Archive for the ‘participation’ Category

A new approach to conference reviewing

February 11th, 2013 by Graham Attwell


Preparations for the 4th International PLE Conference 2013 being held in Berlin, Germany together with a parallel event in Melbourne, Australia are well underway. the conference will take place on July 11 and 12 and the deadline for the call for submission of abstracts is March 4.

The PLE Conference intends to create a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experiences and research around the development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise.

More than that the PLe conference has always prided itself on innovatory approaches to design in terms of involving participants. This year will see the continuation of the unkeynotes, which Cristina Costa and myself discuss in the video above.

And this year sees another experiment in moving away from the traditional reviewing process to an approach based on ‘shepherding’ or mentoring.

The PLEconf web site explains the process.

1. The overall review process

The PLE 2013 review process is organised into three steps:

  • Step 1 (review before the conference): Submitted abstracts for full and short papers are peer-reviewed (double-blind peer-review) by screening their overall fit with the conference scope as well as the degree of innovation, technical quality, significance and clarity of contributions. As a guide, the extended abstract for a full paper should include the background of the study, the approach and methods employed in the work, the results and the conclusion, which should reflect on the successes and limitations of the work and future development.
  • Step 3 (shepherding) To enhance the participatory character of the PLE Conference the review process is based on the shepherding concept. This means that the authors of accepted abstracts are invited to submit full versions of their papers for the conference and are offered support by shepherds (mentors) in the process of writing final full versions. Upon author’s consent, depending on the overall paper maturity, a mentor may be assigned to a paper to guide the process of preparing the manuscript. Shepherds are experienced authors who, non-anonymously, help the submitters by making suggestions for improvement. The submitters incorporate these improvements into their work over a few iterations, usually three, though this may vary from case to case. The aim of shepherding is to enhance the quality of the submissions and help authors qualify for publication in the International Journal of Literacy and Technology (JLT).
  • Step 2 (review after the conference): After the conference, the final manuscripts of short and full papers are submitted and peer-reviewed (double-blind peer-review) again to assess their quality for publication in a special issue of the scientific journal. All submissions will be published in electronic conference proceedings under a Creative Commons Licence. However, only best-quality papers will be considered for the Special Issue of the International Journal of Literacy and Technology (JLT).

2. The shepherding concept

Source: http://www.agnusday.org/strips/John10v22to30_2007.jpg

Where does shepherding come from? What is it about?
Shepherding for scientific reviewing started at Conferences on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP’s), a process aimed to help authors to improve their work using a non-anonymous reviewer (shepherd), guiding the author (sheep) on their way (report). The shepherds focus on the organization of the content and the format of articles. Shepherds therefore must be experts in their field and willing to help to improve the work of others. The focus of shepherding feedback is the text itself, there is no discussion of the projects or theories. The goal is to improve the papers for the second review after the shepherding process.

What is the value of shepherding?
Shepherding is now being used by several conference committees to help leverage the potential value of authors’ work by improving them considerably and thus better serving the community. This approach helps to develop more well-rounded articles. It is also an excellent opportunity for newer authors to improve their articles and to get in contact with the community.

What are the principles of shepherding?
Shepherds are experts in their field. The work is of the author. Shepherds advise authors during the process of writing. The person ultimately responsible for the article is the author (sheep). The underlying culture is a gift culture, so it is crucial that shepherds are willing to help authors to improve. The cycles of interaction between authors and shepherds based on Kelly (2008) are:

  • Author sends the first version of the manuscript to the shepherd and introduces the manuscript briefly in his/her own words;
  • Shepherds reply to authors, i.e. ask questions (e.g. What is the motivation for the paper? What do you want to achieve? Where can I help?) and provide initial feedback. Constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement are crucial for shepherding!
  • Authors improve the manuscript by answering the questions and incorporating the shepherd’s feedback.
  • Authors send improved manuscripts to shepherds and another cycle starts with the introduction of the new version (iterative cycle).

Testimonials from shepherds

“As a shepherd, I get great satisfaction helping authors communicate their ideas. A shepherd is not an editor. Shepherds don’t edit. Instead, through conversations, questions , and dialog a shepherd helps authors find their own voice and write compelling papers. I find shepherding to be a wonderful experience. That’s why I do it: to learn, to help grow communities, and to help people share their good ideas more clearly. It’s so rewarding!” Rebecca Wirfs-Brock (PLoP community)

“In my experience, when it is done well, shepherding results in an increased focus and clarity to the work. A good shepherd can help the sheep really bring out the important message of the work and make it much clearer to the reader. On occasion, the sheep gains additional insights into his own work. Note however, that I have seen some superficial shepherding, which resulted in only cosmetic improvements to the work. So it isn’t an automatic great improvement. It takes discipline to do a good job.” Neil Harrison (PLoP)

“Shepherds are individuals, with experience in writing, assigned to an author’s paper with the expressed interest in helping the author improve their paper or writing of any kind. The shepherding process is essentially a review process where the author gets to get feedback on how well the paper communicates the author’s ideas. The shepherd is able to then make suggestions on making the paper better or to assist with ways on helping the author clarify their ideas. Shepherding is about improving the paper itself, while the Shepherd maintains that the author is the one doing the writing. The shepherd can guide an author into a more mature understanding of his or her paper. The best shepherds are those that usually have a good understanding of the subject matter they are reviewing. The main goal of a shepherd is to help the author(s) to make the paper the best that it can be given the amount of “shepherding” time they have for the given venue the paper is to be presented at.” Joseph W. Yoder (PLoP community)

3. Shepherding at PLE 2013

Shepherding is an instrument to improve the quality of submissions, help authors connect with the scientific community and strengthen connections within the PLE community. Shepherds are mentors drawn from the Review Committee. Beside the intrinsic value and the insight into interesting papers, mentors will receive special recognition – shepherds will be featured on the special page and receive special badges rewarding their work. Also authors will vote for the best shepherd. The winners will be awarded at the PLE Conference 2013.

 

The Pedagogy of Deception

July 10th, 2012 by Graham Attwell


Great talk by Helen Keegan about curiosity and the pedagogy of deception (AKA lying). Don’t miss it. Helen is one of the best people I know for talking to in the pub but, if you want the official stuff, the blurb says:”her research focuses on digital culture, digital identity and literacy, and the interplay between formal and informal learning.”

PISA vs Politics

November 4th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

After a particularly tedious week and the prospect of a working weekend, Friday afternoon did not promise a lot. However, the last thing in the electronic in-tray today was to have a look at the entries for a competition Pontydysgu is sponsoring as part of the Learning About Politics project.

The competition was aimed at 8-14 year olds and asked them to write a story using any combination of digital media

“The theme for your story should be on a political event that has happened – or is currently happening – in Wales.
We are not just interested in the facts but on your opinions and impressions. For example, how do you feel about the event you are describing? Who do you agree with and why? What have been the consequences of the event you have chosen?”

Suddenly life got a lot better! The black and white world of education that I seem to have lived in for the last few weeks was in brilliant technicolour. The stories were variously funny, poignant, angry, persuasive and insightful. All of them were well researched, referenced, technically at a level that would put many class teachers to shame and above all, they entertained me and taught me a whole lot I didn’t know. Surely the definition of a good learning experience!

(And by the time I had settled down with a glass of wine and a cigarette, the learning environment seemed pretty good as well).

The thing that cheered me up the most was that these kids had opinions – well argued, well expressed and authentic. I was pretty rubbish at history (Was? ‘Am’ actually! More maths and physics, me…) but short of those exam questions which always started “Compare and contrast….” or “What arguments would you use to support …something ” I don’t ever remember being allowed to have a ‘real’ opinion on anything historical, still less encouraged to express them if I did. Especially not in primary school – I think I was doing post-grad before I earned that privilege.

Which brings me on to my main point! There is a great public panic at the moment about Wales’s performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) because they are two beans behind somewhere or other, half a Brownie point below an average or a nanopoint lower than last time. Puhlease!!

I am not being dismissive from a point of total ignorance here – some years ago I worked on the PISA statistics and the methodology for several months; I even remember doing a keynote presentation at European Conference for Education Research on PISA . Nor am I suggesting that standards do not matter. What I am saying is that the ‘Ain’t it awful’ media frenzy generated by the Smartie counting exercise that is PISA – and the politicians’ heavy-handed response – does a huge disservice to this generation of feisty, articulate and confident kids. And to the amazing generation of teachers that scaffold their learning.

Working in Pontydysgu, being a teacher trainer and a very active school governor means that I spend a lot of time in classrooms and my contention is that 99% of teachers are doing a fantastic job under pretty rubbish conditions. (Did I say this in a previous post? Yes? Well I don’t care – it needs to be shouted from the roof tops).

So what am I going to do about it? Firstly, I am tempted to rewrite the newspaper headlines showing that Welsh education is improving and is better than ‘average’. A claim I could easily back-up by a different manipulation of the PISA figures. Secondly, I could point out that the PISA survey takes place every four years but that changes at the lower age ranges – such as the introduction of the new 3-7 yr old Foundation Phase in Wales (which is awesome) will not impact on PISA results for another nine years so knee-jerk changes to ‘fix’ things seem a bit premature. Thirdly, I could argue that putting so much store on paper-based testing in Reading, Maths and Science as the measure of success of ‘a broad and balanced curriculum’ and ‘pupil-centred, experiential learning’ is a bit of an oxymoron. Fourthly, I could remind our government that Wales led the way on getting rid of SATs and league tables on the very valid grounds that comparisons are unfair because they are not comparing like with like. They funded research which showed standardised testing to be unhelpful, demotivating and did nothing to improve performance. So on a local and national level they don’t work – do they suddenly work on an international one? Or maybe I should become a politician and take on the establishment in the debating chamber – but Hey! I’ve just found there’s a whole new generation of politically astute, sussed and sorted 10year olds who are going to do that much better than I could. Fifteen years from now, it’s going to be move over Minister! Leighton Andrews – ‘your’ education system has much to be proud of.

P.S. I might put some of the entries on the Pontydysgu website over the next few weeks so that you can see for yourself. Any teacher interested in getting their kids to write and publish political stories too, have a look at the Learning About Politics website and get back to us.

Disruptive technologies and the social shaping of our futures

January 6th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

There is an interesting debate taking place on Steve Wheeler’s blog about disruptive technologies. Steve says:

Disruptive technologies are those that change the market and in most cases replace an existing technology. They are characterised by their capability to do so over a relatively short period of time. Some are known as ‘killer applications’ because they completely wipe out the opposition due to their placement in the market, their greater appeal, availability and lower price, to name just a few of the key factors.

Welcome though the debate is I think it is overly simplistic and veers towards technological determinism. Technology progress is seen as an inevitable and to take on a life of its own in terms of social impact. In counter to this there is a long tradition or research and thinking, especially in The Nordic countries and in Germany which sees technology as being ‘socially shaped;. Researchers such as Engestrom, through activity theory, have seen technology as a mediating factor within a human activity system. German researchers have referred to the idea of ‘Gestaltung;, a difficult word to translate, but variously used to refer to ‘social shaping’ or ‘design’. Technology is designed by humans and has social impact. In the area of vocational education, researchers form the University of Bremen have pointed to the interaction between ‘competence is use’ (Beruf – another almost impossible term to translate) and work organisation in shaping the use of technology. This is an excerpt from a paper called “The social shaping of work and technology as a guiding principle for vocational education and training” which totherw ith Gerld Heidegger I wrote around 200) and was subsequently, published by CEDEFOP, I think.

Social shaping and the perspective of an open future

An important counter-argument against the shaping approach challenges the supposition of the possibility of influencing production technology as well as the concomitant work organisation.

Very often, and currently again with increasing intensity, technical change, or technical innovations, are thought to be determined solely by the progress of knowledge within the technological and natural sciences. Such a technological determinism would signify that only the most effective path existed for the development of production technology, for technical progress, and it would also determine the path to be taken to the future of work. Such a view is one-sided, as has been shown from historical studies (Kuby, 1980; Hellige, 1984; Noble, 1984). If one looks at technical development, one sees there were situations with forks in the road in the past where development could have taken different directions. The development of technology is also a social process (Bijker et al., 1990). In other words, technology is influenced by social conditions, both in its application and in its inner principles. As far as applications are concerned, this topic was discussed some time ago (Cooley, 1980). It seems apparent that the economic conditions of capitalism have influenced the specific way of applying technology in the production process. And this is, of course, still the case. But relating only to this would mean maintaining an economic determinism. There are, however, other societal influences that have tended to be consistently overlooked in recent discussions. According to the view of the authors cited above, that which can be considered to be a ‘successful’ technical solution – there is no ‘right’ one, though there are a lot of wrong ones – depends on cultural parameters; that means, it is also influenced by the form of human social life.

Hellige (1984) in particular introduced the concept of ‘horizons of technological problem solving’ which vary during historical development. This means that the engineers themselves take into consideration only the restricted set of criteria which lies inside their horizon of thinking. This horizon, however, varies according to ‘industrial culture’ (Ruth & Rauner, 1991). If the shaping of technology aims at really new solutions it is necessary to overcome these boundaries. Here non-experts can show considerable imagination because they are less influenced by the ‘normal’ thinking of the community of engineers. Therefore, devising new technical ‘outlooks’ might well be possible in secondary education. At the very least, future skilled workers should be able to discuss certain aspects of technology with the engineers. The same should be true for the participation of persons as non-experts in general discussions regarding technological policies.
Speaking within the scope of a more theoretical orientation, the development of technology not only owes a debt to a ‘material’ logic, ‘techno-logic’, but at the same time to the opposite element of social ‘development logic’, with this the former forms a ‘dialectical unit’. One cannot refer to social ‘development logic’ until one also assumes an ‘inner logic’ of development for social conditions. But, on the other hand, in the social field the unforeseen is a daily experience.

According to Luhmann (1984), this can be attributed to a basic condition of human communication, ‘double contingency’. In the case of communication between two people, this means that ‘each of them knows that each of them knows that one can also act differently’.
Technology in its interaction with chance results in a partially predetermined, partially unforeseeable progress that can be termed technical change. Accordingly, the interaction of social development logic with ‘contingency’ leads to social change. The latter takes place on a less spectacular, though no less profound scale than the former, especially since it is a question of interpretation whether one attaches greater weight to the persistent or to the changing aspects. This becomes plain particularly for the goal of social shaping of work and technology. Rauner & Martin (1988) interpreted socially shaped technology as a unity of the elements of that which is technically feasible and that which is socially desirable, as a regulative principle at any rate. That which will be feasible is, even in the case of technology, not that much a question of forecasts; because there, too, is great uncertainty concerning the change in this field. Therefore scenario pictures of the future can mislead. Just think of some of the grotesquely exaggerated forecasts of the past, prepared by ‘scientific futurology’.

What is desirable, however? The answer is the subject of controversy and will probably remain so. Is it, at the same time, that which is reasonable? And what is then the latter? An attempt will have to be made to obtain, as has been said, compromises between different wishes (Romanyshyn, 1989). This does not mean harmonious assent, but rather a restructured dissent which has to be discussed and disputed over; from there on, one should hope, one would become able – to some extent – to act jointly. For the task of shaping work and technology this perspective does not allow for objectively valid criteria. Instead teaching should aim at developing orientations for deciding on different alternatives, and to enable young people to develop their own orientations.

The point we were trying to make is that vocational educatio0n should provide young people with the ability themselves to shape technologies for the future. Such ideas are not a long way from recent work by Ceri Facer looking at the future of education. Ceri says:

The developments in remote interactions and in disaggregation of content from institution; the rise of the personal ‘cloud‘; the diagnostic potential of genetic and neuro-science; the ageing population; all of these, when combined with different social, political and cultural values lead to very different pedagogies, curriculum, institutional arrangements and cultural dispositions towards learners.

She suggests that

the coming two decades may see a significant shift away from the equation of ‘learning‘ with ‘educational institutions‘ that emerged with industrialisation, toward a more mixed, diverse and complex learning landscape which sees formal and informal learning taking place across a wide range of different sites and institutions.

Rather than try to develop a single blueprint for dealing with change we should rather develop a resilient education system based on diversity to deal with the different challenges of an uncertain future. But such diversity

will emerge only if educators, researchers and communities are empowered to develop localised or novel responses to socio-technical change – including developing new approaches to curriculum, to assessment, to the workforce and governance, as well as to pedagogy.

Thus rather than view technology as inevitable and to wait to see what disruption it brings we have the ability to shape its future. But this in turn depends  on reshaping our education systems and pedagogies to empower both educators and worker to themselves co-determine their futures.

Solidarity with the students

November 13th, 2010 by Jenny Hughes


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

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

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

Kurs “Web 2.0 i spoleczenstwo”

October 27th, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

W tym semestrze prowadze na Universytecie Beuth, na którym pracuję, zajęcia z zakresu “socjologii techniki” (prosze bardzo o pomoc w tłumaczeniu – po niemiecku dziedzina ta nazywa się Techniksoziologie – po polsku?). Kurs, który prowadzę nosi tytuł “Web 2.0 i społeczeństwo” i ma za cel wprowadzienie w świat Web 2.0 oraz uświadomienie zakres wpływu technologii sieci socjalnych na różne obszary życia społecznego, dotyczących m.in. form pracy, nauki, komunikacji medialnej i organizacyjnej, zarzadzania organizacjami, wiedzą i projektami, procesów politycznych oraz aspektów prawnych związanych z używaniem narzędzi sieci społecznej. Kurs oparty jest na zasadzie wirtualnych wykładów gościnnych, które są nagrywane i udostępniane studentom i wszytkim innym zainteresowanym. Raz w tygodniu pojawia się wpis na blogu kursu z krótkim streszczeniem oraz linkiem do nagrań wykładów gościnnych (Seminar-Blog). Oprócz publicznego bloga stworzyłam w ramach tego kursu przestrzeń do pracy dostępną tylko dla studentów biorących udział w kursie. Jest ona zbudowana na bazie wiki i umożliwia wspólną pracę w grupach oraz dokładną dokumentację przebiegu kursu (Seminar-Wiki). Głównym wewnętrznym kanałem komunikacyjnym jest mikroblog (Edmodo), w którym zapowiadam wykłady gościnne, przeprowadzam krótkie ankiety dotyczące oceny zajęć oraz dowiaduję się od studentów o ich aktualnej aktywności w ramach kursu (Seminar-Microblog). Wymiana ciekawych linków dotyczących tematów poruszanych w ramach zajęć odbywa się w otwartej grupie do zarządzania zakładkami internetowymi założonej w serwisie Diigo (Seminar-Bookmarks).

Kurs podzielony jest na dwa etapy. Pierwszy etap (04.10.10 – 01.12.10) poświęcony jest teoretycznemu i praktycznemu poznaniu sieci społecznej, tzn. iej zasad funkcjonowania, narzędzi i procesów, oraz zmian jakie oberwujemy w społeczeństwie. Drugi etap (01.12.10 – 14.02.10) obejmuje pracę w grupach mającą na celu opracowanie konceptu na rozwiązanie wybranego konkretnego przypadku (case study). Praca w grupach będzie obejmować wymianę ze studentami z Monachium we wspólnej społeczności internetowej (Seminar-Community).

Aktualne informacje dotyczące kursu można znaleść również na Twitter pod hasłem #aw448

Jakie są Państwa doświadczenia związane z wpowadzaniem sieci społecznych w ramach wykładów uniwersyteckich?

Revisiting Kostelec 4: The way(s) forward from the “Crossing boundaries …” conference

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my recent blog postings (Revisiting Kostelec 1-3 ) I have given an account on the recent international conference with the theme “Crossing Boundaries: The multiple roles of trainers and teachers in vocational education and training”. With this posting it is time to shift the emphasis from the memories and to consider the way(s) forward.

In this context it is essential to note that the organiser of the conference – the network “Trainers in Europe” – is coming to the end of its EU-funded working period. As things stand now, it is apparent that the follow-up phase will be characterised by distributed successor activities (for which the platform can serve as a home base).

For the further discussion on the frollow-up activities I have made the following observations on parallel working agendas that were present in the conference and merit to be considered:

1. The professionalisation of trainers (and parity of esteem between trainers and teachers in VET)

This agenda is stimulated by debates on academic drift and on vocational progression routes. It is overshadowed by the Bologna process and the degree structures. Yet, it can also bring into discussion the value of work-related learning opportunities. In the conference this agenda was represented by the presentation of Alrun Schleiff and Simone Wanken on ‘learning tandems’ and ‘cross-mentoring’. In the preparation phase some other proposals were adressing this context.  After the conference it is worthwhile to explore, what is happening with such initiatives at the national and European level.

2. Trans-national mobility (and comparability of qualifications) of trainers across EU

This agenda is stimulated by policies to promote mobility of trainers (in a similar way as mobility of teachers) across Europe. However, the hitherto perceived diversity of training contexts and professional profiles has made it difficult to promote such initiatives effectively and to get the target groups inspired. Yet, in the light of internationalisation of production and services this is a real challenge. In the conference this agenda was represented by the presentation of Sandie Gay on skills verification and identification of common core areas.

3. Promotion of specific (pedagogic, ICT-related and sectoral) competences of trainers

This agenda covers a wide range of initiatives that are linked to specific aspects of trainers’ competences (pedagogic, multimedial, sectoral) and are looking for ways to address these aspects in a European context. As a contrast to the above mentioned ones, these initiatives do not necessarily raise questions on teh formal qualification frameworks or on recognition issues as their starting points.  In the conference this agenda was represented by the presenations on the development/utilisation of e-learning and of self-assessment approaches.

4. Promotion of process innovations in training contexts and rethinking the role of training functions

This agenda focuses on the limits of hitherto developed models for in-company training or training in external centres. The main thrust of the agenda is to link the efforts of different parties (workplace trainers/mentors, internal experts, external service providers, intermediate agencies) to real-time innovation agendas and to working with cutting-edge knowledge. In this context the focal point is not in achieving certain formal standards (or using specific know-how) but in bringing different elements into an ongoing innovation process. In the conference this perspective was addressed most explicitly by the presentation of Johannes Koch.

The above presented list of parallel working agendas is probably not exhaustive and there are several overlaps of interest and approaches. However, in my view these agendas can be seen as mutually complementing developments that (at least currentlky) have their own dynamics.

In my view this observation stregthens the final proposal of Europe-wide consultation process on a new type of Innovation Forum that puts the interests of trainers into the centre (instead of highlighting national or European policy frameworks). To me, the conference at Kostelec refreshed the menories of the best consultation seminars and their dialogue-oriented spirit. I think that it is good to build on this heritage.

Looking forward to further discussion!

Pekka

Revisiting Kostelec 3: The working climate in the “Crossing boundaries …” conference

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my two previous blog postings – Revisiting Kostelec 1 and 2 – I have presented my general impression of the conference and then an overview of the thematic sessions that I attended. However, this alone is not enough to give an idea, what made the conference such a positive experience – what brought into being the spirit of Kostelec. Here, I try to give some additional aspects that come up when I refresh my memories.

1) Working and learning together

Already from the first paper sessions I noticed that this conference has the spirit of working and learning together. Surely, the tandem presentation on ‘learning tandems’ was a good start. However, the further sessions continued with the same pattern. Instead of having had a succession of rushed monologues, we had a possibility to go into discussions and to build bridges between the current presentation and the previous ones.

2) Creative interactive spaces

Instead of filling the programme with paper sessions and symposia, the organisers had encouraged the presenters to use more interactive sessions (e.g. speed learning cafe or interactive workshop). These were not perceived as marginal ‘entertainment’ but as valuable sessions and the participants made good use of these.

3) Smart use of poster session

The organisers had encouraged participants to prepare posters. However, on the spot some creativity was needed to organise a well-functioning poster session. The solution was that posters were lying on tables and the presenters were sitting behind the table. The audience had the opportunity to sit down and have a talk over the poster that was on the table. This proved to be a good solution. (It provided also the possibility to reschedule on paper presentation that had to be cancelled because the presenters had been directed to a wrong Kostelec.)

4) The online radio show

Pontydysgu had made preparations for an online radio show live from Kostelec.  Also this event was run in a smart and participative way. When the conference had already reached the halfway stage, the participants were ready to reflect on the event and what they had gained so far. Several ideas were also raised for further discussion.

5) The online exhibition

During the preparation the organisers had welcomed contributions to the online exhibition. Before the conference most of the posters had already been made available via this facility. Also, some videos had been made to be presented in this area. During the conference this work was continued and the participants were encoraged to submit more content to the exhibition area.

6) The concluding debate

The wrap-up session of the conference was not organised as a series of speeches that look back at the sessions. Instead, the participants were invited into a debate. The participants had to submit motions (critical statements) to be debated. By means of lottery, some participants were picked as promoters (and secondants) and others as opponents (and secondants. After each mini-debate the participants were asked to formulate their own statements and then the debate was concluded by a vote. This all added up to the picture of a genuine learning event.

I guess this is enough for this posting. In my next blog I will leave the Kostelec experience and discuss the way forward.

Watch this space!

Pekka

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!

How we share our ideas #PLE_BCN

July 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Share photos on twitter with Twitpicjust created my personal #ple_bcn badge. cool idea to let you... on TwitpicMy badge for the PLE Conference, Barcelona, July 2010 on Twitpic

Participants at the PLe2010 conference have been invited to make their own conference badges. These have been shared on TwitPic

When we launched the PLe2010 conference way back last September we were determined it would not be just another conference. Twenty minute paper presentations, endless slides with bullet points, limited discussion. Yes, we wanted people to have a good time in the evenings but how could we move those evening knowledge sharing sessions inside the conference.

Unconferencing formats such as BarCamps or TeachMeets have generated much enthusiasm and creativity. But for researchers, especially young or emergent researchers, to secure funding for attending international conferences and events, many institutions demand the presentation of an academic paper.

So, we tried to get the best of both worlds. We appointed an academic board and all papers were subjected to a two person blind review process. We then grouped the various contributions by theme and language and went on to appoint chairs for each session. We wrote to each chair asking them to contact the presenters in their session and to agree a format for the session. We left the final format to the chair and presenters but indicated we wished for the sessions to involve all participants in as far as was possible. And we got some great proposals. Here is a selection of some of the formats which have been proposed for the different sessions at PLE20010.

Speed Learning Cafe (Jane Challinor)

  1. Chair starts with brief introduction to the process and asks audience to divide into three groups /tables
  2. There is then a 10 minute presentation  by each of three presenters (Chair keeps time with stopwatch throughout!!)
  3. Each presenter then goes to sit with a group at one of the three tables, which are  covered in blank paper & supplied with marker pens
  4. The presenters begin a conversation with their table using a single SPECIFIC – but not CLOSEDquestion relating to their specific research/interest. The aim is to gather some additional thoughts/learning or questions from the group on the theme of the workshop.
  5. Audience and presenters write notes on the table based on the conversation in the form of further questions/ thoughts
  6. Groups change to second table/ presenter after 5 minutes. Repeat steps 5 & 6
  7. Groups change to third table/ presenter after 5 minutes. Repeat steps 5 & 6
  8. Each presenter in turn summarises the conversations (3 – 5 key learning points from the session)
  9. Thank you & goodbye!! – Chair

Poster Session (Graham Attwell)

We will provide participants 10 minutes to look at the posters

Each of you will be invited to introduce your poster for 5 minutes

There will be space for participants to ask questions..

Participants will be invited to write down issues arising from your posters on a sticky note.

We will then group the issues and depending on the number of groups rate the importance.

We will then form groups for discussing those issues and hold a brief plenary at the end

Speed / learning café (Cristina Costa)

What does that mean?

It means that you will have 7 minutes to present your paper, focusing on the main key points (only 1 slide is allowed!… that is if you are using slides at all. You can use whatever you want!) It may sound a bit mad, but the fact is that short presentations are more focused and therefore more appealing to the listener.

The presentations will be followed by rotating groups discussions, as delegates will take turns participating in the discussions started by your presentations (hence the importance of making your presentation thought provoking).

Each discussion will last for 10 minutes. Every 10 minutes delegates will move to the next table. In each table there will be a laptop (please bring one along if you have one!) so that participants can annotate their discussions in a wiki page.

The session will end with a short presentation (3 minutes) by each group about the conclusions they have reached.

Paper Session (Maria Perifanou)

Time available for the session: 75min

Introduction of the presenters: 2min

Presentation of the findings of your research: 15min

Conclusion of the presentation with some questions for the audience asking for their feedback ( possible problems that you have faced during your research, future research questions….): 10min

Questions from the audience: 10min

Time for work for the participants: 20 min. The participants will be divided in groups. Each group will have to do a quick reasearch regarding the integration of technology in the education (and in everyday life) in their countries with a focus on the PLE concept. Are students on the way for the development of their PLEs or is it something that looks like a “dream” for the future
based on the findings of their research?

Presentation of the groups work findings – comparison of them with the findings of your research: 15min

End of the session: Conclusions 3min

Paper Session (Isamel Pena Lopez)

I see the common denominator of the session is _support_ in the sense of “let’s tell our ‘supportees’ what does work so they can put it into practice”. Which means:

1.- there are some problems in my learning process that need being addressed

2.- solutions to fix these problems that do not work

3.- solutions that do

4.- (and likely) an assessment on how these solutions that work were

4a.—— put into practice

4b.—— their performance evaluated

My proposal.

GOAL: Instead of everyone telling their story, let’s try to end up with a shared one.
GOAL: let’s have it written so people can take it away with them

15:45 I would begin with an über-short presentation of everyone of you. That is not more than 6 minutes (2 per presenting group). And a presentation of how we will proceed. Total, 10′. I sit up with a blank powerpoint.

15:55 Each group has 3′ to explain what problems (point 1 aforementioned) they are addressing. I put them on the powerpoint without attribution, so I can merge them, rephrase them, avoid repetitions, etc.

16:04 Same with point 2.

16:13 Same with point 3.

16:22 Same with point 4a.

16:31 Same with point 4b.

16:40 We review the (now) shared presentation, let everyone in the room speak out their thoughts, add things, delete others, etc.

17:00 End of session.

Paper Session (Maria Perifanou)

4 presentations,  8min each (32min total) + 3 min (12min total) for the conclusion of each presentation with a presenter’s question to the audience for feedback  (maybe a research question for the future, something that troubles him/her in his research).

Participants write sticky notes at the same time -5min participants to add sticky notes (also
presenters can add issues for their feedback) -3min for 4 groups division  (12min in total)
-15min groups work -4min each group to report back (16min in total) -2min for presenters’ feedback to the 4 groups:  (8min in total)

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