Archive for the ‘Pontydysgu’ Category

Visualising jobs

April 26th, 2017 by Graham Attwell

bidigestersAs ever I am doing lots of work on labour market data and education and training. While we know pretty well how to take great slabs of data and turn it into various different charts – some more imaginative than others – this still leaves problems in how to illustrate ideas. data charts can be pretty dull – more than that they rely on the ability of the user to interpret that data – what we call the move from labour market information to labour market intelligence.

biodigester2

I have long been interested in the potential of info graphics in helping develop such intelligence but had yet to see any meaningful examples. Thus, I was very impressed with this graphic about the training and skills needs in the anaerobic digestion industry in the monthly newsletter from Cereq – the French Centre for Research Education, Training and Employment.

The only real problem is that the infographic – like many others is much too long for a small laptop screen (this I have only been able to capture parts of it). But it would be great as a poster.

Proudly Announcing the People’s Educational big Jam Mix

September 7th, 2015 by Graham Attwell

P,O.E.J.A.M is the People’s Open Educational JAM Mix. And its taking place in Portugal, at the TEEM conference in Porto at the final plenary session on Thursday October 8th, 2015.

Graham Attwell from Pontydysgu and Jim Groom from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia are hosting what they call an unkeynote session. Why unkeynote? Because instead of standing up and delivering a lecture to the conference they want to hold a dialogue with participants using slides, pictures, videos, quotations, metaphors or even better animated gifs from the education community. There will be the chance for participants in the conference to contribute on the day. But the JAM is open to everyone.

The theme (as the title suggests) is Open Education. Open Education is big news these days. Its a buzzword being embraced by publishers, universities and even governments, as well as the European Union. MOOC providers have leapt on the meme. But what does it mean? The idea that education should be open to everyone seems fine. But even as they talk of open journals, publishers are charging authors a fee, in the so called gold model of open open journals. And whilst universities and governments talk about open education, austerity is leading to cuts in funding and increasing student fees. However open it may or may not be, in The UK many young people simply cannot afford to go to university.

Its time for the educational community to have their say on what open education means. We hope this event can help build a dialogue around a European vision of Open Education.

We’ve tried to make it easy for you to contribute. Just add your ideas to the form on the front page of the POEJAM website. We promise your contributions will turn up somewhere in the JAM event and afterwards on the internet.

Power in Airports

March 23rd, 2015 by Graham Attwell

Time to get blogging again. And what better way than with a short rant.

In recent years airports have made big strides in providing access to the internet. True some still try and make you pay after your free period has run out. Others collect your email address so they can spam you forever with reduced offers for parking and flights to somewhere you never want to go to. But on the whole, access is improving (and is faster and more reliable than my home connection.

But the majority still try to hide away all electricity plugs. Over the years I have collected in my head a database of where there are power outlets – often in strange parts of the departures terminals. It is not exactly as if the amount of power laptops take is going to make more than a fraction of a different to overall airport electricity bills.

So congratulations then to Munich airport (yes, I am going to say something nice about Bayern!!). They have fitted power sockets into the spaces between seats to make recharging laptops and mobile simple. Other airports please take note.

Radio Days continue

February 23rd, 2015 by Graham Attwell

The European funding for the RadioActive project may have ended but the activity continues. Just to remind you – and according tot he blurb – “RadioActive101 is a highly innovative educational intervention that is being implemented across Europe. It uses primarily internet radio and also social media to promote inclusion, informal learning, employability and active citizenship in an original and exciting way!” RadioActive was financed between 2012 and 2104 by the European Commission through the Lifelong Learning Program  The project is led by the University of East London in the UK, with partners from Wales, Germany, Portugal, Malta and Romania.

RadioActive was awarded in Portugal by FCT, the national funding agency for science, technology and innovation. The prize acknowledges the good results of RadioActive and supports the expansion of the project in Portugal during 2015.  In Portugal, the project is implemented by CIMJ – Research Centre for Media and Journalism. The Portuguese team, coordinated by Maria José Brites, is composed by Sílvio Correia Santos, Ana Jorge, Daniel Catalão, Catarina Navio and António Granado. This award will support the expansion of the project in Portugal in cooperation with the governmental program Escolhas during 2015.

And for International Radio Day on 13 February of this year,  the German RadioActive partner, the University of Koblenz, were interviewed by the local newspaper here in their region called Rheinzeitung. The interview took a closer look on the Radioactive-Project and – thats where, says Andreas Auwaerter “I am proud of the Deichstadtradio RadioMakingPeople. We’ve had an 1.5 hour interview with the vice-editorial leading person. This is IMHPO very long and in deph. What I kept in mind from this interview: “I am a bit of jealous, because you had the chance to dig into your topics without all that all day business”. That’s so seldom that we’ve got that opportunity. Based on that business pressure I can understand her. ”

Not to be left behind, the University of East London broadcast a programme on Mental Health and Young People: Experiences and Perspectives. The show explored what different groups of young people in the UK think about mental health, discussing their experiences and giving their perspectives on perceived differences in help and support for mental health issues at school and college.

You couldn’t make it up!

April 30th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

This post comes up with the category ‘you couldn’t make it up if you try’.

The UK Department of Works and Pensions, responsible for paying unemplyment benefits to those presently without work, have introduced an online psychometric test which some claimants have been told they must take if they wish to claim benefits.

I have always been dubious of psychometric testing but have been sort of convinced they may have some befits in choosing careers. Not this test.

The test called is called My Strengths and has been devised by Downing Street’s behavioural insights or “nudge” unit, According to the Guardian newspaper

Some of the 48 statements on the DWP test include: “I never go out of my way to visit museums,” and: “I have not created anything of beauty in the last year.” People are asked to grade their answers from “very much like me” to “very much unlike me”.

When those being tested complete the official online questionnaire, they are assigned a set of five positive “strengths” including “love of learning” and “curiosity” and “originality”.

However it appears the software behind the tests is nothing other than vapourware. It does not make any difference what answers are given to what positive strength the test returns. The idea, it seems, is that merely filling in the test will ‘nudge’ claimants in a positive direction towards being employed.

The spokesperson for the Department of Works and Pensions said: “it is right that we use every tool we have to help jobseekers who want to work find a job.” Perhaps that might include finding some jobs for them to apply for rather than wasting their time and money playing games devised by overpaid behavioural economists.

 

Pontydysgu.de

June 26th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu is planning to launch a German language web site. A beta version of the site is planned for August with the launch in September. Judith Seipold will be editor of the site. If you are interesting in becoming a guest blogger or contributing in any other way please contact Judith Seipold <pontydysgu [dot] de [at] googlemail [dot] com>.

The value of being an intern

December 5th, 2009 by Jo Turner-Attwell

For me my internship with Pontydysgu has been more than just work experience, it has also been about gaining valuable life experience through learning to communicate in another language and living away from home. And so far my time with Pontydysgu has taught me more than I ever could have imagined, which was partly because I had no idea what to expect as I struggled to fully understand what Pontydysgu do, something that now I understand but struggle to explain because of the wide range of areas Ponydysgu covers. This diversity of the company has worked in my favour as it has allowed me to develop professional interests I didn’t know I had, such as working with Multimedia or social networking in education.

The most important thing I have learnt from my internship is to reflect on the things I learn and do. This isn’t really something I feel I experienced in school, particularly at the higher levels as my aim was to pass my exams and to jump through the necessary hoops to do so. Graham Attwell’s very different ideas on PLEs, social learning and reflective learning have led me in a completely different direction and in the process of learning about these things I feel I have begun to use them without even realising.

Now one of the things discussed in the very official Pontydysgu ‘meetings’ in the local pub was how I would compare my learning in Pontydysgu with the way I learnt in school. After much reflection I think the lack of official assessment contributes a great deal. My motivation to learn has changed. I am not trying to learn the necessary facts and methods to pass a certain exam, I am trying to best use the opportunity I have been given to expand my knowledge and experience. Much of the work I find I do in Pontydysgu is more valuable to me than the company. For example I am encouraged to blog and share my ideas so people can add and contribute to them or even upgrade my video editing competences from iMovie to Final Cut. It certainly improves the quality of my work for Pontydysgu but it has a far deeper value for me as an individual in the longer term.

This in my opinion is what is so essential about internships or the German Praktikum. It teaches you how to cope with that change of motivation from passing single exams to personal development.

My latest task within Pontydysgu was to attend a two day meeting on a current European project, as the other members of Pontydysgu were away doing internet radio at Online Educa Berlin. This project was on the development of toolbox to help with the process of a Praktikum for university students. This inadvertedly made me assess the value of my own internship experience, and the value that it holds for me. I think what makes these practical work experiences so important is that taste of the real world. All the support levels that the universities wanted to provide to make this transition easier showed me that this transition from pure learning to work can be a very big step whatever age the student is and work experience if properly managed can help bridge this gap.

It also provides an opportunity to bridge age gaps. Often students have a fresh perspective, particularly within the area of education. Having student interns work on projects for students seems so logical. They add a new but essential view point to the table for such projects. At the social of this meeting it was said to me how pleasant but unusual it was to have someone of such a young age socialising with the project members as an equal, and that many adults are afraid to take a gamble on young people. However I think internships do have the potential to provide valuable contributions not just for the student but for companies as well, if not just because we are cheap labour.

This expectation of very little from students can also work in our favour. I in particular find that working with under the name ‘intern’ makes my life far easier, because of my lack of experience people provide me more room to make mistakes and if I do or say something intelligent people are always incredibly impressed, when these sorts of comments are expected from full time more experienced employees. I am not trying to claim that this is necessarily a good title to hide behind, but rather it for me has held less pressure and will mean I feel more prepared when entering a full time job after I finish my studies, whatever area this may be in.

Internships can vary a great deal and I feel very lucky that mine has turned out so well and that I am learning so much.

Digital memories

April 1st, 2008 by Graham Attwell

From the Jisc web site: “Oxford University is launching a web site to allow members of the public to submit digital photographs or transcripts of items they personally hold which are related to the First World War. This ‘Great War Archive’ site will run for three months and aims to collect together artefacts, letters, diaries, poems, stories that have been passed down from generation to generation reflecting the true experience of the First World War but which are now in danger of being lost.This resource, which will subsequently be made available free of charge on the web from Armistice Day this year (November 11th), is being collected as part of Oxford University’s First World War Poetry Digital Archive project. The JISC-funded project is based on the 10-year old award winning web site which digitised the poetical manuscripts, letters, and war records of Wilfred Owen.”

Great idea. But even better would be if it was not just memories from the UK but from every country afflicted by that terrible war. I know there are many German readers of this blog. Has anyone any ideas they can contribute?

The benefits, risks and limitations of Facebook

November 8th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Brian Kelly writes about using social software services in education: “I think we’re revisiting …f fears that popular Web 2.0 services (not just Facebook) are challenging IT development plans. However rather than simply asserting limitations and implying that these are the overriding factors (with the “Web links are easily broken” argument being updated with various concerns over privacy, rights and interoperability) I feel that we need to engage with successful widely used services.”

Whilst I agree with many things Brian says, I think he misses the point. The issue is not technical development – yes lets socialise education software – but the issue of values and control.

Take this story from Labourstart: “The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was organizing casino workers in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They set up a page on Facebook. Facebook later took the page down, claiming that groups like a union were not allowed to have pages, and that Facebook pages could only be setup by individuals. The union responded that many companies had set up Facebook pages including Tim Horton’s (of donut fame).
The story has a happy ending. In early September, the results of the vote came in — and the workers overwhelmingly chose to be represented by the SEIU.”

The lesson of the story, says LabourStart’s Eric Lee, is “that by “outsourcing” our online campaigns to social networks like Facebook and MySpace — which are for-profit, commercial organizations — we are more vulnerable to this kind of thing than when we build websites ourselves, using freely-available tools.”

Eric is not opposed to using social software services. He goes on to say: “That doesn’t mean we should avoid using Facebook — after all, LabourStart has 998 members in its Facebook group. But it means that we should aware of the risks and limitations.”

I think in education we also must be aware of the risks and limitation inherent in Facebook and similar services. I tend to agree with Steven Downes who sees these as interim applications. And I think that we also must educate learners in to understanding the benefits and the limitations of such services. that is one reason I am so in favour of e-Portfolios: to ensure that learners themselves have a copy of their own data.

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Structured blogging in Freefolio

November 7th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

Several people have homed in on the structured blogging functionality in Freefolio. The templates we have provided are only examples and were designed for particular contexts. I suppose we should have changed them for this release but we really wanted just to get the thing out.

But the possibilities are very considerable. It is not so difficult to write the templates (having said that, I did not code them myself) – they are small XML files. It would not be impossible to develop a custom editor to write the templates. And the XML leaves intriguing possibilities. We have got one somewhere for a book review – will tery to get this one on the demo site – which, when you put the title in – hits the Amazon databases and auto fills the ISBN number, the date of publication etc. and even provides a thumbnail of the cover. OK, nice but gimmicy.

But imagine if we were to be able to hit a database of competences. Users would not be constrained in what they would add to their portfolio but by simple keywords could indicate what competences their learning contributed towards and with a bit more coding we coudl develop a custom report of that learning towards a formal qualification – wherever the learning took place.

Still easier, might be to develop an organisational knowldge base, based on the XML entries in individual blogs.

Non trivial but doable. If anyone has ideas of a little funding to help us do this I would be very grateful, equally does anyone want to join us in working on this?

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    MOOC providers in 2016

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

    They list the top five MOOC providers by registered users:

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

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

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


    Jobs in cyber security

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


    Number students outside EU falls in UK

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

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

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

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


    Peer Review

    According to the Guardian, research conducted with more than 6,300 authors of journal articles, peer reviewers and journal editors revealed that over two-thirds of researchers who have never peer reviewed a paper would like to. Of that group (drawn from the full range of subject areas) more than 60% said they would like the option to attend a workshop or formal training on peer reviewing. At the same time, over two-thirds of journal editors told the researchers that it is difficult to find reviewers


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