Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Rethinking blogging

November 12th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

 

I used to post on this blog almost every day. Lately I haven’t been posting much. I am not worrying too much about it, but have been thinking about why.

I think it is largely to do with changes in my work. In the past, I was primarily a researcher, working on all manner of reports and projects, mostly in the field of elearning and knowledge development. My primary mode of work was desk research: in other words I read a lot. I can remember twenty years ago when I first moved to Bremen in Germany I used to travel about once every four months to the University of Surrey at Guildford (which was the easiest UK university to get to from Gatwick airport). I would spend thirty pounds on a photocopying card, spend an entire day in the university archives and travel back with photocopies of 60 or 70 research papers. I kept these for years before I realised I never looked at them. By 2000 of course, access to research was moving to the web. One of the big changes this heralded was the arrival of grey literature. Interestingly this term which was much used at the time, seems to have gone out of fashion, as it has slowly become accepted that web based materials of all kinds have at least some validity in the research process. So called grey literature gave access to a wider range of thinking and ideas than could be gained from official journal papers alone, although the debate over how to measure quality is far from resolved.

And to bring this up to date, the emergence of Open Educational Resources, Open Journals and specialist networks like the excellent ResearchGate, have increased the discoverability of research ideas and findings.

I used to enjoy the research work. And it was easy to blog. There would always be something in a paper, on a web site, in a network to comment on. I wrote a lot about Personal Learning Networks, a popular subject at the time, and through speaking at conferences and seminars got new ideas for more blog posts. But there were some frustrations to this work. Although we talked a lot about PLEs and the like, it was hard to see much evidence in practice. Our ideas were often just that: ideas which had at best limited evaluation and implementation in the field. Most frustratingly, few of the projects were

A tale of two conferences

September 19th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

In the first week of September, I attended two conferences – the Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C) at Warwick University in the UK and the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) hosted by Porto University in Portugal.

I guess there were some 500 people at ALT-C. Most seemed to be juggling two devices online at most times. And there were literally thousands of tweets using the Alt-C hashtag. the ECER conference was mush bigger with over 2600 registered delegates. I didn’t see too many onine. And there were very few tweets using the ECER hashtag. It was suggested to me this was because a singly hashtag is too broad to encompass the woide range of topics covered in ECER’s different networks. But I don;t think that was the reason. Although for those of us working with technology, online immersion has become a way of life, the culture of educational researchers has not yet embraced such an idea. Of course most – if not all 0 educational researchers are computer literate and of course teh internet is a key tool for accessing documents and for communication. But for most that is it.

A personal reality check

The challenges of open data: emerging technology to support learner journeys

May 8th, 2014 by Graham Attwell

Its several years since I have been to the AltC conference in the UK. And I have missed the chance to catch up with friends and colleagues workings in Technology Enhanced Learning in the UK. One reason I have not been going to the conference is it usually takes place in September, the high season of conferences, and there always seem to be clashes with something else. The main reason is simple though – the cost. With a conference fee of something over £500 excluding accommodation and travel, without a sponsor it is pretty hard to justify so much expenditure. The saddest thing about that cost is I suspect it excludes many young and emerging researchers, unable to meet the fee from their own pocket and with institutions increasingly limiting conference expenditure. My daughter tells me that, albeit in a different field, her university provides her conferences fees of just £500 a year!

Anyway, this year I am lucky enough to have a project to pay and have submitted, together with my colleagues working on the project the following abstract. You can find out more about the LMIforAll project at www.lmiforall.ork.uk

The challenges of open data: emerging technology to support learner journeys

Authors: Attwell, G., Barnes, S-A., Bimrose, J., Elferink, R., Rustemeier, P. & Wilson, R.

Abstract 

People make important decisions about their participation in the labour market every year. This extends from pupils in schools, to students in Further and Higher education institutions and individuals at every stage of their career and learning journeys. Whether these individuals are in transition from education and/or training, in employment and wishing to up-skill, re-skill or change their career, or whether they are outside the labour market wishing to re-enter, high quality and impartial labour market information (LMI) is crucial to effective career decision-making. LMI is at the heart of UK Government reforms of careers service provision.

Linking and opening up careers focussed LMI to optimise access to, and use of, core national data sources is one approach to improving that provision as well as supporting the Open Data policy agenda (see HM Government, 2012). Careers focussed LMI can be used to support people make better decisions about learning and work and improve the efficiency of labour markets by helping match supply with demand, and helping institutions in planning future course provision. A major project, funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, is underway led by a team of data experts at the Institute for Employment Research (University of Warwick) with developers and technologists from Pontydysgu and Raycom designing, developing and delivering a careers LMI webportal, known as LMI for All.

The presentation will focus on the challenge of collaborating and collecting evidence at scale between institutions and the social and technological design and development of the database. The database is accessed through an open API, which will be explored during the presentation. Through open competition developers, including students in FE, have been encouraged to develop their own applications based on the data. Early adopters and developers have developed targeted applications and websites that present LMI in a more engaging way, which are targeted at specific audiences with contrasting needs. The web portal is innovative, as it seeks to link and open up careers focused LMI with the intention of optimising access to, and use of, core national data sources that can be used to support individuals make better decisions about learning and work. It has already won an award from the Open Data Institute. The presentation will highlight some of the big data and technological challenges the project has addressed. It will also look at how to organise collaboration between institutions and organisations in sharing data to provide new services in education and training. Targeted participants include developers and stakeholders from a range of educational and learning settings. The session will be interactive with participants able to test out the API, provide feedback and view applications.

Reference

HM Government (2012). Open Data White Paper: Unleashing the Potential. Norwich: TSO.

Storytelling with cartoons

February 13th, 2014 by Angela Rees

Always on the lookout for practical ways to use technology in the classroom, Pontydysgu were scoping out new ideas at Bett 2014.

We liked the new Lego storytelling kit. One set gives you a tray of Lego bits, there are minifigs, cats, frogs, brooms, Christmas trees and more.  You also get a book of lesson plans and ides and the accompanying software. There’s also a spinner to help choose a genre or character for storytelling inspiration.  The idea is that children work in groups to tell a story, each group has a kit with enough lego bits to recreate the same scene 5 times only each one is slightly different as their stories progress.  They then take photos of their scenes and upload them to a computer where they can drag and drop the photos into a comic strip style template, add backgrounds and captions and print their story.

The software is nice and simple to use, the lego kit has been carefully selected for optimum storyline coverage and it has the lego brand – guaranteed to spark some interest in even the most reluctant of storytellers.

Now, here at Pontydysgu we like a good idea, but what we like even more is a free idea.  So in the tradition of those catwalk-fashion at highstreet-prices magazine articles I bring you “BETT on a budget”

 

To create your own comic strip you will need;

A collection of small-world-play or dolls house characters and accessories.

A camera/ webcam/ cameraphone with the ability to transfer your photos to a computer.

Internet access.

An app or web based tool for comic strip creation using photographs.

Here are some I’ve been trying out this week;

Web based

Toondoo – Free- You need to create account but it is easy to do. Upload photos, edit, cut shapes out and save, then go to  cartoon creator, choose comic strip layout and you can put your own images into a cartoon, choose layout template, drag and drop backgrounds and cliparts, callouts and thought bubbles to create a story.

Downloads

Lego Storystarter software – for creating comics, and other styles Newspaper, old manuscript £107.99 inc VAT (the whole kit based on a class of 30 is £779.99 in VAT)

Comic Life – Cost £11.99 for a single user license or £1,049 for a site license.

Apps for iOS/Android

Comic touch – Free – From the creators of comic life this App cartoonises one photo at a time with no comic strip mode so you would have to print them and reassemble into a comic strip or download the pictures after editing and then use a different tool to put your story together.

 

 

Protected: test del me

August 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Teaching and Learning with social software

November 14th, 2011 by Graham Attwell
Now I think Michael Idinopulos from Social Text is going a little over the top when he claims the approach below is unique. But he is right in saying that traditional approaches to training using social software don’t work and we need to develop new pedagogic approaches.
clipped from www.socialtext.com

Suppose you were trying to train someone who had never seen a telephone before. You could teach them how to dial, how to put someone on hold, how to work the mute button. But until they actually make a call and speak to another human being, they won’t get the point. And that’s exactly what happens when you use traditional training methods for social tools: they learn how to push the buttons, but they don’t get the point.

In traditional training, you interact with technology. In social training, you interact with other people by means of technology. The technology becomes a medium, like a telephone or a videoconference room, rather than the object of your interaction, like an MRI machine or a Boeing 777.

  blog it

Are we still in a pre-digital capitalist world?

September 19th, 2011 by Graham Attwell
there was an interesting discussion on twitter this morning. @patparslow said “I suspect we are so early on in the meteoric rise of digital technology, pre-digital would be a better description.” In the discussion that followed he cited the present confusion over copyright law as an example of how far we have to go before society adjust to the disruptions engendered by digital technologies. But i suspect it goes much further. Present financing of companies is ill suited to the needs of the creative and software industries as this quote from Jimmy Mulville, co-founder of Hat Trick Productions, makes clear.
clipped from www.telegraph.co.uk

“I would never again sell to a purely financial institution. I don’t
believe it works when banks invest in volatile creative companies,” he
said. “There was nothing nefarious about [August's expectations] but
the leverage involved in these deals is so punitive. It puts a tremendous
pressure on producers – look at Endemol, look at All3Media [both of which
have substantial debt]. It was very distracting to be embroiled in.”

Jimmy Mulville, who co-founded the business and was part of a management team
which sold a stake to August Equity in 2003 before wresting it back again in
2009, said there was an inherent mismatch between creative companies and the
relentless focus on growth demanded by financial investors.

  blog it

The perverse effects of governement policies (2)

September 9th, 2011 by Graham Attwell
From an editorial in Time Higher Education. The article explains how under the original government plan funding for the arts and humanities was slashed. In responding to protests they have announced for funds for these subjects but at the expense of expenditure on STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It is hard to see any real direction in government higher education policy – other than a desire to privatise universities. But the perverse effects of these policies may very soon have a considerable economic impact. Not for nothing are countries with a far lower GDP than the UK striving to expand education, especially in STEM subjects.
clipped from www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

Now we hear that international student numbers for taught postgraduate STEM courses have almost doubled in eight years whereas those for home students have risen by just 1 per cent, leaving departments vulnerable to fluctuations in the overseas market and the ludicrous vagaries of our visa system.

From 2012-13, science departments will find themselves with only £1,500 per new student on top of the increased tuition fee, despite STEM subjects being far more expensive to teach than classroom-based ones. The AAB policy has delivered a further blow: a number of science and engineering subjects have low proportions of AAB students, leaving departments that teach them open to greater competition.

Mr Willetts was at pains to reassure everyone that there was no cause for alarm as the arts would in fact get a good deal. What he failed to tell us was that this would come at the expense of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

  blog it

Its official – surfing the net is good for you and good for productivity

August 22nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell
A study on the “Impact of Cyberloafing on Psychological Engagement,” by Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim of the National University of Singapore, presented last week in San Antonio, Texas, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, an association of management scholars, claims that surfing the net can increase productivity.
clipped from online.wsj.com
According to a new study, Web browsing can actually refresh tired workers and enhance their productivity, compared to other activities such as making personal calls, texts or emails, let alone working straight through with no rest at all.
Why is Web-surfing more restorative than, say, responding to a friend’s email? When browsing the Internet, people “usually choose to visit only the sites that they like—it’s like going for a coffee or snack break. Breaks of such nature are pleasurable, rejuvenating the Web surfer,” wrote Dr. Lim, in an email. By contrast, workers can’t control the kinds of email they receive, and reading and replying to each message is “cognitively more demanding, relative to Web surfing, as you need to pay attention to what is said on the email,” she added.
blog it

Saqueos are contagious

August 17th, 2011 by Graham Attwell
The impact of last weeks riots in London will be long lasting. And after the outpouri9ng of reaction from the propertied and privileged classes slowly more sane voices are emerging.

This is an excerpt from an excellent column in today’s Guardian newspaper.

clipped from www.guardian.co.uk

Of course London’s riots weren’t a political protest. But the people committing night-time robbery sure as hell know that their elites have been committing daytime robbery. Saqueos are contagious. The Tories are right when they say the rioting is not about the cuts. But it has a great deal to do with what those cuts represent: being cut off. Locked away in a ballooning underclass with the few escape routes previously offered – a union job, a good affordable education – being rapidly sealed off. The cuts are a message. They are saying to whole sectors of society: you are stuck where you are, much like the migrants and refugees we turn away at our increasingly fortressed borders.

Cameron’s response to the riots is to make this locking-out literal: evictions from public housing, threats to cut off communication tools and outrageous jail terms (five months to a woman for receiving a stolen pair of shorts). The message is once again being sent: disappear, and do it quietly.

  blog it
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    Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE from the Online EDUCA Berlin 2014

    We will broadcast from Berlin on the 4th and the 5th of December. Both times it will start at 11.15 CET and will go on for about 30 minutes.

    Go here to listen to the radio stream: SoB Online EDUCA 2014 LIVE Radio.

    News Bites

    Online Educa Berlin

    Are you going to Online Educa Berlin 2014. As usual we will be there, with Sounds of the Bazaar, our internet radio station, broadcasting live from the Marlene bar on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 December. And as always, we are looking for people who would like to come on the programme. Tell us about your research or your project. tell us about cool new ideas and apps for learning. Or just come and blow off steam about something you feel strongly about. If you would like to pre-book a slot on the radio email graham10 [at] mac [dot] com telling us what you would like to talk about.


    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.


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