Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Pontydysgu in Europe

March 18th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

I’ve had a few queries lately about whether Pontydysgu can still take part in European projects. With regard to Erasmus Plus I’m afraid the answer for Pontydysgu UK is no. It seems that the UK were invited to continue as part of Erasmus plus on the same basis as Norway paying into the project funding. But the UK government refused on the basis that it was too expensive. According to gossip the UK wished to continue with student exchanges but not participate in the Erasmus projects and the EU, not unreasonably in my view, said it was all or nothing. They have replaced Erasmus plus with the Turing scheme which, they claim, will be backed by over £100 million, providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas, starting in September 2021. As opposed to the European basis for Erasmus, it would appear the Turing scheme is more focused on English speaking countries in other parts of the world and on boosting UK trade.

The good news is that Pontydysgu SL,  our Spanish spin out based in Valencia is of course able  to participate in Erasmus Plus and other European programmes. And, coming soon,  we are reorganising our web site, launching Pontydysgu EU in English and Spanish.

The UK has, however, decided to participate in Horizon Europe, the European research programme, and both Pontydysgu Ltd in the UK and Pontydysgu SL in Spain will be very happy to be partners in bids.

 

 

This is what LinkedIn algorithm thinks about my ‘accomplishments’

March 16th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

LinkedIn is the most boring but probably most useful social network I belong to. I can’ say though I am very interested in spending a lot of time embellishing my professional profile. And I guess its the same for a lot of other people. I guess thats why LinkedIn has developed an algorithm which they offer to write a summary of your profile for you, based they say on “your accomplishments.”

And although a bit gushing, I decided that the AI version of me was not too embarrassing to add to my profile. Here you go:

I’m passionate about providing a quality education, to improve learners learning and to empower teachers. As an experienced L&D professional I have a wide range of skills which can be utilised in all areas of education but particular skills in: Learning Technology; Education; Assessment Systems development for educational providers; Educational Policies & Procedure writing and review. My experience in both the public and private sectors as well as my background in Further Education has provided me with a vast knowledge base to support staff and students on the whole. The combination of these experiences would be invaluable and useful within any educational institution or company.

People and Machines

March 16th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

One of the results of the rapid deployment of Artificial Intelligence is an increased focus on the relation between humans and machines.

The Economist has published a podcast of an interview with Nobel prize-winning author asking about what his new book “Klara and the Sun” reveals about people’s relationship with machines. They say “he argues that people’s relationship to machines will eventually change the way they think of themselves as individuals.”

And the University of Westminster Press have published a new book, Marx and Digital Machines: Alienation, Technology, Capitalism, by Mike Healy. This book explores the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the digital environment, they say, “technology offers all manner of promises, yet habitually fails to deliver. This failure often arises from numerous problems: the proficiency of the technology or end-user, policy failure at various levels, or a combination of these. Solutions such as better technology and more effective end-user education are often put into place to solve these failures.”

Mike Healy argues that such approaches are inherently faulty drawing upon qualitative research informed by Marx’s theory of alienation.

The book which is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license with copyright retained by the author(s) is available for sale in paperback format or for free download in a variety of digital formats.

Using Labour Market Information for Career Development in the Changing World of Work

February 18th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

I was invited to make a presentation earlier this week to the European Union Horizon 2020 HECAT project exploring the use of algorithms within public employment systems. Waterford (Ireland) Institute of Technology is coordinating the project and according to the WaterfordLive web site “HECAT is a sociologically and anthropologically led project to make data trapped in public employment systems (PES) and national statistical offices available to unemployed people and those trying to help them to improve their personal decision-making and visionary future.” Dr Griffin from the Institute said: “Everyone is concerned or should be worried about how algorithms and big data is being used in the labour market, we cannot put the technology genie back in the bottle, rather we need to figure out how to make the output from these novel technologies ethical, fair and transparent. We need to crack them open sociologically and anthropologically so that traditional researchers can fully understand how they operate and communicate that to the public.”

Anyway here are my slides.

Keynote presentations released as Open Educational Resources

February 9th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

Tony Bates has released a series of five 40-50 minute keynotes which an be downloaded without cost from the Commonwealth of Learning’s online institutional repository for learning resources and publications, OAsis, under a Creative Commons license. The subjects of the keynotes are:

  1. Developing quality blended learning courses
  2. Digital learning and the new economy
  3. New technologies and their potential and limitations for teaching and learning
  4. Ten lessons for online learning from the Covid-19 experience (based on research findings)
  5. Online learning in the (k-12) school sector

The intention is that these can be streamed during virtual conferences, included in education and training programs, or watched individually. As James Clay says on Twitter: “I think this is an interesting concept for future online events. However there is a difference between YouTube or Netflix and an online conference. How do you add value to an event so that it is more than just streamed video?”

I went to a couple of events last week that were trying different formats. One was a professorial inaugural lecture by Bob Harrison who, it seems insisted on prerecording his presentation so he could actively participate in the accompanying chat. The other was the OECD conference on AI and the Future of Work, where the real value was not presentations as such but great (and well prepared moderation of panels of speakers, with limited opportunities for particpant questioning.

However, coming back to Tony Bates’s video keynotes, the real value I see with these is with remixing. They are released under a Creative Commons attribution, share alike license which means they are free to remix. This allows using (in my case short) clips from the video in Open Educational Resources for a MOOC we are developing on AI for vocational teachers and trainers and part of the taccle AI project. I’m going to have a go this afternoon.

LinkedIn says growing job demand for growth hackers!

February 8th, 2021 by Graham Attwell
job, job offer, workplace

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

There is increasing interest in what labour market information job advertisement portals can provide. OK, most sites will have various skews in terms  of what kind of companies advertise on them, but the good side is that they can provide near real time data about labour market supply and demand. In the UK the best known are probably Burning Glass and Emsi. Of course these are both commercial services, charging for their data. LinkedIn also has been collecting and analysing Labour Market jobs adverts and have recently published a list of the UKs fifteen fastest growing job sectors for 2021, including Top jobs, Top skills and Hiring hotspots.

The job sectors are (in rank order):

  1. E-commerce personel
  2. Health care supporting staff
  3. Digital content freelancers
  4. Construction
  5. Creative freelancers
  6. Finance
  7. Specialised medical professionals
  8. Professional coaching
  9. Social, media and digital marketing
  10. Customer service
  11. Education
  12. Mental health professionals
  13. Real estate
  14. Specialized engineering
  15. Artificial intelligence

I’m sure there has been a great deal of work in cleaning and analysing the data. However, I am not quite sure how seriously to take the findings. LinkedIn has presumably a quite heavy skew towards higher qualified professional jobs.

And it is no surprise to find to find the ‘hiring hotspots’ clustered around the major UK cities. In many ways it is teh job titles (or top jobs) that are the most interesting. Job titles are a major problem in trying to clean and analyse data from job adverts. Only recently I had feedback from someone testing a system I am developing that they could not find any jobs for ‘sandwich artists’ on my app.

The top jobs that LinkedIn list for E-Commerce personnel appear neither high paid for requiring high qualification, I am not quite sure what a online specialist is but the rest are driver, supply chain associate, supply chain assistant, warehouse team lead,

And it is pretty obvious why heath workers are in high demand and short supply.

But I am not convinced about high demand for voice over artists and script writers included in the creative freelancers category.  Nor am I sure about a shortage of Life coaches (professional coaching), less still ‘growth hackers’ (Social media and digital marketing), whatever that might be.

I wonder if employers are just getting savvy in how to appeal to younger people with job titles not reflecting the real level of pay or indeed skills. But maybe I am too cynical

Artificial Intelligence degrees

February 8th, 2021 by Graham Attwell
convocation, mortar board, graduation

mamir_k94 (CC0), Pixabay

The UK operates a central university admissions service, called UCAS. Today they have released their analysis of institutional and subject admissions for 2020. In an article in the online Higher Education newspaper, WONKHE, Sander Kristel, Chief Operations Officer at UCAS, points out some of  the more striking features of the data.

He reports that Artificial Intelligence degrees have grown by more than 400 per cent in the past decade – from just 65 acceptances in 2011 to 355 acceptances in 2020.

As he says:

This growth will be music to the ears of employers according to research from the Industrial Strategy Council, which highlighted the adoption of automation as the biggest driver of a shift in skills and estimated that 39 per cent of the activities that people are paid to do in the UK today could be automated by 2030, with current technology creating demand in technology-related occupations such as software development.

Less welcome news, however, is that although the ratio of UK male acceptances to UK female acceptances across all Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects has shrunk from 1.34 in to 1.06 over the last decade, there has been little progress made in closing the gap for computer science (6.2 in 2011, relative to 5.7 in 2020), perhaps related to the significant amount of growth in this subject overall.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

February 3rd, 2021 by Graham Attwell
review, opinion, feedback

Tumisu (CC0), Pixabay

I went to a great inaugural professorial lecture today by Bob Harrison (@BobHarrisonEdu) on Teaching Learning and Assessment in a digital world. Organised by John Traxler at the University of Warwick, the session was informative, provocative, passionate and fun. Although delivered through Zoom, it seems Bob had insisted on prerecording his presentation to allow him to participate in the chat alongside the lecture. Its well worth watching and as soon as I get the address of the recording I will post it here.

I have a growing interest in e-assessment, which I see as  one of the crucial areas in which education needs to change and we have an outstanding funding bid for an international project in this area. Anyway Bob passed on a whole series of references during the presentation and in the chat. One of these was to the E-Assessment Association.

According to its website the e-Assessment Association (eAA) is a not-for-profit membership body with three major goals.

  1. To provide professional support and facilitate debate/ discussion for everyone involved in this field of expertise;
  2. To create and communicate the positive contributions that technology makes to all forms of assessment and;
  3. To develop statements of good practice for suppliers and consumers of e-Assessment technologies. 

The eAA builds awareness of the benefits that technology brings to assessment, particularly around delivering better learning and assessment, rather than just greater efficiency.

The eAA also works to ensure that it has a strong voice and influence in the key policy debates involving the assessment of learning, training and competency.

Membership is free!

The Future of Work: an annotated bibliography

February 2nd, 2021 by Graham Attwell
macro, cogwheel, gear

Pavlofox (CC0), Pixabay

There is growing research and debate over how technology – particularly AI and automation – will result in changes to the world of work. LMIC  (I think it stands for Labor Market Information Centre – but I couldn’t find anything about the name of their website)  in Canada has a project to set up an ongoing annotated bibliography. And, although there is a focus on north American literature and reports, the site is useful for anyone interested in this topic.

“The future of work is a hot topic and the focus of many initiatives in recent years. Addressing gaps in labour market information (LMI) ensures that policy makers and stakeholders can help shape the future of work. For Canadians, information to help them adapt to this fourth industrial revolution is essential.

What the project is about

The Future of Work Annotated Bibliography features reports from a variety of sources, emphasizing Canadian information. These reports examine all aspects of the future of work. The complex interactions between megatrends, key gaps in LMI and forecasting tools are some of these topics

Introducing CiCi

January 29th, 2021 by Graham Attwell

Some of you will know I have been working with a small team on developing a chatbot to support career education and development. The project is one of the twenty finalists in the UK Nesta supported CareerTech Challenge competition. I another post I will provide more detailed report on the work we have done. But first, as part of the final report on the project, we had to submit a three minute video. We had a lot  of  fun with this – here is our entry.

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    News Bites

    Cyborg patented?

    Forbes reports that Microsoft has obtained a patent for a “conversational chatbot of a specific person” created from images, recordings, participation in social networks, emails, letters, etc., coupled with the possible generation of a 2D or 3D model of the person.


    Racial bias in algorithms

    From the UK Open Data Institute’s Week in Data newsletter

    This week, Twitter apologised for racial bias within its image-cropping algorithm. The feature is designed to automatically crop images to highlight focal points – including faces. But, Twitter users discovered that, in practice, white faces were focused on, and black faces were cropped out. And, Twitter isn’t the only platform struggling with its algorithm – YouTube has also announced plans to bring back higher levels of human moderation for removing content, after its AI-centred approach resulted in over-censorship, with videos being removed at far higher rates than with human moderators.


    Gap between rich and poor university students widest for 12 years

    Via The Canary.

    The gap between poor students and their more affluent peers attending university has widened to its largest point for 12 years, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

    Better-off pupils are significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers. And the gap between the two groups – 18.8 percentage points – is the widest it’s been since 2006/07.

    The latest statistics show that 26.3% of pupils eligible for FSMs went on to university in 2018/19, compared with 45.1% of those who did not receive free meals. Only 12.7% of white British males who were eligible for FSMs went to university by the age of 19. The progression rate has fallen slightly for the first time since 2011/12, according to the DfE analysis.


    Quality Training

    From Raconteur. A recent report by global learning consultancy Kineo examined the learning intentions of 8,000 employees across 13 different industries. It found a huge gap between the quality of training offered and the needs of employees. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said they , with only 16 per cent of employees finding the learning programmes offered by their employers effective.


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