Archive for the ‘teaching and learning’ Category

Some thoughts about MOOCs

April 29th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

MOOCs are now set on the downside of the hype cycle and it is not difficult to find critics – or even those predicting their immanent end.

I can’t see much sign of them going away = if anything there seems to be more and more MOOCs appearing – although that may be just a result of better discoverability. However there does seem to be huge variation ind ensign, duration and above all quality although we do not really have any agreed criteria for measuring quality.

Within the European Employ ID project, which is researching employment adaptability and the use of technology for supporting coaching and continuing professional development for Public Employment workers in Europe, we have promised, for better or worse, to organise a MOOC. In fact, I think this was promised for the final year of thee project, which has only just started, but with plenty of enthusiasm from the public employment services and from project partners, we are planning to bring it forward to next year.

We also decided that we would all (about 14 of us) would sign up for a MOOc and exchange our experiences. I am a bit behind and will start a MOOC next week on Digital Curation provided by Kings Collage London who interestingly, eschewing the commercial and consortium platforms, are using their own platform built on top of Moodle.

Project partners have signed up for a range of topics from Shakespeare to producing a mobile app. So far the experience – or at least the refection on the experience, is very varied. A lot seems to be down to the design of the MOOC. A number of people found course providers had underestimated the time it would take to follow the course. Probably the major criticism was lack of contact with other learners, although this seemed particularly an issue on MOOCs offered through the Coursera platform. Peronsally I am rather overwhelmed by the volume of contact from co-students on my Digita Curation course and that is two weeks before its starts.

I suspect the divide between so called c-MOOCs and x_MOOCs is more of a continuum than a binary divide. In that respect Coursera or indeed Code Academy could be seen as on one end of that continuum with individual students engaging with digit materials produced through a well designed workflow but with little or no peer group interaction. The various so styled c-MOOCs stand on the other, with developers left very much to design their own programmes and with a focus of peer learning.

Despite the issue sod design and quality, the sheer numbers of learners signing up for MOOCs deserves some reflection. I interpret it as a vast pent up demand for opportunities for learning. That many of those participating in MOOcs have already a degree is hardly surprising. These were the people who would have participated in face to face Adult Education programmes, had they been available. And even before austerity devastated much of previous provision in European countries, such provision was far to narrow to meet demand. MOOCs have enabled a massive expansion in the scope of subjects on offer as Open Education.

So, even though I sympathise with the critics, particularly as to the quality of pedagogy, I think we should see MOOCs in that light. MOOCs are one iteration in the use of technology to greatly expand Open Education and to make that education available to everyone.

What is happening with Learning Analytics?

April 7th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

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

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

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

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

 

Beyond Bulimic Learning Improving teaching in further education

March 15th, 2014 by Cristina Costa

Beyond Bulimic Learning Improving teaching in further education – Frank Coffield with Cristina Costa,Walter Müller and John Webber

So here is a new adventure. Last year Frank Coffield asked me if I’d be interested in submitting a book chapter for his new book as he felt he was missing a trick for not including a chapter on technology. I wrote an article on designing for context, using examples from my own practice to illustrate the points I wanted to make. The result was a text entitled Teaching and learning in context … with a little help from the web (slides for a presentation based on it can be found here)

The Book will be released in May. The launch will take place in the bookshop on the first level of the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H OAL on Wednesday 7 May between 6 and 8pm.

* seeing my name in print never ceases to surprise me! :-)

Aumented Reality, practice and performace

March 12th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Last week I went to the Bristol Mobile Ideas in Mobile Learning Symposium (programme and links here). I thoroughly enjoyed the event. Just a general point before I get to the specifics. I am increasingly bored with large conferences where you sit passively listening to string of paper inputs – good bad or indifferent – and then perhaps get to ask one or two questions. Smaller events such as the Bristol symposium, allow a real discussion and best of all, continued debate in breaks and in the evening. This is the kind of event which promotes learning!

I made a presentation on the Learning Toolbox mobile application we are developing for the Learning Layers project in the penultimate session of the symposium. I followed an intriguing presentation by Daniel Spikol on Using Augmented Reality, Artistic Research and Mobile Phones to Explore Practice-based Learning (see video above). Daniel has been working with Dance groups in Sweden, using the Aurasma Augmented Reality app for recording and augmenting dance performances. At first sight that would seem a long way from my work on developing an app for apprentices in the construction industry. But there were many links. Amongst other things Daniel made two key points which I could relate to. One was the need for continuing and iterative development in the use of apps (and here it was interesting that they had used an existing application, rather than trying to develop their own code). Second was the use of technology in capturing and representing physical performance. And in terms of work based learning, that is exactly what we are trying to do (and struggling with) in using mobile devices. In this regard I am interested in the ideas about practice.  Practice is related to competence and qualification and includes cognitive, affective, personal and social factors (trying to find citation for this). In terms of learning (and using technology for learning) practice based activities – whether based on formal or informal learning – are:

  • Purposeful
  • Heavily influenced by context
  • Often result in changes in behaviour
  • Sequenced in terms of developing a personal knowledge base
  • Social – involving shared community knowledge

Returning to Daniel’s questions, the challenge is how we can design and shape technology to augment practice.

 

 

 

British Education Studies Association Conference

February 20th, 2014 by Cristina Costa

Call for papers: British Education Studies Association Conference

Glasgow, June 26-27 June

Glasgow University cc Venana

We would like to invite you to submit an abstract as a contribution to this important conference. This year the conference takes place in the University of Glasgow, making it the first time the conference has been held in Scotland. The key theme of this year’s conference is: “The politics of education studies: pedagogy, curriculum, policy”

Some of the suggested topics for papers are the following:

• Alternative voices in Education Studies

• Innovations in Education Studies

• Education Studies: Contemporary debates

• Researching Education Studies: critical issues

• Student perspectives on Education Studies

Please note this list is not exhaustive.

SUBMISSION DETAILS:

Abstracts for the conference should be no longer than 400 words, and include:

  1. a clear description of the aims and objectives of your inquiry
  2. the methodology and methods employed
  3. results and key conclusions.

You can submit an abstract by following this link: SUBMITTING AN ABSTRACT

NOTE: You must log in or register on the  site to be able to submit an abstract – you will have this opportunity when you visit the above page.

The Submission deadline is Friday 28th February, 2014.

Please contact Mark.murphy.2@glasgow.ac.uk if you wish to discus your abstract before submission

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!

Digital Literacies and Learning Design

January 27th, 2014 by Cristina Costa

I’m currently putting together the sessions for a new Module I am teaching in March for our new cohort of PGDE.

I want to offer something that would link the concepts of Critical Digital Literacies to the design of learning activities. I want this for two reason. First, because I think this is both an area of practice and debate that has been under-explored as part of implementing the Curriculum for Excellence here in Scotland. Second, because I believe that teacher-students should put themselves in the shoes of the learners and engage hands-on with the possibilities and challenges of the web to get a better grasp how to use the web in their practice. As such, I submitted the following Module proposal:

 

Introduction and Rationale:

The internet and the Social and Participatory Web, as a growing phenomenon in our society, is increasingly influencing the way people work, socialise, bank and shop, to name a few. As it enters our household and workplace, what does it mean to Education? And more concretely, what impact should it have on Learning, Teaching and Assessment?

This module aims to discuss such questions and provide an introduction to learning design methodologies in connection to key digital literacies.  In doing so, it places an emphasis on the design of learning contexts rather than of content, “the activity-rich, interaction-rich and culturally rich learning environments that the use of technology is making possible and where new principles and practices apply” (Dias Figueiredo, 2005, p.127).

This module is designed to extend participants’ understanding of learning design in connection with the opportunities and challenges posed by the Social and Participatory Web, and thus equip them with the necessary know-how to harness technologies for the 21st century classroom.

 

Learning Outcomes:

The main intended outcome is that participants will be able to engage with key literature in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning and effectively apply it to their own practice. Participants will:

  • Critically compare their own ideas about Learning and Teaching with the Social and Participatory Web with those of the literature
  • Examine the implications of using the Social and Participatory Web in their Teaching practice
  • Demonstrate a practical understanding of the use of the Social and Participatory Web for their own Learning, Teaching and Assessment strategies
  • Design contexts for Learning

 

My greatest challenge, as usual, is to find ways to engage students in both the discussions I want them to have and the activities I want them to take part in. I have been putting together a draft of activities for each session … but have now reached a point I need a new pair of eyes to look at it and give me feedback:

  • do you think I am adding too much or too little?
  • are the topics proposed relevant?
  • are the activities too easy or too hard?
  • what else should I add?

*please note that at the moment this is only a draft – first thoughts – and your comments are very welcome as usual. ;-)

It’s my web! A ten week course to teach the basics of web design

January 6th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

One of our current interests at Pontydysgu is teaching children to code. Jen Hughes has been doings some great work producing and testing floor cards for use with primary school children to learn how to create basic algorithms (for more on her work see the Taccle 2 site). The Mozilla Foundation is also working on this and over Christmas published ‘Its my Web!’ – a ten week course to teach the basics of web design. I guess this is aimed at 10 year olds and above and it looks pretty good.

I’d be interested to hear about other resources for all age groups.

Below is the introduction to the Mozilla course.

The Web is a good place to begin learning about how technology works, and fundamental ICT concepts such as programming. It is everywhere and familiar, easy to learn compared to other programming platforms, and there is a lot of help available due to the Web’s largely free and open nature. This course will aim to teach children some background information on how the web works and why the web is so interesting, the basic fundamentals of HTML (the language used to structure data on the Web) and CSS basics (the language used to style and layout the Web), possibly then moving on to some more advanced CSS and JavaScript (the web’s main programming/logic language) if there is time.

via It’s my web! A ten week course to teach the basics of web design.

Learning and teaching with digital technologies is a mindset

December 7th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

A month or so ago, I was asked to give a lecture on learning technologies to Year 4 BEd students who are getting ready to do their last placement. The lecture was part of the Contemporary Education Issues Module and aimed to look at “more futuristic, cutting-edge practices”.

I’m not one to predict the future. I’d rather focus on the present, on the stage I am currently at and what I can do with the ideals I currently embrace and the tools, technologies, and support structures that are available to me. And so, with this in mind, I organised the lecture.

I started with a set of questions that aimed to elicit people’s ideas about learning and teaching in the “21st century classroom”. I know this type of phrases is not that great but they do help get the conversation started. The purpose of the lecture was to make connections between students’ use of digital technology in their daily life and the connection, or lack of it, with their professional life. I sensed that for many, connecting social and professional, daily and teaching practice was a hard thing to imagine, let alone do. And this has to do as much with preparedness as it has to do with entitlement to question established practices.

What I did not want to do was to dismiss current, “analog” practices as bad or useless, because they are not necessarily so. Rather, I wanted to trigger new ways of thinking about teaching practices in relation to the current changing society and our own practices outside the classroom, and what it meant for learning. Technology plays a massive role in our daily lives. As we grow more and more used to it, we only really notice it when it is missing. Who hasn’t felt some kind of “withdrawal syndrome” when you go abroad and all of a sudden you can no longer access mobile Internet?! … at least not at the same price. The Internet and the Web have become indispensable commodities for a large part of a society that relies of digital technologies to consume and produce information. Knowledge is still (a form of em)power(ing), and we can anticipate it will always be so. The same applies to Education. Mandela talked from experience when he said that

But as the world changes, so do our practices and approaches to living and working, and also learning.  Hence, for Education to keep its currency, it needs to keep up with the times. The way through which we can access and create information online provide alternatives as to how individuals can *be* successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens as they develop their confidence as active participants and learners (see the 4 capacities). As such this begs the following questions:

  • What is the role of education in ensuring that our current, and future, generations as prepared to address these new ways of being (members of a society that is progressively relying on digital forms of living, learning and working)?
  • What is our duty in equipping children, and learners in general, with the “adequate” cultural capital to tackle the challenges posed by the digital society?

This might just be me… but I do think the Curriculum for Excellence does touch on this matter, even if ever so slightly, with the 4 capacities (see above). If we place it in the context  of what Education Scotland calls  “literacies across learning: principles and practice” and their definition of literacy as a “a set of skills that allows the individual to engage fully in society and in learning (…)” then surely the debate of digital technologies needs to be a key item on the agenda. Yet, this is not only a topic for Scotland or for primary teachers; it is rather a crucial debate to be had with regards to all levels of education as well as different forms of learning! Getting back to my lecture, there were a series of key points that I wanted to get across and which I hope to go into further detail in future blogposts. For the time being, I just want to list them here for future reference. I would be interested in knowing of your views about this debate, which although is not new, it is still very relevant.

  • Teaching and learning with digital technologies is not only a new form of practice; it is a mindset
    • Not only a change of technology; a change of attitudes
  • Digital technologies provide tools for content and context creation.
    • Teachers as context facilitators
    • Learners as content creators
  • Technology dissonance: a clash of practices and approaches
    • The place of technology in and outside the classroom
  • The role of the institution, and policy, in harmonising practices
  • A curriculum for authentic learning and assessment
    • Changing the ways learners communicate learning

Above all, I am trying to answer the following question: Can digital technologies, and the philosophies of practice associated with it, finally deliver on the promise of critical pedagogies? What do you think? I’d also be interested in knowing which of the topics above you’d like to discuss first.

New thoughts on Personal Learning Environments

November 19th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

One of the frustrations with the Personal Learning Environments conferences has been the time it has taken us to publish papers after the conference. This year we tied up with e_learning Papers who publish an electronic journal on the European Commission Open Education Europa portal. And I am delighted to say they have just published a special edition of the journal on PLEs, edited by Ilona Buchem and  Tapia Toskinen.

The foreword to the edition is included in full below together with links to the different papers.

“The proliferation of learning innovations such as personal devices, granular and distributed applications, services, and resources, requires the learner to develop his or her own strategies for managing the various information streams and tools to support learning. Such strategies are necessary not only in educational settings, but basically in any life situation which can become a moment or an episode of learning. Digital and non-digital building blocks can be individually combined by learners in their own Personal Learning Environment (PLEs).

More of an approach or strategy than a specific learning platform, a PLE is created by learners in the process of designing and organising their own learning, as opposed to following pre-arranged learning paths. In this way, PLEs are distinctly learner-centred and foster autonomous learning. PLEs are by no means isolated; they are interconnected in a digital ecosystem of media, tools and services. Instead of asking learners to navigate within one monolithic environment, PLEs act as a gateway to an open and connected learning experience. This approach marks a shift towards a model of learning in which learners draw connections from a pool of digital and non-digital building blocks, aggregating, mixing and combining them into unique constellations as part of learning.

While emphasizing the active role of a learner, the PLE approach implies that learning is not located in a specific time and place, but is an ongoing, ubiquitous and multi-episodic process. As PLEs allow the collocation of diverse learning activities, tools, and resources, contexts permeate and learning becomes connected. In this sense, PLEs challenge some dominant paradigms in education and in the traditional understanding of borders, be it in view of learning places, educational roles or institutional policies.

This special issue builds on the current PLE discussion and focuses on crossing the boundaries of learning contexts. It features some emerging practices, including the construction of PLEs as part of an augmented localised learning experience with mobile devices; PLEs as an approach to supporting learning through work practice; and using gamification and open badges as part of the PLE approach. The findings and insights of the articles in this issue demonstrate the rich contribution of the PLE approach to the opening up of education.”

Download Print Version

Articles

Personal Learning Environments in Smart Cities: Current Approaches and Future Scenarios
Author(s): Ilona Buchem, Mar Pérez-Sanagustín

A gamification framework to improve participation in social learning environments

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    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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