Highlights from the Pontydysgu Studio – Learning lessons from key projects

April 20th, 2018 by Pekka Kamarainen

In my previous post I wrote down some memories of the so-called Pontydysgu Studio in Bremen, now that that ‘studio’ has been closed and the Pontydysgu activities are continued mainly in Wales (Pontydysgu Ltd) and in Spain (Pontydysgu SL). With that post I tried to give an overview on the work with multimedia (in general) and as a part of our joint projects. With this post I want to give the floor to key actors of Pontydysgu – Jenny Hughes and Graham Attwell. In the year 2012 I made some video interviews for my project of that time. In the interviews with Jenny and Graham I asked them to tell what they had learned in some of their key projects and how these lessons could be taken further to possible successor projects.

Jenny: The continuing learning process through different TACCLE projects

Among the Pontydysgu-led or -supported projects the series of TACCLE projects is a clear success story. It started with the first TACCLE project (Teachers’ Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments) that prepared an E-learning handbook for teachers classroom teachers. In the Taccle2 project the work was differentiated to address different subject areas and alongside them the primary education teachers. In the Taccle3 the emphasis on teaching programming and coding for school children. And the (so far) newest project Taccle4 focuses on developing materials and media to support continuing professional development of teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. The following two interviews were recorded already in 2012, so the it was not quite clear, in what order the successor projects would come up, but the vision was clear – this work merits to be continued.

Graham: Lessons from predecessor projects – conclusions for the Learning Layers project

In the videos above  Jenny discussed a clear continuum of projects and a training and learning strategy that was developed further in the successive steps. In this respect the interviews with Graham were somewhat different. Firstly, they covered a longer period and a wider range of projects in which very different experiences could be made. Secondly, in the latter videos they focused on comparing the predecessor projects with the forthcoming Learning Layers project. Therefore, I have selected the two latest videos for this post – the discussion on the immediate predecessor project and the shift of emphasis to the new project. Here it is worthwhile to note what challenges Graham brought into discussion and how he expected us to meet the challenges.

I think this is enough of these highlights. To me, both sets of videos have very timely messages for our current projects. I Jenny’s case we are talking of the Taccle4 project to support continuing professional development of teachers and trainers. In Graham’s case we are talking about the successor activities of the Learning Layers project and its construction pilot – now that we can build upon the Learning Toolbox (LTB) that was developed in the project. Yet, the message  – that we have to meet the challenges of the construction sector partners in their complexity – is very valid. And at the same time we have to be able to address these needs by customising the LTB and by complementary measures – training, introduction of additional software solutions and by participative co-design processes. This work is still going on.

More blogs to come …

TACCLE 4 CPD – Developing continuing professional development for teacher trainers

December 9th, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

At the end of November we had the kick-off meeting of the new Erasmus Plus project “TACCLE 4 – CPD” hosted by ITB at the University of Bremen. This project is a new kind of follow-up of a series of projects with the brand name ‘TACCLE’. So, let us firstly have a look at the development of these projects.

The TACCLE projects as support for teachers who are developing online learning

TACCLE 1 took the pioneering task to prepare a handbook as “Teachers’ aids for creating content for e-learning”. The result was a generic handbook that informed of basic web tools and online learning resources and equipped teachers to use them.

TACCLE 2 shifted the emphasis to work with online handbooks that were targeted for teachers in different subject areas as well as to primary school teachers.

These projects were also supported by specific TACCLE courses funded by the Comenius and Grundtvig programmes.

TACCLE 3 shifted the emphasis to teaching programming and coding for school children and worked mainly with the project website.

More information on the two first generations of TACCLE projects is availble on the video interviews with Jenny Hughes (recorded for the Coop-PBL in VET project in 2012):

Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 1 project: Getting teachers to produce their own web content (Part1)

Jenny Hughes on TACCLE 2 project: Reaching out to new teacher groups and subject areas (Part2)

TACCLE 4 project as support for teacher trainers with focus on technology-enhanced learning and online resources

Looking back, the earlier TACCLE projects have been successful and even more the TACCLE courses. This had created a demand for courses, workshops etc. based on the projects and their materials. This gave rise to a new project that focuses on practitioners who are developing  Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiatives for teachers and trainers in different educational sectors. From this point of view the TACCLE 4 – CPD project was shaped to draw upon the prior experiences and to expand the work from school-based education to other educational sectors – Adult Education (AE) and Vocational Education and Training. From this perspective the project was based on a limited number of partner organisations, some of which had been involved in the previous ones and some bringing new countries and/or educational sectors into the picture.

For our institute – ITB – this project is an opportunity to draw upon the experiences of multimedia training and co-design of digital tools (mainly for construction sector) in the Learning Layers project (2012 – 2016). In the kick-off meeting we presented the work with the Learning Toolbox (LTB) and the follow-up activities in different contexts:

  1. In the initial VET the HAKS project with craft trade companies and by the informal working groups of Bau-ABC trainers;
  2. In the continuing vocational training by the DigiProB project that is developing a new software ecology that links together the course management and (via moodle) the trainers’ curriculum design platform (WordPress) and the learners’ interface (LTB):
  3. In the designed project ProBauKo and in a prior feasibility study the ITB team and the LTB developers have explored the possibility to link the use of LTB to company-specific knowledge processes and learning opportunities.

In the TACCLE 4 – CPD project we have to see, how to link these working perspectives (and the role of vocational schools) to the way in which the TACCLE projects have supported training of teachers and trainers. I am looking forward to an interesting period of work.

More blogs to come …

Practical ideas for using ICT in Primary – Wolfram Alpha

March 9th, 2015 by Angela Rees

An excerpt from the Taccle2 handbook for Primary teachers. You can download all of the books for free from the Taccle2 website.

Savvy Searching

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 22.46.09

WolframAlpha is a search engine that works completely differently from, say, Google.[[1]] Whereas other search engines will provide reams and reams of results in the form of web pages, many of them too detailed and difficult for learners to read and extract what they want, results on WolframAlpha are clearer and much less wordy. It is also a good idea to get children used to the idea that there are different sorts of search engine.

Description

This scientific search engine is great for learners who want information and data on specific, ‘technical’ themes e.g. countries, animals, famous people, materials. For example, you may want them to write a project on the countries in the European Union, or to collect data specifically on one topic for a maths lesson e.g. populations of the countries in Europe.

Begin by asking learners to go to the WolframAlpha homepage. Then ask them to type a keyword, question or maths equation into the box beneath ‘Enter what you want to calculate or know about’. Click on the ‘=’ to get their results.

WolframAlpha will give the results of different meanings of the word e.g. if you type ‘France’ you will be given information and data relating to the country e.g. flag, location on a map, population etc. However, it will also give you alternative meanings you can search on e.g. ‘a given name’. Clicking on this will load a different page and a different result. In this example, it gives an outline of ‘France’ as a ‘female given name in the US’.

The word ‘banana’ is another good one to try – it gives about 5 or 6 different definitions of the word and you can search on any of them with surprising results.

We also like the little fun questions that pop out of the left hand side of the screen. You can click on them to get the answers.

What do I need?

Pupils will need a very quick tutorial – max 10 mins!

 

www.wolframalpha.com/


[1] Wolfram Alpha is a Computational Search Engine – it computes the answer from separate items of data rather than giving you a list of web pages that might have useful information.  Google is a Semantic Search Engine that takes the text you type in and ‘matches’ it against the key words on a web site.

3 practical ideas for using ICT in STEM teaching – Chemistry

March 2nd, 2015 by Angela Rees


More ideas from our Taccle2 Handbooks for teachers, I couldn’t pass up an excuse to get Tom Lehrer on the Pontydysgu website!

Science Songs

Mark Rosengarten has recorded a lot of chemistry tutorials and songs. One of our favourites is “It’s a family thing” a song about a list of organic molecules. It’s great to use at the end of the lesson so that you can end the lesson on a high. You can also give students the link to use the song as a revision aid. Watch out for humming during exams!

The other classic song (which may only be familiar to those of us of a certain age) is Tom Lehrer’s ‘Elements Song’. Some versions have pictures of the elements for added interest.  Or you can find a version with words.  Divide the class into groups and let them have an impromptu karaoke session – can they keep up with him? A lyrics sheet may nelp! Total chaos but fun.

Divide your class into groups and ask them to write their own song about something they are learning in chemistry.  Create a podcast using Audacity (or GarageBand on a Mac).  If you don’t feel confident about that, make a PowerPoint and add a voice over. Or use Helloslide or Knovio.

All of the Taccle2 handbooks are available to download for free from the Taccle2 website.

3 practical ideas for using ICT in STEM teaching – How Science Works

February 26th, 2015 by Angela Rees

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 21.54.01

Over the coming weeks I’m going to share some practical ideas from the Taccle2 Handbooks on e-learning for teachers of Primary, STEM, Humanities, Creative and Performing Arts and Key Skills.  Here are some ideas for exploring How Science Works.

Ask your students to 
create a social networking profile for a scientist on MySpace explaining their discoveries. Find a list of scientists and see our Einstein page for inspiration.  Get each person in the class to add a Facebook profile for a famous scientist – who would their ‘friends’ be? What would their favourite books or music be? What sort of conversations or arguments would they have with each other? (it’s more fun if you assume that they they can communicate over time as well!)

Find present day scientists on Linked-In or academia.edu or MyExperiment.  What research are they doing right now? Create a class blog where students can record what they have learned and use the comments to discuss who was the most important scientist in history.

Talking of debates, check out aMap to start an argument.  Students follow the on-screen instructions in order to join an existing argument or start a new argument. They’ll have to provide an email address, name and location but you can use the same email for multiple users. They are prompted to add reasons and supporting evidence for their argument.  When they have finished they get an embeddable mind map which others can reply to by creating their own “argument map”.  See the Taccle2 blog for an example.

All of the Taccle2 handbooks are available to download for free from the Taccle2 website.

Having fun at the Taccle2 Conference

October 18th, 2014 by Angela Rees

This week we are in Brussels for the final meeting and conference of the Taccle2 project. More info and ideas to come but for now, here’s a sneak peek of what went on!

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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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