Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Working places as learning spaces: part four – the internet

September 21st, 2016 by Graham Attwell

skypePart four of the series on working places as learning spaces focuses on the internet. Giving this just one photo would not really work so I have indulged in three.
Dave White distinguishes between digital visitors and digital residents in their use of the internet. “When in Visitor mode, individuals decide on the task they wish to undertake. For example, discovering a particular piece of information online, completing the task and then going offline or moving on to another task. When in Resident mode the individual is going online to connect to, or to be with, other people. This mode is about social presence.”
I am a digital resident. Increasingly my online world and off line world are intertwined and I guess much of my learning takes place on the Internet. I have combined using different tools to form a Personal Learning Environment, although it is neither particularly stable or efficient. I use a wide range of different applications and tools, depending on what I am doing.
fmProbably most important are applications for communications. For one to one communication my app of choice is Skype. Skype has one big advantage – almost everyone I know has a Skype address and it seems to work on most platforms. OK,the video and audio quality are not great. But it is simple and it just works. With close friends and colleagues, I tend to use it like a conversation in an office, stopping to say good morning, to talk during breaks, to meet to discuss particular problems and issues. One curious thing I have noticed is that with some people I tend to mainly use text and with others video although I have no real idea why. I guess these just become habits.
I have missed feelings about online meetings. For sure they allow people to meet from all over the world without the time and cost of travel. But sometimes I think just because they are cheap and easy, we hold more meetings than we necessarily need. And online meetings are very different from face to face meetings. Firstly they lack the many visual cues we use in face to face conversations. And there is a tendency for discussions to go round and round with little movement towards closure. Remaining focused on the screen can get very tiring – an online meeting room lacks the visual distractions of the physical environment. I think those distractions are necessary for longer meetings. Preparation and moderation are even more important in online meetings than face to face if meetings are to be open and participative and arrive at conclusions, whether shared or not.
Twitter is my favourite social networking tool. Although it can take a bit of time curating the right people to follow (and unfollow), Twitter offers a wealth of learning. Shout-outs to followers with particular queries often elect helpful responses. More importantly I get links to ideas, to blogs, to papers, to people I would be never have heard about otherwise. The recent popularity of simultaneous tweet-meets usually lasting something like one hour in the evening and focused around responses and discussions of four or five key questions, have opened up a new self organised learning space.
For access to academic papers I am almost completely reliant on the internet. Whilst I miss the atmosphere of the library, it is much more convenient and offers a wider range of publications. However, far too many papers and publications are still hidden behind publisher pay walls and too expensive for those who do not have a university library affiliation.
Finally a word about books. Like many of us, I guess, a few years ago I was sold on book readers and online publications. But, similarly to many others if the market data is to be believed, I have slowly drifted  back to paper publications. True, electronic books take up less storage space. They are also cheaper. But I don’t think they offer such as attractive learning space as paper publications. It will be interesting to see how in the future we integrate our physical world including artefacts like books with the digital world.

Working places as Learning Spaces (part 3)

September 19th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

image001Here is part 3 of this part 5 series.

These pictures was taken at the 2016 Association of Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) conference in Barcelona, with some 3200 delegates. The EU Learning Layers project had a stand at the conference, organised a bar camp and presented a paper and two posters.

In truth the stand is not a great learning space design. We only had two chairs and only really many visitors in conference coffee breaks and at lunch. But one thing about running an exhibition stand is you never know what people are going to be interested in or what they will ask. In a big project like Learning layers which has some 20 partners and is organised in different work teams developing different applications to support informal learning, it means you have to appreciate and understand the work of others in order to explain it to visitors. And with the barcamp and posters sessions we developed spaces for informal learning within the conference. The bar camp – an unconference session – allowed participants to put forward their own ideas for discussions and exploration in a series of round tables. Participants were active and motivated, unlike the usually passive engagement in formal paper sessions at conferences. I have little experience in medical education. Most of the participants were practitioners in medical education, with many ideas to learn from.  I do not really understand why more such sessions are not organised in major conferences. As an aside, conference venues are seldom designed as learning spaces. Rows of chairs facing a presenter at the front hardly inspires interaction and social learning.

img_0392

I always like the idea of poster sessions. But with some 600 posters at AMEE and proposers given only three minutes to present their papers it really failed to work as a learning space. We are working at the moment on the idea of using technology to enhance the poster sessions at next year’s conference.

But for me the real learning at the conference was from the Learning Layers team. There were eight of us and we rotated in pairs on the exhibition stand. Like many of the big European research projects, Learning Layers in an interdisciplinary project. Partners include social scientists, pedagogists, business science specialists, designers and technical developers. We can learn from each other and from people with a different subject specialism from our own. This happens to an extent in formal project meetings but the time spent on the stand allowed more in depth conversations. And in the course of the three days spent together we bonded as a team.

 

Learning Analytics for Workplace and Professional Learning

September 19th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

There is a small but growing community emerging in Europe around the potential and use of Learning analytics in the workplace. And there are still places available for a free workshop entitled ‘Learning Analytics for Workplace and Professional Learning’ on Friday 23 September in Leeds in the UK.

The workshop is being organised around two main activities.During the morning all the participants will shortly present their research work or the research questions they are working on. Thus, we can find common problems, synergies and potential collaborations in future projects. During the afternoon we can work on smaller groups to discuss some community building mechanisms: follow-up workshops (maybe at LAK’17), potential grant applications, creation of an on-line community, collaboration in current or future projects, collaboration with other researchers or research communities.

More information can be found in this PDF document. And to register, please send an email to: Tamsin Treasure-Jones (t [dot] treasure-jones [at] leeds [dot] ac [dot] uk)

Working Places and Learning Spaces (Part 2)

September 16th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

jlgBelow is part two of my series on Working Places and Learning Spaces. Meanwhile Angela Rees, Steve Wheeler and Colin Milligan have both produced their own photos and reflections on their learning spaces. Feel free to join in. You can find the original idea for the meme here.

With new technologies, many conversations take place today over the internet. And those technologies help us develop and curate Personal Learning Networks. Yet face to face conversations can be more animated informal and allow wider ranging conversations. It is notable that many people say the best learning at conferences and meetings take place in the coffee breaks and in the evenings.

Sometimes I contact people in advance to meet up for a chat. Other times such meetings happen by chance. Sometimes meetings are with friends I have met and worked with before, sometimes with more distant contacts. And sometimes they are with friends and family.

This picture is of me with Jose Luis Garcia, a professor from the Complutense University of Madrid. I have worked with him on projects in the past, he is my girlfriends father and a good friend. The working space was simply my living room in Valencia. We had dinner together and afterwards were talking. I told him I was interested in learning spaces and explained the background to the Institute of Education’s project which kicked off a wide ranging discussion which went on late into the night. He told me about his interest in the idea of ‘mobilities’ which he saw as similar to spaces.

I wrote a series of notes – on the back of an envelope. Technology often gets in the way of conversations like this –the only problem with hand written notes being my terrible handwriting.

Learning like this happens in informal spaces – bars, restaurants, coffee houses and so on. With one friend and colleague we have on a number of occasions organised walks. We walk and talk – stop at a bar and make notes and then walk and talk again. But more often such conversations are more serendipitous than planned.

The photo is a selfie. There was no-one else present to take the photo and I wanted both of us in that. The photo does not show much of the space we are in – and that is the point –it really does not matter as long as we are have a space in which we are both comfortable.

 

Working and Learning Spaces

September 14th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

office1

Here is the first of the series on working places as learning spaces, produced for the Institute of Education in London as a contribution to the  Lifelong Learning Hub (ASEM LLL Hub) international network.

I work for a small research and development company called Pontydysgu, based in Pontypridd in Wales. We have something like 14 employees, most of us part time, and living in Wales, England, Germany and Spain. Although we have two offices, in Pontypridd and in Bremen, Germany, most of us work from home. We make extensive use of technologies for day to day communication (that will be the subject of another picture).

I have two of what the Germans call ‘home offices’ in my two homes in Spain and Germany. I suppose these are the nearest I have to a ‘traditional’ working space.

The offices serve a number of purposes. One of the big advantages of working from home is that it does not take long to get to work (in one of my previous jobs I was travelling nearly three hours every day, to and from my official workplace). But there are downsides. One is that I am not careful I can end up working very long hours – another is that it is hard to get away from the work. At least with an office it is possible to escape form the clutter of work instruments and tools – papers, files, computer equipment, printers, stationary and so on. Secondly, the office provides a place to flee to avoid disturbing other people in my flat.

Neither office is really ideal – nor am I quite sure what an ideal office would look like. Certainly in summer both suffer from a surfeit of sunlight! But at least in my larger Bremen office, I have an old sofa and an Ikea chair for when I get fed up at sitting at the desk.

The big problem with an office I think – and this applies just as much if not more to working in an institutional environment – is social isolation. I used to work in an institution in the university in Bremen. It was a modern architect designed, environmentally friendly building. It certainly was not the breeze blog and concrete UK researchers have had to get used to. And in terms of learning probably one of the worst places I have worked. The blinds went up and down automatically according the not so intelligent decisions of the central computer. Lights were automatic too. In evenings if you did not move enough you were plunged into darkness. But worst was that although everyone had =very nice offices, the building had been designed without any social spaces (apart from two small kitchens). And it is in those (informal) social spaces where learning takes place.

There are similar downsides to working at home despite the ease of telecommunications. But I frequently move around the flat to different rooms and there is usually some kind of everyday social interaction, certainly with the environment, often with other people. Indeed, I noticed that in both of my offices I have a large computer screen but I rarely plug them in, preferring instead the mobility of a 11inch laptop. I have never really got used to playing music while I work (although I wish I had). But frequent social interaction somehow makes a working place more human and that interaction in turn helps social learning in one way or another. I think it is connectivity – being connected from the world of research and development to the wider world outside us.

 

 

Working places as learning spaces

September 13th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

WorkplaceAt the 2015 European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), I attended an interesting symposium led by Natasha Kersch and Karen Evans from the Institute of Education in London on learning spaces. I promised to contribute some pictures and ideas to the project. Predictably perhaps, I forgot, but due to their very welcome persistence have finally got my act together. I find the whole area fascinating: my working spaces have changed so much over the years. I am not quite sure I am providing what they want – instead of a few lines I think I am telling a story and instead of one photo have taken the indulgence of providing two for most of those short stories. Anyway below is the invite and scoping of the task. Over the next few days I will post my photos and stories on this biog.

We would be very grateful if you could take part in ASEM ‘Working places as learning spaces’ research. Established in 2005 by the intergovernmental Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Lifelong Learning Hub (ASEM LLL Hub) is an international network of higher education institutions and educational policymakers from these two world regions. Its members, as institutions and individuals, work and learn together towards three aims: to achieve excellence in comparative research on lifelong learning; to offer research-based education policy recommendations; and to develop mutual understanding between Asia and Europe. The ASEM LLL Hub provides a platform for dialogue between researchers and policymakers, thereby contributing to evidence-based educational reform and innovation.

We are currently undertaking research on ‘workplace spaces as learning spaces’, specifically focusing on the ways people learn at work through different kinds of spaces: physical, virtual etc. As part of this process we are hoping to interview a small number of professionals involved with VET/adult education/ICT, specifically asking them to talk about their perceptions of ‘learning spaces’ at work (i.e. how people view their learning spaces at work). We would be most grateful if you could talk to us about your experiences of “learning spaces’ within your own professional practices . The interview will take around 30-40 min. As part of this research, we would also be really grateful if you could send us some photos that capture the idea of learning spaces that are important for you in your work and work practices (with a couple of lines of explanation for each picture). Those could relate to a variety of spaces: areas of your office, your desk, meeting room, , virtual space at your computer, cafeteria, etc.

Unconferencing at AMEE

September 12th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

image001

I am way behind writing things up at the moment – too much going on.

Anyway two weeks ago I was with the Learning Layers team at the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) conference in Barcelona. We organised a Barcamp session, had a stand, Tamsin and Sebastion presented a paper and a couple of colleagues presented posters.

Obviously with the stand I didn’t get a chance to go to many sessions but did get to talk at some length to quite a few delegates. The conference was big, with over 3200 individuals attending. What impressed me was that the conference seemed to be made up predominantly of practising educators- and at least from looking at some of the over 600 posters to be extremely practice focused. Regard9ing educational technology, there was a perhaps to be expected interest in the potential of Augmented Reality and simulations. But generally delegates (or at least those I talked too) seemed to regard educational technology as a given.

Once more, this may have been a self selected sample of those interested in Learning Layers technologies designed more to support informal learning than traditional classroom teaching, but there seemed to be a growing frustration with the limitations of Learning Management Systems.

The double unconferencing session we ran – promoted as a Barcamp was very well received. After a short introduction into the idea of a Barcamp, participants themselves decided on the topics to be discussed at a series of four round table sessions. Some of the action was captured on a Google doc which can be viewed here.

And there have a number of participants writing about their own experiences of the BarCamp in blogs about the conference (more about the Joycards in a future blog entry).

Natalie Lafferty’s Highlights from AMEE – mention the BarCamp, Learning Layers, Learning Toolbox and the informal learning JoyCard. She shared these reflections on twitter as well.

The Learning Layers BarCamp and the informal learning JoyCard are two of Barbara Jenning’s Top 10 Highlights of AMEE in her storify which was also shared on twitter.

Given the positive feedback – and the obvious knowledge sharing and learning which took place, it makes me wonder why more conference have not adopted BarCamps or similar unconferencing sessions. It seems AMEE is open to different formats and we hope to repeat the experiment again next year. But all too often conferences are sticking to the tried and tested, despite the frequently repeated observation that more is learned in informal chats at breaks and in the evening than n formal paper presentations.

Workplace Learning Analytics workshop

September 7th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

It is not easy developing a community around Workplace Learning Analytics but there are some signs of emerging interest.

On 23 September 2016, in Leeds, there is an open workshop on Workplace Learning Analytics, sponsored by the Learning Layers project. The invitation to the workshop runs as follows.

Up to now, the Learning Analytics community has not paid much attention to workplace and professional scenarios, where, in contrast to formal education, learning is driven by demands of work tasks and intrinsic interest of the learner. Hence, learning processes at the workplace are typically informal and not related to a pedagogical scenario. But workplace and professional learners can benefit from their own and others’ learning outcomes as they will potentially increase learning awareness, knowledge sharing and scaling-up learning practices.

Some approaches to Learning Analytics at the workplace have been suggested. On the one hand, the topic of analytics in smart industries has extended its focus to some learning scenarios, such as how professionals adopt innovations or changes at the workplace; on the other hand, the Learning Analytics community is increasing its attention to informal scenarios, professional training courses and teaching analytics. For this reason, we consider that it a great moment to collect all this interest to build up a community related to workplace and professional Learning Analytics.

  • We invite you to take part in the workshop which will have two main activities:
    During the morning all the participants will shortly present their research work or the research questions they are working on. Thus, we can find common problems, synergies and potential collaborations in future projects.
  • During the afternoon we can work on smaller groups to discuss some community-building mechanisms: follow-up workshops (maybe at LAK’17), potential grant applications, creation of an on-line community, collaboration in current or future projects, collaboration with other researchers or research communities… etc.

To register, please send an email to: Tamsin Treasure-Jones (t [dot] treasure-jones [at] leeds [dot] ac [dot] uk)

Jobs of the Future

August 22nd, 2016 by Graham Attwell

There is a lot of speculation at the moment as to the jobs of the future. On the one hand, it is said that we are educating young people for jobs which do not yet exist; on the other hand there are dire predictions that up to of existing 55 per cent of jobs may disappear to automation in the next five years.

If it is hard as a researcher who works with labour market data to make sense of all this, imagine what it is like for young people trying to plan a career (and if doing a degree in the UK, running up major debt).

However, there is beginning to appear some more nuanced research on the future of jobs. Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi have just published the initial report on a research project looking at how automation will affect future employment. The report, entitled ‘Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)’, is based on detailed analysis of 2,000-plus work activities for more than 800 occupations. Using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net, they have quantified both the amount of time spent on these activities across the economy of the United States and the technical feasibility of automating each of them.

Their overall finding is that while automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail.
automation
Each whole occupation is made up of multiple types of activities, each with varying degrees of technical feasibility. In practice, they explain, automation will depend on more than just technical feasibility. Five factors are involved: technical feasibility, costs to automate, the relative scarcity, skills and costs of workers who might otherwise do the activity, benefits (e.g. superior performance) of automation beyond labour costs substitution and regulatory and social acceptance considerations.
The likelihood and ease of automation depends on the types of activities organised on a continuum of less susceptible to automation to more susceptible to automation: managing others, applying expertise,  stakeholder interactions, unpredictable physical work, data collection, processing data, predictable physical work. Thus occupations like accommodation, food service and manufacturing which include a large amount of predictable physical work are likely to be automated, similarly work in finance and insurance which involves much processing of data. On the other hand jobs in construction and in agriculture which comprise predominantly unpredictable physical work are unlikely to be automated, at least at present. And there is good news for teachers: “the importance of human interaction is evident in two sectors that, so far, have a relatively low technical potential for automation: healthcare and education.”

The woes of Brexit

August 17th, 2016 by Graham Attwell

erasmusI have greatly enjoyed reading Pekka Kamareinen’s series of posts on this website on the history of VETNET – the Vocational Education and Training network allied to the European educational Research Association. Vocational education and Training is not a mainstream research area – indeed one of the long running discussions is whether it should be viewed as a discipline in itself or an area for trans disciplinary or inter disciplinary research.

Yet although Vocational Education and Training receives far less attention than research in schools and in higher education it is important. Arguably the rapid changes in the nature and organisation of the workforce and the introduction of new technologies make workforce skills and competence more important for the future. With very different systems and cultures of VET in different European countries, one key has been the ability to learn from how things are done differently elsewhere. Brexit threatens the ability of UK based researchers to be able to participate in this research in the future. True, anyone can participate in VETNET and attend the annual European Conference on Educational Research regardless of living in an EU country or not. But the stark reality is that many researchers depend on European project funding to be able to attend.

Although the English government has announced continuing support for organisations participating in the FP 7 Research programme, there has been no corresponding announcement of the Erasmus Plus programme, which is perhaps more important for VET.

Of course Brexit proponents had argued that withdrawal from the EU will release more national funding for research in the UK.But I fear that given all the challenges that the UK faces in organising withdrawal, educational research will be low on priority lists, and VET research probably even lower.  This bodes ill for the ability of researchers to particpate in the much needed debate on how the UK’s somewhat chaotic and underfunded VET systems can be transformed to meet the twin challenges of the changing nature of work and new technologies.

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Peer Review

    According to the Guardian, research conducted with more than 6,300 authors of journal articles, peer reviewers and journal editors revealed that over two-thirds of researchers who have never peer reviewed a paper would like to. Of that group (drawn from the full range of subject areas) more than 60% said they would like the option to attend a workshop or formal training on peer reviewing. At the same time, over two-thirds of journal editors told the researchers that it is difficult to find reviewers


    Teachers and overtime

    According to the TES teachers in the UK “are more likely to work unpaid overtime than staff in any other industry, with some working almost 13 extra hours per week, according to research.

    A study of official figures from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that 61.4 per cent of primary school teachers worked unpaid overtime in 2014, equating to 12.9 additional hours a week.

    Among secondary teachers, 57.5 per cent worked unpaid overtime, with an average of 12.5 extra hours.

    Across all education staff, including teachers, teaching assistants, playground staff, cleaners and caretakers, 37.6 per cent worked unpaid overtime – a figure higher than that for any other sector.”


    The future of English Further Education

    The UK Parliament Public Accounts Committee has warned  the declining financial health of many FE colleges has “potentially serious consequences for learners and local economies”.

    It finds funding and oversight bodies have been slow to address emerging financial and educational risks, with current oversight arrangements leading to confusion over who should intervene and when.

    The Report says the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Skills Funding Agency “are not doing enough to help colleges address risks at an early stage”.


    Skills in Europe

    Cedefop is launching a new SKILLS PANORAMA website, online on 1 December at 11.00 (CET).

    Skills Panorama, they say,  turns labour market data and information into useful, accurate and timely intelligence that helps policy-makers decide on skills and jobs in Europe.

    The new website will provide with a more comprehensive and user-friendly central access point for information and intelligence on skill needs in occupations and sectors across Europe. You can register for the launch at Register now at http://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/launch/.


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

  • RT @socialtheoryapp Habermas and Social Research: Between Theory and Method (Routledge Advances in Sociology) fb.me/88xXuxZuA

    Yesterday from Cristina Costa's Twitter via Twitter for iPhone

  • Sounds of the Bazaar AudioBoo

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Upcoming Events

      There are no events.
  • Categories