Archive for the ‘online communities’ Category

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…..)

Serious Social Networking

January 24th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian newspaper points to a so called ‘backlash’ against social networking, expressed in a number of recent academic studies and books. And to an extent, I agree. I suspect the novelty factor has worn off. That does not mean social networking is dead, far from it. But it does mean we are slowly evolving an ecosystem of social networking and I am not sure that the Facebook model, driven by the desire to monetarise a huge user base will survive in the long term.

Instead I see two trends. With applications like Facebook, or whatever succeeds it, friends will return to being friends. People we know, people we want to socialise with, be it family and friends we see regularly face to face or friends in distributed networks.

The second will be the growth of social networks based on shared interests and shared practice. Of course this is nothing new. The early days of the web spawned many wonderful bulletin boards with graphics being based on the imaginative use of different text and fonts. Ning led to the explosion of community sites whilst it remained free. But now we are seeing the evolution of free and open source software providing powerful tools for supporting interest and practice based communities.

Cloudworks, developed by the UK Open University has now released an installable version of their platform. Buddypress seems to have developed a vibrant open source community of developers.And I am greatly impressed by QSDA, the Open Source Question and Answer System. Quora is all the hype now. But like so many of these systems, it will be overrun not so much by machine driven spam, but by the lack of a  shared community and purpose.

According to Ettiene Wenger, a community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

  • What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members.
  • How it functions – mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity.
  • What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artefacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

Open Source networking tools can allow us to support that shared repertoire of communal resources. I am working on the development of open and linked data for careers guidance and counselling. it is a fairly steep learning curve for me in terms of understanding data. And one of the bests sites I have found is Tony Hirst’s Get the Data site, only launched a week ago and based on the QSDA software, but already providing a wealth if freely contributed ideas and knowledge.

it is this sort of development that seems to me to be the future for social networking.

Declaring our Learning

January 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am ultra impressed by the idea behind the Declare-It web app. The site says

Declare-It is a tool that assists you in creating, tracking and being held accountable to your goals. For every declaration you make, Declare-It requires you to add supporters. Supporters are notified of your declaration and receive progress reports along your journey. If you start to fall off track, your supporters are sent an ALERT message. They can send you comments and even add incentives to help you stay motivated.

Sadly, Declare-It is a commercial site. Although it allows a ten day free trial, it then costs $9.99 per month. And I don’t honestly see enough people being prepared to pay that money for the site to gain critical mass. But the idea is simple enough and could easily be adopted or extended to other web tools.

Essentially all it is saying is that we set our own learning goals and targets and use our Personal Learning Networks for support. Then rather than just selecting friends to monitor our progress and receive alerts when we slip behind, as in the Declare-It app, we could select friends from our Personal Learning Network to support our learning and receive alerts when we achieve something or need collaboration.

Of course many of this will do that already using all kinds of different tools. My learning is work based, and most of this work is undertaken in collaboration with others – using email, forums or very often skype. Having said that I have  never really got on with any of the myriad task setting (lists) and tracking tools and astikll  tend to write my lists on the back of envelopes.

But rather than a separate web site like Declare-IT (which admittedly does have some Twitter and Facebook integration), I need some way of integrating Declare-It type functionality with my everyday workflow. A WordPress plug-in could be wonderful, particularly for project work.

Openess and Research

September 22nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I attended the Elluminate session at #PLENK2010 this evening with a presentation by Martin Weller speaking about Research, Technology and Networks. It was heartening to see almost 100 participants log and participate in a very lively text discussion, even if fewer were willing to use the audio.
I think Martin is overly pessimistic about how social networking and social software is being used in research. Of course there are still barriers to be overcome, particularly the insistence by many institutions on traditional forms of scholarship and research as the basis for future career progression and for funding. And in a comment related to the Open University’s Social Learn, a project he previously led, he showed how business goals can impact against openness in research processes and innovation in products.
However, I am seeing a marked move twoards openess, collaboration and sharing in a number of the projects and networks in which I participate. Access to video conferences has facilitated more collaborative approaches to project reviews and to managing research tasks. Twitter, blogs and other social network applications have allowed us to share work in progress outside immediate project partnerships. And once more, social networks are allowing us to discover new colleagues and friends, outside our narrower institutional or project communities.
I am also convinced that the use of Cloud applications is going to have a major impact on the way we work. In Pontydysgu we have moved to Google Docs in the last month. And without consciously thinking about it, we are able to work together on research documents and even better to comment on each others work and ideas as a work in progress. This would never have happened through emailing drafts between colleagues.
Jen Hughes is working on ideas around Evaluation 2.0. This is also based on the idea of openness and the involvement of wider communities in evaluation processes. We hope to open out an evaluation in progress to all of you int he next week or so see what happens!

Sieci spoleczne i Ning

June 21st, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

Rozmawiałam na Skypie z Markiem Hylą, założycielem i moderatorem sieci społecznej SzkoleniaXXIwieku na temat inicjowania i rozwijania sieci społecznych oraz o nowym modelu biznesowym Ning. Oto zapis naszej rozmowy.

IB: Jest Pan znany w Polskiej spolecznosci e-learningowej. Czym się Pan zajmuje zawodowo? W jaki sposób porusza się Pan na codzień w sieci?

MH: Zawodowo jestem menedżerem w firmie szkoleniowej – osobą odpowiedzialną za nowoczesne technologie w procesie szkoleń. Z sieci korzystam zarówno zawodowo, jak i pozazawodowo. Zresztą jak się nad tym zastanowić, to oba te zastosowania się ze sobą łączą. Trudno oddzielić ostrą kreską zawodowe i pozazawodowe korzystanie z sieci. No bo na przykład czy pisanie bloga to zastosowanie zawodowe, czy pozazawodowe? Albo korzystanie z LinkedIn? Albo z GoldenLine?

IB: A dlaczego założył Pan sieć społeczną www.SzkoleniaXXIwieku.pl?

MH: Chyba z kilku powodów. Po pierwsze dlatego, że postawiłem sobie za cel promowanie i rozwój rynku e-learningowego w Polsce. Po drugie dlatego, iż widziałem bardzo pozytywny wpływ na to jak jestem postrzegany przez książkę, którą napisałem, tzn. “Przewodnik po e-learningu“. Fakt bycia autorem bardzo dobrze wpłynął na mój osobisty brand (markę) na rynku, a blog był znacznie ciekawszą formą nawiązania kontaktu z osobami, zainteresowanymi tematem nauczania przez sieć. Warto też zauważyć, że nie bez powodu zacząłem pisać bloga na środowisku Ning, które pozwala właśnie na tworzenie społeczności, a nie po prostu na pisanie tekstów do poczytania. Zależało mi na tym, aby skupić ludzi, móc nawiązać z nimi kontakt.

IB: Dla kogo sieć www.SzkoleniaXXIwieku.pl jest przeznaczona? Dla kogo szczególnie interesująca? Kim są uczestnicy tej sieci i co im daje bycie jej częcią?

MH: Spolecznosc ta jest przeznaczona dla dwóch grup. Pierwsza grupa jest małoliczna – jedynym jej członkiem jestem ja sam :). Mówiąc poważnie – blog jest dla mnie, tak jak pamiętnik, takim miejscem, gdzie mogę zapisać “sam dla siebie” rzeczy ciekawe, interesujące, ważne z perspektywy czasu, potrzebne do lepszego zrozumienia zmian jakie dzieją się na rynku. Grupa druga – to oczywiście wszyscy uczestnicy sieci. Udało mi się osiągnąć mój początkowy cel – członkami społeczności jest dość szeroki przekrój osób zarówno z firm, instytucji administracji publicznej, szkół i uczelni. Są tu i dyrektorzy, i specjaliści, i wykładowcy akademiccy, i studenci. Mam nadzieję (i to, póki co moim zdaniem, jest wartością dla uczestników sieci), że to, co wydaje mi się interesujące i co zapisuję “sam dla siebie” może być również interesujące dla innych. SzkoleniaXXIwieku mają jednak charakter dość jednostronnego przekazu. Mimo tego, że można bloga komentować, że jest forum, to jednak głównie piszę ja, a inni czytają. Cóż, taka jest specyfika większości blogów…

IB: Tak, znam ten „problem”. Jakie tematy więc Pan porusza?

MH:  Inicjuję zagadnienie, które czasem trafiają na podatny grunt i budzą dyskusje. Poruszam tematy interesujące mnie, obejmujące przede wszystkim nowoczesne technologie szkoleniowe, styk człowiek – technologia, innowacje technologiczne, które mogą wpłynąć na nasze życie, na to w jaki sposób postrzegamy świat, w jaki sposób się uczymy (w bardzo szeroko pojętym tego słowa znaczeniu).

IB: Z pewnością chciałby Pan, aby więcej inicjatywy wykazywali uczestnicy, np. sami inicjowali nowe tematy lub więcej komentowali …

Myślę o tym, by spróbować w ciągu najbliższych miesięcy lepiej wykorzystać potencjał tych prawie 750 osób, które są członkami społeczności. Planuję, by celebrując 1000 osobę wprowadzić jakieś istotne zmiany w formule społeczności, np. bardziej otworzyć społeczność, złamać trochę formułę jednostronnej komunikacji na rzecz oddania trochę większego pola dla uczestników. Oczywiście wymagało to będzie znacznej pracy stymulacyjnej z mojej strony – ale postaram się tego dokonać. Zadowolony nie jestem, ale nie obrażam się na rzeczywistość. Wiem, że taka jest specyfika sieci, społecznościowych mediów. Wiem jednak, że w dużej liczbie osób, z którymi nawiązałem kontakt tkwi ogromny potencjał. Chcę ten potencjał spróbować wykorzystać. Dlatego zachęcam ludzi do uczestnictwa w społeczności, zostawiania swoich danych, tworzenia profili. Wiem jednocześnie, że działa to na moją niekorzyść jeżli chodzi o liczbę odwiedzin na blogu – utworzenie własnego profilu to jednak dla wielu osób pewna bariera …

IB: Jaka będzie Pana strategia? Jak chce Pan zaktywować członków społeczności?

MH: Jak to osiągnąć? Szczerze powiedziawszy jeszcze nie wiem. Muszę zaproponować coś ciekawego, coś co da wartość uczestnikom sieci. Może od czasu do czasu będziemy robić jakieś ciekawe badania ankietowe, albo będę wysyłać do wszystkich personalnego e-maila z prośbą o wsparcie inicjatywy. Może otworzę formułę społeczności tak, aby każdy jej uczestnik mógł pisać tutaj swojego bloga. Może otworzę grupy zainteresowań. To tylko kilka pomysłów…

IB: To ciekawie pomysły. A ma pan jakis model, wzór? Czy jest jakaś sieć społeczna, która jest dla Pana przykładem?

MH: Mam raczej kilka inspiracji. Ninga wybrałem zachęcony przez Elliotta Masie, który na tym środowisku otworzył “LearningTown“. Zobaczyłem, że można zbudować społeczność liczącą tysiące osób w skali światowej. Stamtąd też zaczerpnąłem np. pomysł grup zainteresowań. Śledzę rozwój różnych trendów w zakresie komunikacji społecznościowej. Na przykład zmiany na LinkedIn pokazują co się zmienia, na co stawiają znacznie bardziej doświadczeni w komunikacji gracze. Przykładem jest coraz bogatsze i lepsze poznawanie ludzi poprzez sieci społeczne. To już nie są tylko podstawowe dane, ale (jeżeli, oczywiście, jest taka wola członka społeczności) możliwość poznania jego gustów czytelniczych, planów podróży itp. Do tego dochodzi oczywiście, coraz doskonalszy profil doświadczeń zawodowych. Innymi słowy – sieci społeczne pozwalają na coraz lepsze zdefiniowanie siebie – z korzyścią zarówno dla siebie samego, np. poprzez lepsze szanse rekrutacyjne, oraz innych, np. poprzez sprawniejsze znalezienie osób, które mogą pomóc w realizacji zawodowych czy pozazawodowych celów.

IB: Moje następne pytanie odnosi się do Ning: Niedawno Ning ogłosił, że zamyka wszystkie swoje darmowe serwisy. Jak zareagowal Pan na ten nowy model biznesowy Ninga? W jaki sposób te zmiany wpłynęły na SzkoleniaXXIwieku?

MH: W zasadzie nie wpłynęło to w żaden sposób na SzkoleniaXXIwieku, gdyż od zawsze korzystam ze środowiska płatnego. Moja reakcja była ostrożnie pozytywna. Chciałbym wierzyć w to, że ruch Ning sprawi, iż serwis będzie lepszy, bogatszy w funkcje, sprawniej działający, z mniejszą liczbą błędów. Działa to, oczywiście, na niekorzyść osób, które założyły społeczności w modelu darmowym, niemniej mówi się coraz częściej o tym, że model wartościowych serwisów w Internecie za darmo zaczyna się kończyć. Nie mam nic przeciw płaceniu rozsądnych pieniądzy za wysoką wartość usług.  Na razie nie odczułem zmian, chyba na to za wcześnie. Pojawiły się wprawdzie jakieś nowe funkcje, ale nie nastąpiła żadna rewolucja.

IB: Na koniec proszę jeszcze powiedziec tym osobom, które same chciałayy założyc podobną sieć społeczną. Co jest ważne, jeżeli chce się (a) zainicjować i (b) umożliwić rozwój własnej sieci społecznej?

MH: Moim zdaniem – trzeba chcieć to robić DLA SIEBIE. Jeżeli liczy się na to, że każdego dnia będziemy mieli setki czy tysiące odwiedzających, to szybko się zniechęcimy. Trzeba starać się być regularnym w tym, co się robi. Jeżeli podejmiemy decyzję, że piszemy co tydzień, to róbmy to co tydzień. Jeżeli mamy to robić co trzy dni, to utrzymujmy ten rytm. Ja staram się każdego miesiąca opublikować kilkanaście wpisów na blogu. Trzeba określić i trzymać styl bloga. Tworzyć go tak, aby ten styl był spójny. Trzeba też rugować z sieci osoby, które nie są gotowe podporządkować się takiemu stylowi. Ja np. byłem zmuszony usunąć profil osoby, która miała nieodpowiednie dla stylu naszej sieci zdjęcie. Mam też praktykę witać indywidualną wiadomością każdego nowego członka społeczności. Raz na kilka dni przeglądam listę nowych członków i wysyłam takie powitanie. Poświęcam na te wszystkie zadania pewnie 2 godzin tygodniowo. To może wydawać się dużo, ale tak czy siak – pewnie połowę tego czasu i tak poświęcałbym na szukanie, czytanie raportów, analizy itp. To co robię dodatkowo to dzielenie się swoimi przemyśleniami z innymi. Nie robię tego czysto altruistycznie. Poprzez moje działania w sieci buduję moja osobistą markę. Moja marka pomaga mi w biznesie, określa mnie w sieci, buduje znacznie doskonalszy profil niż wszystkie LinkdIny razem wzięte.

IB: Dziekuję bardzo za rozmowe. Bardzo chętnie porozmawiam z Panem następnym razem na temat budowania własnej marki w sieci. To też bardzo ciekawy temat …

Planes, volcanoes and our learning spaces

April 19th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

planesvolcanos

(Picture from informationisbeautiful.net). I was lucky enough to get away from a meeting in Vienna last week by train to north Germany. many of my colleages were not so lucky and faced a long journey by train and ferry to return to the UK.

There are a number of serious issues raised by the European flight restriction, especially for those of us who work on multi national European projects. typically, these projects involve three or four full partnership meetings a year. Indeed, one way of viewing European projects, especially with the often strange funding rules, is the the EU is providing a large and hidden subsidy to the aviation industry!

Face to face meetings are important for developing and sharing mutual ideas, meanings and trust. And of course there is the oft quoted maxim that the  real work gets done on the social time. Whilst I would probably agree, this raises a further issue. If our face to face time is so important – and so expensive in terms of the carbon we generate, do we fully take advantage of this privileged opportunity? To my mind too much time is wasted with business that could easily be conducted on-line. And too little time is spent designing our own face to face learning environments. Conversely, we are failing to seriously develop ideas of how to effectively use video and online modes of communication.

If the Icelandic volcano forces us to think about these issues, it will have been a very valuable learning exercise. I also wonder if we should be forced to consider and report on the cost of all meetings in terms of their carbon footprint. We have to justify them now in purely monetary terms, who not also in terms of their environmental impact?  Pontydysgu has a rule of thumb for travel that if a journey can be undertaken by train in six hours or less, then we do not pay for flight tickets. The European Commission could easily introduce a similar rule.

Organising online meetings

February 10th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Comments and informal discussions about my past post on virtual classrooms and online simultaneous meeting platforms seem to confirm my feelings. Adobe Connect is seen as very good, but also very expensive. Elluminate is also pretty good, but also costs money. DimDim and other Flash based systems are trying – but the audio is extremely unreliable. I was interested to see today that Scribblar is adding skype support to its platform – although at the moment only for one to one communication.

For meetings, I still think FlashMeeting, free and supported by the UK Open University, is the best of the bunch. The design does not really scale for large groups, neither is the feature set particularly extensive. But it is adequate and functional for project meetings.

Last week we were asked if we could support a board meeting of VETNET, the vocational education and training network of the European Educational Research Association (EERA). With little funding not all the members could afford to travel to a meeting in Germany. Around seven would be present face to face, but would it be possible to link in with four more members online?

Of course there are wonderful video conferencing suites which make this very easy. But once more they cost money. How could this be done on the cheap?

We used FlashMeeting. The remote participants simply logged in as usual from their computers using headphones for audio. All but one also has a webcam. In the face to face meeting we used a video camera with a gun microphone and projected the Flash meeting with a data projector onto a screen.

At first everyone was a bit concious of the technology and we made a few mistakes with people speaking when the microphone feed form the camera was not being broadcast into online meeting. But soon people seemed to forget the technology and the meeting was highly productive.

For Angelika Wegscheider, the EERA Administrator / Geschäftsführung from the European Educational Research Association and based in Berlin, it was the first time wshe had taken part in such a meeting. Afterwards she commented: “I would also like to thank your for having me virtually in your board meeting. Two reflections on this: I found it fascinating how much I felt to actually “be” in the meeting. I did most of the previous skype and online meetings without a camera and was surprised what value was offered when almost everybody is using a camera.

What I felt a bit difficult – and this might be lack of experience with meetings like that – is the following: if you speak as a virtual participant you see the same picture as all others – which is you yourself. I a way this is irritating, because you do not reactions of others on what you said. You have no means to check if people got your point. On telephone the second signals understanding with small words, in face to face you have body language in addition. Having none of both, mislead me in talking longer and explaining more than was probably necessary ….”

Angelica’s feedback is interesting. Not only do we need better technology, but we also have to look at how we can organise such meetings to overcome some of the social limitations of online meeting software,

Changing Practice

January 12th, 2010 by Cristina Costa
Today’s been a complicated day, if for nothing else because I hate chairing meetings!!!!!  On top of that this was a meeting that touched on a very sensitive area: changing practice. Although this allows me to kind of stick my nose into someone else’s practice and look at ways how it could be improved, especially [...]
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  • RT @mariaperif "Digital Minds" Carrer workshop organized by @FedericaUniNa 18-20 October. If you are a young under 30 and you are interested in the world of digital #innovation, send your application and you may be selected to participate in this workshop digitalminds.federica.eu

    About 5 hours ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter for iPad

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