Archive for the ‘teaching and learning’ Category

MOOCs and Artificial Intelligence – Potentials for the Professional Development of VET Teachers and Trainers

December 21st, 2020 by Graham Attwell
processor, cpu, computer

ColiN00B (CC0), Pixabay

It does not seem likely that we are going to participate in any face to face conferences in the near future. But conferences are continuing online and in some ways there are increased opportunities for sharing ideas and knowledge. Anyway that was a preamble for the latest abstract that I, together with Sohia Roppertz and Ludger Dietmer have submitted for the 4th Crossing Boundaries on Vocational Education and Training in 2021.

1        Introduction

The growing use of Artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological innovations are leading to a fundamental change in the world of work, as tasks previously performed by humans can now potentially be performed/assisted by computers and computer-controlled machines (Brynjolfsson & McAffee, 2014; Dengler & Matthes ,2018).

This digital transformation places VET under high pressure to adapt (Seufert, 2018), to provide professional action competence within non academic technical, social, commercial and other occupations. VET schools and their teachers and trainers have the central task of preparing learners for the changing world of work.  Technological change also is impacting the organisation of  VET schools through the introduction of big data and e-government and at the implementation level in connection with e.g. adaptive learning systems and learning analytics (Seufert 2018).

Against this background, the question arises how vocational school teachers and trainers can be prepared for these tasks. While a survey undertaken through the Taccle AI project found most vocational teachers and trainers recognised the importance of AI, there are presently few opportunities for professional development (Author, forthcoming).

This paper reports on work in progress through the EU Erasmus Plus funded Taccle AI project examining the impact of AI on Vocational Education and Training, led by the University of Bremen Following initial research and the development of a Resource Toolkit, the project is developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), to be offered in English and  Germany and expected to be launched May 2021.

In section two of the paper we will examine the vision behind MOOCs and in section three will look at the different dimensions of a MOOC for professional development for teachers and trainers around AI. This will be followed by a discussion of how cooperative and project related MOOC design can support teachers and trainers in developing their professional practice. Finally we will draw some initial conclusions based on our work.

  1.       Theoretical background

The first MOOC, led by George Siemens and Stephen Downes was in 2008 around the topic of Connectivism. According to Downes (2012) it was based on the realization that the use of distributed open resources would support – with ease – an attendance in the thousands. The vision grew out of the idea of Open Education, where everybody could access free online courses. The idea quickly took off, especially with the launch of Coursera and Udacity. Although the founders of these companies saw their innovation as disruptive to traditional education institutions, universities have been quick to pick up on the potential of MOOCs. In Europe one of the biggest MOOC providers is OpenLearn, through the UK Open University leading a consortium of educational providers.

2.1       Vision behind MOOCs

There has been and continues to be discussion over pedagogic approach to MOOC design, with advocates of so called cMoocs emphasising the active contribution of participants, using digital platforms and technologies while so called xMOOCs, for example from Stanford University, are more focused on the transmission of knowledge.

MOOCs are increasingly being used for professional development, for instance by companies like Siemens, and for teachers and trainers.

  1. MOOCs and AI – two dimensions

There are two key dimensions to the AI MOOC.

3.1       MOOCs as a Way to Learn about AI

The first is MOOCs as a way to learn about AI. This in turn has three key foci. After an initial introduction the course will examine both the impact of AI on the Changing world of Work and its implications in terms of skills, tasks and consequently curriculum. The second focus will be on the use of AI for teaching and learning in VET. The final section will examine the ethical implications of AI for VET.

3.2       Artificial Intelligence powered MOOCs

The second key dimension will be the integration of AI into the MOOC platform. While this work is still under development it is intended to incorporate Natural Language processing for the production of materials and Learning Analytics within the MOOC Platform.

  1.             Implementation of cooperative and project related (more interactive) MOOCs design in professional development of VET teachers and trainers

New forms of learning are needed for AI in VET. MOOCs including practice and project-based learning can be used both in VET courses and for training teachers and trainers. The paper will discuss how MOOCs can be designed through a new didactical approach to teaching and learning.

The article will explore the concept of additional qualifications within apprenticeship training and how such concepts can be adapted to different European vocational settings. It will show how the new arrangements affect the teaching and learning of  VET students (e.g. mechatronic apprentices), and new roles for VET teachers and trainers. Discussion will be based around examples, for instance the mechatronic students are working and learning in school based and training factory labs themselves developing AI projects (Author et Al, 2020a). This functional learning material allows student teams to plan, prepare, realize and demonstrate projects in which for example autonomous driving or robot functions are programmed, tested and presented to bigger audiences. These practice based developments will be incorporated in the MOOC.

  1. Conclusions

This paper will examine the question of whether MOOCs are suitable for the continuing education of VET teachers and trainers in the context of Artificial Intelligence. It will also clarify what kind of MOOCs types and settings can be connected to projects, how MOOCs can be implemented by VET teachers and trainers and how they have to be structurally designed in didactical terms. This includes the question how teachers and trainers have to be prepared for such new learning arrangements in order to develop vocationally oriented MOOCss (Author at Al, 2020b).

References

Author, Bekiaridis, G., Author., Tutlys, T., Perini, M., Roppertz, S., & Tutlys, V. (2020a). Artificial Intelligence in Policies, Processes and Practices of Vocational Education and Training. Institut Technik und Bildung. https://doi.org/10.26092/elib/307

Author, Author., Tutlys, T., Author, & Perini, Marco. (2020b). Digitalisation, artificial intelligence and vocational occupations and skills: What are the needs for training teachers and trainers? In C. Nägele, B. E. Stalder, & N. Kersh (Eds.), Trends in vocational education and training research, Vol. III. Proceedings of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET) (pp. 30–42). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4005713

Downes, S. 2012, The Rise of MOOCs, https://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=57911, accessed 15 December, 2020

Brynjolfsson, E., & McAfee, A. (2014). The second machine age: Work, progress, and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies. WW Norton & Company.

Dengler, K. & Matthes, B. (2018). Substituierbarkeitspotenzial von Berufen. Wenige Berufsbilder halten mit der Digitalisierung Schritt. IAB-Kurzbericht.

Seufert, S. (2018). Flexibilisierung der Berufsbildung im Kontext fortschreitender Digitalisierung. Bericht im Auftrag des Staatssekretariats für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation SBFI im Rahmen des Projekts «Berufsbildung 2030 – Vision und Strategische Leitlinien» Zugriff unter: https://edudoc.ch/record/132323 (1.12.2020)

Author, (forthcoming). Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Education and Training – Perspective of German VET teachers. Proceedings of the European Distance and E-Learning Network Research Workshop, 2020 Lisboa, 21 – 23 October 2020.)

Workshop on Ai and Vocational Education as part of European Vocational Skills Week

November 9th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

This week is European Vocational Skills Week.

And as a partner of the European Vocational Skills Week the Taccle AI project, is organising an online workshop on “Artificial Intelligence for and in VET” on Tuesday 10 November 15:00 – 16:30 CET. Our Taccle AI project partners from five European countries will welcome you.

About the Workshop:

AI is particularly important for vocational education and training (VET) as it promises profound changes in employment and work tasks. Not only are some jobs vulnerable and new jobs likely to be created but there will be changing tasks and roles within jobs, requiring changes in initial and continuing training, for those in work as well as those seeking employment. This will require changes in existing VET content, new programmes such as the design of AI systems in different sectors, and adaptation to new ways of cooperative work with AI.

For VET teachers and trainers there are many possible uses of AI including new opportunities for adapting learning content based on student’s needs, new processes for assessment, analysing possible bottlenecks in learners’ domain understanding and improvement in guidance for learners

In our workshop we will explore these issues with short inputs and breakout sessions for discussion by participants around key issues.

Register now (here)!

Rwanda teachers on how to safely reopen schools

October 22nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell
covid, covid-2019, covid-19

artpolka (CC0), Pixabay

The issue of safe reopening of schools after lockdowns in the Covid 19 pandemic is contentious in many countries, including the UK. Equally there is a debate going on as to how students can be supported in catching up with missed learning

One of the most interesting report I have seen was posted to the UNESCO ICT CFT Champions network. This is a WhatsApp group bringing together researchers, teachers and trainers predominantly from Africa but also from the wider world.

Vincent from Rwanda posted to the group. explaining that the Rwandan Ministry of Education is planning for schools to reopen after closing due to the COVID 19 pandemic and proposes a gradual reopening of schools with  an emphasis on the well being of both students, teachers school administration sand the entire community. A questionnaire survey composed of multiple choice questions was administered to teachers to understand their viewpoint on the safe reopening of schools.

Sadly the graphic files downloaded from my phone are two small to be clear. But, asked, following an extend period of school closure what in their opening will be the most effective to manage learning loss as a result of Covid 19 the survey had the following results:

  • Providing teacher training 26.6%
  • Motivating students 13,7%
  • Offering remedial catch-up programs and accelerated progams 27.3%
  • Conducting continuous assessment focusing on lesson assessment and end unit assessment 9,7%
  • Adoption of blended learning *both face to face ad online program 22.7%

And asked what in their opinion would be the most challenging aspects of implementing safe school opening, the following were the results:

  • Providing hand washing facilities ins schools 10%
  • Ensuring social / physical distancing, equitable access and quality 41.5%
  • Providing face masks 5.2%
  • Double shifts to allow physical distancing among the students 18.8%
  • Raising awareness among students, teachers schools administrators about the importance of health and hygiene 24.5%

Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Occupations and Skills

July 27th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

The Taccle AI project on Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Education and Training, has published a preprint  version of a paper which has been submitted of publication to the VET network of the European Research Association.

The paper, entitled  Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Occupations and Skills: What are the needs for training Teachers and Trainers, seeks to explore the impact AI and automation have on vocational occupations and skills and to examine what that means for teachers and trainers in VET. It looks at how AI can be used to shape learning and teaching processes, through for example, digital assistants which support teachers. It also focuses on the transformative power of AI that promises profound changes in employment and work tasks. The paper is based on research being undertaken through the EU Erasmus+ Taccle AI project. It presents the results of an extensive literature review and of interviews with VET managers, teachers and AI experts in five countries. It asks whether machines will complement or replace humans in the workplace before going to look at developments in using AI for teaching and learning in VET. Finally, it proposes extensions to the EU DigiCompEdu Framework for training teachers and trainers in using technology.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Taccle AI project – Interviews

July 22nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell

As part  of the Taccle AI project, around the impact of AI on vocational education and training in Europe, we have undertaken interviews with managers, teachers, trainers and developers in five European countries (the report of the interviews, and of an accompanying literature review, will be published next week).  One of the interviews I made was with Aftab Hussein, the ILT manager at Bolton College in the north west  of Engand. Aftab describes himself on Twitter (@Aftab_Hussein) as “exploring the use of campus digital assistants and the computer assisted assessment of open-ended question.”

Ada, Bolton College’s campus digital assistant has been supporting student enquiries about college services and their studies since April 2017.In September 2020, the college is launching a new crowdsourcing project which seeks to teach Ada about subject topics. They are seeking the support of teachers to teach Ada about their subjects.

According to Aftab “Teachers will be able to set up questions that students typically ask about subject topics and they will have the opportunity to compose answers against each of these questions. No coding experience is required to set up questions and answers.Students of all ages will have access to a website where they will be able to select a subject chatbot and ask it questions. Ada will respond with answers that incorporate the use of text, images, links to resources and embedded videos.

The service will be free to use by teachers and students.”

If you are interested in supporting the project complete the online Google form.

News from 1994

July 9th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

This is from a Tweet. In 1994 Stephen Heppell wrote in something called SCET” “Teachers are fundamental to this. They are professionals of considerable calibre. They are skilled at observing their students’ capability and progressing it. They are creative and imaginative but the curriculum must give them space and opportunity to explore the new potential for learning that technology offers.” Nothing changes!

Learning about surveillance

July 3rd, 2020 by Graham Attwell
eye, surveillance, privacy

GDJ (CC0), Pixabay

I found this on the Social Media Collective website. The Social Media Collective is a network of social science and humanistic researchers, part of the Microsoft Research labs in New England and New York.

Yesterday the Wayne County Prosecutor publicly apologized to the first American known to be wrongfully arrested by a facial recognition algorithm: a black man arrested earlier this year by the Detroit Police. The statement cited the unreliability of software, especially as applied to people of color.

With this context in mind, some university and high school instructors teaching about technology may be interested in engaging with the Black Lives Matter protests by teaching about computing, race, and surveillance.

I’m delighted that thanks to the generosity of Tawana Petty and others, ESC can share a module on this topic developed for an online course. You are free to make use of it in your own teaching, or you might just find the materials interesting (or shocking).

The lesson consists of a case study of Detroit’s Project Green Light, a new city-wide police surveillance system that involves automated facial recognition, real-time police monitoring, very-high-resolution imagery, cameras indoors on private property, a paid priority response system, a public/private partnership, and other distinctive features. The system has allegedly been deployed to target peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.

Here is the lesson:

Race, Policing, and Detroit’s Project Green Light

Artificial Intelligence for and in Vocational Education and Training

June 30th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

Last week the Taccle AI project organised a workshop at the European Distance Education Network (EDEN) Annual Conference. The conference, which had been scheduled to be held in Romania, was moved online due to the Covid 19 pandemic.There were four short presentations followed by an online discussion.

Graham Attwell introduced the workshop and explained the aims of the Taccle AI project. In the next years, he said “AI will change learning, teaching, and education. The speed of technological change will be very fast, and it will create high pressure to transform educational practices, institutions, and policies.” He was followed by Vidmantas Tulys who focused on AI and human work. He put forward five scenarios for the future of work in the light of AI and the fourth industrial revolution. Ludger Deitmer looked at the changes in the mechatronics occupation due to the impact of AI. He examine dhow training was being redesigned to meet new curriculum and occupational needs and how AI was being introduced in the curriculum. Finally, Sofia Roppertz focused on AI for VET, exploring how AI can support access to education, collaborative environments and intelligent tutoring systems to support teachers and trainers.

A focus on both discrete skills and broader human skills

June 17th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
laptop, woman, education

JESHOOTS-com (CC0), Pixabay

There is an interesting article by Allison Dulin Salisbury in the Forbes magazine this morning. The article says that the Covid 19 pandemic is speeding the digital transformation of business, driven by AI and automation and quotes MIT Economist David Autor calling it an “automation forcing event.”

The combined forces of automation and dramatically altered demand are giving rise to a labor market “riptide” in which some sectors of the economy are seeing mass layoffs while others, like healthcare and tech, are still desperate for talent. Against that backdrop, education and training systems are underfunded and ill equipped to meet the demands of a more complex labor market and the shifting demographics of students.

And from the evidence of the last recession, it appears likely that it will be lower paid and lower skilled workers with jobs most at risk.

However, if the analysis of the problem is correct the answers proposed leave room for doubt. The article says: “The past few years have seen a flourishing of high-quality, low-cost training and education programs, many of them online. They are laser-focused on the needs of working learners.” Maybe so in the USA, but in Europe I am yet to see the emergence of flourishing laser focused online learning programmes. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that online programmes such as MOOcs have more often been focused on the needs of skilled and higher paid workers.

Neither is the appeal to stakeholder capitalism and for the involvement of employers in the provision of training likely to result in big change. More interesting is the call for “investment in practices that help workers identify what career they want before they start an education program,” and to “align training to the competencies required to land a good first job.” This, the article says “means a focus on both discrete skills and broader “human skills,” like communication and problem-solving, that actually become more marketable amid automation.”

Despite reservations, the argument is moving in the right direction. Put simply the Corona virus has on its own caused massive unemployment, with the effect likely to be magnified by a speed up in automation and the use of AI. This requires the development of large scale training programmes, both for unemployed young people and lower skilled workers whose jobs are threatened. Fairly obviously, the use of technology can help in providing such programmes. Nesta in the UK is already looking at developments in this direction. It will be interesting to see what national governments and the European Union will do now to boost training as a response to the crisis.

Stray thoughts on teaching and learning in the COVID 19 lockdowns

June 10th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
covid, covid-2019, covid-19

artpolka (CC0), Pixabay 

 

I must be one of the few ed tech bloggers who has not published anything on the move to online during the COVID 19 lockdowns. Not that I haven’t thought about it (and I even started several posts). However it is difficult to gauge an overall impression of what has happened and what is happening (although I am sure there will be many, many research papers and reports in the future) and from talking with people in perhaps six or seven countries in the past few weeks, there seem to be contradictory messages.

So, instead of trying to write anything coherent here are a few stray and necessarily impressionistic thoughts (in no particular order) which I will update in the future.

Firstly, many teachers seem to have coped remarkably well in the great move to online. Perhaps we have over stressed the lack of training for teachers. Some I talked too were stressed but all seemed to cope in one way or another.

However digital exclusion has reared its ugly head in a big way. Lack of bandwidth and lack of computers have prevented many from participating in online learning. Surely it is time now that internet connectivity is recognized as a key public infrastructure (as the UK labour Party proposed in their 2019 manifesto). And it also needs recognising that access to a computer should be a key provision of schools and education services. Access to space in which to learn is another issue – and not so easy to solve in a lockdown. But after restrictions are lifted in needs remembering that libraries can play an important role for those whose liv9ng space is not conducive to learning.

One think that has become very clear is the economic and social role schools play in providing childcare. Hence the pressure from the UK government to open primary schools despite it being blatantly obvious that such a move was ill prepared and premature. I am not sure that the provision of childcare should not be a wider service than one of education. And maybe it has become such a big issue in the UK because children start in school at a very young age (compared to other countries in Europe) and also have a relatively long school day.

There is a big debate going on in most countries about what universities will look like in the autumn. I think this raises wider questions about the whole purpose and role of universities in society. At least in theory, it should be possible for universities to continue with online learning. But teaching and learning is just one role for universities. With the move to mass higher education in many countries going to university has become a rite of passage. Thus in the UK the weight attached to the student satisfaction survey and the emphasis placed on social activities, sports and so on. And this is a great deal of what the students are paying for. Fees in UK universities are now £9000 a year. The feeling is that many prospective students will not pay that without the full face to face student experience (although I doubt many will miss the full face to face lectures). I also wonder how many younger people will start to realise how it is possible to get an extremely good on line education for free and one thing during the lock down has been the blossoming of online seminar, symposia, conferences and to a lesser extent workshops).

Which brings me to the vexed subject of pedagogy. Of course it is easy to say that with the full affordances of Zoom (and whoever would have predicted its popularity and use as an educational technology platform) all we have seen is lectures being delivered online. Online teaching not online learning. I am not sure this is a good dichotomy to make. Of course a sudden unplanned forced rush to online provision is probably not the greatest way to do things. But there seems plenty of anecdotal evidence that ed-tech support facilitated some excellent online provision (mention also needs to be made on the many resources for teachers made available over the internet). Of course we need to stop thinking about how we can reproduce traditional face to face approaches to teaching and earning online and start designing for creative online learning. But hopefully there is enough impetus now for this to happen.

More thoughts to follow in another post and hopefully I can get some coherent ideas out of all of this

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