Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

An online conference checklist

May 29th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I spent most of yeterday writing interim reports for the European Commission funded Eurotrainer Network project. Report writing is not one of my favourite activities. Anyway the main things Pontydysgu is responsible for in the project is developing and maintaining the network platform and tools and organising an annual online conference.

firstly, I was surprised at how many different tools we have used. In addition to the main platform, which is a WordPress site with the  Freefolio plug-in, we have used the following web tools and services (as taken from the platform report):

  • Google forms for conference and event registration. These can be embedded within the platform and generate an automatic spreadsheet
  • A Network of Trainers in Europe Facebook group – This currently has 220 members and provides a valuable and easy way to mail directly information to participants.
  • A PB wiki – this was established to provide a quick and easy to use platform for the exhibition area associated with the online conference.
  • An email list server. This is maintained by the UK higher education Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). It currently has more than 70 members.
  • A video and audio Flash meeting platform. This is hosted by The UK Open University.
  • The Elluminate suite for online conferencing. This was provided by the Conference sponsors, the UK JISC Evolve network.
  • A Diigo site for collecting and sharing bookmarks (this is displayed through a widget on the platform)
  • A Flickr site for collecting and sharing photographs (this is displayed through a widget on the platform).

I also had to write an ‘activity report; for the work undertaken by Pontydysgu for the project.  I have written yet another report on the online conference itself, so in the activity report I limited myself to a bullet point list of what we did. I think it serves as a useful check list for those seeking to organise online events. I like running on line events but if people think they are less work than face to face seminars and meetings they are sadly mistaken!

  • Development of concept and format for the conference and presentation of concept and format to the network partners
  • Writing, production and dissemination of call for papers and presentations and exhibition materials
  • Contacting potential contributors to the conference
  • Production and dissemination of publicity materials for the conference
  • Development of conference pages on Network web site
  • Production and management of conference sign up form
  • Contacting and liaising with other networks, projects an organisations to publicise the conference
  • Production and dissemination of pre-conference newsletters
  • Organisation of conference platform through the conference sponsors, the UK Jisc Evolve network
  • Organisation and moderation of pre-conference training sessions for conference presenters
  • Dissemination of help materials in use of the platform
  • Provision of a technical help line for conference participants
  • Organisation of session moderators and organisation of training sessions
  • Overall conference moderation
  • Organisation, technical hosting and dissemination of conference exhibition
  • Recording of conference sessions (as Elluminate recordings and as downloadable MP3 recordings) and development of web pages for viewing these materials
  • Development and distribution of online evaluation questionnaire.
  • Analysis of evaluation returns and production of report on the conference

A reflection on reflection

May 28th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Reflection is increasingly seen as a key process in learning, particularly for work based or practice based learning. This involves reflecting of what you have done and what it means. Reflection may be especially important in making explicit tacit learning and in scaffolding new knowledge and ideas.

Yet reflection is not always an easy learning process. It may be particularly sterile when learners are told to go and reflect! Whilst it is possible to teach or practitioner the skills involved in reflection – active listening, questioning, commentating – reflection is difficult to undertake on demand.

Furthermore, the forms that we use to report on academic learning – essays and papers – may either not be particularly conducive to immediate reflection or may be far too time consuming – especially for work based learners.

Personally I see reflection as a conversation, with myself or with others. And that works best for me out of the office or at the end of the day. That is when I think on what I have done and what it might mean. I often sit in my local pub with my iPod Touch or just a back of an envelope and furiously scribble notes or more often somewhat chaotic mind maps. The fact that I often never look at the results (and sometimes cannot read them anyway) does not seem to matter – it is the process which counts.

This is where I think audio can come in. I have been greatly impressed with the Jisc funded Sounds Good project.  The main aim of Sounds Good was to test the hypothesis that using digital audio for feedback can benefit staff and students by:

  • saving assessors’ time (speaking the feedback rather than writing it)


  • providing richer feedback to students (speech is a richer medium than written text).

The project has in general been extremely successful. But if speech is a richer medium for staff providing feedback then why not for students reflecting on learning.

And the increasing availability of easy to use recording technologies utilising mobile devices makes this process simple. Anyway here is a short audio reflection on e-portfolios and data security and on using audio for reflection!

Here is an audio comment from our colleague Jenny Hughes “Reflections on Reflection”:

Sounds of the Bazaar goes Mobile

May 26th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Regular readers will know that I love audio. I have a great face for radio or so they tell me! And for a long time I have been wanting a way to easily record podcasts on the run. So when I say a tweet from Josie Fraser about audioboo I was instantly curious.

OK it looks a bit underdeveloped. A basic web site and recording limited to the iphone. But it is a great idea – a youtube for audio. And so we bought a microphone for the ipod touch, signed up for an account and away we went. Here is the first offering. You may be relieved to know audioboo only allows you to only record 3 minutes at a time.


Crowd sourcing my presentations

May 26th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Much as I enjoy doing presentations at conferences it does seem oh some Web 1.0 ish. So i am working on how to make such events a little more interactive. Twitter is great – if conference organisers can make available a second screen at events. At least then people can ask questions during the presentation (I always tell people they are free to interrupt me but they seldom do). I have messed with buzz groups during the presentation but this always seems a little artificial.

I like the presentation Dave Cormier did at the WIAOC conference last weekend. I wasn’t at it, neither have I watched the video but his community crowd sourced slides both provide a wealth of shared learning and give the impression the event was a lot of fun. For explanation of the idea behind it see his blog.

I am going to try doing something like that next week at the ProLearn Summer School in Zilina.

I have just been writing a long overdue abstract for my keynote presentation at the DFG Research Training Group E-Learning conference on Interdisciplinary approaches to technology-enhanced learning (IATEL) in Darmstadt in June.

I was not quite sure what to talk about – the overall theme I was given is Learning in Networks – from learning in the Network to the learning Network and back.

So I am crowdsourcing the abstract to blog readers. What have I missed out? What other ideas should I include? All contributors will get a citation on the final slide!


Graham Attwell will look at the evolution of learning networks.

The presentation will also look at the development of educations systems and the spread of mass education through an industrial model with curriculum based on expert knowledge. He will go on to examine key issues including control at the level of content, institutions and curriculum.

The presentation will look at the changing ways people are learning and developing and sharing knowledge using Web 2.0 and social software tools. Such practice is facilitating the development of personal learning pathways and integration within dispersed communities if practice.

The presentation will examine recent ideas and theory about learning in networks including the idea of rhizomatic curricula and connectivism.

As learning networks become more important, the issue of digital identities is attracting more attention. How do individuals interact in learning networks and whet is the role of tools such as Twitter? How important is the idea of place within learning networks?

The presentation will consider how learning takes place in Personal Learning Environments drawing on the work of Levi Stauss on bricolage and Goffman’s dramatulurgical perspective.

Finally the presentation will consider the implication of ideas of learning in networks and Pe

Web 2.0 cultures and conventions

May 25th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian newspaper has published a very level headed article about the findings of the recently published UK report on “Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World.”

I haven’t read the report yet (it is on today’s to do list) but according to the press release “findings from the report show that students typically spend four hours a day online, a figure that looks set to rise as teenagers make increasing use of Web 2.0 technology in their daily lives.  One of the challenges for the higher education sector is therefore to ensure that staff can keep pace with the advancing technology which many of their students rely on every day, using the technology to enhance the student learning experience.”

The Guardian interviewed Martin Weller and Brian Kelly. Much of what they said was predictably sensible. I was, however, intrigued by this quote from Brian Kelly.

“Some university student unions are also warning students about online ethics and the danger of slagging people off online, or posting pictures of drunken nights out that they wouldn’t want their mother or future employers to get their hands on, he says. “We’ve had no time to develop a culture. Everyone knows how to answer a telephone but it takes time for those conventions to come about, and there are no conventions for cyberspace.””

I think he is wrong. One of the remarkable things about Web 2.0 and social software is how fast cultures and especially conventions have evolved and become accepted, despite the novelty of the applications. Take Twitter. Twitter is still new and fast growing and despite the lack of any rules (or hardly any) a vibrant culture has emerged. RTs. FollowFriday. Hash tags. And so on. Just take the hashtag convention. That is emerging in a context of social use and is negotiated informally within the community of users. This is where i think Twitter get it right and Facebook get it so wrong. Twitter encourages the community to negotiate its rules and conventions. Facebook tries to impose the rules though manipulating access to APIs and data and ends up producing something which we feel we do not own. And it is the ownership and sense of ownership within the community which enable us to define our own digital identities, rather than having them imposed on us. Enough for now, but I will return to this issue.

NB Congratulations to Jisc on their latest website overhaul. The incorporation of Twitter comments and a general more Web 2.0 approach have transformed the Jisc site into an interesting and vibrant space – that is not something you can say for many institutional or agency web sites. European Commission – take note.

E-learning, work based learning, e-portfolios, mobile devices and more – the podcasts (2)

May 24th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Here are the remaining podcasts recorded when making the Jisc e-Learning Show.

Rob Ward is Director of the Centre for Recording Learning Achievement. He talks about progressions routes and e-Portfolios in this interview.

Sandra Winfield is project manager at the Centre for International e-Portfolio Development at Nottingham University. She talks about the use of e-Portfolios to support work based learners.

Tony Toole, from the University of Glamorgan, talks about the use of mobile technologies and social networking applications to support work based learners in Wales.

Alan Paull is a consulatant who has been working on the development and implementation of the XCRI standard for exchanging course information. Here he explains what the standard is and how it can be used

E-learning, work based learning, e-portfolios, mobile devices and more – the podcasts

May 24th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I did a series of interviews to gather materials for last weeks Jisc e-Learning Show radio broadcast. If course we could only use very small parts of the interviews in the programme.

Now we are releasing the full version of the interviews as podcasts. There is some rich material here for anyone interested in the use of technology to support e-Portfolios, work based learning, mobile learning, the exchange of course information etc. This is the first of two posts – the second will contain the remaining interviews.

Bob Bell is Fe in HE coordinator for the Jisc Northern Regional Support Centre. In this interview he talks about work based learning.

Clive Church works for EdExcel. He is particularly interested in the development and use of e-Portfolios.

Derek Longhurst is Chief Executive of Foundation Degree Forward. In this interview he looks at the challenges changing forms of learning and knowledge development pose for universitie sand discusses future policy options.

Lucy Stone is project manager at Leicester College, where she is introducing mobile technologies to support work based learners.

Lucy Warman is developing a Jisc project designed to involve students in sharing experience at the University of Central Lancashire.

Thanks to all the interviewees for their time and ideas and to Dirk Stieglitz for post production work.The music is called Musiques en Principauté de Boisbelle and is composed and played by DaCapo. It can be found on the Creative Commons music web site Jamendo.

The music is by

The Jisc e-Learning Show podcast

May 22nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Here is the podcast of  the first broadcast of a new pilot live internet radio programme, the Jisc e-Learning show. The programme is based on a symposium on Lifelong Learning, led by Jisc earlier this spring.

The issues discussed include

  • the use of mobile technologies and e-Portfolios to support learners.
  • engaging with employers
  • Project mainstreaming and sustainibility
  • developing and supporting work based learning
  • changing the culture of higher education
  • funding models and policies

and much more.

Guest include Derek Longhurst from Foundation Degree Forward, Clive Church from Edexel, Lucy Stone from Leicester College, Tony Toole from the University of Glamorgan, Bob Bell, HE in FE consultant for the northern region, Sandra Winfield from Nottingham University and Rob Ward from the Centre for Recording Achievement

the show also features a live panel discussion with Oleg Liber from CETIS, Claire Newhouse from the Lifelong Learning Network national forum and Andrew Ravenscroft from London Metropolitan University.

This was a pilot programme and is a little different in style from our sometimes raucous Sounds of the Bazaar. We would particularly appreciate feedback. Is this the kind of programme Jisc should put out? What do you think about the format? Is the programme too long (or too short) and what would be the best time we could broadcast on? What about the music – too much, too little (or too classical :)). Do you have ideas for future Jisc radio shows? You can leave comments below or I would especially appreciate it if you could leave any comments on the Jisc e-Learning blog which also provides a link to the podcast feed.

The music is called Musiques en Principauté de Boisbelle and is composed and played by DaCapo. It can be found on the Creative Commons music web site Jamendo.

The programme was produced by Dirk Stieglitz.

Researching Careers

May 22nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

One of the problems of applications like Survey Monkey is thatit has made it just too easy to construct a survey. The result is that we are suffering from ‘surveyitis’. Furthermore, because it is so easy now to publish and publicise surveys, far too little care goes into the development and pretesting of surveys. Recently I talked about pretests at a project meeting to be met by blank faces. Why, they asked? We do not have time for that sort of thing.

Anyway I am now wary of surveys. But I am prepared to promote this survey on careers and skills, not just because it is being undertaken by my friends from Warwick University, but also because I think this is a very worthwhile piece of research. In my experience, careers are often no where near as clear cut as they seem. Often people do not progress smoothly from one job to another. And many of the skills we use are, I would guess, learnt whilst working, rather than through formal courses. But of course this is me guessing. The research should help provide some more solid data around these issues. So please do help by filling in the survey which is available in a number of different languages.

“Have you an interesting ‘story’ to tell about your career and the skills you have you developed since starting work? We are particularly interested in people who have:

  • had stable careers within a single sector (such as engineering or health);
  • have developed skills (such as Information Technology or communication skills) which could be applied in a number of sectors;
  • had a varied work history (working in different types of jobs; different sectors; countries; not always been in full-time employment etc.);
  • have worked at one time in a job that required few formal qualifications;
  • have taken a job primarily to give you time or space to follow other interests;
  • an interesting ‘story’ to tell that may not fit any of the above!

We were wondering if you would be prepared to help with a project we are currently undertaking?  As a team of researchers from eleven European countries, we are researching how people’s careers are changing across Europe and the different paths people take to develop the knowledge and skills they use at work.  We would be very grateful if you had the time to complete an online survey (available in 11 languages).  The survey may take up to 20 minutes to complete depending on the amount of detail you wish to provide. Your identity will be treated in the strictest confidence by the research team and the information you provide will be anonymised.  The results of the study will feed into a European review of how best to support work-related learning in the light of individuals’ changing patterns of career development.  If you would like to know more please do not hesitate to contact us.  We would also be grateful if you could forward this email to contacts and colleagues who you think may also be able to help.

With many thanks in advance for your help.

European Careers Research Team (see: for core team and for details of full team”

More about the eLearning Show

May 20th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I have spent the last two days putting the finishing touches to tomorrows pilot internet radio programme – the Jisc eLearning Show. The programme, which is being broadcast at 1800 UK Summer Time, 1900 Central European Time, is based on a symposium on Lifelong Learning, led by Jisc earlier this spring. Part of the programme is prerecorded and I have spoken to both policy makers and to project developers about the issues. The interviews were very interesting – indeed my major problem was choosing what not to include in the final edit for the programme.

The projects are engaging in much more than the introduction of technology and developers were keen to talk about changing pedagogic approaches and the policy implications of the work they were doing. The projects covered a wide range of applications – including the use of mobile technologies and of ePortfolios to support learners. It was encouraging to hear of the degree of engagement with learners in developing technology based projects. There was much discussion on who the ‘new learners’ were and what were their needs. The issue of change management was a recurrent theme, as was that of sustainability. Many of the projects were looking at the process of embedding developments within the every day practice of institutions. But this could raise cultural issues, especially when it came to work based learning. From a work based learning approach this was involving new partnerships with employers.

And as Tony Tool pointed out – elearning raises many issues for the funding models presently being used. Equally the development of work based learning may call into question the present policies for extending participation in higher education.

Fascinating stuff. Tomorrows programme will pick up on these issues and more with a live panel comprised of Oleg Liber from CETIS, Claire Newhouse from the Lifelong Learning Network national forum and Andrew Ravenscroft from London Metropolitan University. You can listen to the programme by going to . The stream will open in your MP3 player of choice. You can take part in the chat room at Just add your name and press enter – no password required. And you can leave comments and questions on the Jisc elearning blog.

We will also be making the full versions of the interviews available on the elearning blog as podcasts after the show.

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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.

    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

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      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

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