Archive for the ‘integration of technology’ Category

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.

 

Collaborative research and learning using everyday productivity and social software tools

February 6th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The main reason I have been so quiet on this blog in recent weeks has been the European bidding season.

Pontydysgu receives no regular funding and although we have some small consultancy contracts and do some teaching, the majority of our income is from project work. In the past, we had considerable funding from various UK agencies, this largely dried up with the onset of the recession and government cutbacks. This, we have become more reliant on funding from the European Union.

There are two main programmes for education and training in Europe, the European 7th Framework research programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme. The Research Framework funds larger projects than the LLL, but has historically been more competitive.

For both programmes, the application process is not straightforward, requiring completion of long forms and documents. In general both programmes are targeted towards innovation, however defined, and both tend to set priorities based on current EU policy directives. Both also require multinational project partnerships. Both have been on call recently – involving many hours of work to develop proposals.

In the past, the reality was that one or perhaps two partners would prepare the project requiring only limit input from other project members. And whilst this is still sometimes the case things are changing fast. For large and c0mplex projects especially in the Technology Enhanced Learning field expertise is needed from different disciplines and from people with different knowledge and skills.

Technology for distance communication and for research has allowed the dispersed and collaborative development of project proposals to become a reality. We have recently submitted a large scale proposal to the Research Framework IST  programme on learning in Small and Medium Enterprises. This project has some 16 partners drawn from I guess around ten countries. And whilst the input and hard work of the coordinator was central to the proposal, the work was undertaken collaboratively with many of the partners making a major input.

What tools did we use? Google docs were used for collaboratively producing earlier versions of our ideas. Doodle was important for setting dates for meetings. Flashmeeting was used extensively for fortnightly meetings of partners (in the latter stages of the proposal weekly or even daily meetings became the norm). Skype was also used for bilateral meetings. And Dropbox was used as a shared file repository. Dropbox proved to be a little problematic in producing somewhat confusing conflicted copies which then has to be edited together. But overall the system worked well. I think what is important is that the tools do exist. And we do not need any big research infrastructure, rather what is needed is the imagination to share through the use of everyday productivity and social software tools.

And it seems to me that if we are able to use such tools to develop a complex and collaboratively produced research proposal, the same tools can be used for collaboration between learners or for small businesses. The barrier is not so much usability fo the applications themselves, but a willingness, understanding and appreciation of how to collaborate!

Evaluation 2.0: How do we progress it?

October 11th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

Have been in Brussels for the last two days – speaking at 9th European Week of Regions and Cities organized by DG Regio and also taking the opportunity to join other sessions. My topic was Evaluation 2.0. Very encouraged by the positive feedback I’ve been getting all day both face-to-face and through twitter. I thought people would be generally resistant to the idea as it was fairly hard-hitting (and in fairness, some were horrified!) but far more have been interested and very positive, including quite a lot of Commission staff. However, the question now being asked by a number of them of them is “How do we progress this?” – meaning, specifically, in the context of the evaluation of Regional Policy and DG Regio intervention.

Evaluation 2.0 in Regional Policy evaluation
I don’t have any answers to this – in some ways, that’s not for me to decide! I have mostly used Evaluation 2.0 stuff in the evaluation of education projects not regional policy. And my recent experience of the Cohesion Fund, ERDF, IPA or any of the structural funds is minimal. However, the ideas are generic and if people think that there are some they could work with, that’s fine!

That said, here are some suggestions for moving things forward – some of them are mine, most have been mooted by various people who have come to talk to me today (and bought me lots of coffee!)

Suggestions for taking it forward

  • Set up a twitter hashtag #evaluation2.0. Well that’s easy but I don’t know how much traffic there would be as yet!
  • Set up a webpage providing information and discussion around Evaluation 2.0. More difficult – who does that and who keeps it updated? Maybe, instead, it is worth feeding in to the Evalsed site that DG Regio maintain, which currently provides information and support for their evaluators. I gather it is under the process of review – a good opportunity to make it more interactive, to make more use of multimedia and with space for users to create content as well as DG Regio!
  • Form a small working group or interest group – this could be formal or informal, stand alone or tied to their existing evaluation network. Either way, it needs to be open and accessible to people who are interested in developing new ideas and trying some stuff out rather than a representative ‘committee’.
  • Alternatively, set up an expert group to move some ideas forward.
  • Or how about a Diigo group?
  • Undertake some small-scale trials with specific tools – to see whether the ideas do cross over from the areas I work in to Regional Policy.
  • Run a couple of one-day training events on Evaluation 2.0 focusing on some real hands-on workshops for evaluators and evaluation unit staff rather than just on information giving.
  • Check out with people responsible for evaluation in other DGs whether there is an opportunity for some joint development (a novel idea!) Unlike other ‘perspectives’ it is not tied to content or any particular theoretical approach.
  • Think about developing some mobile phone apps for evaluators and stakeholders around content specific issues – I can easily think of 5 or 6 possibilities to support both counterfactual, quantitative approaches and theory-based qualitative approaches. Although the ideas are generic, customizing the content means evaluators would have something concrete to work with rather than just ideas.
  • Produce an easy-to-use handbook on evaluation 2.0 for evaluators / evaluation units who want practical information on how to do it.
  • Ring fence a small amount of funding to support one-off explorations into innovative practice and new ideas around evaluation.
  • Encourage the evaluation unit to demonstrate leadership in new approaches – for example, try streaming a live internet radio programme around the theme of evaluation (cheap and easy!); set up a multi-user blog for people to post work in progress and interesting observations of ongoing projects using a range of media as well as text-based major reports; make some podcasts of interviews with key players in the evaluation of Regional Policy; set up a wiki around evaluation rather than having to drill down through the various Commission websites; try locating projects using GPS data so that we can all see where the action is taking place! Keep a twitter stream going around questions and issues – make use of crowd sourcing!
  • Advertise the next European Evaluation Society biennial conference, in Helsinki, October 1st – 5th 2012 “Evaluation in the networked society: New concepts, New challenges, New solutions” (There you go Bob, I just did!)
  • Broaden the idea of Evaluation 2.0 and maybe get rid of the catchphrase! We are already using the power of the semantic web in evaluation to mash open and linked data, for example. Should we be now be talking about Evaluation 3.0?? Or should we find another name – Technology Enhanced Evaluation? We could have TEE parties instead of conferences – Europe’s answer to the American far right ; )

P.S. Message to the large numbers of English delegates at the conference

When you left Heathrow yesterday to come to Brussels, I do hope you waved to the English Rugby team arriving home from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

(Just as well this conference was not a week later or I’d have leave a similar message for the French delegates…..)

TEDxKids – making and doing with technology

June 4th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of being part of a team of guest bloggers on the TEDxKids event in Brussels. Sadly I was not there in person, but followed the video stream. Here are a few quick reflections on the event.

Firstly this was not really one event, but two events running in parallel. Firstly was the grown ups conference, following the by now familiar TED format of ‘inspirational’ guest speakers making short presentations. And second was the kids event, which followed a workshop format. There were periodic report backs on the progress of the kids workshop and a final round up session presenting their work.

Despite many interesting talks, I can’t help thinking the kids event would have been the one I would have liked to be at!

Be that as it may, the grown ups event was certainly interesting. Taken overall, the theme was about learning by doing, enabled by technology. And this involves giving young people more space to play, to experiment, to make things and to fail (“mistaking your way to success”) : all things the present educational system is not very good at. And of course allowing young people access to play with and shape the tools needed for this. There was a big emphasis on making things – from 3D printing to toothbrush robots. The kids seemed to particularly enjoy playing with soldering irons (to the extent where I am tempted to go out and buy one). And the event confirmed the positive connotations now being attributed to the word “hacking”.

My favourite speaker was Mark Frauenfeder from MAKE magazine – if you have no time for anything else I would recommend watching the video of his presentation when it comes out.  I also liked the discussion around the Sugar software (can’t remember who the speaker was) with an emphasis on kids being able to reprogramme and repurpose applications as part of the learning process.

I must say though, I am not so convinced by the TED format. It works well for video. But I am not sure of the learning and creativity in passively watching an event – be it live or streamed. OK – the Twitter feed was lively. But there is no ability to ask questions or interact with the speakers. there seems little advantage to me in attending a TED event (apart from meeting friends) over watching on YouTube in the comfort of your home.

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    News Bites

    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)


    MOOC providers in 2016

    According to Class Central a quarter of the new MOOC users  in 2016 came from regional MOOC providers such as  XuetangX (China) and Miríada X (Latin America).

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

    1. Coursera – 23 million
    2. edX – 10 million
    3. XuetangX – 6 million
    4. FutureLearn – 5.3 million
    5. Udacity – 4 million

    XuetangX burst onto this list making it the only non-English MOOC platform in top five.

    In 2016, 2,600+ new courses (vs. 1800 last year) were announced, taking the total number of courses to 6,850 from over 700 universities.


    Jobs in cyber security

    In a new fact sheet the Tech Partnership reveals that UK cyber workforce has grown by 160% in the five years to 2016. 58,000 people now work in cyber security, up from 22,000 in 2011, and they command an average salary of over £57,000 a year – 15% higher than tech specialists as a whole, and up 7% on last year. Just under half of the cyber workforce is employed in the digital industries, while banking accounts for one in five, and the public sector for 12%.


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

    Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

    Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.

    Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.

    Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.


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  • RT @EU_Commission @EUErasmusPlus @EuropeanYouthEU @TNavracsicsEU @FedericaMog @vestager @Moedas @jyrkikatainen @JunckerEU @EC_StockholmRep @EcoledesPonts 7/7 "I will not accept any cuts to #ErasmusPlus programme. We need more young people to take part. With 9 million students participating and rumoured 1 million #Erasmus babies, it's a real European success." @JunckerEU pic.twitter.com/3Q8aMR2iY0

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