Archive for the ‘teaching and learning’ Category

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

PLE Conference 2014 – Beyond formal: emergent practices for living, learning and working

November 10th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

The PLE conference in 2010 was only intended to be a one off. But here we are, busy organising the 2014 conference.  Why has it been so successful_ Whilst trends and fads in educational technology come and go Personal Learning Environments haven’t gone away.  They couldn’t. They were not just a trendy new bit of technology but an approach to both explaining how people are using technology for learning today and at the same time an approach to reforming and recasting pedagogic approaches to teaching and learning.

And the PLE conference is itself a flipped conference and has built a reputation as one of the best learning events on teh annual conference calendar.

The theme for PLE 2014 conference, announced today will be: “Beyond formal: emergent practices for living, learning and working”. And the European conference, usually held in the first two weeks of July, will be in Tallinn in Estonia. The southern hemisphere version of the conference, held for the last two years in Australia, will be at the  UNITAR International University in Malaysia.

Hopefully the call for contributions will be released in early December. More details on this page when available.

Digital Literacies – Post 1

October 6th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This is a blogpost is based on a presentation I recently did for the Flexible, Distance and Online Learning open module that Chrissi Neranzi and her colleagues are currently running. It was part of Unit 2 that focuses on the theme of Digital Literacies.

Digital literacies is a very “hot” topic right now, and one that deserves our attention given the influence of the web on our working and social lives. And worthy of note is that the web is not only influencing the way we work nor solely the way we use it to socialise. The separation between formal and informal, public and private spaces has never been less straight forward and, as many would argue, the boundaries are blurry(ing) (See here, here, and here, for instance).

In its Developing Digital Literacies briefing paper, JISC state that
digital literacies define those who exhibit a critical understanding and capability for living, learning, and working in the digital society. 

I think this is a good definition. It goes beyond the initial concerns regarding the searching and retrieving of information online – as important as they are – to reflect the participatory culture that the social web supports because of its very interactive nature.

Yet, not everyone perceives the web in this way nor does everyone value it for its social(lisation) potential. The web as a field of participation and socialisation is not deprived of tensions, and it is far from being evenly distributed in the current global and network society [just to throw a couple of more ready made phrases in there!]. Consequently, different practices, and agendas, co-exist in a space that aggregates a wide variety of groups of people with a multitude of approaches on how the web can be appropriated to serve their needs.

This takes me to consider the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents debate initiated by White and Cornu. In wanting to take the digital native discussion to a new level, the authors devised a topology that looks at the frequency of use and explores the needs and motivations of individuals when using the web. This is translated into two different types of users: those who have embedded the web in their day-to-day practice (the residents) and those who use it sporadically for specific purposes (the visitors). Attached to this dichotomy between intense and occasional use of the web is a feeling of belonging, with the former feeling more attached to the “online world” than the latter. Although the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents metaphor provides us with an understanding on how individuals are taking to the Social and Participatory Web, it still offers, in my opinion, a binary interpretation of a more complex reality; one that educational institutions are struggling to get to terms with. And that has as much to do with how learners are using the web as it has to do with why some learners are more predisposed to do so than others, not to mention those who may be excluded of this topology altogether because of other factors that may preclude them from having access to technology or perceiving it as a useful tool for learning.

This makes me wonder what role individuals’ social, cultural and economic background play in prompting them to engage with the web for living, learning and working.

And more important even, it leads me to question as to the role (or duty) of educational institutions in cultivating and enhancing learners‘ cultural capital in a world mediated by technology.

Providing access to technology and wifi is necessary, but it’s effects will only be felt if the implementation of such technological infrastructures are accompanied by practices that promote its effective use.

The University of Southampton has recognised that and launched a module on Living and Working on the Web in an attempt to equip their students with relevant skills for the changing job market that the so called digital economy is bringing about. In our preliminary study we realised that the student population participating in the module was very diverse, not only in terms of their digital literacies but also, and above all, in terms of their attitudes with regard to digital forms of working and learning. This might be related to the way students have been socialised into learning and how they are predisposed to engage with digital practices. In this sense, I wonder how different these students are from staff who also feel less keen in changing their practices and attitudes to accommodate digital practices.

With learning technologies (and implicitly digital literacies) starting to feature heavily in Educational Institutions’s policies, what does it really mean to (and in) practice?

Learning Layers – What kind of transition phase are we going through in our fieldwork (Part 3: Design process and training activities)

August 25th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In the first  post of this series of blogs I indicated that we (the ITB team together with our Pontydysgu colleagues and the application partner Bau ABC)  are going through a transitional phase in our fieldwork for the Learning Layers  (LL) project. In the second post I looked back at the shifts of emphasis that had characterised our field visits and workshops in Bau ABC since the first ones in winter to the latest ones before and after the summer holiday break. In both postings I made the point that we had moved from preparatory measures to work in the context of a participative design process. In this posting it is time to consider the implications of such process for the design activities themselves and for the necessary training activities to be planned and carried out.

In principle, there has been an implicit agreement among the LL partner that our project is not a “technology push” project. Neither have we seen our application partners as clients in the supermarket – making choices between ready-made solutions that are on the shelf. Instead, the emphasis has been put on participative co-design processes. Yet, it has been quite a challenge to get such processes take off in the domains and in the locations where we want to carry out pilot activities.

In the case of the Rapid Turbine initiative Graham Attwell has given some insights into the first steps of the design work, into the plans to produce videos (the helmet camera) and into conceptual challenges (“closing the gap”). Much of this design work is still on the way and the demonstrators are yet to come. However, we already know that much of the messages of trainers and apprentices have been taken on board. The important thing is that the Pontydysgu colleagues try to provide real support for completing working and learning tasks without dropping the idea of self-organised learning. Thus, the web tools and the software solutions are there to enhance the learners’ awareness of their own learning. At the end of the exercise, the apprentices should have a picture what they can do, what the cannot do yet and what challenges they can meet in the next phase. This is being discussed between developers, trainers and us, the accompanying researchers.

This has also implications for getting the forthcoming Rapid Turbine designs work together with existing applications and software solutions (such as the Reflect application for the LL project and the software for the assessment procedures in Bau ABC). In this way the support for project-based learning of apprentices would be linked to a tool that enables audio recording of learners’ reports and trainers’ feedback – and to the assessment processes. This, as we understand, will take some time and requires further efforts in the design process.

Parallel to this we have made progress in our discussions, how to give shape for training activities that would support the Rapid Turbine initiative and enhance the general media literacy of trainers and apprentices. Whilst the design work and the discussion on appropriate workshops were firstly taking off as two different things, they seem to be getting closer to each other. It is obvious that the design of the Rapid Turbine gives rise to specific training activities. These can be seen as one part of a wider range of training options to be considered together with the application partners. Here, we are pleased to be able to share experiences with the EU-funded TACCLE projects that have a long experiences with such workshops for teachers to help them produce user-generated web content.

Here I need to stress that both the design work for Rapid Turbine and the development of the training concepts are at an early stage. Yet, we are carrying out this work via joint working meetings in which different parties are actively engaged. This, to me, is already aq good sign and I am looking for the next steps that are taken very soon.

To be continued …

PS. I have written this blog posting just before a series of working meetings with several LL partners and stakeholders that will bring these issues (and wider issues) further. As I will not be present in all these activities and since I will be travelling some time afterwards, it may take some time before we get updates. PK

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

 

PLE 2014 -a call to host

July 30th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

The PLE Conference 2014 – an Open Call for hosts

The first PLE Conference was in 2010 in Barcelona. And it was so fantastic everyone asked where it would be next. So 2011 we were in Southampton. in 2012 it was Aveiro in Portugal. And this year PLE was hosted in Berlin. Meanwhile people from the south of the world asked for their own parallel conference. In 2012 and 2013 this has been organised in Melbourne, Australia.

In this time PLE conference has developed its own unique atmosphere and style with many saying it is their favourite conference.

Which leads to the next question – where will the PLE conference be in 2014? We have also developed a tradition of publishing an open call. Would you and your organisation like to host the PLE conference next year?

You will preferably be somewhere reasonably accessible and have access to spaces conducive for intensive and sociable knowledge sharing. You will probably need the support of your organisation. And despite the great support from the PLE Conference Organising Committee you will need to commit yourself to some hard work.

If you think this sounds like you please contact Graham Attwell, myself  or another member of the PLE Committee by September 20, 2013. Also feel free to ask us anything you need more information about.

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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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