Archive for the ‘participatory media’ Category

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!

Open Curricula – the last frontier?

January 21st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Open Educational Resources have taken off over the last two years or so. Open courses – especially MOOCs – are becoming ever more popular. And there is a growing focus on how we can develop more open forms of assessment.

These movements reflect a move away from expert driven development processes based largely on commercial interests towards more open processes based on practitioner and leaner input.

Yet their remains one big barrier to open education which is largely untouched – curricula. Curricula tend to remain the prerogative of experts – be they university working groups, assessment and accrediting bodies or governments.

In a time of rapid social economic and technological change, curricula can quickly go out of date. And expert driven curricula processes are usually extremely slow to respond to such change.

We have the technologies to collectively develop curricula. Wikis are powerful platforms for sharing ideas and co-production. We have the ideas based on the practice of teaching and training. We have the communities. Of course we have to look at the processes of developing open curricula. But above all the experts have to be prepared to give up power. And that is the hard bit. Until then, curricula will remain the last frontier in open education.

 

Involving participants in online presentations

November 2nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

This is interesting stuff from Nancy White taken from a presentation on the #Change11 Massive Open Online Course. The Contents are well worth a watch. But why I have linked to it is the process. I guess this presentation was using Elluminate. And most presenters in Elluminate – or for that matter other online conferencing applications – struggle to involve participants. Nancy has no such problems!

Flipping Something out of Nothing

October 25th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education from sam seidel on Vimeo.

I had the pleasure to present alongside Mike Neary and Joss Winn at the Mobility Shifts conference in New York. They are working on the idea of students as producers. This theme is also taken up in this excellent video, which looks at the theme of students as producers within hip hop culture.

Yma o hyd….. yng Nghwpan y Byd. YMLAEN CYMRU! Pob lwc oddiwrth bawb ym Mhontydysgu.

October 12th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

This vid has got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that WALES ARE NOW IN THE SEMI FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP (ac mae’r tim Saesneg wedi mynd adre). It is a learning object and I’m using it to illustrate an article I read today about a BBC Wales project, targeting ‘hard to reach’ teenagers, that used rugby as a vehicle for informal learning.

By the way, the title of this post translates (possibly) as “Informal Learning through the Internet: a learning journey through the world of rugby.” ; ) – which is actually the title of a report on the project (more…)

Live streaming from the European Conference on Educational Research

September 4th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The European Conference on Educational Research 2011 will take place at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany from 13 – 16 September. The theme of this year’s conference is Urban education and as the conference website notes “Not only are cities burning glasses of societal change and its educational consequences; they also provide remarkable resources to put societal and educational change on the political agenda in order to shape them proactively.”

As in previous years Pontydysgu are providing multi media and ‘amplifying’ support to the conference and if you are not able to attend the conference in person you can follow the event through our streaming of the keynote sessions and internet radio programmes.

Keynotes

Jaap Dronkers

Japp Dronkers is Professor at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. In his keynote he will address the effects of educational systems, school-composition, levels of curricula, parental background and immigrants’ origins on achievement of 15-years old pupils.

Thursday, 15.09, 13:30 – 14:30 Central European Summer Time

read more

Elisabet Öhrn

Elisabet Öhrn is Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In her keynote she focuses on “Urban Education and Segregation: Responses from Young People”
Thursday, 15.09, 13:30 – 14:30 Central European Summer Time

read more

Saskia Sassen

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University She will focus on “The City: Its Return as a Lens into Larger Economic and Technological Histories”
Wed. 14.09., 13:30 – 14:30 Central European Summer Time

read more

Watch this spot for full details of where to go to watch the stream.

Internet Radio

Wednesday 14 September 1430 – 1545 (Central European Summer Time)

Daniel Fischer, Leuphana Univeristy, Luneberg, Germany, Best paper winner 2010,  (Emerging Researchers Conference Award) will talk about consumer education

Harm Kuper from the Free University, Berlin is a member of the local organising committee for ECER 2011

Lejf Moos from the University of Tilburg in Denmark is President of the European Educational Research Association (EERA)

Marit Hoveid from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology is EERA Secretary General Elect

Venka Simovska, also from the University of Tilburg is Convener of a new network: Research on Health Education

Hongmei Ma, from The Chinese University of Hong Kong is an ECER Bursary winner and will give his impressions of the first ECER conference he has attended

Thursday 15 September 1000 – 1030
(Central European Summer Time)

Tjeerd Plomp from the Univerity of Twente was present at the first ever ECER conference. he will talk about how the conference has evolved and grown over the years.

Kathleen Armour from the University of Birmingham in the UK is Convener of a New network: Sports Pedagogy

Melanie Völker is from Waxman publishers who are sponsoring the conference poster prize. She will be talking with us along with the poster prize winners

More guests to be announced

Friday 16 September 1430 – 1500 (Central European Summer Time)

Guests to be announced.

Watch this slot for the address for the radio stream.

We will also update this post as more guests confirm. In the meantime if you are going to the ECER conference and would like to come on the radio programme please email us. And finally if you are at ECER and just want to watch and listen to the  broadcast, we will be situated near the registration desk. Come and meet us.

The future of social media

July 31st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Although Google+ has been generally welcomed the advent of yet another social networking site has given rise to some thoughts on just exactly what value such sites are.

In a perceptive blog post George Siemens writes:

I’ve concluded that most of the hype around social media is nonsense and that people, particularly the self-proclaimed social media elite are clothing-less……What has social media actually done? Very, very little. The reason? Social media is about flow, not substance…….Twitter/Facebook/G+ are secondary media. They are a means to connect in crisis situations and to quickly disseminate rapidly evolving information. They are also great for staying connected with others on similar interests (Stanley Cup, Olympics). Social media is good for event-based activities. But terrible when people try to make it do more – such as, for example, nonsensically proclaiming that a hashtag is a movement. The substance needs to exist somewhere else (an academic profile, journal articles, blogs, online courses).

It is difficult not to agree. Even on twitter – to date my preferred social network – the ratio of conversation to proclamation – or information sharing – seems to be decreasing. Or is this a reverse power  effect – is it that the more people you follow the less the social interactions?

I think the problem is context. Social media work well in a particular context – be it talking with close friends and family – keeping people up to date on your movement or planning holidays – or around conferences and events, planning projects or seeking jobs. However social media is far less strong in the context of everyday life flows. Indeed the only aspect of context that social media seems good at is geo-awareness with all the privacy issues that brings.

It may be important though to distinguish between social media ‘in the wild’ – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ web sites – and the integration of social media within more specific and contextually defined web tools to support activities, learning or communities. Twitters success may be down to its relatively open development environment making it easy to embed twitter flows into blogs or community web sites.

Not withstanding the debate over the use of real names in Google+ and acknowledging the interest in the playful use of alternative identities, the issue of linking real life worlds and social media worlds seems an important one. As George says “substance needs to exist somewhere else”. But whilst George is posting that substance in the academic world, such substance may lie in different facets of our lives – within work, play or the community.

Yet I suspect those corporations developing social media applications have little interest in such substance. The substance for them is in the advertising and commercial world which produces them profit, the ultimate arbiter of success for social media companies. I have written before that the future of social media may lie in more focused and niche networks and communities – communities which can link our online and off line activities and enrich both. But such communities will have to be developed from  the bottom up. And in this context the issue of design will involve much more than cool tools and applications – or indeed encouraging us to follow ever more ‘friends’.

Open to scrutiny…

July 25th, 2011 by Cristina Costa
….but be gentle! I know it’s been a while since I have last posted here. I could blame it on not having time, but I always think that is a very lame excuse. Just thinking of time makes us not … Continue reading

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.

Personalised Radio Ciphers: internet-radio and augmented social media for transformational learning of disadvantaged young people

May 11th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

This is proposal submitted by Andrew Ravenscroft, Graham Attwell, David Blagbrough and Dirk Stieglitz for the PLE2011 conference in Southampton has been accepted. We are going to have a lot of fun. And remember you can join us too. Whilst paper submissions are closed you can still submit proposals for posters pecha keucha or the media competition until June 11th.

Introduction: Designing personalized new media spaces to support transformational and emancipatory learning

Relatively recent research into, and definitions of, personalised learning environments (e.g. van Harmelen, 2008) have proposed new technological configurations or learning design patterns. These typically harmonise individual learner agency and initiative with a developing ecology of open web services and tools. This is the PLEs from an ‘alternative learning technology perspective’. Another and complementary way to view personalisation, that has a history beyond relatively recent technological developments, is to view ‘personlisation as practice’. In this sense, personalisation is rooted in the ‘deep’ matching and development of learners interests, experiences and motivations with their chosen informal or formal learning trajectories, that may be realized through personalised technologies. This is a psycho-social approach to personalisaton and learning technology design and use, that conceives of learning as something that grows out from the learner, rather than something that is acquired from some pre-structured, ‘external’ and ‘imposed’ curricula.

This position is particularly important when we are attempting to find technology-enabled ways to engage, retain and support the learning of disadvantaged people who are excluded, or at risk of exclusion, from traditional learning paths and trajectories. Arguably, this problem is most severe in the burgeoning numbers of NEETs (Not in Education Employment and Training) throughout the UK and Europe. Addressing the needs of these growing communities requires new and radical approaches to learning, learning design and technology-enabled practice. One foundation for a radical and technology-enabled pedagogy for disadvantaged groups is the groundbreaking work of Paulo Freire (1970).

Applying Friere to PLE design: Technical reformulation of ciphers

In Paulo Freire’s seminal work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (Freire, 1970), he emphasized the importance of critical engagement in and analysis of broader societal ‘cycles’ and their effects. One way to do this is through using lived culture, and praxis (action that is informed by values) as the foundational elements for developing circles that promote transformational learning. These ideas have recently been taken up within the non hierarchical, shared, creative, inclusive, safe and supported spaces called “ciphers” – which have emerged from the urban youth culture particularly around hip hop music (Wiliams, 2009).

We are currently using this cipher concept as a metaphor for designing and developing RadioActive, a hybrid of internet-radio and augmented social media platform to support the transformational learning of disadvantaged young people.

The RadioActive pilot

This presentation will describe the design, piloting and evaluation of RadioActive with NEETs in the London Borough of Hackney. The radio-social media platform is being co-designed with these NEETs and their support actors (such as youth workers and parents) in Hackney (in London). A key aspect is that the ‘going live’ aspect acts as a catalyst for community engagement and cohesion, linked to related social media activity. Put simply, the internet-radio gives a presence, real-time narrative and an energy that drives participation, interaction and content creation.

This is an innovative and participative broadcasting model that combines Open Source or easily affordable technology to create ‘the communities’ radio platform. This deliberately fuses, inspired by Web 2.0 trends, traditional distinctions between broadcaster/program planner and listener/consumer. The holistic design concept is an edutainment platform and hard to reach community combined, via the cipher approach, into a connected ‘live entity’ rather than the community being seen as a separate audience that is broadcast to.

The central idea is that this radio cipher provides the means to initially engage and retain NEETs, who can then be exposed to and participate in informal learning activities that lead to the development of skills and competencies that prepare them for Further Education or work. They develop both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills through RadioActive. The softer ones relate to personal expression, the development of self-confidence and self-esteem, and the development of collaborative working skills. The harder ones involve the development of concrete digital literacy, media production, communication and organizational skills, that can exploited in other education or employment related activities. Similarly, their artefacts and competencies are recorded (e.g. in an eportfolio) or made public (e.g on the web) in ways that can be presented to potential Educators or Employers.

The proposed conference activities

This contribution will follow the collaborative and praxis driven spirit of this project and the PLE conference, through incorporating 2 related activities:
1. A presentation linked to the archive of the pilot radio show;
2. Mashup madness or a community in harmony? Live RadioActive show and DJ set during a social event at the conference, with RadioActive DJ’s mixing a set based on 1 or 2 favorite songs suggested by each delegate.

References

Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum Publishing.

Van Harmelen, H., Design trajectories: four experiments in PLE implementation, Interactive Learning Environments, 1744-5191, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2008, Pages 35 – 46.

Wiliams, D. (2009). The critical cultural cypher: Remaking Paulo Frieire’s cultural circles using Hip Hp culture. International, Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 2, 1, pp 1-29.

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    Digital Literacy

    A National Survey fin Wales in 2017-18 showed that 15% of adults (aged 16 and over) in Wales do not regularly use the internet. However, this figure is much higher (26%) amongst people with a limiting long-standing illness, disability or infirmity.

    A new Welsh Government programme has been launched which will work with organisations across Wales, in order to help people increase their confidence using digital technology, with the aim of helping them improve and manage their health and well-being.

    Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being, follows on from the initial Digital Communities Wales (DCW) programme which enabled 62,500 people to reap the benefits of going online in the last two years.

    See here for more information


    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


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  • Citing Hegel, Agnes Heller states that 'Philosophy is our time construed in concepts' [Philosophie ist unsere Zeit in Begriffen aufgefasst] Watch her lecture on Hannah Arendts Platz in spätmoderne Denke [Hannah Arendt's place in late modern thinking] youtube.com/watch?v=vgsU1J…

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