Archive for the ‘Pedagogy’ Category

Reviewing the video(s) from Bau-ABC – Part 4: Learning Toolbox as support for learning alongside working

September 28th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my three previous posts I have started a series of blogs that review the video produced by the Bau-ABC team for the recent consortium meeting of the Learning Layers (LL) project. As I have indicated, the video focused on the usability of the emerging Learning Toolbox (LTB) – a framework for accessing web resources and managing web apps – in the construction sector. In the two previous posts I discussed, how the LTB can be used in the the context of the training activities of the Bau-ABC  and in the companies or construction sites. In this post I will focus on the Bau-ABC trainers’ views, how LTB will support learning alongside working. Here I share the link to the video:

http://youtu.be/Z2JoZSn4PyY

In the latter part of the video (between 18,04 and 29:00) Melanie Campbell has a discussion with four full-time trainers, who have been involved in most of the LL activities and engaged their apprentices as well – Lothar Schoka, Kevin Kuck, Stefan Wiedenstried and Markus Pape. Below I will highlight some points of their discussion and the messages they are passing to us (as their LL partners) and to wider audiences.

 New prospects for using digital media and smartphones alongside working and learning

The LL project has brought into picture new ways of using digital media, web tools and smartphones in the context of work and workplace learning. The trainers themselves have launched their blogs and brought their apprentices to demo sessions on the LTB. The apprentices have greeted this with enthusiasm. They and their companies have now new prospects for using these tools for working and learning – not as distraction and waste of time. From this perspective the trainers are keen to take further steps forward in piloting.

The LTB as support for learning and professional growth

The trainers saw in the LTB a great potential for supporting holistic, action-oriented and self-organised learning (in German with one concept: Handlungsorientiertes Lernen). Whilst they are currently delivering their info-sheets and worksheets each time for the respective project, the LTB provides a realm for information and challenges the apprentices to do their own searches and consolidate their own findings. In the same way, as the documentation of work processes and learning results is currently a routine with paper documents, the LTB opens room for creativity. The apprentices can enrich their documents with photos, videos and multimedia (with annotations, cartoons and other possibilities). In this way they can demonstrate also their learning progress and achievements to their peers and friends but also to their companies and to their supervisors. So far, the feedback from apprentices points to this direction if the apprentices can be wider engaged in the piloting.

Expectations on next 12 months with the LTB

The trainers are eager to see a beta-version of a functioning LTB on smartphone and tablet to be used in real life. On their behalf they are prepared to start the piloting with selected projects. They do not expect a fully completed end product but rather a pilot version that can be further developed on the basis of feedback. And for them it is important that the apprentices are engaged as pilot users who can also contribute to the development. This was the key message.

Reflective commentary

Here I prefer to let the trainers’ message speak for itself. However, it is interesting to see that they have confidence in their apprentices as smart users of smartphones when there is a framework like the LTB to draw their attention to working and learning contexts. Also, they are confident that the apprentices will use the LTB to enhance their learning rather than to minimize their learning effort. And finally, they see their apprentices as valuable stakeholders in giving feedback on the pilot use of LTB and in promoting the tool to their companies as well.

Secondly, it is worthwhile to note that the trainers are not only focusing on the training that is provided on the premises of Bau-ABC under their supervision. Instead, they are looking forward to see the LTB being used in wider contexts support professional growth and to strengthen professional communities. This became very clear when they discussed the impact of the Multimedia training and of sharing the experiences. But this merits a post of its own.

More blogs to come …

Developing a Work Based, Mobile Personal Learning Environment

July 6th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

As regular readers will know, for a long time I have been fascinated by the potential of mobile technologies for developing work based learning and work based Personal Learning environments. Mobile technologies can allow learning to take place directly in the workplace. Learning can be recorded and for that matter reflection on learning take place as a direct part of the work process. In such a way the workplace becomes part of the Personal Learning Environment and conversely the PLE becomes part of the work process. At the same time, such an approach can bring together both formal and informal learning. Through sharing learning processes and outcomes, learners themselves can contribute to a growing ‘store; of learning materials.

It hasn’t happened yet and it is worth thinking about why. One reason maybe that only recently has seen the spread of sufficiently powerful mobile devices and applications. Another is the suspicion of employers about the uses of such devices in the workplace. Most importantly may be the failure to develop pedagogic approaches for mobile learning. Most developments to date have essentially been about consumption of learning materials, albeit sometimes in innovative ways. And much of the publicity or mobile learning has emphasised consumption of short episodes of learning away from the workplace – or for that matter the classroom (for some reason we will all be learning on the bus or the train on our way home from work in the future or so the vendors say).

That is not to say there have not been attempts to develop more radical thinking. Members of the London Mobile Learning Group have, like others developed new ideas for work based mobile learning pedagogy. Yet still, as far as I can see, there have been few attempts to implement such ideas at any scale.

It is for these reasons that I am so interested in the development of the Learning Toolbox, initially targeted at apprentices in the construction industry, as part of the EU funded Learning layers project. Perhaps the biggest thing I have leaned from this work (apart from how difficult it is) is the need for co-development processes with end users and stakeholders in the industry. The new paper we have written for the PLE2014 conference documents the research we have undertaken and the co-development process, as well as our understanding of the issues around context and how to address such issues.

You can download the paper here. As always any and all feedback is very welcome.

Radioactive goodness

June 24th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

http://radioactive101.eu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/RadioactiveLogo.jpg“RadioActive101 is an innovative pan-European educational intervention, using internet radio and also social media to promote inclusion, informal learning, employability and active citizenship in an original and exciting way.”

That is the official project blurb for Radioactive which is funded by The European Commission. But it doesn’t really tell the full story. Radioactive is working with different groups of people, from youth clubs, organisations of unemployed adults etc. to develop and produce internet radio programmes.  Hopefully along the way they are having lots of fun. And we know they are learning many different skills – including designi9ng content, interviewing, presenting, directing, production as well as technical skills and skills in post production. Radioactive has developed a set of badges, using the Mozilla badges schema.

For me the attraction is that learning is taking place in an informal setting. Learning  by doing and learning through using social media. Anyway you can judge for yourself. This week there are three programmes being broadcast.

We have a show going out from Germany later this evening:
http://de.radioactive101.eu/news/

Tomorrow from Portugal Wednesday, 25, at 4pm (CEST) with their newest partner, EntrEscolhas Geração D’Ouro E5G.
Listen on RadioActive101, on the 25th, at 4 pm,
http://pt.radioactive101.eu/2014/06/23/primeira-emissao-do-entrescolhas-geracao-douro-e5g/

And on Friday sees the second airing of a really interesting show from the UK on ‘Body Image, Media and Music’ http://uk2.radioactive101.eu/event/details/on-air-20th-june-body-image-and-the-media/

Personal Learning Environments, Self Directed Learning and Context

June 15th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Ten days ago I had an email from Alexander Mikroyannidis from the UK Open University. “Together with some colleagues from the EU project ROLE (http://www.role-project.eu)” he said, “I’m preparing a book to be published by Springer. It will be entitled “Personal Learning Environments in Practice” and it will present the results of applying PLEs in different test-beds in the project.

For each chapter, we have invited an external expert to provide a 2-page commentary that will also be published in the book. Would you be available to write such a commentary for the chapter that describes the vision of the project?”

How could I refuse? And here is my contribution:

Research and development in learning technologies is a fast moving field.  Ideas and trends emerge, peak and die away as attention moves to the latest new thing. At the time of writing MOOCs dominate the discourse. Yet the developments around Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) have not gone away.  It could be argued that the development and adoption of PLEs is not so much driven the educational technology community but by the way people (and not just students) are using technology for learning in their everyday lives.

Even when Learning Management Systems were in their prime, there was evidence of serious issues in their use. Teachers tended to use such environments as an extended file storage system; forums and discussion spaces were frequently under populated. In other words such systems were used for managing learning, rather than for learning itself.  Learners expropriated and adapted consumer and productivity applications for their learning. Such trends became more pronounced with the emergence of Web 2.0 and social software. Social networking applications in particular, allowed the development of personal learning networks. Rather than go to the institutionally sanctioned LMS or VLE, learners communicated through Facebook or Whats App. PLNs were not longer limited to class or course cohorts but encompassed wider social and learning networks. Wikipedia has emerged as a major open resource for learning.

As mobile technologies have become increasingly powerful and, at least in some countries, internet access has become increasingly ubiquitous, learners use their own devices for learning and are not confined to institutional facilities. Regardless of trends in educational technology theory and research, learners are developing and using their own Personal Learning Environments.

At the same time, the ongoing rapid developments in technologies are changing forms of knowledge development and leading to pressures for lifelong learning. Universities and educational institutions can no longer preserve a monopoly on knowledge. Notwithstanding their continuing hold on accreditation, institutions are no longer the only providers of learning, a move seen in the heart-searching by universities as to their mission and role.

Such changes are reflected in the growing movement towards open learning, be it in the form of MOOCs or in the increasing availability of Open Educational Resources. The popularity of MOOCs has revealed a vast pent up demand for learning and at least in the form of the c-MOOCs has speeded the adoption of PLEs. MOOCs are in their infancy and we can expect the rapid emergence of other forms of open learning or open education in the next few years.

Learning is becoming multi-episodic, with people moving in and out of courses and programmes. More importantly the forms and sources of learning are increasingly varied with people combining participation in face-to-face courses, online and blended learning programmes and self directed and peer supported learning using different internet technologies.

These changes are reflected in discussion over pedagogy and digital literacies. It is no longer enough to be computer literate. Learners need to be able to direct and manage their own learning, formal and informal, regardless of form and source. In conjunction with More Knowledge Others (Vygotsky, 1978) they need to scaffold their own learning and to develop a personal knowledge base. At the same time as the dominance of official accreditation wanes, they need to be able to record and present their learning achievement. Personal Learning Environments are merely tools to allow this to happen.

All this leads to the issue of the role of educational technology researchers and developers. In research terms we need to understand more not just about how people use technology or learning but how they construct a personal knowledge base, how they access different resources for learning, including people and how knowledge is exchanged and developed.

At a development level, there is little point in trying to develop a new PLE to replace the VLE. Instead we need to provide flexible tools which can enhance existing technologies and learning provision, be it formal courses and curricula or informal learning in the workplace or in the community. It can be argued that whilst most educational technology development has focused on supporting learners already engaged in educational programmes and institutions, the major potential of technology and particularly of Personal Learning Environments is for the majority of people not enrolled on formal educational programmes. Not all workplaces or for that matter communities offer a rich environment or learning. Yet there is vast untapped potential in such environments, particularly for the development and sharing of the tacit knowledge and work process knowledge required in many tasks and occupations. PLE tools can help people learning in formal and informal contexts, scaffold their learning and develop a personal learning knowledge base or portfolio.

At both pedagogic and technical levels, context provides a major challenge. Whilst mobile technologies recognise the context of place (through GPS), other and perhaps more important aspects of context are less well supported. This includes time – how is what I learned at one time linked to something I learned later? It includes purpose – why am I trying to learn something? It includes the physical environment around me, including people. And of course it includes the social and semantic links between places, environments, people and objects.

The challenge is to develop flexible applications and tools to enhance peoples’ PLEs and which can recognise context, can support people in scaffolding their learning and develop their own Personal Learning Networks and enhance their ability to direct their own learning and the learning of their peers.

Two major European funded projects, ROLE and Learning Layers are attempting to develop such applications. They both have the potential to make major inroads into the challenges outlined in this short paper.

Reference

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

 

 

Learning Layers goes to Bau-ABC Rostrup – Part 2: What have we experienced together so far?

June 14th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I announced the fact that the Learning Layers (LL) project is organising its next consortium meeting in Bau-ABC Rostrup. Then I started a discussion, what we are looking for with this choice of conference venue. One of the points that I raised was to get a deeper understanding on what we have experienced together and what we can achieve together.

Looking back at our common  journey with the Learning Layers project, we in the Bremen region started with the initial interviews for empirical studies. The results of some interviews were compressed into User Stories that were then used as materials for the Focus Groups of WP1. All this was done very quickly to accommodate the Focus Group as part of the Application Partner Days. Altogether, this busy start already provided the basis for dialogue and mutual familiarisation. Later on, observations, findings, analyses and design ideas of this phase were fed in into the Helsinki Design Conference.

In Spring 2013 we started the phase of cooperation that was mainly characterised by co-design workshops (under the design idea “Sharing Turbine”). Here, we can see a gradual evolution of our working concepts and modes of cooperation:

  • We started with conversational workshops (separate sessions for apprentices and Bau-ABC trainers). These helped us to map a wide range of problems, working issues, environmental factors and points of interest.
  • We continued with storyboard workshops (again separate sessions for apprentices and trainers). These helped us to put locate problems, design issues, intervening factors and other points of interest into a structured description of working/learning processes within one day.
  • Whilst we continued with the storyboard workshops with the apprentices, the encounters with the trainers started to get a new character. This was due to shift in the design work from the overarching Sharing Turbine agenda to a narrower pilot concept that was latterly named the Learning Toolbox. During this transition the encounters with the trainers became more directly co-design meetings in which the trainers were involved in giving the design process a new direction.
  • Parallel to the above mentioned development we started developing jointly the concept of Multimedia Training Workshops. These started as familiarisation with Web 2.0 tools and apps and moved gradually towards working with tools to get material for own training practice. Now we are heading to the fifth workshop and we have seen clear signs of progress.

My point is not merely to recapitulate jointly lived project history in the Bremen region as something exclusive within Bau-ABC. On the contrary, to us the progress in Bau-ABC is an example of capacity building that is not merely looking inward. Altogether, the management and the staff of Bau-ABC are looking for ways to strengthen these developments internally and to enhance the efforts for disseminating the model and to develop wider outreach activities. But this point merits a separate blog article.

More blogs to come …

Learning Toolbox

June 11th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Tomorrow I am speaking at the 4th Annual Future Learning Lab conference in Kristiansand in Norway. The conference aims to target the interplay of learning, pedagogy issues, digital media and globalizing forces representing both opportunities, threats and new conditions. The conference web site says new ways and means of learning are paving their way into both formal education, work-life and leisure. Education technologies continue to evolve. Digital communication technology changed the music industry, the film industry and the news media as well as book publishing industry: Do we really think education and the learning field is any different? The media ecology that enables disruption, is global. The new networks being employed, are global. But the consequences and challenges are, for all practical purposes, local. And learning is still an aspect of social interaction as well as personal endeavor.

My presentation (see slide deck above) is based on the work we are doing in the EU funded Learning Layers project, developing the Learning toolbox, a mobile application designed for apprentices in the construction industry. In particular, we are trying to deal with the issue of context. The Learning Toolbox is based on tiles, each a separate application, which can be differently configured for use in different contexts.

Using technology to support informal learning in SMEs

June 11th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Last week was the deadline for submissions to the Online Educa Berlin 2014 conference. I like Online Educa. If nothing else, it is a great end of year opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the world. And it is also a great opportunity to engage in wider dialogues around the work we are doing. Online Educa has for some years been experimenting with the format of sessions and attempting to introduce more interaction, rather than just slides and talk. This year they are limiting presenters to just five slides. And they have asked everyone submitting a proposal to send  short video describing their proposed session.

So here is my video. It is based on the work we are doing in the EU funded Learning Layers project, developing and implementing technologies for informal learning in Small and Medium Enterprises.

Learning Layers goes to Brunnenbauertage – Part 2: Our messages and our conversations

May 10th, 2014 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I described in detail, how the Learning Layers (LL) project contributed to the 65 Brunnenbauertage (German construction sector event) that was hosted by Bau-ABC in Rostrup. With my second post I try to give insights into the conversations we had with our counterparts and to report ofnour learning gains.

Firstly, it is worthwhile to emphasise that we were out there at a time when our designs and applications are in the prototype phase. We tried to give insights to the usefulness of digital media, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technologies. Yet, we had to avoid raising too high expectations. We chose to focus on the observations that we had made in our fieldwork and to on the potential of the Learning Toolbox to resolve critical issues or practical problems. We gathered several exemplary situations in borehole drilling, communication between the warehouse (Lager) and the construction site, in maintenance and repair as well as in health and safety measures. In addition, we emphasised the potentials of AchSo! as a tool to draw attention to critical situations and points to be considered.

Secondly, in our talks on the LL stall we got very often positive feedback from our counterparts. The usefulness of AchSo! and the expected functionality of the Learning Toolbox attracted interest. Also, the exemplary work situations that we presented (as ones in which the tools would help) were considered appropriate.  Moreover, our counterparts added similar situations to the picture. We talked with entrepreneurs, apprentices, trainers of Bau ABC, university lecturers and exhibitors with different backgrounds. . One entrepreneur was very convinced that the digital media, Web 2.0 tools and designs like the Learning Toolbox will be a great help for training and learning. He put an emphasis on the new generations of apprentices and their familiarisation with new media. The next entrepreneur was far more hesitant in this respect.

Thirdly, in our stakeholder interviews that we carried out during the event we were able to map some potential counterparts for closer collaboration with the LL tools. In these conversations we could see the interest in linking the digital support for learning and knowledge sharing to the renewal of products and their maintenance documents. Here we could also see a common interest area between the enterprises and training providers. We and our counterparts agreed that we need to continue these talks once we have identified common starting points.

Fourthly, we got very clear expressions of interest from universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) that are developing so-called Dual studies. These study programmes are based on apprentice contracts and they link initial vocational qualification (skilled worker)  to domain-specific higher education (engineering, geosciences, etc.). In these discussions we could identify several common points of interest starting from the emphasis on workplace learning, on the role of web-based support and on the role of training for trainers (in training centres and enterprises).

With this post I do not try to give a comprehensive interpretation on the results of our activities. In this short time (and with my limited awareness of what all happened) it would not have been possible. Yet, I hope that I have been able to outline some of the learning gains that we made during our mission to the Brunnenbauertage. We will surely take them into consideration when we develop our further activities in the LL project.

More posts to come …

 

What is happening with Learning Analytics?

April 7th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I seem to be spending a lot of time looking at the potential of various technologies for supporting learning at work. I am not talking here about Virtual Learning Environments. In the construction industry we are looking at how mobile devices can be used to support learning and knowledge sharing between the different contexts of the vocational school, the industrial training centre and the workplace. And through the Employ-ID project we are looking at how to support continuing professional development for workers in public employment organisations across Europe.

None of these is particularly easy. Pedagogically we looking at things like co0counselling and at MOOCs for professional development. And another target on our horizon is Learning Analytics. Like so many things in technology advanced learning, Learning Analytics launched with a big fanfare, then seems to haver sunk under the surface. I was excited by the potential of using data to support learning and wanted to get in there. But there seems to be a problem. Like so often, rather than looking to use the power of Learning Analytics to support learners and learning, institutions have hijacked the application as a learning management tool. Top of the list for UK universities at least is how to reduce drop out rates (since this effects their funding). Rather than look at the effectiveness of teaching and learning, they are more interested in the efficiency of their approach (once more to save money).

So we are back where we have been so many times. We have tools with a great potential to support learners, but institutional managerialism has taken over the agenda. But perhaps I am being overly pessimistic and looking for information in the wrong places. If anyone can point me to examples of how to use Learning Analytics to support real learning please post below.

NB. Another issue concerning me is how to tell users what data we are collecting and how we are using it. Once more, does anyone have any pointers to good practice in this respect

 

Personal Learning Environments Conference 2014

March 24th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

2plelogo2014

 

 

 

 

 

In case you missed it first time round, the PLE 2014 Conference has issues a second call for contributions. The new deadline for the submission of extended abstracts: April 1, 2014. The theme of the conference is Beyond formal: emergent practices for living, learning and working.

PLE 2014 – the 5th International Conference on Personal Learning Environments – will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, from July 16th to 18th with a preceding “pacific” event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from June 25th to 27th.

The PLE Conference intends to create an engaging, conversational, and innovative meeting space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experiences, and research around PLE related themes.

The conference invites contributions in the format of “academic papers” or “alternative session proposals”. However, authors of both types of contributions will be asked to communicate their research and ideas within session formats that look to avoid the traditional 15 minute presentation.

The 5th Edition of the PLE conference aims to move beyond discussions about definitions to explore emergent practices for living, learning and working in relation to PLEs and the new understandings and underlying needs that arise around these practices in our contemporary society. Delegates are invited to submit their ideas, research and/or practice under the topics listed below.

Topics include (but are not limited to)…

  • PLEs for managing life transitions
  • PLE and formal learning contexts: conflicts and confluences
  • PLE theoretical frameworks
  • PLE in early childhood and the family
  • PLE as literacy
  • PLE and portfolios
  • PLE and PLNs (Personal Learning Networks)
  • PLE and creative practice
  • PLEs in formal contexts (Schools, Vocational, Higher Education)
  • PLES in Lifelong Learning
  • The social PLE
  • Personal Learning and assessment
  • Digital footprints and identities
  • Ownership and agency
  • Emergent pedagogies and approaches
  • Innovative work-based learning and practices
  • PLEs and technologies
  • Personal learning and the creative economy
  • Future challenges in the PLE context
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    News Bites

    Consultation

    Diana Laurillard, Chair of ALT, has invited contributions to a consultation on education technology to provide input to ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, which was set up in England in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts.

    The deadline for contributions is 23 June at http://goo.gl/LwR65t.


    Social Tech Guide

    The Nominet Trust have announced their new look Social Tech Guide.

    The Social Tech Guide first launched last year, initially as a home to the 2013 Nominet Trust 100 – which they describe as a list of 100 inspiring digital projects tackling the world’s most pressing social issues.

    In  a press relase they say: “With so many social tech ventures out there supporting people and enforcing positive change on a daily basis, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource that allows us to celebrate and learn from the pioneers using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives.

    The Social Tech Guide now hosts a collection of 100′s of social tech projects from around the world tackling everything from health issues in Africa to corruption in Asia. You can find out about projects that have emerged out of disaster to ones that use data to build active and cohesive communities. In fact, through the new search and filter functionality on the site, you should find it quick and easy to immerse yourself in an inspiring array of social tech innovations.”


    Code Academy expands

    The New York-based Codecademy has translated its  learn-to-code platform into three new languages today and formalized partnerships in five countries.

    So if you speak French, Spanish or Portuguese, you can now access the Codecademy site and study all of its resources in your native language.

    Codecademy teamed up with Libraries Without Borders (Bibliotheques sans Frontieres) to tackle the French translation and is now working on pilot programs that should reduce unemployment and bring programming into schools. In addition, Codecademy will be weaving its platform into Ideas Box, a humanitarian project that helps people in refugee camps and disaster zones to learn new skills. Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy, says grants from the public and private sector in France made this collaboration possible.

    The Portuguese translation was handled in partnership with The Lemann Foundation, one of the largest education foundations in Brazil. As with France, Codecademy is planning several pilots to help Brazilian speakers learn new skills. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company has been working closely with the local government on a Spanish version of its popular site.

    Codecademy is also linking up up with the Tiger Leap program in Estonia, with the aim of teaching every school student how to program.


    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


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