Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Peronal Learning Environments, Mash-ups and Personalised Learning Systems

May 29th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Or PLEs, Mupples and PLSs. Its a bit of a mouthful. A couple of weeks ago the iCamp project came up with the idea of Mupples – Mashup Personal Learning Environments. “Mash-ups, the ‘frankensteining’ of software artefacts and data”, they say “have enabled a new generation of learning tools. Web-applications, services, and data can now be endlessly recombined, no matter where they reside.” I think this is a helpful idea. And they are organising a conference on it in September.

Now this morning comes the idea of Personalised Learning Systems. The term is used in a blog post by Ken Carroll from Praxis Language based in Shanghai. I met Hank Horkoff, the CEO, last week and was mightily impressed with the work they are doing (watch this spot for a Sounds of the Bazaar interview with Hank).

Anyway, Ken says:

“The PLS has one obsessive objective: to allow the user in every way possible to fit the learning around her own needs (rather than forcing her to conform to some outside requirements). In this sense, the PLS is consistent with Personal Learning Environments, and of course, with our own philosophy of learning on your terms. The lifelong learner simply has to have ownership/control of the learning. Perhaps the PLS would fit as a language learning toolkit within a PLE to enable that control.”

I am not so sure I like the term Personalised Learning System. But the idea makes a lot of sense in terms of using standards compliant and web 2 savvy learning provision which learners can access though the (mashup) Personal Learning Environment.

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Social Software in Schools and Institutions

May 28th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

It is hecti8c here at the Pontydysgu office. We are lining up a great summer of activities, radio broadcast and events. And here is the first. Announcing the the launch of the Evolve Community.

The Evolve project is organising a series of international on-line events and seminars.

The objectives are:
• To provide a space for participant driven discussion and debate
• To promote critical inquiry and discourse
• To allow for the presentation of ideas in progress
• To share expertise, ideas and future thinking around common research agendas

The first event will take place this Fraiday May 30 at 1700 GMT (For other time zones please check here:

The Venue for the presentation is in Elluminate – (no Password required)

Barbara Dieu
has agreed to be the Keynote speaker for our first event, which is organized around the following theme: Social software in Schools and Institutions. Barbara’s presentation is entitled Social Media in Engiahs Langauge Teaching.

We will also be hosting a topical activity around the monthly themes. See how to get involved here: .

And don’t forget to get your own freefolio spot. You just need to create an account! Go to

We hope you join us. This is will be a great chance to network, to get to know what other people are doing, and also to share your work and ideas.

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Emerging Sounds from St Gallen

May 26th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Lat week I was at the Scil Congress in St Gallen in Switzerland. The theme of the congress was ‘The changing face of learning – Creating the right balance’. I presented a keynote (slides to come soon on Slideshare) and ran a workshop on Personal Learning Environments. Not sure I got the timings quite right n the workshop – I got a bit carried away with the discussion. But the group certainly had got the idea. And as a last activity I asked them to make a quick podcast. I gave three groups 10 minutes to storyboard a four minute podcast on ‘The changing face of learning: the next steps’ and then we recorded it.
Only one had made a podcast before. But they did a pretty good job. I have done a very quick post production job. Here is the podcast – it is about twelve minutes in total.

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Hairdressing, Serious Games and Learning

May 22nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

At a session at the Scil conference on serious games. Hope it is not too serious.

First up is Frederic Aunis on hairdressing. He works for L’Oriel. Kids end up doing hairdressing because they do not know what else to do or have failed at school. Hairdressers, he says, all over the world learn by doing. they need techncial and artistic skills, life and communication skills and a business understanding. But in schools business skills are not taught. Managers train apprentices in technical skills but not business skills.

Frederick has been developing a business game. His organisation is developing programmes for 20 million students (seems unlikely?). The game is called Hair Be12. It is translated into 13 languages and implemented in 10 countries. Now we get a demo. Choose a character and customise it. Then twelve episodes to the game. The first is on customer relations. A series of multiple choice questions. Then according to answers skills levels indicator moves up and down and turnover for business changes. No correct answers in game says Frederick. It’s like in real life. No-one complains but your turnover is hit. And there are bonus games. design your salon etc. At end get classification on the web based game – compared to others.

interesting that it did not really work as an individual self-learning game but took off when it was used in groups – it created, he says, “a wow effect.” And it has gone on to be used for facilitating meetings and organisational development within hair salons.

The topics have been ‘flattened’ to ensure game is applicable in different cultures.

Hm – not bad – looks quite fun, teaches something hard to learn any other way. At least it feels like a game. Maybe a bit limited in scope though. Big plus – he says it was relatively cheap to develop. My rating – cool. And a great presentation.

Contact url seems to be – definitely worth a look.

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Has business changed?

May 22nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I am blogging ‘live’ from the Scil conference at St Gallen. Quite interesting in that the conference is very much geared at the HRD and business world – ‘communities’ I do not venture too far into often. The conference is entitled “The Changing Face of Learning – getting the right balance.” So is learning changing in the business world?

The first speaker up is Erlan Joergensen from Shell. I can’t say much sounds new. His slogan is Ask-Learn-Share. He is very much at pains to say that all learning has to be related to the needs of the business. This seems a step back to me. What he is saying that is new is to integrate – on a business basis – the informal and workplace learning together with formal learning within “global networks”. All courses will have a workplace component.

Certainly Shell do seem to using networking tools – wikis and bookmarks – and have embraced the idea that global networks can link tacit and explicit knowledge through peer assisted problem solving. The wiki, he says, provides the ‘business operational knowledge’ for the whole company. Interesting too, that he calls it “a wikipedia”! Shell are also looking at the use of Second Life.

The wikis are being used to develop communities on different topics with 27000 active users and 2500 new entries in the last month.

OK – time to make my mind up – what do I think? Certainly bringing access to knowledge sharing tools looks impressive. It is not quite clear how such tools and activities are being integrated into the blended courses. That there is a new focus on work based learning – and that supervisors are seen as important in this is not new but does represent a shift of emphasis. However, the relation between individual learning and organisational learning seems unclear. And there are still too many business buzz words for my liking.

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Little Boxes

May 21st, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Jen writes “Graham – I think your blog should have a space for a ‘sponsored vid of the week’. This is mine for next week.” For me, this song by the great Pete Seeger is the ultimate comment on our education systems – and wonderful slides to go with it.

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Mainstreaming technologies

May 20th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Like many readers of this blog, I guess, I will try out anything new. I have loads of accounts with different services – so many I forget them. Just occasionally, something sticks. I use Twitter, Diigo and Skype everyday. Slideshare and Flickr are pretty indispensable. The problem is that we get sucked into thinking everyone else does the same. And it isn’t so. Only yesterday one of my friends skyped me very happily. It was his first skype call. he was amazed at the video.

And it gets more difficult in projects with non techy researchers. Many are not just not used to using technology. Most do not feel confident. The big breakthough for me has been using the UK universities Flash meeting application. This is an excellent service, provided for free by the Open Content Learning Space project. I have used Flash meeting with three projects now. The learning curve is always similar. the first meetiong is always hard with people uncertain of how to use headphones, how to enter a meeting and all that. The second is easier with some ability to talk about issues and nowhere near so many dropping out with techncial problems. The third meeting they all get a webcam together and start performing. And the joy is not just the use of the application to allow for ‘virtual’ on-line meetings. It is that people begin to see the value of new technologies to help them in their work. And they become so much more confident in using the technologies. They lose their fear. And, at that point, they are prepared to go a little bit further into the unknown, trying out new applications and ideas.

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Frankensteining with MUPPLES – a strategy to put the learner centre stage?

May 16th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

There are so many conferences at them moment it is hard to know what to go to. But this workshop is on a theme close to my heart and I have agreed to join the programme committee. Here is an abridged version of the call for papers.

“A change in perspective can be certified in the recent years to technology-enhanced learning research and development: More and more learning applications on the web are putting the learner centre stage, not the organisation. They empower learners with capabilities to customize and even construct their own personal learning environments (PLEs).

These PLEs typically consist of distributed web-applications and services that support system-spanning collaborative and  individual learning activities in formal as well as informal settings.

Technologically speaking, this shift manifests in a learning web where information is distributed across sites and activities can easily encompass the use of a greater number of pages and services offered through web-based learning applications. Mash-ups, the ‘frankensteining’ of software artefacts and data, have emerged to be the software development approach for these long-tail and perpetual-beta  niche markets. Core technologies facilitating this paradigm  shift are Ajax, javascript-based widget-collections, and
microformats that help to glue together public web APIs in individual applications.

In a wide range of European IST-funded research projects such as iCamp, LTfLL, LUISA, Palette, and TENcompetence a rising passion for these technologies can be identified.

This workshop therefore serves as a forum to bring together  researchers and developers from these projects and an open public that have an interest in understanding and engineering  mash-up personal learning environments (MUPPLEs).”

Can you resist a MUPPLE? Want to find out more? See for more details.
TOPICS OF INTEREST (but not limited to):

* Architectures:
e.g. from cross-domain java scripting
up to to embedding of pedagogy

* Learning Models:
e.g. Activity Models, Environment
Design Models, including their theoretical bases

* Learning Services:
e.g. Concepts and Demonstrators for recombinable
learning services

* Authoring:
e.g. editors, user-interfaces for mash-up creation,
drag&drop mash-up creation, in-place editing

* Data formats:
e.g. microformats, new data models for
fragmented data such as streaming data, recombination models
needed to establish data interoperability

* User Interfaces:
Concepts, Metaphors, Workflows

* Mash-Up Strategies:
cooperative, value-chain oriented, master
and slave

* Development Methodologies: for building and sustaining communities
and services, including analyses of success factors, constraints,
characteristics of user uptake including long-tail requirements
engineering and software development

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They are locking away our history

May 13th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I am a big fan of radio. As regular readers will know I think it is the coming media And my favourite station is BBC Radio 4. For variety, production values, imagination and innovation, radio doen’t come better. Sometimes I listen live but mostly I listen on the web based iPlayer. The iPlayer makes programmes available for up to a week after they have been broadcast.

Yesterday I listened to “Will you still love me tomorrow.” This was a brilliant history / social commentary on the girl groups of the late 1950s and 1960s. It is a fascinating programme telling not only of the influence of these groups on the evolution of music and especially the influence of the girl groups on the Beatles, but of the social impact in terms of identities. For the first time women talked directly of their feelings and sexuality. And many of the women were black at a time when in the USA black musicians still were restricted by the colour bar. At a time when music in the USA tended to be dominated by local bands with different musicians producing cover versions of the same song in different states, the girl bands achieved national (and international) status.

This was a great history programme, exploring a subject which has previosuly been forgotten. It has the power to inform our thinking of the past and of the future of culture and society. But in a few days it will be gone, removed from the iPlayer and consigned to an unaccessable archive. This is ridiculous. It is as if a book was published and placed in libraries – only for all copies to be withdrawn after a week.

It is not only the BBC’s fault. They, as much as anyone else, are the victims of the stupid copyright laws. But surely the BBC can do more to support open access. Yes – I know that it is perfectly possible to record programmes – if you are prepared to break the law and have a little bit of knowhow (I have recorded this programme). But may people do not know how to do this and anyway may not stumble on the programme during the one week window of availability.

Surely something can be done. It is not just a question of open educational reources – this is our history which is being locked away.

NB Don’t forget to listen while the programme is still available.

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Big bureaucratic pictures or bottom up networks of practice?

May 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Pekka Kamarainen has written an interesting series of blog posts looking at European research in Vocational Education and Training and focusing the ‘European dimension’, ‘interdisciplinarity’ and ‘innovation.’

In his post on innovation ne draws attention to the limited  development in the use of technology for vocational education and training. I think he is right in saying one of the problems is the European Commission obsession with big pictures. It seems to me there is little focus on what is actually happening about teaching and learning – and especially on how learners are using technology and how we might help them. Projects funded by the EU tend to focus on yet more digitalisation of learning materials, yet more on-line handbooks and endless projects on introducing VLEs.

Truly innovative projects tend to be lost in the dross. And the European Commission’s obsession with administration has blinded them to the need to create communities to share innovation.

Furthermore the structures of the programmes have effectively excluded enterprise participation. Whilst VET research is important, so too is the involvement of teachers and trainers – practitioners – in the processes of development. All too often European projects are comprised of reseachers talking about teaching and training but with little or no experience of practice.

I do not  know how we can overcome these problems. I have little faith in the European Commission. The best practices seem to have come from bottom up networks – for instance by language teachers – which can survive the episodic nature of funding support and who share a passion for what they are doing.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    News from 1994

    This is from a Tweet. In 1994 Stephen Heppell wrote in something called SCET” “Teachers are fundamental to this. They are professionals of considerable calibre. They are skilled at observing their students’ capability and progressing it. They are creative and imaginative but the curriculum must give them space and opportunity to explore the new potential for learning that technology offers.” Nothing changes!

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  • RT @ChiEdMobilities A special issue CfP on ‘Digitalisation of International Ed’ @jsinted is available. Ddl: 1 Feb 2021. chineseedmobilities.wordpress… Edited by the legendary @catgomes10 and Shanton Chang. @cristinacost @BERA_ECRNetwork @fersacambridge @CERAUK @Aline_Courtois @DUSofE

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