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