Archive for the ‘integration of technology’ Category

Results & Conclusions of our Tallinn meeting – Part Three: The 2nd session on construction pilot

June 26th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two latest posts I started a series to report on the Tallinn meeting of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. In that first post I gave a picture of the preparation day. In the second posts I gave an overview on the inputs for the 1st session on construction sector pilot. These inputs were contributing to a picture on ‘integrated learning arrangements’. In this post I will continue with a report on our discussions on ‘technical integration’.

Since we had already had the initially scheduled  online demonstration on the functioning of Learning Toolbox (LTB) we dedicated this session on the relations between LTB and ‘complementary’ LL tools that had been presented in the preparatory meeting or during the healthcare sessions. Below I try to give a nutshell of our discussions and conclusions on different tools or apps brought into discussion.

1. ‘AchSo!’ video annotation tool

We started by emphasising the importance of video material and video annotations in the context of the training projects of Bau-ABC. We reminded of the twofold approach – videos to support training (reference videos, produced in advance under the supervision of trainers) and videos documenting learning (produced by apprentices during theproject to document phases of work and learning results). We had a lot of discussion on producing AchSo! for different operating systems (Android, iOS) and on the the functioning of AchSo! on different devices. The colleagues in Aalto agreed to produce a stable version of AchSo! (Android) by the 1st of October and to develop an iOS-version based on it by the Y3 review meeting. The colleagues from Bau-ABC volunteered to purchase Android tablets for trainers who would start using AchSo! with their videos before the iOS version is available.

2. ‘Bits and Pieces’ and ‘KnowBrain’ as collectors of experiences

Concerning ‘Bits and Pieces’ we emphasised the need to develop tools that help workplace learners to collect their learning experiences alongside/based on workplace learning. Here, we noted the contradiction that ‘Bits and Pieces’ has been developed primarily for medical/nursing staff working at GP practices. Therefore, the software (for stationary PCs) needs a lot of space and the migration to mobile devices is not easy. Given this hurdle, the general conclusion was that LTB could take some components of Bits and Pieces and create respective tiles. Parallel to this, some functions of the KnowBrain application could be developed for Learning Logs. (Here we need more discussions before making commitments to particular milestones.)

3. ‘Confer’ tool for help seeking

With the ‘Confer’ tool (earlier called ‘Help seeking’) we took the point (that was already raised in the healthcare session) that it could help us to make transparent our complex development and piloting processes, like the recent initiatives with the LTB. (Here the point is to use our own tools to support our development processes – ‘to take our own medicine ourselves’.) RayCom agreed to take the development of this tool into the next sprint. We agreed on the same milestone as with AchSo! (the 1st of October) for a stable version.

4. ‘Locations’ app in making

Here we continued our discussion on the basis of the input of Adolfo and the TLU study group. RayCom confirmed that the LTB has already been equipped with several functions that can work with the sensors and use the app to be developed. Yet, there is a need to clarify the responsibilities and the resources needed. Graham Attwell emphasised that the issue of ‘locations’ raises higher level questions on interpreting ‘contexts’ – for this purpose we need to revisit the work of Sebastian Dennerlein for mapping different contexts in the construction pilot (for software development purposes).

5. Social Augmented Reality apps in making

For this part of the meeting Jana Pejoska (Aalto) arranged a short demonstration with Social Augmented Reality (SAR) using the vision sharing function with a colleague in Helsinki and making interactive use of marks on the screen. (Based on this demonstration, Melanie Campbell and trainer Marc Schütte provided later on a use case of the driver of excavator (or other construction vehicle) using augmented reality to get a better impression of the dimensions of the vehicle when driving it.) Here we noted that the current version is available on the web. There is a need of further development work for a mobile device. Yet, already at this stage it is essential to make arrangements for a working visit from Aalto to Bau-ABC to start testing with SAR during the September month.

Altogether, we could agree in a plenary session on several working perspectives and milestones regarding the enrichment of the Learning Toolbox.

At this point I had to leave the meeting due to private commitments. I am trying to catch up with the colleagues regarding the key points and conclusions of the remaining sessions. In particular I am interested to learn more on the work with the exploitation journeys and on the conclusions for joint exploitation plans. Let us see, if I can get my impressions on a further blog post – or if someone else does it for me on another blog.

More blogs to come …

 

Opening of “Learning Exhibition” in Verden – Part 2: The use of digital media and web tools

April 29th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I reported on the opening event of the ‘Learning Exhibition’ “nachhaltig. bauen. erleben” and its importance for the EU-funded project Learning Layers (LL). This event – the inauguration of the new ecological building and the opening of the inaugural exhibition is clearly a highlight for our application partners Agentur, NNB and NZNB in Verden.  In the previous post I summarised some first impressions of the Learning Layers team that contributed to the exhibition. Now that some of our photos are available as photo albums in our Facebook group Learning Layers Photos, it is possible to make further comments on the way that the exhibition has implemented the design ideas of the Learning Layers project (in particular of the Captus design team).

1. What was the design team Captus looking for?

As I already mentioned in my previous post, one of the early design ideas of the Learning Layers project was called “Captus” – Capturing of knowledge and experiences with the help of digital media and web tools. This design idea and the design team that worked with it took the the ‘Learning Exhibition’ as their focal point.

The contributors from the project worked with the question: How can the use of digital media, web resources and mobile devices best be incorporated into the exhibition?

For the organisers the key question was rather: How can the exhibition be shaped as an experienceable learning opportunity (Gelegenheit for erfahrbares Lernen)?

For the LL project the key question was: How can we get these two perspectives joined together?

This gave rise to different learning exercises with web tools, webinars, video production and annotation sessions. Also different explorations were made on the use of QR-tags and alternative solutions. Finally, these efforts culminated to the questions:

1) How can we support the participants in getting more knowledge and insights into the exhibits/exhibition areas than is possible by posters, info sheets ans flyers?

2) How can we provide opportunities for such knowledge acquisition that makes it possible for the participants to take their new knowledge with them for further reflection?

These questions brought into picture the efforts to introduce augmented reality as an integral part of the exhibition concept.

2. What did we witness as ‘ideas put into practice’ in the exhibition?

At best we can demonstrate the impact of the Captus ideas with a ‘guided tour round the exhibition’ via the photos that we have uploaded in the album “The ‘Learning exhibition’ “Nachhaltig. bauen. erleben” of our application partners Agentur, NNB, NZNB (ecological construction work)“.

We see firstly the welcome message (here a screenshot) of the web page that is available on the tablets used in the exhibition. The users can indicate their interests as ordinary visitors, construction sector specialists, construction companies or their clients.  Each of them can make their own ‘guided’ tour with the help of the AR application used on the tablet.

Secondly we see the exhibition area for heating and cooling (basement ambiente) and for furnishing and wood materials (wider area). Both areas have hot spots for using AR.

Thirdly we see the use of the tablet at those hot spots and the additional text-based or picture-based information that appears on the screen.

Finally we see the instructions, how to take this information home and how to access it from home offices.

As we see it, this may appear as rather simplistic way of implementing the ideas that were discussed. But, what makes it important, in this way the ideas of using digital media, web tools and mobile technologies have become integral parts of the exhibition concept. Moreover, the key organisers have taken this as their starting point to work further with this approach. And finally, we saw that the exhibition is still in many ways under construction. From this perspective the tools, system solutions and software solutions that are being piloted in Bau-ABC could also be demonstrated as parts of the exhibition (when the time is ripe for this step). At least we saw this as an entry point to a new phase rather than as a final station of completed journey.

More blogs to come …

PS. With this blog I have worked with Joanna Burchert who has been most intensively working with the Captus idea from the ITB team. I have listened to her views and taken on board as much as possible but the words are mine. PK

Preparing for LL field workshops – Part 1: What is new with the tools and technology?

March 27th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

After the Design Conference of the EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project we have returned back to everyday life work. For the ITB team and our cooperation partners in the construction sector pilots this means that we are preparing for a new round of Field Workshops with the Learning Toolbox (LTB). We would have wanted to start these workshops earlier but we understand that we have to be patient about the development of tools and supporting technologies. With this post I try to give a picture what all is changing since our previous workshops. In my next post I will discuss what is changing regarding Data protection/Data Security (“Datenschutz”). Here some key points on the development of tools and technology and on the implications for the pilot activities:

1. Transition from meeting rooms to pilots in training areas and working environments

Our previous pilots have been co-design activities with a preparatory character. We have had conversational workshops, storyboard workshops (producing working/learning journey maps), stakeholder talks (giving impulses for the development of LTB) and ‘demo camp’ workshops (with mock-ups and giving more specific feedback for the development of LTB). Finally, our colleagues in Bau-ABC prepared videos where the showed exemplary contexts and processes, in which LTB could be used. Also, Bau-ABC trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) were assembled to give their views how they would use the LTB and how they are developing their blogs to support such pilots.

As I have reported in my blogs last year, we have harvested a number of ideas, how the the Learning Toolbox – as an integrated mobile framework for web resources, tools and apps – can support learning and working in the construction sector. So, after all these preparatory measures the natural step forward is to enter pilots in the field – in the training areas and in the context working and learning (with LTB as support tool).

2. What is new with the infrastructure?

A major hurdle for all such pilots has been the limited infrastructure that has not provided access to internet in the training areas of Bau-ABC. This has not only been a problem for demonstrations and piloting in Bau-ABC but also a more general problem for piloting with the LL tools in the construction sector.

In this respect the solution that has been developed by the LL partners in RWTH Aachen – the “Layers Box” – has been of vital importance. As I understand it, the Layers Box is a local ‘server ‘ that enables the user organisation to use LL tools in a predefined range and is linked to the RWTH server that hosts the LL infrastructure. As I understand it, with such a ‘technology package’ the user organisation has control of its own engagement in the pilot activities as regards the use of technology and tools. At the same time RWTH is in the position to give remote support for the functioning of the infrastructure and tools that have been installed.

As we have been informed, the Layers Box has been successfully installed in Bau-ABC and our colleagues are now taking care of the preparations to enable pilots in the training areas.

3. What is new with the piloting with tools?

Looking back at the earlier workshops and stakeholder talks, we only had rather early versions of the Learning Toolbox available (powerpoints, wireframes and temporary software solutions that enabled some demonstrations). The hard work with the software architecture and with the links to attached servers and platforms has progressed gradually. The Alpha Beta Camp in Aachen earlier this year was an important milestone in getting different contributions from different software developers work together. Now, as we see it, we are waiting for the crucial steps in this work to get LTB work on the basis of a local Layers Box installed in Bau-ABC.

As I see it, the new phase will change the pattern of cooperation from co-design sessions (the results of which were communicated to developers) to more collaborative Dev-Ops mode (in which the user/designers can make some adjustments themselves or suggest changes in a rapid prototyping process). In order to enter such phase the developers and we – the intermediate facilitators – need to get an updated picture what is possible and where we may be hitting the limits.

Altogether, the echoes that we are getting from the developers are promising and we are looking forward to bringing our pilots ahead after the easter break. In the meantime we have some other homework to do with the Data protection/ Data Security (“Datenschutz”) issues.

More blogs to come …

 

 

After the LL Design Conference – Part 1: Sessions and Lessons

March 16th, 2015 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous posts I have reported on the preparation for the Design Conference of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Last week this conference took place in Espoo (at the Otaniemi campus of the Aalto University in the special building “Design Factory”). Now it is time to summarise the results and draw conclusions for the forthcoming work. Below I try to give a picture of the main sessions and the key results:

1. Building upon the Critical Path Analysis

This was the first joint event of the consortium after we had finalised the Critical Path Analysis (CPA) that was required by our reviewers. We could now see that it was an exercise worth doing. Instead of building upon separate tools and dispersed design teams we were now focusing on more integrative “tool arrangements”. We could now see better the tool arrangements responding to the ‘learning stories’ that addressed different developmental challenges (working with documents, physical artefacts, learning episodes, complex working & learning challenges).

2. Co-Design of the Learning Toolbox is taking further steps

Concerning the co-design sessions, I was mainly participating sessions that focused on the development of the Learning Toolbox (LTB). To me, these sessions were characterised by a new reunion of developers, co-designers and users in a live situation. Last year we had had an interruption of live workshops and face-to-face meetings due to administrative reasons. Then, when these were getting removed, new developers entered the stage and ‘interim managers’ had to hand over the tasks and bring them into cooperation with other developers. At the same time the application partners and other co-designers were tied up with other duties. Therefore, we only now got a chance to update each other on the results of the Alpha Beta Camp as well as on the plans for the forthcoming Field Workshops in Bau-ABC. In this respect it was important to make agreements on joint working meetings, to draw a timeline for the spring activities and to tune ourselves into the DevOps-culture of co-development during operative activities. Also, it was important that Raymond Elferink could give us a clear insight into the current phases of technical development and how the workshops can be linked to it.

3. Bringing different evaluation approaches into mutually complementing ‘package’

During the preparatory phase we had had some conversations in which consortium-wide efforts to shape an overarching evaluation approach had not met local efforts to evaluate the implementation and impact of tools. Although I did not attend many of the sessions on the evaluation issues, I got an impression that important progress was made. Crucial for the consensus was the point made by Jenny Hughes (Pontydysgu): “The results of local evaluation measures (on the implementation/impact of tools) are input for the consortium-wide evaluation of our achievements.” This gave us the clue, how to work together regarding the collection of data and reagarding the timing of evaluation measures.

4. Working with multiple roles and tasks in the exploitation activities

Third major element in the Design Conference were the group sessions on exploitation activities. Gilbert Peffer and Raymond Elferink had prepared a game-like exercise for drafting exploitation activities. Some of the groups were based on tool arrangements (Learning Toolbox, Healthcare tool arrangements, AchSo!), some on joint services (Social semantic server) and some on collaborative groupings (LL Centre of expertise). Thus, some of these groups were very strongly grounded on the co-design work whilst others had to look forward with a bit more phantasy.

I do not wish to go into details of this exercise – partly because I was in a group that mainly focused on the healthcare sector (which gave me the role of an interested observer), partly because we had too little time to wrap up the results. However, it is worthwhile to emphasise that this exercise pushed us stronger to think about the transformation from project work (fulfilling our duties as project partners) to sustaining the results and achievements beyond the life-time of our current project (with new resources and groupings of interested parties). During this exercise I noticed that we had here and there some controversies of the roles that we are playing (owners of tools/innovations, partners, proto-customers, mediators, customers …). Some of the differences were settled in a short while, some needed more time. To me, the striking point was that this exercise helped us to think of our changing roles more thoroughly than the similar exercises in previous consortium meetings. Moreover, after drawing conclusions from this exercise we are in a better position to work further with the Business Model Canvases (with which we started working in Tallinn). Also, this exercise gave us a better perspective to work with consortium-wide and project-based follow-up initiatives (for which we have to get ourselves prepared alongside the project tasks).

 5. “Datenschutz” – Policies for Data privacy/ Data protection/ Confidentiality …

Whilst the above mentioned issues were the cross-cutting themes that shaped the whole event, this is clearly a corollary issue – not to be forgotten. We agreed that during the pilot phase we need a minimum amount of documents to clarify these issues for ourselves and our counterparts (organisations and indidividual users). Partly these issues have been covered in the Ethical clearance processes that our healthcare partners have gone through (under the auspices of the University of Leeds and the NHS). Partly these issues can be covered by adapting the respective light-weight documents of other similar organisations (like the FutureLearn consortium for organising MOOCs). However, the main thing is that we can address these issues alread in the pilot phase. Furthermore, we need to prepare ourselves for the transformation to follow-up phase, when we need legally well-grounded policy documents for the successor-organisations and/or follow-up projects that take our tools and services further.

Altogether, we got a lot of food for thought for preparing our forthcoming field activities. Also, we got some new coordinates for sectoral coordination and planning meetings. And finally, we got some inspirations to learn more from the neighbouring tool arrangements. Let us see what all is emerging out of this!

More blogs to come …

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 4: Final impressions and points for follow-up

June 24th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my three previous posts I have discussed the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup from different perspectives. Firstly, I have reported on the Demo Camp workshops with trainers and apprentices of Bau-ABC. Secondly, I have given insights into the Learning Café workshops that developed mid-term roadmaps for the project. Thirdly, I have described a special case of our outreach activities (in the light of an ad hoc meeting) and linked this experience to our discussions on technical development, mutual communication and scaling up processes. Now it is time to present some final impressions and to raise some points for follow-up.

Firstly, I try to give an overview of my impressions of the highlights of the three days (taking into account that I missed some of the parallel sessions):

1) For Day One that agenda had envisaged as the main activity three “Theoretical integration” sessions that focused on working with the research claims in our Development Projects and on collaborative interpretation of empirical data (collected from both target sectors and across the sectors). As a parallel activity we had planned a small German-speaking session to demonstrate some LL tools used in the construction sector (mainly to the trainers of Bau-ABC and to eventual interested apprentices). Here, quite contrary to our expectations the Demo Camp grew much bigger with its altogether ca. 100 participants (who came in several waves and swept across different stations).  The intensity of the discussions in the four demo stations was far higher than we expected and we got rich feedback. In this respect the sideline activity became the highlight event. It was a pity that a major part of the consortium missed this event but this could not have been helped – the room could not accommodate a larger audience and use of interpretation would have cut the discussions at the demo stations.

2) For Day Two the Learning Café sessions took shape only shortly before the consortium meeting. Yet, it was interesting to see, how quickly the participants adjusted to their roles as Topic table facilitators and as members of  the sustainability scenario teams. Also, it was interesting to see, how many tools we could bring forward to support these discussions and to shape the emerging conclusions. Furthermore, it was interesting to see, how all scenario groups could work their ways through the different topic tables and to give genuine and mutually complementing contributions.

3) For Day Three the agenda had envisaged a “Technical integration” session as the main activity and opportunities for parallel sessions alongside it. Luckily enough we agreed on some modifications. Firstly, the technical integration issues were started in a plenary session already on Day Two (which turned into a comprehensive situation assessment). The Day Three program was then structured as two parallel sessions – one with technical integration issues and another one with focus on Wrap-up of the Learning Cafés discussion on an Integrative evaluation concept (with reference to the developments in the fieldwork). To me, these were all important sessions but I could really see the value of these talks when we had had the ad hoc meeting with the trainer of Bau-ABC, who brought into picture a cooperation prospect with a supplier company in the construction sector. All our plans and scenarios started to get more content and scalability in the light of such initiatives.

Looking forward, there is a need to work further with the materials and the interim results:

a) We have ‘harvest’ the feedback from apprentices and trainers that we got during the Demo Camp (cards on the pinboards, drawings and audio recordings).

b) We have to harvest the results of the Learning cafés firstly to get a joint overview of the tools that were used in the Topic tables and secondly to get the interim results worked into coherent roadmaps.

c) We have to feed special cases from our outreach activities to our discussions on technical integration, participative design and stakeholder engagement to improve our understanding of our communication channels.

Altogether, a lot of homework for the follow-up. But, as I see it, we took some steps forward on all fronts and we can build upon it.

More posts to come (on the follow-up) …

 

 

 

What has Learning Layers experienced in Bau-ABC – Part 3: Outreach activities, technical development and scaling up

June 24th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous posts on the Learning Layers (LL) project consortium meeting in Bau-ABC I have followed the chronological order. I have first reported on the Demo Camp workshops with trainers and apprentices of Bau-ABC (Day One). Then I have reported on the Learning Café workshops of Sustainability Scenario groups rotating across topic tables (Day Two). In this post I will firstly jump to an ad hoc meeting that took place after the consortium meeting (Day Three, afternoon) and link it to our discussion on technical integration (Day Two and Day Three, morning).

The ad hoc meeting was initiated by one of the full-time trainers (Lehrwerkmeister) in Bau-ABC and he wanted to discuss an initiative for the follow-up of the Brunnenbauertage event (7.5.-9.5.). The trainer has developed a long-term cooperation with a supplier of machinery for construction work. For certain machines the users have to be certified for safety reasons. The company has developed an e-learning program to support the necessary training but has not enough resources to cater for the training. Therefore the company is looking for cooperation with training centres like Bau-ABC. In this context the trainer saw a possibility to link such cooperation to the work of the LL project, in particular to the development of the Learning Toolbox.

Most of the LL partners had to catch their planes or trains so only three of us (with closer involvement in the Brunnenbauertage and the follow-up) could stay for this discussions. Nevertheless, we felt this initiative promising and well-timed for the following reasons:

  • The company in question is looking for opportunities to scale up training and (informal) learning with the support of the e-learning program. In this context the company is not looking for exclusive arrangements merely for its own benefit.
  • Bau-ABC has a tradition to develop such training schemes and learning opportunities as vendor-neutral events that provide parallel vendors to contribute with their inputs (when appropriate and mutually compatible).
  • For the LL project this cooperation prospect has been put into discussion at the moment when we can shape the Learning Toolbox in such a way that it will provide access to such programs.

I think this is as much as I can tell about the results of this meeting.  We encouraged the trainer to continue his talks with the company and to inform of the interest of the LL project to join these talks. We are looking forward to hearing more in a short while.

I have reported this episode as a special case case of the outreach activities of the LL project in construction sector. We couldn’t have anticipated it before the consortium meeting, whilst the opportunity grew up in talks between the trainer and the company. We couldn’t have scripted it – neither for the sake of decision-making nor for the sake of software development. We (the ones who were there) saw the chance and agreed that this is an appropriate step forward in the follow-up of the Brunnenbauertage. However, in this respect we could rely on the conclusions that we had jointly agreed in the 3rd Internal Exploitation Meeting of the Construction sector shortly after the Brunnenbauertage (involving a wider range of LL partners).

I have highlighted this case because it serves as a test case for contrasting views on outreach, technical development and scaling up in the LL project. Some colleagues may see these processes from the perspective of technology-push. The role of outreach activities would then be to extract user-requirements to be passed for technical developers and then bring the solutions to users. The development would then take place in a ‘black box’ remote from users. (I know that I am drawing a caricature and I do not wish to point directly to any of our technical partners with this picture. Yet, I want to put into question, what kind of communication with traget groups and user engagement we are looking for.) In our case we were ready to enter conversations and interaction that may give rise to several thready of co-design activities.

I do not wish to go into details of our internal discussions on technical development and technical integration. I believe that these discussions helped us to put into perspective the technical partners’ internal communication, the ‘translation’ processes between technical issues and user-concerns as well as the integration of front-end services by LL tools and linked web resources. However, this was not the whole story of the results of our meeting. Moreover, these were interim results and we need to work with them.

More posts to come …

 

 

Breaking the silence – catching up with the Year 2 activities in Learning Layers

March 22nd, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

Last year I managed to blog almost regularly on our progress with the Learning Layers (LL) project. To my own disappointment I have to admit that I have not been able to continue that tradition this year. Now – before the end of March – it is high time to break the silence and to catch up with the activities of the LL project.

Before I go to the ongoing activities (in my next blog posts) I need to make some explanatory remarks.

Firstly, this has not been a quiet period in the LL project. On the contrary, we have had a lot of activities. Even more, we have had to struggle with deadlines to be met with different kinds of contributions. That has pushed the good habit of blogging out of the way.

Secondly, we have done quite a lot of internal development work inside the project. For that we have also needed internal discussions to reach common conclusions. That has also delayed blogging of the results.

Thirdly, we are reaching an integrative phase in which we need to get several initiatives and prototypes linked to each other. This also requires its own time and privacy. Therefore, there has been no case to rush to blogging.

Fourthly, we are entering also a phase that is characterised by joint self-reflection regarding our theoretical foundations, methodological commitments and on their implications for our fieldwork. Here, we also need space and time for mutual adjustment. This has also delayed blogging (although blogs can facilitate dialogue and mutual awareness).

In addition to the points above there have been practical issues that need not be discussed here in detail. After having said all this, I have come to the conclusion that I should not give up the good habit of blogging on our progress. So, in the coming posts I will try to catch up and pave the way for ongoing reporting.

More posts to come …

Dysgu Ponty

December 8th, 2013 by Jenny Hughes

The Pontydysgu website is always full of news about the big projects we are involved in, like FP7 Learning Layers or Taccle2.  This is pretty inevitable as they take up the majority of our time and budget.  However, there are lots of other, smaller Pontydysgu projects running in the background that we rarely post anything about.  This is a bit of an oversight because although we often use these projects as test beds for trying out new ideas or as vehicles for piloting specific bits of technology that we then roll together in a much bigger package, they are also successful in their own right.

All of them are running in Pontypridd, (known locally as “Ponty”) which is where the Wales half of Pontydysgu is based. Some are part funded through the LLL Partnerships programme; some are funded in-house. We thought we might write a series of posts on what these projects are all about….

First up is Dysgu Ponty, which translates to Learning Ponty.  We chose this name because apart from the play on Pontydysgu (meaning approximately Bridge to Learning), we wanted to convey the idea that the whole community of Ponty was learning and that the town called Ponty was a learning resource.

The project is based on a very simple concept – let’s cover the town with QR codes linked to a learning resource.   The codes are being printed on decals (for shop windows), enamel (for the exteriors of building) and on varnished wooden plaques for hanging around trees in the park.  Codes come in three colours – red for Welsh, green for the English translation and black for careers.

So far we have 200 and our target is at least another hundred.  The town has a population of 30,000 but this covers all of the outlying villages as well.  It also has a great sense of community, which means that the level of support has been brilliant. The whole community is involved – schools, the Town Council, shops, businesses, the local newspaper

The link from each QR code goes to a website page on which there is a question that relates to the location.  The level is approximately 8 -12 yrs olds. Following the title question is some simple information using a range of multi media.   The location of the codes will be on Google Maps and we are currently sorting them out into a ‘Maths trail’, ‘Language trail’, ‘History trail’ etc so that children can choose whether to follow a subject trail or focus on the codes in one part of the town.

The purpose of the project is really to provide a bridge between formal and informal learning and to improve home school links.

We are currently working of a way of  ‘rewarding’ children for completing a number of questions – not sure Mozilla badges quite fits.  Also thinking about how we can get kids to be able to upload pictures as well as comments. May rethink the platform.

Meanwhile here are some examples of the sorts of things we are talking about

Location:  on the bandstand in the park

  • Links to… Question:  Have you ever heard brass band music?
  • Additional ‘information’ – mp3 of Colliery Brass Band with one line of text explaining that most all the pits had their own band

Location: Outside Costa Coffee

  • Links to… Question: Do you know where coffee comes from?
  • Additional information: You Tube video of coffee being harvested and processed

Location: Outside travel agent underneath exchange rates

  • Links to… Question:  How much is it worth?
  • Additional info:  Text and image – If you had £37.50 to take on holiday, how many Euros would you get?  Which travel agent in town has the best exchange rate today?

Location:  On the river bank adjacent to the confluence

  • Links to…mQuestion:  What rivers are these and where is their source?
  • Additional info:  The place where two rivers merge is called a ‘confluence’.  Use Google Earth to trace the two rivers back as far as you can, find out their names and where the river enters the sea.

 Location:  On the war memorial

  • Links to… Question:  How many died?
  • Additional info: Look at the names on the Great War memorial and then the names on the Worls War 2 memorial.  In which war were the greatest number of people from Pontypridd killed? How many times more people?  Why do you think this was?

 Location: Market Street

  • Links to…Question:  What has changed?
  • Additional Info: Picture of the street taken 100 years ago from same spot. Text – List all the things that are different between Market Street in 1910 and the same street today.
You get the idea!
[We also have black codes for older students linked to careers information as part of the EU New Jobs project.  The codes take them to links asking “So you want to be a baker?” or “So you want to be a printer?” with videos explaining what the job involves, what qualifications or skills you need etc. Some are purpose made and some from You Tube or Vimeo.  More on this is another post.]
Next time – Learning about Art in Ponty

 

 

 

Emerging consensus in england around teaching computing in school?

November 4th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

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

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

Foxton wrote:

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

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

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

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

LMI for All – coming soon

May 12th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

A quick and overdue update on the Labour Market Information for All project, which we are developing together with Raycom, the University of Warwick and Rewired State and  is sponsored by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

LMI for All will provide an online data portal bringing together existing sources of labour market information (LMI) that can inform people’s decisions about their careers.  The database will contain robust LMI from national surveys and data sources providing a common and consistent baseline to use alongside less formal sources of intelligence. Due for release at the end of May 2013, access to the database will be through an open API. the results of queries can then be embedded by developers in their own web sites of apps. We will also provide a code library to assist developers.

The project builds on the commitment by the UK government to open data. despite this, it is not simple. As the Open Data White Paper (HM Government, 2012)highlights,  data gathered by the public sector is not always readily accessible. Quality of the data, intermittent publication and a lack of common standards are also barriers. A commitment is given to change the culture of organisations, to bring about change: ‘This must change and one of the barriers to change is cultural’ (p. 18).

We have talked to a considerable number of data providers including government bodies. It is striking that all have been cooperative and wishing to help us in providing access to data. However, the devil is in the detail.

Much of the data publicly collected, is done so on the condition that is is non disclosive e.e. that it is impossible to find out who submitted that data. And of course the lower the level of aggregation, the easier it is to identify where the data is coming from. And the more the data is linked, the more risk there s of disclosure.

We have developed ways of getting round this using both statistical methods (e.g. estimation) and technical approaches (data aggregation). But it remains a lot of work preparing the data for uploading to our database. And I guess that level of work will discourage others from utilising the potential of open data. It may explain why, transport excluded, their remain limited applications built on the open data movement in the UK.

It may suggest that the model we are working on, of a publicly funded project providing access to data, and then providing tools to build applications on top of that data, could provide a model for providing access to public data.

In the meantime if you are interested in using our API and developing your own applications for careers guidance and support, please get in touch.

 

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    The TES reports on a project that uses robots to help children in hospital take part in lessons and return to school has received funding from the UK Department for Education.

    TES says “The robot-based project will be led by medical AP provider Hospital and Outreach Education, backed by £544,143 of government money.

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    Adult Education in Wales

    Learning and Work Institute is organising this year’s adult learning conference in partnership with the Adult Learning Partnership Wales. It will take place on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at the Cardiff City Stadium.

    They say “Changing demographics and a changing economy requires us to re-think our approach to the delivery of learning and skills for adults. What works and what needs to change in terms of policy and practice?

    The conference will seek to debate how can we respond to need, grow participation, improve and measure outcomes for citizens, and revitalise community education.”


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