went crazy on me. Things were moving all over the place. More Flash problems I suspect. Another one ruled out.

I tried another two systems this morning. Similar results. With he notable exception of Flash meeting, the implementation of Flash in these systems seems very buggy. It might work on a good day for most people. Or it might not. And even in Flash meeting we spend a lot of time saying “can you hear me.”

I didn’t try Adobe Connect. I cannot afford it. And the trial version is too limited to use for the sessions I am trying to organise. It should also be remembered that Elluminate is not free – it is just that I am lucky to have access to an install.

So my conclusion – Flash doesn’t really work. And none of the free systems are yet good enough for working with non technical first time users. Disappointing really. My latest thinking is to re-jig the session and use an embedded slidecast, along with an embedded chat room in PBWorks. It is all free and with a bit of luck and a following wind it might work. Or perhaps to use Edmodo.

I’d be very interested to hear of your experiences of using these, or any other online seminar or workshop tools.

Understaning Academic Tribes (trying…)

December 21st, 2009 by Cristina Costa
Academic Tribes and Territories, Intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines by Tony Becher and Paul R. Trowler [Random thoughts about texts I have been reading. Please notice that I am still trying to make sense of this all and therefore welcome your critical comments. I am sure they will help me look at the topic [...]

Viral Education

February 13th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
I just came across this video today. And I think quite captures the essence of learning today… The ideas are not new…we have all been talking about this…Some of us have been doing it, but it is never to much to remind people of this issues…realities. I was also ver intrigued by the final question: ‘why do [...]

Viral Education

February 13th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
I just came across this video today. And I think quite captures the essence of learning today… The ideas are not new…we have all been talking about this…Some of us have been doing it, but it is never to much to remind people of this issues…realities. I was also ver intrigued by the final question: ‘why do [...]
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    Consultation

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

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


    Social Tech Guide

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

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

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

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


    Code Academy expands

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

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

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

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

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


    Open online STEM conference

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

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


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