Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Personal Learning Environments – the slidecast

January 28th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last week I made a presentation at an Evolve Open on-line seminar about Personal Learning Environments. The seminar was very well attended, with a great presentation on e-Portfolios by Sigi Jacob and a lively debate.

As ever I promised I would post my slides on Slideshare. Trouble is I promise and don’t always do. There are two main reasons. The first is the struggle to make sure I acknowledge all sources – especially the photos. And the second is that my slides do not really make sense without audio. They are designed as an extra and complementary channel of communication. I see little reason to write on a slide and then read it out verbatim. Rather they illustrate what I am talking about. And thus on their own they make little sense. Of course I could record my presentation live and add that soundtrack to the slides. But I find that live presentations do not necessarily work as a recording. In general I think recordings – or slidecasts should be short and preferably under ten minutes. This mean re-recording the sound track and then syncing with the slides. It is not difficult but it takes time.

Anyway I have kept my promise and I hope you find it worthwhile.

Emerging Mondays Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE podcast

January 27th, 2009 by Dirk Stieglitz

This was a great Emerging Sounds of the Bazaar show. It features the UK Jisc Users and Innovation programme funded Moose and Open Habitat projects, both of which are looking at how Second Life and Multi User Virtual Environments can be used for teaching and learning.

In the second part of the show Vance Stevens talks about multiliteracies and Andreas Auwaerter, Doug Symington and Matt Montagne talk about EarthCast09, a 24 hour live radio show from around the globe to celebrate Earthday.

Cristina Costa hosted the chat room and collected the following links from the discussion:

Open Habitat

Dave White’s blog:


ThoughtFest 2009

Multiliteracy EVO Session

Earthcasthon 2009
email earthbridges community at earthbridges [at] gmail [dot] com if interested in participating in Earthcast09

You may want to continue the discussion about MUVES here:

The music for this show is from the french Rock-Reggae-Band Drunksouls. We feature their album On verra plus tard …. You can find this album and a lot more music on the great Creative Commons music site

Serious fun

January 25th, 2009 by Graham Attwell


ThoughtFest09 is being held on March 5 and 6 in Mancester in the UK. You can find full details here. And we are beginning to put together a programme. Thoughtfest is being designed as an open event around participation, communication and serious fun.

Jenny Hughes has agreed to run a workshop on comics and cartoons. And instead of getting on with editing a book, as she is supposed to be, she has been creating a series of cartoons for the festival.

More later this week.

Online again

January 25th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

How fast we get used to almost ubiquitous technology.

On Tuesday last week I went to London for a meeting. There was supposed to be a wireless network but I couldn’t get it to work. But, I thought, five hours off-line is not such a bad thing, so I did not try too hard.

In the evening I went to Bonn for a project meeting followed by a two day workshop at the BIBB – the German Federal Institute of Vocational education and Training. There was a network but no chance of a connection. The BIBB is located in a government building with a fearsome firewall around it. The hotel did have some access. However the free online PC was broken and the only available network costing eight Euros an hour was infuriatingly slow. Four days with next to no connectivity left me twitching. I felt cut off and out of touch with my friends. It took me until Friday to work out that I could at least use SMS from my mobile phone (although I am very slow typing on telephone keypads). But that is better than nothing.

It was a remiunder how fast we have got used to and come to rely on being connected. It made me think about how the world used to be before wireless networks. And whilst coming back to 350 unanswered work emails was irritating, it was the social contacts and networks I missed most. I guess it shows how rapidly technology is impacting on all facets of our lives and identities (or is it just me  🙂 ).

Barriers to Personal Learning Environments

January 19th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I am speaking at a joint Evolve / Educamp on line session tonight about e-Portfolios and PLes. Coincidentally, I have been working on background research for the Mature project which is seeking to develop Personal Learning and Management Environments to support professional development and knowledge maturing services.

One topic in my brief for Mature was to look at barriers to the introduction of PLEs and PLMEs. As I wrote two weeks ago, PLEs are with us now – in the sense of how learners are using computers to support their own learning. But at the same time there appear to remain institutional and organisational barriers to the wider adoption of PLEs.

Anyway this is what I came up with for the Mature work. I would love any comments or feedback.

Issues in introducing PLEs

Despite the interest from the educational technology community, the implementation and institutional support for PLEs remains slow. This may be a reflection of the need to address a series of issues, both related to approaches to teaching and learning and technology development.

Learner Confidence and Support

One of the reasons why current VLEs have been successful is that they allow universities to centralize support and thus ensure a certain level of competence and quality of experience (Weller, 2005). Supporting learners in creating their own learning environments would be a major challenge.

Furthermore many learners may not have the confidence and competence to develop and configure their own tools for learning. However, Wild, Mödritscher and Sigurdarson, (2008) consider that “by establishing a learning environment, i.e. a network of people, artefacts, and tools (consciously or unconsciously) involved in learning activities, is part of the learning outcomes, not an instructional condition.”

Moreover, the advances in Wb 2.0 tools and social software are reducing the technological complexity and knowledge required by the user in configuring such tools.

Moving beyond issues of technology, many learners may feel challenged by the shift towards more learner centred provision and by the idea of managing their own learning. Setting aside issues of whether this is a core or meta level competence, learners will often still require support.
Institutional control and management

A further barrier to the introduction of Personal Learning Environments may be fear by organisations of loss of institutional and managerial control. This is a complex issue. It may imply a difficulty in pedagogical change and innovation with the move towards more learner centred learning. It may reflect the requirement of institutions to utilise computer based systems for managing programmes and students with present functionality for this provided through integrated Virtual Learning Environments. It could also reflect the requirements of centralised curricula and prescribed learning materials and learning routes. It may also reflect the preference of Systems Administrators to control software systems and server access and the need for data security.

At university level many students now use their own laptop computers, thus alleviating some of these issues. However, this will not be so in an enterprise.

Also at university level, many institutions are moving towards Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs). These may allow specific learning services to be delivered in formats that can be consumed through a PLE, whilst maintaining the integrity of administrative systems and services.

Contexts of learning

In seeking a generic approach to PLE development, design and provision, there is a danger of overlooking the different contexts in which learning and knowledge development take place. Not only will different users be dealing with different knowledge, subject areas and data, but the physical environment in which the learning takes place will vary as will use of the learning. This may have profound implications for PLE design and deployment.

Experimentation, Development and Interface design

There are many interesting projects working on different aspects of learning design and development and contributing to what we might call a future PLE. Inevitably, much of this work is being undertaken by computer programmers and specialists, with a greater or lesser understanding of education and learning. To evaluate the potential of such developments requires trialling with real users. Yet, most of these projects are at best at a beta stage of development. Many do not have well developed user interfaces and the design of such interfaces is time consuming. Yet, without such interfaces it is difficult to persuade users (individual and organisational) to involve themselves in such trialling.

User centred design models may offer a way forward in this respect.

Young peoples’ use of computers

January 19th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

There is an interesting report today in the Guardian newspaper on the results of an annual survey, undertaken by the UK based ChildWise charity. The finding include:

Some 30% of the 1800 young people questioned say they have a blog and 62% have a profile on a social networking site. Accrording to the report children and young teens are more likely to socialise than do homework online.

Screen time has become so pervasive in the daily lives of five- to 16-year-olds that they are now skilled managers of their free time, juggling technology to fit in on average six hours of TV, playing games and surfing the net, it suggests.

But reading books is falling out of favour – 84% said they read for pleasure in 2006, 80% in 2007 and 74% this year.

Children who use the internet spend on average 1.7 hours a day online, but one in six spent more than three hours a day online on top of the 1.5 hours they spent on their games consoles. They still have time for 2.7 hours of television – though the report says they tend to multitask, doing these activities simultaneously.

One in three said the computer is the single thing they couldn’t live without, compared with a declining number – one in five – who name television.

Pupils are using the internet less while at school, frustrated by the low-tech access and the restrictions put in place to stop them from accessing inappropriate material.

Younger girls are now catching up with boys in the use of games consoles.

Web 2.0, e-Portfolio. PLEs and much more

January 16th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Before Christmas I did an interview over Skype with Janine Schmidt, Dennis Brüntje, Franz Büchl, Oliver Härtel from the University of Ilmenau in Germany. the title of the interview was ‘Identität 2.0 durch E-Portfolios’ – Indentity 2.0 through e-Portfolios. They have very kindly sent be a transcriot of the interview. A slighly edited versiona appears below. You can also see n more of teh project work on the students’ web site.

JS: Okay. What was the most impressive and effective usage of an ePortfolio you came across so far? Could you please specify your experience?

GA: It’s a hard question. Most impressive and effective use of an ePortfolio. (…) I’ve seen many different people using ePortfolios in many different ways. But of course, it really depends on how you defining ePortfolios in those terms. I think probably the most impressive I’ve seen in formal education was a vocational college in northwest of England where they were using ePortfolios on an auto-mechanics course. And one module on this course they were making a custom car, and they were getting kids who probably haven’t got lots of qualifications really recording their experiences as they went of the work they were doing and reflecting on the work they were doing, so that greatly impressed me.

JS: Okay. So ehm. The second question will be like focal topic for definition and classification of ePortfolios: How do you define ePortfolios and which significant characteristics do ePortfolios have compared to conventional portfolios?

GA: Well firstly and obviously what distinguishes an ePortfolio from an ordinary portfolio is the use of some kind of electronic interfaces, some kind of electronic media. I’d have to say as well I’d say that ePortfolio can be very much mixed, but pretty obviously the use of electronic media gives us a whole new series of capabilities. But after that the definition starts to break down a bit: and I think you can see vaguely three or four different ways in which ePortfolios had been developed and been used. Unfortunately, the predominant thing comes from they’re using higher education and especially from the USA, where they’d been very much used as an assessment vehicle allowing students to record a progress towards preset learning outcomes. Now I don’t think that’s helpful because the students are tended to see them as a part of an assessment regime and in many cases higher education students are already over assessed. And it’s very much limited, the potential of what is seen as legitimate learning. You’ve had another tendency in the UK to see them as a vehicle for planning learning, PDP-processes, which is another way to look at them. Or you’ve got another tendency, which is more of what I favour, which is to see ePortfolios as a way of recording all your learning including informal learning. And of course there is a strand in the literature certainly in the research of ePortfolios which sees ePortfolios as a powerful vehicle or potentially powerful vehicle for reflection on learning. Though I have to say that how that process of reflection is scaffolded and undertaken is less well researched or less well understood and perhaps just a matter of recording, so you got a powerful point about recording learning, assessing learning, reflecting on learning, etcetera, etcetera many different processes and how ePortfolios been used and what they’d been used for, different processes had been emphasized by different people. And to some extend, and this is quite important, some of those processes had been hard coded in ePortfolio-software and series of assumptions made and those assumptions aren’t always made transparent by the people who have developed the ePortfolio applications.

JS: Okay. So the next question would be: Would you rather consider ePortfolios as a loosely composed tool construct or as a specific method used in educational context? Or do you even have a complete different point of view?

Web2Rights – the podcast

January 15th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Whilst we were at Online Educa Berlin, we undertook a series of interviews and audio and video recordings. These are slowly trickling out of the post production department!

The first out is recording of a presentation by Derek Stephens and Neil Witt from the Jisc Users and innovation programme Web2Rights project.

Web2Rights is a JISC funded project, whose purpose is to develop a practical, pragmatic and relevant toolkits to support the projects funded within the JISC Users and Innovation Programme in their engagement with next generation and Web2.0 technologies and emerging legal issues, such as IP, libel and accessibility.

There are a number of ways in which these projects will engage with Web2.0 and the resources created here will be relevant for projects which are:

  • Adapting and deployment of pre-existing tools, technologies and software
  • Developing new tools, technologies and software
  • Adapting and using own content
  • Use of third party created content

However the outputs of the project will be relevant for many projects. the issues the Web2Rights project is looking at the challenges of Web 2.0 technologies, present for Intellectual Property (IP) Rights and other legal issues. These issues include:

  • Do IP rights exist in a virtual world and, if so, who owns them?
  • Who owns the rights in works that are a result of collective collaboration?
  • What happens if you can’t find the rights holders?
  • What are the legal risks associated with Web 2.0 engagement?
  • How can risks associated with content reuse be sensibly managed?

We have posted two versions of the presentation. The first is an MP3 audio recording and the second an M4a Enhanced version (this includes slides and can be viewed on iTunes or an iPod).

Training and professional development for teachers and trainers

January 11th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last week I was in Greece for the fourth in a series of European workshop son the training of teachers and trainers from vocational education and training. It was great to participate in an event with genuine involvement. Yes we were looking at policy, but rather than listening to long presentations and powerpoints, the workshop was designed as a series of activities for eliciting and discussing ideas.

One thing which has become clear in this series of workshops, which involve participants from every European country, is that whilst our systems may differ, and instruments and mechanisms for training of teachers and trainers are certainly different, the key issues are the same in all our countries.

Whilst in every country we have programmes for training vocational teachers, in many countries pathways and training programmes for vocational trainers are muddled. Many trainers are selected for their occupational and craft skills and may have no training as a trainer.

In every workshop their has been as emphasis on the importance of new technologies. Although many countries are providing continuing training programmes in the use of new technologies, these tend to focus on the technology itself, rather than how to use technology for learning. Access to e-learning resources is another commonly stated issue.

In every workshop concerns have been expressed about the quality of teaching and training. Whilst some countries have established registers of trainers, in general this is seen as a bureaucratic imposition, rather than a genuine move to improve quality. One popular theme has been for more evaluation, and for better evaluation tools, along with tools for self evaluation and peer group evaluation.

A question for the workshops, which are sponsored by the European Commission DG Education and Culture, is whether there should be a European Framework for the training of VET teachers and trainers and, if so, what that Framework should look like.

Here participants have been divided. On the one hand, a European Framework could provide better access to training for teachers and trainers and might serve to raise the status of teachers and trainers. On the other hand, there is a fear that a Framework imposed from above will be too inflexible and will not respect existing systems and cultures.

Most participants were more keen for a bottom up development focusing on providing more professional development support for teachers and trainers. Technology Enhanced Learning is seen as an opportunity in that respect.

There has also been considerable discussion around the idea of competence frameworks. Many countries and projects are seeking to develop competency frameworks for vocational teachers and trainers. However, there is a doubt that VET teachers and trainers jobs and practice are sufficiently similar for a single competency framework. Furthermore, for trainers a common set or ‘core competences’ applicable to all practitioners, may be too vague to be really useful and may well ignore many of the activities undertaken by trainers in a specific context. Some participants have also questioned the use of competency at all, seeing it as a lowest common denominator, rather than an aspirational tool for learning.n Instead it has been suggested, we should seek to develop individual and group learning programmes negotiated with the teachers and trainers themselves, with peer group support and even assessment.

There is a richness of ideas coming from the workshops. The outcomes are being made available on the project web site. As yet it is hard to discern any clear cut policy directions. In that respect, the issue of how we train teachers and trainers may be seen as a reflection of the emergent debates around the future of education itself.

From my interest in the use of new technologies for learning, the key issue is how we can move from using technology to provide training and professional development in the uses of technology in teaching and training, to using technology for wider areas of training and professional development.

Personal Learning Environments have happened

January 10th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

There has been some discussion lately questioning why Personal Learning Environments have been so slow to take off. I think this misses the point. PLEs are here. they are being used every day by thousands of users all over the world. True, there is no branding saying PLE. And the PLEs differ greatly, technologically and in how they are being used.

PLEs were never about developing a new generation of educational software. PLEs were about a change in the way learners used technology to support their learning. PLEs were about reflection on different sources and contexts of learning. PLes were about learners taking control of their own learning. PLEs were about collaborative and social learning

Web 2.0 and social software has facilitated that happening. Be it Facebook or Ning, blogs or Wikis, Webquests or social bookmarking, it has taken place. Not every learner is progressing at the same pace and has the same confidence in developing, configuring and using their PLE. Why should they? Learners move at different speeds in different contexts and at different stages of their lives and learning journeys. Learners have different personal preferences for the tools they use for learning and the mode of learning they prefer. Learning takes place in different contexts – institutional and workplace. But the changes we talked about when we first discussed the idea of the PLE is happening all around us.

Of course it is true to say that institutions have not supported that change – if they have recognised it at all. Institutions remain wedded to control and management models and the LMS or VLE suits that purpose. However, the slow move to web services, the slow adoption of standards and increasing interoperability are making it easier for learners to utilise institutional course provision within their PLE.

But the big change will not be through the univeristy and schooling systems. The big change will be as work based leaners and learners not enrolled on any institutional course use technology to support their learning. Of course that will not be educational technology as such. It will be tools like Diigo or PBwiki, Twitter and WordPress. This does pose a question as to the future role of educational technology. Essentially the adoption of the PLE has passed educational technology by. The cutting edge of the so called educational technology community is no longer with the developers or systems administrators. It is the pedagogists, the teachers, the facilitators and the learners who are leading development. And that is as it should be.

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    As reported by WONKHE, a survey of 1,200 final year students conducted by Prospects in the UK found that 29 per cent have lost their jobs, and 26 per cent have lost internships, while 28 per cent have had their graduate job offer deferred or rescinded. 47 per cent of finalists are considering postgraduate study, and 29 per cent are considering making a career change. Not surprisingly, the majority feel negative about their future careers, with 83 per cent reporting a loss of motivation and 82 per cent saying they feel disconnected from employers

    Post-Covid ed-tech strategy

    The UK Ufi VocTech Trust are supporting the Association of Colleges to ensure colleges are supported to collectively overcome challenges to delivering online provision at scale. Over the course of the next few months, AoC will carry out research into colleges’ current capacity to enable high quality distance learning. Findings from the research will be used to create a post-Covid ed-tech strategy for the college sector.

    With colleges closed for most face-to-face delivery and almost 100% of provision now being delivered online, the Ufi says, learners will require online content and services that are sustainable, collective and accessible. To ensure no one is disadvantaged or left behind due to the crisis, this important work will contribute to supporting businesses to transform and upskilling and reskilling those out of work or furloughed.


    The European Commission has published an annual report of the Erasmus+ programme in 2018. During that time the programme funded more than 23,500 projects and supported the mobility of over 850,00 students, of which 28,247 were involved in UK higher education projects, though only one third of these were UK students studying abroad while the remainder were EU students studying in the UK. The UK also sent 3,439 HE staff to teach or train abroad and received 4,970 staff from elsewhere in the EU.

    Skills Gaps

    A new report by the Learning and Work Institute for the Local Government Association (LGA) finds that by 2030 there could be a deficit of 2.5 million highly-skilled workers. The report, Local Skills Deficits and Spare Capacity, models potential skills gaps in eight English localities, and forecasts an oversupply of low- and intermediate -skilled workers by 2030. The LGA is calling on the government to devolve the various national skills, retraining and employment schemes to local areas. (via WONKHE)

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