Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

A wet Friday in Tallin

November 24th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

On Wednesday I told you I was in Estonia for a meeting of the new European funded b-learning project. Well the meeting is slowly coming to an end. How did it go. I had only met one of the partners before the meeting. Well, we all got on pretty well and I liked all the partners.

But…we certainly didn’t share a common understanding of what the project is about – I think am beginning to get it but I am not quite sure.

But more importantly we do not share the same concepts of e-learning. Most of the partners are from SMEs and at least some of them are viewing e-learning – or more importantly the development of e-learning materials as a commercial enterprise. furthermore whilst some of us come form a (vaguely) constructivist view of learning, others are coming from a system engineering and instructional design position.

So we agree about nothing!

The organisers dragged us out at 8.30 a.m. this morning to go to the university here in Tallin to meet with the director of Estonian e-Vet consortium. Half asleep that I was, I soon woke up. this is truly an inspired and impressive project. No time to write more now – should at lest appear to be paying attention to this meeting but I will write more about this on Sunday.

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e-Learning in Norway

November 22nd, 2006 by Graham Attwell

I’ve just arrived in Tallin for the first meeting of the EU funded b-Learning project. Don’t know quite what to expect – I haven’t worked with these partners before and in fact haven’t even met them. according to the workplan I am responsible for the development and maintenance of a web based platform for the delivery of e-learning to five or six vocational schools. Of course I would like to go down the Personal Learning Environment route but I have the feeling that might be a step too far. More important than the platform is the pedagogic approach – I hope we can develop the use of e-Portfolios through the project. If they agree, then I will suggest we use a ELGG together with Moodle, if the project partners also require a VLE.

The last couple of days I have been in Oslo, where I co-facilaitated at a workshop on Social Software in education and, together with Misja Hoebe from Curverider, ran a hands-on session on the use of ELGG.

Interesting stuff. Had a good talk with Tore Hoel on the development fo e-learning in Norway. Summarising our discussion and probably getting a lot of it wrong – it seems that most institutions in Norway have well established uses of technology with tow Norwegian developed Learning management Systems dominating the market. The big issue as Tore explained is moving beyond the VLE, particularly in developing a more learner centred approach and implementing e-Portfolios. Here there is some debate over wether this can and should be done through extending the LMS functionality or adopting a more services based approach through integration of systems like ELGG.

The workshop itself was lively – despite me having a bad technology day – everything I touched seemed to break. What was impressive was the questions form participants – they seemed to home in n every issue including some I had not thought of.

As ever the issue of what responsibilities education institutions had for safety and security of students and data ware raised. I am firmly of the opinion that institutions do have a duty of care and that duty includes helping learners to manage their own data and understand how to use the internet in a safe and responsible way.

There was a very interesting exchange on what the teacher training institutions should be teaching trainee teachers. Whilst participants could see the pedagogic value of PLE type approaches using ELGG they were also of the opinion that whilst the majority of schools and institutions used VLEs or MLE type systems then they should also be using these systems in their programmes for training teachers. That’s quite a hard issue.

Anyway = all in all I was encouraged. there is growing pressure for change and a growing debate over not just what technology should be deployed in the future but how education should be organised to take into account the changing uses of technology in (informal) learning and society.

I’m mirroring this post on – a Norwegian install of ELGG which we used during the presentation – if I have missed anything important (or got something wrong) please do add a comment.

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Sounds of the Bazaar podcast

November 19th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

Here is the November 2006 edition of Sounds of the Bazaar.

I have spent quite a lot of time trying to improve the quality – better editing and better leads in and out of items. I hope you like it – I think this is the best issue so far.

I’m going to aim at a monthly schedule for the next few months and work on the quality – I want Sounds of the Bazaar to be the leading podcast in education.

Anyway in this months issue –

Graham Attwell (that’s me) in the first of a three part special series on Personal Learning Environments. In this part – entitled ‘The Industrial Revolution and teh Challenge to Education I argue that education systems and institutions are in danger fo becoming irrelevant through ignoring the changing ways in which young people are using technology for communication and knowledge sharing. Addtionally, the present curriculum organisation is looking incraesingly outdated. PLEs offer a new way to organise education but it will require profound reforms both to systems and institutions.

The Sounds of the Bazaar interview is with Ellen and Lydia – two young school students from the UK. They are pretty disappointed with the use of technology in school. They see the main factor in the digital divide as to whether or not kids have parents who can help them with computers.

Web Site of the Week – features the newly launched ELGG Spaces site which is offering free access to the ELGG social software for groups of up to 50 users.

December sees the third of the annual EduBlog awards. I talk to Josie Fraser about the awards and how you can participate

Listen to the whole programme [33:45m]:

Introduction to this months programme [1:58m]:

Graham Attwell on ‘The Industrial Revolution and the Challenge to Education‘ [8:08m]:

Interview with Ellen and Lydia – two UK based school students [7:14m]:

Web Site of the Week – ELGG Spaces [3:16m]:

Josie Fraser on this years Edu-Blog Awards [8:46m]:

End chat from this months programme [1:26m]: |

Using social software

November 15th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

Me – I love all these new services and software which is coming out every day now. And I’ll try anything.

Some of my work is with new technology. But I am still involved in research in education and training where many are less confident using computers and software.

The applications making the biggest impact in collaborative projects are the combination of skype and Google Documents. Skype is invaluable in allowing small group meetings on line – combining chat and audio. And Google documents allows us to easily share our work. Yes, I know wikis are more powerful. But the Google docs interface is familiar to most users and gives them confidence.

This morning I had an hour and a half meeting with colleagues form Austria and Poland. In the old days we would have had to travel for two days to have that meeting.

I’d be interested to know what other applications and services readers feel have that degree of maturity and ease of use for adoption in non techy communities and practice.

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Web 2.0 and quality – rate your teacher

November 13th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

I spent a tedious morning yesterday subtitling a video into five different languages (and in the course of it discovering every bug in i-Movie). To entertain myself I was listening to BBC Radio 5 – mainly because I’m thinking about chat show formats and their applicability to simultaneous on-line teaching and learning.

And on came this fascinating report.

“Five Live Report: ‘Bullied Teachers’

Teachers have always had to face cruel gossip from kids, but until very recently the trouble has usually been contained within the school building. Now – with the advent of the video mobile phone and websites like and, they are finding themselves publicly humiliated and even falsely accused of sexual impropriety. Reporter James Silver looks at the internet phenomenon encouraging school children to grade their teachers and talks to those in the profession at the receiving end of malicious comments and allegations.”

The big discussion was over the web site, Students create their accounts and are able to rate their teacher. There is a flag for alerting to inappropriate content which the site managers say will then be taken down and investigating. One cause of controversy is whether this does happen and if so, how long it takes. Clearly the process is not as effective as the service claims.

The second, and here the teachers unions in the UK were most unhappy, was over the stress it can cause to teachers. My fear is that students are probably quite fair – teachers are unlikely to be stressed by unwarranted invective but may well get stressed by learning the truth of how students perceive their teaching.

There appears little effort by the (commercial) service developers to educate students in providing constructive feedback, neither is their a mechanism for discourse between teachers and students.

Given that such services will flourish in the future, education providers are going to have to rethink how students can be involved in the development, design and management to teaching and learning. It is only by giving learners a voice (and by listening to that voice) that constructive and inclusive approaches to quality (for this is – albeit crude) a quality system) can be developed.

NB. The programme is available to listen to over the internet for the next six days. But you will have to listen tot he whole programme and I think this report occurs about half way through. What a pity that the BBC does not make this sort of content available as a download for remixing – this would be a great piece of content for starting a discussion with learners over the use of the internet and quality systems.

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Guardian writes total piffle about Web 2.0

November 6th, 2006 by Graham Attwell,,1939196,00.html

Web 2.0 goes popularist?

“Guardian Weekend Magazine Web 2.0 special: A bigger bang: John Lanchester

gets to grips with the virtual universe and Guardian writers interview the smartest and luckiest entrepreneurs who demolished the old internet and built a brand new one……

Interviews: Wikipedia, Blogger/Odeo, WordPress, Bebo, Writely, Digg, Craigslist,,, Feed Burner, Netvibes, Technorati, Flickr.”

Don’t know what I think about this lot really. OK – so it is the weekend magazine. But boy, is the Guardian ever dumming it down. Nice pictures, well written. But if you know something about Web 2 already, you certainly won’t learn anything new here. And if you don’t – well you also won’t learn anything new here.

So does this help us with media literacy – not, not all. But supposed it might go OK with a cup of coffee and a saturday morning hangover.

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How can we learn collaboratively on-line?

November 3rd, 2006 by Graham Attwell

At last – things are beginning to calm down a bit and I might even have some time to do some writing.

On Wednesday I presented a live Webinar on Digital Literacy, New Pedagogies and Podcasting. It was an interesting and tiring experience.

The webinar used the Elluminate software. I have used this system before but it seemed very buggy. This time it was less so but whether this is because of increased bandwidth or improved software I am not sure. I had prepared a very short abstract of what I would talk about and the people behind the webinar series, TrainersPod, did the organisation.

About forty participants turned up for the seminar. They seemed to be from all over the world which was very nice.

Elluminate has a presentation area which can take an amended powerpoint presentation and includes whiteboard tools. Particpants can be seen in a window on the left and if one of them wishes to speak they have to ‘raise their hands’. Moderators can choose who to allow to speak. Only one person can have the micophone at nay one time. The system also includes an instant messaging board.

The format the organisers proposed was of three twenty minute inputs with discussion between. I don’t think this works with this media. The problem with Elluminate – or at least with the way people are using it – is that they are trying to replicate a classroom or seminar (I hate the hand-raising). It could be a powerful platform for shared knowledge development of it was done properly. If I did another one – and I have said I will do a session on e-Portfolios in January – I would send out the presentation, a short paper and questions for discussion in advance. The live session would work much better as a ‘radio chat show’ with very short inputs to stimulate discussion. Or perhaps I could just play a tape of me talking and then participate fully in the text chat. Could be kind of fun to argue with myself.

Anyway the participants seemed to enjoy themselves. I found it very hard talking for 20 minutes with little feedback. I wished I could have at least heard some background noise form the others. The most lively discussion took place through the back-channel – the instant messaging. Sometimes it was relevant to what I was saying – sometimes I think they had just got bored with me. But this was far more a forum for shared knowledge ethan the main event – me.

There is supposed to be an archive of the event – however this seems to be behind a log in and has bad links at moment. Will post url if it starts working. I would be very interested to hear of anyone else’s experience of using this sort of tool.

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