Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Social Tech Guide

May 30th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

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.”

The problem with free social software

May 7th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Over the last few years, we have been doing some great things with free social software. All too often teachers and trainers do not have a budget for buying software or online services. Secondly, free social software allows users to experiment with different applications without having to commit limited funds.

Bur there is no such thing as a free lunch. And that is becoming ever more problematic. Firstly many services are maintained through advertising revenue. These adverts are not necessarily appropriate in an educational setting! Of course ad blockers will deal with many of those (but not all – for instance where the advert is superimposed on a video clip). And companies like Facebook and Google provide free services and applications because they want our data.Ignoring ethical consideration around data mining and the use of our data, there is a further problem with free social software.

If enterprises decide services are not generating enough income, or if business models change, software providers can just close services down. And they do often. In the last year three applications that we have used frequently in Pontydysgu have disappeared. the first, which most people will know about, was Google Reader. At least because of all the fuss, we were alerted to its coming demise and able to download our feeds. The second which caused us serious grief was Blip TV which we had been using at one time for hosting videos. At the time YouTube quality was poor and Vimeo was yet to be launched. Therefore when we produced a number of commissioned videos for the European Conference for Educational Research we put them up on Blip, using embed codes to play them in the ECER web site. A month ago we had an emeail from ECER saying the videos had disappeared. We went to Blip and sure enough there was a notice saying they had changed policy (and I guess business model) and were no longer hosting videos. They had sent me an email going me notice but this was lost in the deluge of emails from social software providers. Fortunetely we had kept copies of the videos and were able to restore the embeds, this time using Youtube.

The latest service to disappear is Slidecasts. Slidecasts were built on top of Slideshare, using a night online tool to sync audio to slides.We spent quite a lot of time making a series of slide casts. OK Slideshare gave us notice and allowed us to download the audio and slide files. But now of course they will have to be synced agin using I guess something like iMovie.

I am getting to the point of not trusting anything to free social software services. Or certainly nothing which I do no0t have a local backup for. But this leaves a big gap in creative tools and services for education.

CareerHack competition reeps rich harvest

March 31st, 2014 by Graham Attwell

First the official stuff (from the press release).

“Talented UK students have won three out of four prizes in a worldwide competition to create a new app to help people develop their career.

The CareerHack open data contest was launched in November last year by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), and asked developers around the globe to build an app based on the UK Commission’s “LMI for All” open data, which contains information on the UK labour market, including employment, skills and future job market predictions.

First prize winner for the competition was Tomasz Florczak from Logtomobile in Poland, who won £10,000 for his innovative Career Advisor app, while 16-year-old school student Harry Jones, from Bath, took home a £5,000 prize for his Job Happy entry.

 

The contest also had a special prize specifically for entrants aged 16-24 in Further Education. In this category 22-year-old IT apprentice Phillip Hardwick won the £5,000 prize for his entry, Career Path. And judges were so impressed with the quality of entrants from the category that they introduced an additional runner-up prize of £2,500, which went to a team effort from students at Barking and Dagenham College in London.

Competition judge Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Chair of National Careers Council and a Commissioner for UKCES, said:

“As judges we were all highly impressed at the outstanding contributions made by our winners, and of the talent and ability being displayed by the next generation of up-and-coming developers and programmers.

“The quality of the submissions was so high we felt the need to introduce an additional prize, but all those that entered should be extremely proud of their efforts.”

The judging panel was made up of technology experts from Google, Ubuntu and HP, alongside representatives from the UK Commission and John Lewis. Judges made their decision based on how innovative the entry was, how viable it was as a working app, the potential it had for making an impact on society and the overall quality of the packaged app.

CareerHack judge Matt Brocklehurst, Product Marketing Manager at Google UK said:

“At Google we’re well aware of the importance of making data open and encouraging young, creative talent. CareerHack was a fantastic example of this and we were very impressed by the high standard of entries from everyone who entered – the fact that three of the four winners are young people at the start of their careers is fantastic news.  We hope these prizes will enable them to get a head start down whichever career path they choose to follow.”

Fellow CareerHack judge Cristian Parrino, Vice President of Mobile and Online Services at Ubuntu, added:

“The CareerHack competition demonstrated how an set of open data can be used to cater to the needs of people at different stages of their career paths. It was wonderful to see the different flavours of high quality applications and services built on UKCES’s data.”

LMI for All has been developed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, working with a consortium led by the Institute for Employment Research at Warwick University and including Pontydysgu, RayCom and Rewired State.”

Pontydysgu’s bit in all this is managing the technical side. I have to say I was a bit sceptical of producing an APi and then opening it up and encouraging contributions through a competition, but having looked at the videos I am gobsmacked by the inventiveness of teh programmers who entered. We will be looking in more depth at what has been produced. We are also seeking feedback from all those who participated and planning more events later in the year. If you would like to know more (and particularly we would be interested in similar approaches to Open data for Labour Market Information in other countries) please contact me at graham10 [at] mac [dot] com.

Shiny technology and social media

February 3rd, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Last weekend I went to the British Educational technology (BETT) show in London. If nothing else, the sheer numbers of exhibitors and visitors show how educational technology has become a big business. I am afraid such events are not my favourite. There was many, many shiny displays of stunning technology and I suspect, if I had had the patience to explore, many great ideas for new approaches to teaching and learning. However, I found the latter tended to get hidden behind the ever increasing size of the big screens. I was also struck by how much of the kit supplied could be developed or put together much cheaper by the determined hacker- teacher. Anyway a couple of hours wandering and I was exhibitioned out. So I turned my attention to the wide range of supporting events. I ended up an a couple of sessions in the Technology in Higher Education Summit.

One of these was a panel session on Incorporating Social Media into the Learning Space, advertised as “A group of educators will discuss how content creation from different social platforms has impacted on student learning. Looking at how these institutions have exploited…” It featured my old fried, Helen Keegan, along with Sue Beckingham and Stuart Miller, both of whom I have long followed on Twitter but never met face to face.

The session was well attended and the panellists did a great job of outlining ways in which social media could be used, particularly for enhancing the skills and employability of students. Yet, I felt frustrated that they had not gone far enough in explaining the potential of such media to transform the teaching and learning experience and particularly in developing and fostering creativity and innovation. Unfortunately I tweeted this, and was taken to task by some of my Twitter followers for basically not understanding where universities and university teachers were at in understanding and using new media. And, looking back, they were right. Helen, Sue and Stuart have much more experience than me in the UK university sector and had pitched their talks well for their audience. Yet, this still leaves me frustrated. If so much money is being spent on educational tech, why are we still having to teach teachers how to use Social Media within the Learning Space. Social software is hardly a new phenomenon. And at the end of the day, in an age of austerity – particularly in educati0on – incorporating social media is a lot cheaper than buying ever more complicated shiny gadgets!

RAdioActive101 Dissemination *free* event

October 23rd, 2013 by Cristina Costa

RadioActive101 in cooperation with the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Strathclyde is organising a *free* dissemination event on the 13th of November 2013.

 

RadioActive101 promotes the engagement, informal learning and employability of disenfranchised young people through internet radio and social media. RadioActive101 is an approach to radio and social media that catalyses, organises and legitimises the digital practices, content production and critical and creative potential of disenfranchised young people – to provide a new and original community voice.

 

Please join us:

  • For a discussion of the impact of radio with disenfranchised young people
  • For a presentation of the evaluation of the advanced pilot
  • To learn how to get involved and roll out Internet Radio in your community

Registration can be done via this link.

Any questions of suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at cristina.costa[@]strath.ac.uk (remove [ ] when emailing me)

Everything Unplugged

June 27th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Lets face it, most presentations don’t add a lot new. But I always enjoy presentations by Fred Garnet. There is always something there to make you think. This presentation, from September 2012, “captures the history of and learning from the Everything Unplugged project. Learning conversations with the aim of change.” It was been prepared to help with the launch of Everything Unplugged East in Norwich on September 7th, 2012.

Overcoming the academic media divide

June 27th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

If I was paid for the number of times i have heard researchers / teachers / lecturers / managers saying they discourage / ban / mark down students from using Wikipedia I would be a rich man (and I am not!). The reasons vary. The usual one is that Wikipedia is unreliable because it is crowdsourced. Another is that they want students to use ‘proper’ sources. Yet another is that Wikipedia makes life too simple.

Anyway the divide between academia and Wikipedia seems to be narrowing. In a welcome press statement, the UK universities based JISC announce:

Jisc and Wikimedia UK are collaborating on a project to bring the academic world and Wikipedia closer together. This will create opportunities for researchers, educators, and the general public to contribute to the world’s freely available knowledge.

They go on to say:

This is a national project, based at the University of Bristol. It will train experts in their workplaces and also run ‘editathon’ events which will be open to the public. Dr Martin Poulter, who is a Wikipedia editor as well as a professional creator of educational materials in the university, will be an ambassador between the two communities. This will include working with Jisc’s communities to identify specific topics for development.

Taccle2 on track

May 20th, 2013 by Jenny Hughes

We are really excited about the Taccle 2 project – 5 hard copy handbooks and a website bursting with practical ideas on how to use web 2.0 apps and other e-learning tools in your classroom.

The project has reached its half way mark and we are so far on target. The E-learning handbook for Primary Teachers has just come back from the layout artist and is in its final proof reading stage. (There is a temporary version available if you want to take a look)

The E-learning handbook for STEM teachers is waiting for the layout artist to make it look pretty and the E-learning for Humanities is in its draft version. This will be available on the site within the next week.

The next book, E-learning for Creative and Performing Arts has just been started – we are still at the stage of collecting ideas but they are coming in thick and fast. The final book, E-learnig for Core Skills 14-19 is at the planning stage. All books will be ready for printing by April 2014.

Meanwhile, check out Taccle2 website It has 280 posts at the moment and our rough estimate is that there are well over a thousand ideas that can be navigated by subject, age, software, language, format and more. Even better, judging from the number of visitors who return and the number of contributions and comments, there is a growing community around the Taccle2 site which will expand rapidly once the Taccle2 training starts next month.

Please come and join us and spread the word – tried and tested ideas for using technology in the classroom, created by teachers for teachers. No theory, no research just inspiration!

PS you can also follow us on Twitter #taccle or on the Taccle2  Diigo group or on Scoop.it – so no excuses!!

Radioactive Europe – Wir Machen Radio

April 23rd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu is involved in a great project at the moment using internet radio. The project, called RadioActive101 and funded by the Nominet Trust,  stemmed from a series of discussions regarding using radio for disadvantaged young people in Hackney in London.

We explained the ideas in our paper for the PLE conference (Ravenscroft, A., Attwell, G., Blagbrough, D. & Stieglitz, D. (2011). RadioActive -„Jam Hot!‟: Personalised radio ciphers through augmented social media for the transformational learning of disadvantaged young people. Proceedings of Personal Learning Environments (PLE) 2011, 11-13 July, Southampton, UK.) :

The aim was to develop a Critical Pedagogical Framework that would “empower the students, together with the teachers, to challenge marginalizing social contexts, ideologies, events, organizations, experiences, texts, subject matter, policies and discourses.” (Williams, 2009). Important in this was the development of an identity that is consciously critical through learners acting as active agents who can take control of the construction of their own being.

We are currently using this cipher concept as a metaphor for designing digitally enabled ciphers within RadioActive. This is a hybrid internet-radio and social media platform to support the transformational learning of disadvantaged young people.

Critical to this is the appropriation of technologies as a form of expression of popular cultures and their use of technologies within those cultures to explore and develop a critical approach. This re-formulation of Freire‟s (1970) seminal notion of developing a critical pedagogical framework in his work on literacy is an attempt to develop new critical literacies through the use of new media.

Over the last nine months we have been working with two youth clubs, Yoh and Dragon Hall, in London and have produced some six or so trail programmes. Now we are working on developing a regular broadcasting schedule. In a future article I will write something about this work.

Since the start of this year, we have extended the project to Europe through an EU funded project, RadioActive Europe, with partners in Germany, Malta, Portugal and Romania. Each country is working with different groups to develop their own internet radio station. To set these up we are holding kick off workshops in each country, with the objective of broadcasting an initial programme. The first of the workshops will be in Germany this Saturday.

The   Mehrgenerationenhaus website explains the idea (as translated by Google)

With the project “Internet Radio by citizens for citizens,” the MGH treading new ground. For this, the multigenerational people still look all ages who wish to participate. The kick-off workshop will be held on Saturday the 27.04.2013 at 10.00 clock in the MGH. At 13.00 clock then the first webcast (Internet radio) goes live on the air. Then the group will meet regularly with the aim of Internet radio reports to send to local issues. Accompanied and guided professionally in the long term, the project of Andreas Auwärter, Radioactive Europe, Knowledge Media Research at the University of Koblenz-Landau, an official partner of the multi-generational house.

Even programs designed to prepare first of all a lot of fun and is also very easy. The audio format offers a variety of design options, from interviews with experts on property reports and coverage to small acoustic scene games are open to all possibilities. And last but not least Radio is an interplay between mental cinema and stories. Make radio works best in a team. From this we learn not only methods to acquire and evaluate information, but also how to structure them, and presents. But the biggest compliment is to be dialogue with the listeners, who certainly can not wait too long.

There are many ways to contribute its skills do not end automatically at the microphone. A radio needs editors, interview Preparer, appointment coordinators, people with ideas and imagination, writers, presenters, audio designer and much more. Of course, this modern media are actively used all the people to give a voice to the spot. With years of experience of the group Radio Active Europe partners each participant has the opportunity according to their own prior knowledge to learn everything necessary at their own pace.

Radioactive Europe is a two-year research project under the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union, and especially the older generation would like to introduce them to modern information and Communication. Radioactive Europe has set itself the goal to actively use this medium to give people a voice. It particularly interested in those who are otherwise little heard.
Information and registration at MGH 02631 Neuwied call 344,596.

Follow us on Twitter or visit us on Facebook.

For more information, see http://de.radioactive101.eu

A place of useful learning…

March 26th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This is what, in my opinion, every University should be and what research should also support. This is also the vision and goal of the University of Strathclyde; the reason why it was created. And I must say that it goes very well with my own vision of what a University should be about. So I am well proud to be part of it now.

 

The University as “a place of useful learning” ~ Professor John Anderson

 

This Friday I attended the DIALOGUE symposium which Dr Rob Mark, my line manager, hosted at the University as part of his involvement in a project with the same name.

The DIALOGUE project is seeking to improve the links between research and practice in lifelong learning by promoting a dialogue between researchers, practitioners and policy makers.  The project is highlighting models of good practice as well as exploring ways of involving practitioners in research.  Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, it is hoped the project will lead to new ways of working and improvement in the transfer of knowledge both within and outside the university.
The project is also seeking to promote a research-practice dialogue around 4 themes:

Access and progression

Quality assurance and enhancement

Learning and guidance

New media

The event started with talks from a group of guest speakers who shared their views and experiences in bridging the gap between research and practice. Some of the talks inspired very interesting debates.

I especially liked Prof. Yvonne Hiller’s presentation. Not the least because she went straight to the point and talked about issues that we all face and which need addressing, especially at policy and strategy levels.
Professor Hiller, who launched the Learning and Skills Research Network in 1996, mentioned something that is no longer news to us, but which somehow still puzzle us:

practitioners don’t read academic journals!

I would say that there are different reasons to this: firstly, the culture of reading academic papers by non academic audiences is not there; secondly, access to academic papers by practitioners is very limited; thirdly, the register and style used in academic papers is probably more complex than it needs to be. Let’s face it, academic language is no one’s native language. (we could also ask, what do researchers read besides academic publications?)
The questions that immediately sprung to my mind:

why do researchers elect academic journals as their main means of dissemination?

Why don’t we choose other channels of communication that are more accessible?

Why aren’t all researchers blogging, for instance?

(…I had to introduce the technology, didn’t I?)

Unionization and New Media

Photo by truthout.org License: (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Open blogs allow to spread knowledge wider and farther. And bloggers can use a less formal, more fluid speech that may appeal to one of their main target audiences: practitioners. As a ripple effect practitioners could also blog and as a result of that both parties might as well find a common ground through which they can achieve a deeper understanding of each other. And if not blogs, why not networks, or whichever way it is easier for both parties to establish communication?
But none of this is as simple as it may sound.  A suggestion to something that seems so obvious these days, such as a blog, is not a quick win amongst researchers, and I would dare say also not necessarily that popular amongst practitioners.
As I tried to make sense during my PhD…. the use of the social and participatory web to produce and disseminate knowledge and create conversations implies a deep change not only in terms of practice but the philosophies that support those practices. Old habits die hard and blogging, for instance, doesn’t come easy. It becomes even harder when there is no strategic vision supporting it.
Take REF as an example (You’ll probably have a similar system in your country…?). Formal publications are a core element in this research assessment exercise. The *one* element people are more focused on and concerned about. Since there is no explicit (I mean, spelt out) mention on the way the participatory web can have a positive influence on how research is communicated, may reach larger and more diverse audiences, and/or generate impact (aside from being published on a webpage), no one (or shall I say only very few) are taking (what they consider) risks. People (are persuaded to) follow the same, old conventions, i.e, what has worked for them in the past. A publication in that hard to publish journal often does the trick. The problem is that the journal is  not only one that is hard to publish in, it is one that is hard to have access to! This does not generate innovative ways of working, and it certainly doesn’t close gaps between research and practice.
I guess what I am saying is that we not only need to make an effort for research and practice to meet, we also need to promote changes in policy if we want the partnership between research and practice to work. Change cannot come only from top-down nor merely from bottom-up. Both need to meet half way through the process of implementing measures that will inspire the development of new approaches and practices. For this to happen we need to achieve true communication between all parties involved. Policy included. This is what I hope the DIALOGUE project will achieve.

Can the Web be a place of useful learning?

I think it can help achieve that goal. Now the question remains:

How do we go from here?

Many more questions were raised during the symposium but I will leave them for future posts since this is already a long blogpost. Meanwhile I would love to know how you deal with these issues in your country/institution.

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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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