Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Free course on The Changing World of Work

February 17th, 2017 by Angela Rees
Do you want to be prepared for the challenges of the changing labour market? Do you want to better understand and apply skills related to emotional awareness, active listening, reflection, coaching skills, peer coaching and powerful questioning? Do you want to explore tools for handling Labour Market Information (LMI) and the digital agenda? This course […]

TACCLE3 training course 2018 on teaching coding

January 10th, 2017 by Daniela Reimann

TACCLE3 coding logo

The Erasmus+ TACCLE3 coding project is organising an in-service training course in 2018 on how to start with teaching coding at primary school. All costs are covered by an Erasmus+ KA1 grant. But your school should apply for a grant with your own national agency for Erasmus+ before February 2nd.
Contact jens.vermeersch atnospam g-o. be, if you have any questions.

Join us on the Taccle3 coding training course in Dillingen in March 2018.

TACCLE 3 – Coding Project @ Zenodo

December 19th, 2016 by Daniela Reimann

TACCLE 3 coding Logo

Please find here the Zenodo Community of “TACCLE3 coding” track on “computational thinking in pre-university education” of the TEEM 2016 conference including all TEEM 2016 papers and presentations related to it, curated by Prof. Dr. Francisco José García Peñalvo, Director del Grupo GRIA, University of Salamanca

Waking up with the results of the Brexit-Referendum

June 24th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

During the recent years I have been blogging mostly on our ongoing EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. This time I leave it at the background. And normally I am not making comments on politics – not of my country of origin (Finland) or of my host country (Germany) nor of any other country. BUT today I cannot help picking up the topic “Brexit” due to various reasons. Let me give three reasons for this:

  1. The “Learning Layers” connection: It so happened that the referendum took place just one day after the LL project consortium meeting in Bristol. The two last days before the referendum we spent in a productive and collaborative project meeting – working towards common results and discussing prospects for follow-up activities. In our meeting we worked in the spirit of accustomed normality – partners from Member States among each other as peers among peers. There was no feeling that this could abruptly change (although the British colleagues were worried and acknowledged the risks). Now, after the results, we understand that things will not change overnight and that the future cooperation arrangements will not exclude the British universities from European research cooperation. Yet, the change of climate is taking place and we don’t quite know what to expect.
  2. The Pontydysgu connection: I am writing my blogs on Pontydysgu website as a result of long years of cooperation. I came to know the senior members of Pontydysgu staff (Graham and Jenny) in 1996 at the beginning phase of the EU funding programme Leonardo da Vinci. That was quite some time ago – and some years before the start of Pontydysgu. During the following twenty years we have had a shared history of working in and with European cooperation projects – mostly with focus on vocational education and training (VET). In the course of the time I have learned to appreciate the effort of my Pont colleagues to work as interpreters between the Welsh, British and continental views – and to get the best out of different projects. In this way they have become popular and successful as British partners in EU projects – with educational, labour market -oriented, regional or ICT-related themes. Now, in the new situation I understand that my Pont colleagues have more concerns about their European cooperation than the universities.
  3. The family connection: Finally, I have a personal reason: I have very close family members living as expatriates in London. To be sure, the adults of the family have double nationality and so have the children. They should not need to feel ‘outsiders’, they have got their proper places in the British society. Yet, they (the adults) have grown up on the continent and brought with them a common family language (Finnish) when they moved to Britain long ago. Now, after this heated referendum campaign there are more questions in the air, how expatriates are being perceived in their neighbourhoods (or how the neighborhoods with expatriates are being perceived). Up to now I have had no reason to raise this question, now I am not sure. As we recently learned it in the context of the tragic killing of the Labour MP Jo Cox, “rhetoric has consequences”. But, in the same context we should try build on her life work and her attempt to overcome the power of hatred and division with something grater – human values and solidarity.

I think this is enough to clarify, why I cannot leave the topic ‘Brexit’ aside like an old newspaper with news of yesterday and days before. This new period of uncertainty – on both sides of the Channel – is not a matter of some rapid negotiations and then back to ‘normal business’. Now it is time to rethink and reshape the mutual relations on a new basis – and that need time. Let us hope that this time will be used well. I leave my remarks here and try to get back to my usual themes.

More blogs to come …

Very Hungry QR Caterpillars

June 22nd, 2016 by Angela Rees
The Taccle  project ran workshops at the National Digital Learning Event for Wales last week. One of the many ideas we presented for embedding ICT across the curriculum was using QR codes to enhance books. Here’s a link to download ready made codes for The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cut them out and stick them in […]

Charts and viral videos aside, this is why I’m voting IN.

June 16th, 2016 by Angela Rees
I joked about it six months ago, “if Brexit happens I’m out of a job”, happy in the knowledge that Britain is better off in Europe, that Wales is better off in Europe. I still believe that. For me there are no compelling reasons to leave, the least of which is ‘getting back control of […]

Learning Layers in dialogue with DigiProB project – Part Two: Interviews with guest trainers/lecturers in continuing vocational training

May 12th, 2016 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous blog I started a series on the new phase of our EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project. Currently, in the Construction pilot we have been able to start closer cooperation  with a spin-off project. The German-funded DigiProB has started its work and the training centre Bau-ABC and the research institute ITB have a central role to play. The DigiProB project focuses on the training of  certified construction site managers (Geprüfte Polier) – see more on this training and on the background of the project in my previous post. In this post I will have a look at the initial interviews and what we may learn from the dialogue with gust trainers/lecturers who are engaged in this training programme.

The reform of the training concept and tensions in the implementation

As I indicated in the previous post, the new training of the certified construction site managers had introduced a new examination model that put an emphasis on integrative tasks and on a concluding project report. In the conceptual preparation for the project proposal we had emphasised the following tensions:

  1. The new training regulation was introduced with short introduction events that familiarised the trainers on the new guidelines. However, these events did not provide an in-depth training for guest trainers/lecturers  to adjust themselves to new requirements.
  2. The guest trainers/lecturers are engaged as subject specialists and are responsible for specific blocks in the presence training. They do not have an overarching responsibility on the supervision of integrated learning tasks and project work.
  3. There has been no clear model for developing online support, arranging peer tutoring and promoting peer learning among the participants.

Now that the DigiProB project was started, the initial interviews provided an opportunity to test, whether the above outlined picture was correct and what new features could be learned from the guest trainers/lecturers involved in the programme.

Messages picked from the initial interviews

Currently I am not actively involved in the initial activities of the DigiProB project. At best I have been nearby when my ITB colleagues have carried out interviews. Therefore, I leave it to my colleagues to report on the activities and on the findings in greater detail and in time. Yet, already at this stage it is possible to pick as ‘first impressions’ some messages that come through and have been reflected by my colleagues. Although these are only preliminary signals, not thoroughly analysed findings, it is worthwhile to pay attention to them:

  • Rapid implementation of the new model: It seems to me that both the training providers (such as Bau-ABC) and guest trainers/lecturers that they use for the training have had very little time to adjust their pedagogic approaches. The training providers arrange short introductory events but then the individual trainers/lecturers have draw the conclusions on their own.
  • Willingness of trainers/lecturers to work with an integrative pedagogic approach: Although the guest trainers/lecturers have been engaged as subject specialists, they seem to have an interest in getting their special know-how put into practice. Therefore, they are individually looking for ways to link ‘theoretical’ elements into practical tasks and exercises. Moreover, there seems to be interest in sharing experiences and examples of good pedagogic solutions.
  • Interest of trainers/lecturers in using digital media and web tools: It appears that (at least some) guest trainers/lecturers show interest in using digital media and web tools to support their teaching and training. In this respect the Learning Toolbox (whenever demonstrated) has been greeted as a promising framework and the interviewees are willing to learn more of it.
  • Interest of learners to share knowledge and experiences: According to the guest trainers/lecturers interviewed so far, the participants (learners) are interested in sharing knowledge and experiences during the course periods and during the periods for self-organised learning. In particular from this perspective they considered the Learning Toolbox as a promising toolset to support individual and collaborative learning processes.

– – –

I leave these first impressions and ‘messages picked from discussions’ here and let my colleagues work with further interviews and the group pictures that we get as a result. Altogether, I believe that the DigiProB project is well-timed and that the trainers/lecturers as well as the learners will be interested to work with the project. However, the project will also pose new challenges for the tool developers and to the project partners who introduce the tools.

More blogs to come …

 

 

TACCLE 3: CODING

August 13th, 2015 by Daniela Reimann

TACCLE 3 Coding is a new research project which looks at Teachers’ Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments in the field of coding. It is funded (from 9/2015 to 8/2017) under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program, key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices.

The project’s aims are:

• To encourage and support teachers to introduce coding, programming and / or computational thinking as part of the curriculum in the 4 – 14 classroom to better equip pupils to develop the skills needed by the European labor market.
• To broaden teachers’ digital skills base and enhance their professional competence
• To show how entrepreneurial skills can be developed and integrated with programming skills The project objectives are:
• To produce an on-line support package of ideas, activities, materials and downloadable resources for teachers who are teaching coding or programming or who want to.
• To provide CPD courses in a variety of formats and a template and materials for local delivery.
• To establish a dialogue between teachers and programmers, teachers and resource producers, teachers and organizations involved in teaching coding and to act as an agency for exchanges of curricula, ideas and practice.

The demand for ICT professionals continues to grow. The European Commission estimates there will be 700, 000 unfilled vacancies for ICT practitioners in the EU by the year 2016. Of all job vacancies in ICT, computer programmers are the most in demand outnumbering the demand for other IT professionals by a factor of 5 to 1. The greatest demand is in UK, Germany, Estonia and other Northern European countries, which reflects the make up of the project partnership.

Despite this skills shortage, there has been limited response from the European education system. Estonia has already introduced computer programming for all ages across the school curriculum, Denmark partially so. Others are about to introduce it (such as England in 2014) and others are considering it (e.g. Finland, Ireland). Some German Länder such as Bavaria are well advanced; others are not. In other countries, whilst not part of the compulsory curriculum, there are agencies and individual teachers who are trying to introduce programming into the classroom. What seems inevitable is that all member states must surely move in this direction if they are to meet the skills demands of the European economy. The biggest problem we face is a desperate shortage of teachers. Mathematics and computer-science graduates generally choose more lucrative trades; the humanities and social-science graduates who will find themselves teaching coding will need plenty of support as will the primary teachers. In addition the OECD reports that more and more computer programmers prefer to be self-employed or working in micro-SME partnerships and not committed to one particular long-term employer and the vacancy market is beginning to reflect the increase in a new form of employment in the ICT sector. For this reason the project is looking to produce resources for developing entrepreneurship skills alongside programming skills.

The project will:

· Develop a website of activities and ideas that teachers can use in the classroom to teach children about coding and programming. These will support diverse curricula across member states and, where there is no formal curriculum, support individual schools and teachers who want to introduce computing / informatics / programming etc. in their own practice
· Develop some affordable resource kits that can be downloaded or for which instructions for making them can be provided on-line. This could result in selling the resource kits after the project as part of the exploitation and sustainability.
· Design and pilot some staff development opportunities and learning resources for teachers who are total newcomers to programming.
· Stimulate a positive attitude towards STEM with young children
· Test and evaluate existing resources such as the range of software currently available to help children develop programming skills.
· Explore and follow up existing research and projects addressing this issue (e.g. work on Tangible User Interface for children.)
· Enter into policy dialogue and inform policy in countries around issues concerning the teaching and learning of programming in schools” (source: project proposal).

Co-ordinator: Jens Vermeersch, adjunct van de directeur, GO! Onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, afdeling Beleid & Strategie, Internationalisation, Brussels

Project partners:
IBP/KIT, Germany
Pontydysgu, Wales, U.K.,
SGR Antigon Schoöengroep 1, Antwerpen, Belgium
HITSA HariDUE INFOTHHNOLOGIA SIHTASUTUS, Research centre, Tallinn, Estonia
TALLINN University, Tallinn, Estonia
UNIVERSiDAD DE SALAMANCA, Spain
AALTO UNIVERSITY, Helsinki, Finland
University of Eastern Finland, School of Computing, KUOPIO, Finland

Vocational biography design to support young unemployed people goes Europe

November 2nd, 2014 by Daniela Reimann

We just managed to tranfer the idea of enabling young unemployed people to visualize their vocational experience and biography using digital media to the European level. The research project “Show Your Own Gold (Acronym) develops, tests and evaluates „a European Concept to Visualize and Reflect One’s Vocational Biography Using Digital Media”. It is funded under the ERASMUS+ Key Action 2, Strategic Partnerships programm for 3 years (2014-2017), co-ordinated by IBP/KIT

EU_flag-Erasmus+

Aims and objectives
The project aims to develop a European concept for consultancy, including course design, to enable young, unemployed people to display their vocational biography. This is realized by producing media available on a multimedia-based online environment to visualise informally and formally acquired skills. The letter is realized by introducing media-based competence portfolios. Within the framework of the project, both the Internet-based competence portfolio as well as consultancy offered for the participants of vocational preparation courses will be developed in the form of an scientifically accompanied course. The course will be developed, realized with young people in the 6 countries and evaluated.

Project partners:
• Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Art and Multimedia Laboratory, Education Faculty, Beja, Portugal (Prof. Dr. Aldo Passarinho, Prof. Ana Sofia Velhinhu Sousa), Website

• PONTYDYSGU LTD, The Bridge To Learning, Wales, U.K. (director: Graham Attwell) Website

• SC AxA Consulting 99 SRL, a consultancy and training company providing high quality skills training programmes for corporate and industrial clients. (Liliana Voicu), Bucarest, Romania, Website

• UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA, Cultural Pedagogies, Faculty of Fine Arts, Esbrina Research Group – Subjectivitats i Entorns Educatius Contemporan“, dedicated to the study of the conditions and current changes in education in a world mediated by digital technologies and visual culture. (Prof. Dr. Fenando Hernandez, Prof. Dr. Juana Sancho-Gill, Rachel Fendler), Website

• Zavod NEFIKS Institut za promocijo in belezenje neformalno pridobljenega znanja/ aims to educate young people in different fields, persuading employers to consider non-formal education as a reference when getting a job.
Ljubljana, Slovenia (Alenka Blazinšek) Website

• Co-ordinator: Institute of Vocational and General Education at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT (Dr. Daniela Reimann, Prof. Dr. Martin Fischer, M.A. Kerstin Huber, M.A. Kristina Stoewe, Nadine Görg)

Summary
The project intends to make young unemployed people set up, reflect and visualize their individual vocational and educational biography, actively producing media available on a Web-based multimedia environment. Formally and informally acquired skills and competencies are visualized using a particular type of online portfolio developed in the project (by the partner PONTYDYSGU LTD). Within the framework of the project, both the Web-based multimedia environment as well as the consultancy of young people will be developed in the form of an accompanying course offered in each of the participating countries.

In the project, a consultancy concept with a specific scope of courses offered for the generation and reflection of appropriate media formats, such as video clips showing the young participants at the workplace, in work processes, at the company, during internships. Further interviews with the trainees and skilled workers of a branch, including images of their own work pieces and projects are to be provided.

The research design is based on several distinct research strategies:

1. A desk study (analysis, literature review) of the situation of vocational preparation organised and embedded in the VET system and the employment situation of young people in the partner countries. This is necessary in that no studies are at present available on the analysis of the integration of the concept of vocational biography design in vocational preparation in the participating countries;
2. The development of the course (curriculum design) and
3. Its’ application in vocational preparation, followed by
4. a set of in-depth group interviews and surveys with the social actors involved, such as trainees and trainers, accompanied by a series of transnational work meetings.

Dissemination
The results of the project will be clearly spelled out to be easily circulated and disseminated via an International Youth Panel, including the BIBB the German Federal Institute of Vocational Education and Training, as well as social media in order to enhance their usability within the policy making process. The project aims to support EU and national policy makers for what concerns the development & implementation of new VET related policies towards a European concept of successful vocational biography design.

The interim project Web site can be accessed here

EU_flag-Erasmus+

Managing large scale projects

March 4th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

I seem to have spent most of the last month in project meetings. Besides the ongoing Learning Layers project, Pontydysgu are partners in a new European Research Framework project, Employ-ID. I will write more on this in another post but in brief Employ-ID is looking to support online professional development, including e-coaching, for workers in European Public Employment Services. As with Learning Layers, Employ-ID is a relatively large scale project, with some twelve or so partners drawn from countries throughout Europe. The project will run over four years.

Pontydysgu have participated in a number of such projects. And it seems to me that despite the hard work of most partners, the problems of project organisation and management are almost insuperable. Its not the lack of communication – far from it. Some days the volume of group emails and the sheer number of online meetings seems overwealming. A big problem is the complexity of the projects. There are huge difficulties in achieving a common understanding of what we are doing, particularly as the projects involve specialists from many different disciplines. Even more problematic is the form of plans the EU insists on. The work programme is outlined in something called a Description of Work or DOW. This tends to be written in EU project speak and can run as long as 150 or so pages. And the work is divided up into work packages, most of which run over the full four years of the project. In truth the division of work is often somewhat arbitrary. But given the number of people working on the projects, the work packages tend to form semi autonomous mini projects themselves with their own methods of working, momentum and practices. Communication between work packages then becomes an issue.

Employ0ID has adopted a different structure. Despite being compelled to have separate work packages for the point of administration, the project is being organised through a sort of SCRUM process. Thus at three or six monthly intervals the project will form work reams, drawn from across the work packages with aims and milestones set out for the next work period. The members will organise sprints to achieve those goals, reporting back to the next face to face meeting where the outcomes will be reviewed and new goals and teams set up. This process seems to me a much better way of working, so much so that I think it deserves some research in itself. Anyway I will report back on this blog how the process evolves.

 

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    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


    Teachers and overtime

    According to the TES teachers in the UK “are more likely to work unpaid overtime than staff in any other industry, with some working almost 13 extra hours per week, according to research.

    A study of official figures from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that 61.4 per cent of primary school teachers worked unpaid overtime in 2014, equating to 12.9 additional hours a week.

    Among secondary teachers, 57.5 per cent worked unpaid overtime, with an average of 12.5 extra hours.

    Across all education staff, including teachers, teaching assistants, playground staff, cleaners and caretakers, 37.6 per cent worked unpaid overtime – a figure higher than that for any other sector.”


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