Supporting research with social software

September 4th, 2009 by Graham Attwell


Between the meetings we are working hard on new web sites, using a variety of different software.  Here is one of my favourites. This new social networking site for the European Educational Research Association Vocational education and Training Networks (VETNET) has been created using Mixxt. Mixxt is a bit Ning like. But it is advert free and somehow (perhaps a bit irrationally) I trust the developers more than I do Ning.

We are also working on sites using Buddypress, Cloudworks and WritetoReply. As ever, usability is one of our main aims. Most of the users we work with are not technology experts, neither do they usually have any experience with social software.

Anyway, here is the invitation we have sent to members of the VETNET  network. And it is extended to you!

“VETNET has set up a new social networking web site.

The web site is designed to promote networking and collaboration between researchers in VET in Europe. It also provides information on VETNET activities and particularly on the VETNET conference.

Unlike other VETNET web spaces this site has been designed to make it easy for you to do things yourselves and to share ideas with other members.

You can join the site by going to and then creating an account using the sign up here button. Then log in with your new account details.

Things you can do

  • Fill in your profile
  • Comment on other peoples’ profiles and leave them a message
  • Add people as friends
  • Add to the existing discussion or start a new one
  • Upload a file – e.g. your conference paper
  • Vote in the poll
  • Get maps of the conference locations
  • Download the conference draft programme
  • Add details of your conference session to the events page

And much more

We hope you will enjoy using the site.”

Open Journals

August 29th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

The end of September sees the annual European Conference on Educational Research in Vienna (ECER). For many years now, I have supported the Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET) which forms a constituent section of the European Educational Research Association, the organisers of ECER.

Whilst VETNET has been extremely successful in organising around the conference, its attempts to form a stronger community of practice have been hampered by the lack of activities between conferences. One long discussed aim is to launch a research journal. Many hours of work have been taken up in drawing up proposals and negotiating with publishers, with little result. For some years now, I have been arguing for a web based open journal. Whilst some have seen the potential of such a development, the majority of researchers within the vocational and education training community have remained wedded to the traditional publisher led model, mainly, I think, feeling that the academic standing of a journal can only be secured through publisher involvement.

In that regard, I am delighted to read in OLDaily (welcome back from holidays, Stephen) of  the launch of AISHE-J (The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) which has just launched volume 1 number 1. “It is an open-access, peer-reviewed, journal of scholarly research into Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.” Here’s the RSS Feed. The first issue includes an article from Phil Race on assessment as learning and Kate Day on learning environments.

Open Journal do not imply any less quality than traditional closed print journals. The more examples there are of such journals, the more the sceptics will be convinced. VETNET take note!

  • Search

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    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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