Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Formative self assessment (in English!)

October 27th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Yesterday I published a self evaluation template, used by young children in a German school. It was interesting, I thought both in terms of the approach to formative evaluation – evaluation for learning rather than of learning – and in terms of the use of self evaluation as a tool for discussion between  students and teachers. A  number of people commented that they did not understand German and furthermore, because the file was uploaded as an image, they were unable to use online translation software.

Pekka Kamarainen noticed the queries on Twitter and kindly provided me with an English translation, reproduced above.

Self Evaluation or Assessment – it isn’t hard

October 26th, 2009 by Graham Attwell


I have written many times about Assessment for Learning and the self assessment or evaluation of learning. Assessment for Learning is the idea of formative assessment to support the learning process, rather than most of our present assessment systems which are designed to support comparisons or as a screening mechanism for entry into higher education or education and training or into employment.
And self evaluation – it is what it says. The idea that learners are able to evaluate or assess tehir own learning, often with a surprising degree of insight and accuracy. Of course when they do this they own the assessment – it ceases ot be something that is done ot them but is part of their own reflective learning process.
But, say teachers, this is hard to do. Learners will not know how to do it. they will over-rate their own abilities.
So practical examples are always welcome and I was lucky enough to see today the self evaluation of one of my friend’s children in a school in Bremen (reproduced above).
The process went something like this. Last week the students – aged 8 – were asked to fill in their own assessments in the left had column. Then the sheets were passed to their two form teachers who also filled in the assessment in the right hand column. And then today there were individual meetings between teachers and the students to discuss the results. (It is interesting to note that like in previous expercises of this sort that I have seen, teachers tended to rate students slightly higher than the students themselves).
Seems pretty cool to me (even if a little overly emphasising behaviour and conformity) and much, much more useful than the UK Standard Assessment tests (SATs).

Teachers talking about social software

October 23rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

The main aim of the TACCLE project was to help teachers improve their use of technology for e-learning, and to do this they created a handbook. In addition they provided courses to guide teachers in technological programmes that although simple once understood can be very difficult initially. The launch for the handbook was held in Ghent, Belgium along with a day of workshops, which around 200 teachers and trainee teachers attended. Here is some feedback from the day.

Video and blog post by Jo Turner-Attwell.

Open Access and Publishing on Line

October 22nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

It is Open Access Week and here at Pontydysgu we are committed to doing our bit to support the cause.

We have a large archive of papers and books to which one or another of us has contributed at some time or other. None of it is going to be a best seller but some of the papers and books may be of interest to researchers, teachers, trainers or developers. And form time to time, I receive an email from people asking about where they can get a copy of one paper or another.

We did have a go at it a year and a half or so ago and Dirk spent ages trying to get the system working using bibtext. The problem is the system was just too clunky. Indeed looking at our stub page of journal articles I see the server is feeding up the following error message – Failed to write file/home/ – check directory permission according to your Web server privileges – whatever that means.

So we need a better system. We did think about using the University of Bremen;s open access docuemnt service. But once more, on test this also has its drawbacks. This afternoon I tried creating an ebook on the Lulu site. And it is not bad. However all it basically does is makes available a PDF file, albeit with quite a neat presentation.

So if any of you are interested you can download “Creating Learning Spaces: Training and Professional Development for Trainers” from the Pontydysgu page on Lulu (for free of course).

I reckon this is not a bad format for books. And for papers we are thinking of using Scribd which seems to work pretty well with WordPress. But i would be interested in your views. What is the best way for us to publish an archive of perhaps 200 papers, books and book chapters? And what is the best format? Should we try to produce ebooks for devices like the ipod touch? And, if so, what is the best way to do it> Your help will be much appreciated.

Waving Around Identities

October 21st, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Invites to Google wave seem to be fast rippling out so time for some first thoughts. Like most people I guess, my first reaction was what is it and what can it do?

The first problem is trying to find someone to play with. Wave is decidedly a collaborative environment and it is not easy to find open waves to join. I found an educators directory and added my name along with the 300 or so others there. But that didn’t seem particularly useful – why create a list of people just because they are in education and in possession of a precious wave invite.

So I reverted to some old technology and twittered out. Pat Parslow invited me to join a ‘sandbox wave’ he had set up for people to introduce themselves and play. And play we did – to such a degree that it was decided to copy what was useful and sensible to yet another introductions wave.

More importantly, the next day Shirley Williams suggested we try out a serious project. Given that Pat and Shirley are working on the This Is Me project and I am working on the Rhizome project , both funded by Eduserve and both focusing on Digital Identities, we chose that as a subject. Pat posted a short text to launch the Wave, and then we all waded in commenting and annotating the text. And much to my surprise it seems to work. It is the first truly usable collective authoring tool that I have used. A bit like Google docs on steroids. And it is particularly interesting to see how we are fast evolving social conventions for using this new tool

Don’t get me wrong, Google Wave is by no means finished. The interfaces can be clunky, it is not always easy to find where text has been added or edited or commented on, the replay doesn’t work – at least on my computer, and the people aspect of social networking seems a little rudimentary.

Now onto the next experiment, suggested by Pat and Shirley – to create a Workbook to help educators, mentors and guidance staff (e.g. careers guidance and the like) learn about their Digital Identity (process…) and how to enhance it, tame it, and use it.”

The idea is to write the workbook together in one week and to publish it under a Creative Commons BY SA license on with co-authorship to anyone who contributes. Shout (or should I say wave) if you are interested.

Open Access – they still don’t get it

October 19th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I was going to – and still will – write a post celebrating Open Access Week. But it was somewhat ironic on the first day of the week to receive an evaluation report on a project we submitted under the so called valorisation strand of the Lifelong Learning Programme which focused on the use of social networking and social software to provide open access to the results of projects.

I don’t normally complain if an application is turned down – it is a competitive field and I am not convinced all our ideas are always so brilliant 🙂

But the feedback on this project was truly shocking. It was almost impossible to connect the feedback to the project – indeed I double checked the reference number in case they has sent the wrong review. So then the question is raised of why? And I think it is just because the reviewer does not get the idea of open access. In his or her view the job of a project is to assist the European Commission in managing ideas and project outputs – not to empower projects to develop their own networks.

Anyway (in the spirit of open access) here is a sample of what we write and what the reviewer said:

We said: “The dissemination & exploitation of programme and project results at European level are frequently designed in rather traditional models. The use of static content continues to be the main focus which in many cases reduces the impact that projects may have, both sectorally with user groups, but also with stakeholders & policy makers. This project will connect project leaders, partners & members of the European Commission with key networks & communities. The goal of Europe UNLOCK-Ed is to create an innovative & suitable framework for dissemination & exploitation of LLP project results through an Open Access to Knowledge approach.  The project will develop an interactive framework using participatory media, supported by national training, online multimedia resources, an open Social Network Site (SNS) for online discussions and access to resources, synchronous online & face to face events & a handbook (electronic & hard copy) which will inspire a culture of open participation & sharing of knowledge. It aims to facilitate the development of adequate competencies & skills for LLP funded projects regarding the use of web 2.0 tools & raise awareness of Online Copyright & Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) which are issues which many projects struggle with. An e-guide on Online Copyright & IPR will also be developed & published on the project’s SNS for free distribution.  The project will also provide an opportunity for existing projects to disseminate & exploit their own results through the open e-journal for the publication of European LLP project results which will be established.  To summarise, this project is two-fold: it proposes to harness the latest web technologies to promote & develop effective techniques & methodologies for the transfer, dissemination & exploitation of results & it will also create learning opportunities as to capacity build & empower other projects  to apply the same framework to their projects to ensure the greatest impact & sustainability.


They say: (…) detail on the actual dissemination activities that are planned are lacking’

We said: Europe UNLOCK-Ed wants to create an open, interactive, user-generated online knowledge database on topics addressed by lifelong learning projects and programmes. A social network site linking key networks will be launched to promote peer participation & offer a diversity of learning opportunities through the use of multiple online environments & web 2.0 tools. An e-guide, related pedagogical training, multimedia resources including e-journal & online events will also derive from this approach.

It will also target the promotion of innovation in terms of dissemination & exploitation methods at a wider scale while bringing together members of the European Commission, the National Agencies and successful projects with an international audience in an open, interactive environment though the use of a multi-litearte approach which will include web seminars, web radio shows & podcasts. Furthermore,  an e-journal for the publication of papers related with LLP projects is also part of the project’s goals (detailed information is then provided on each WP)

They say: The proposal (…) focus upon the use of a webportal.”

They say: Whilst a step in the right direction, there are some areas for improvement, including the issue of access to and acceptance by the target audiences (promoters, etc.)

We said: the project is called: Europe UNLOCK-Ed (Using Network Links to Openly Create Knowledge in Education)

The SNS will be based on Open Source software and will include different areas for peer participation. The site will be open to all visitors and participants willing to engage actively, and will be able to register for a free account. The SNS will also feature group areas and allow interaction in different languages.

Aim: To develop a hands-on training programme on the appropriate use of participatory media for dissemination & exploitation of project & programme results.

A handbook on the use of participatory media for innovative dissemination and exploitation of programmes and project results will be a direct output of the development of the training course carried. The handbook will compile relevant information and practices covered in the training course in the partners’ country languages. It will be published on the project’s SNS for free download.

The open e-Journal platform will be based on open-source software with advanced search facilities through the use of collaborative meta-tagging. It will be open to the wider community and feature international publications focusing on dissemination of results of European programmes and projects. When possible, the e-Journal will be featured in the Directory of Open Access Journals. It will also feature the LOCKSS box as to ensure the preservation of the e-Journal’s content in the long-term.

A WP consisting in exploring the thematic of Online Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights with the help of an expert in this area. An e-guide summarizing the main points concerning this issues will be the main output of this WP. It will be released in the SNS for open access and free use and distribution under a Creative Commons Licence.

A event focusing on the organization of  a face to face event combining the celebration of the Open Access Day with the core purpose of the project. It will aim to encourage the effective use of participatory media for dissemination and exploitation of project results. The event seeks to promote the project, provide hands-on opportunities to learn about the use of web 2.0 , online copyright and IPR to create a culture of open knowledge and sharing at national level .

European Added Value

They Say: (…) focuses on past projects

We said: The project targets at the creation of a framework in the development of innovative strategies for the dissemination and exploitation of European project and programme supported by Erasmus, Leonardo and Grundtvig. It seeks to instigate an open, cooperative environment linking important network and communities together in an open forum for sharing of practice and co-construction of knowledge in relevant topics of different educational sectors.

The project will benefit projects across 3 of the LLP sub-programmes and so will celebrate a diversity of projects, from a diverse range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.  Projects in countries other than those represented in the consortium partnership will be able to access the online resources offered by this project, regardless of cultural and linguistic background.

They say: ‘The proposal needs to consider the responsibility for dissemination in terms of existing actors (project promoters, national agencies, EC)

We said: The project aims at building opportunities to engage and promote intercultural dialogue by linking key existing networks and communities together in an open forum for the dissemination and exploitation of lifelong learning projects and programme results.


Project will target Erasmus, Leonardo & Gruntvig projects & will link key existing national agencies & international networks & communities in a shared dialogue focusing on practice & research of thematics relevant to the LLP. It will seek to bring different levels of expertise together by connecting younger researchers and practitioners with senior peers across fields. Diverse asynchronous and real-time interaction opportunities will be created for participants to share their projects.

Projects built on networking strategy, to connect existing network & communities in an interactive open forum, where sharing practice & collaboration among projects will be enabled through social media. The project will make use of national agencies to link into existing projects offering them resources and training to give their projects a wider visibility especially at a policy level, ultimately supporting the achievement of wider impact and transference of project results on a larger scale.

Teaching and learning with technology

October 18th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Yesterday I spoke at the Taccle project final confernce on the theme of the Future of e-learning. It is a big subject to deal with in twenty minutes and I hope that it at least was coherent. The audience were some 150 teachers – most from Belgium. My main themes were the need to develop open education and break down traditional subject barriers and institutional barriers to access to education plus the need to build on the new pedagogic approaches ot learning that social media and new technologies offer us.

There was time for a few questions and they were hard.

The first (one that I am frequently asked) was about motivation. Did I have any proof that such new approaches would motivate those students who are presently alienated by the schooling system. The answer is that I do not have any proof. We have ‘micro-examples’ of how technology and different pedagogies can inspire students who previously have not engaged with traditional tecahing and learning processes. But not on any large scale. A follow up question was as to whether any governmental, regional or even local districts have implemented my ideas. Again the answer I guess is no. We do not have large scale implementations of open education at present.

And the third question, in a slightly different vein, was if I am right about the future what are we going to do with school buildings – mostly designed for the ‘factory model; of tecahing. And that also is a herd question – although I do think the many examples of factory buildings converted for use as enterprise centres or design centres offers a vision of what could be done, given sufficient money.

The workshop mainly focused on the use of social software for learning, and coincided with the release of the excellent Taccle project handbook on the subject (will post link to PDF version in next couple of days). Many of the teachers had little – if any – experience in using technology for teaching and learning – but were keen to learn more. However, I wonder if we need to refine our approaches to training teachers. Whilst these events are useful, the common response is: “Yes I can see how good this approach is but how could I use it in my subject area.” Teachers tend to relate to other subject teachers as their community of practice. And it may be time that we moved beyond the more general how ot use a computer in tecahing ‘conciousness raising’ to looking precisely at how to use technology within different subject areas (yes – I know this runs at odds with my appeal to break down subject barriers). Of course the problem is that the research community knows little about this and they still tend to run many of the events. We now have a critical mass of teachers who are tech savvy and they should be taking the lead in such things.

This also goes for projects. I am afraid to say that too many of the European funded projects seeking to introduce technology for learning are failing just because the project partners have little expereince in teaching themselves.

An interesting event and thanks to all who helped organise it.

Snack Culture: How do young people use social media?

October 15th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

You may remember a few days ago I lamented the lack of European survey data on how young people are using social media. And now along comes this presentation by Andrea Pozzali reporting on a survey of Italian students on just that subject. some of the translations are a little strange, some of the results even more surprising (do Italian students really not read books?). But this shows much promise – would anyone be interested in a (self funded?) project to undertake such a study across different countries?

NB No time for a longer post – have to go to Ghent. But Jo Turner Attwell is writing a longer commentary on the findings presented here.

New media paradox: global use but cultural embeddedness

October 13th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

More on the issue of cultures. I have had an interesting exchange of emails with Eileen Luebcke from the University of Bremen. Eileen talks of the paradox of New Media in terms of “the promise of worldwide global use but the cultural embeddedness of the technology.”

She is interested in the idea of comparing e-learning environments with regard to hidden cultural differences. In terms of evidence for such cultural differences she suggests:

  1. “There are cultures that heavily depend on oral traditions for learning (the whole Orient, first nation people all over the world). It is still unclear how to deal with this difference, but it seems that the Western idea of libraries are not efficient for this. There is an article from South Africa describing that a certain disadvantage for African people is manifested even in the digital divide due to a focus on written information within library and e-learning systems. It is still unclear how to adapt Western e-learning concepts to this.
  2. This adds to differences in hierarchy and differences in the concept of teachers. Discourse approaches like in Western class rooms often fail because expectations towards the role of teachers are different. There is also comparative research investigating the different online behaviour of Norwegian, American, and Korean students. Norwegian students tend to be more discourse oriented than American students. If discourse is a main educative goal I would assume that this is mirrored in the e-learning environments used or in how e-learning environments are used.
  3. An additional interesting aspect is the design. There are some studies which investigate the design of websites. Especially interesting is a study of the use of American and Chinese users of websites constructed by native and non-native programmers. It turned out that even with the same content Americans find the information faster on websites with American origin and vice versa. “

Such cultural factors may interact with pedagogic approaches to learning using technology. In an article in First Monday Lisa Lane suggests that different Content Management Systems “may not only influence, but control instructional approaches. She says that Blackboard “forces the instructor to think in terms of content types instead, breaking the natural structure of the semester, or of a list of topics.” Lane compares the design of Moodle to Blackboard, proposing that the ‘opt in’ structure of the Moodle CMS allows  the instructor to make “choices about context on a macro level, and choices about features and tools on a micro level. This makes it possible to explore pedagogical options more freely.”

I will meet Eileen Leubcke next week to discuss designing a research project around these issues. If you are interested and have ideas around this, please get in touch.

Digital Identities and Social Relations

October 12th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Just spent half an hour checking around blogs and twitter to see what is new on a Monday morning. And I was interested to see the latest survey from Pew Internet (just an aside – why cannot we organise as thorough a survey in Europe as Pew does for the US?).

The latest Pew Internet & American Life Project survey asked respondents to assess predictions about technology and its roles in the year 2020 and they provide the following summary of the (very substantial) report:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
  • Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch.”

I will be coming back to many of these issues in the next few posts. But I am particularly interested in the issue of the division between personal and work time and between physical and virtual reality – although I am not sure about some of the terminology. two weeks ago we ran a workshop on Digital identities at the European Conference on Educational Research in Vienna as part of the Eduserve Rhizome project on Digital Identities. We are working on a short video on the workshop which should come out later this week. Most of the issues arising from the workshop were as we would have expected and in line with similar workshops we have organised in the UK. But what was surprising were some of the discussions in the workshop especially around the issues of privacy, personal spaces and work . personal life issues. Why surprising? Mainly because there was such a divergence of feelings around these issues. there were some 18 participants in the workshop from 15 different countries. And it appears that attitudes towards privacy and work / personal life divisions are heavily influenced by culture. This finding requires far more investigation than we were able to undertake in a short workshop. But it does appear that in different countries there are very different attitudes towards for instance what data should be private and the degree ot which entries on a social networking sites should be viewed as part of professional activities.

One participant provided an example of where a teacher had expressed personal opinions on a social networking site which were seen as racist by parents of some of the students and resulted – if my memory is right – in them being dismissed. Some felt this was reasonable, given that such an opinions would effect their ability as a teacher. Others felt that however objectionable such opinions this infringed on rights of personal free speech in a non work related forum.

Steven Warburton summaries the dissussion on the Rhizome project blog:

The “richness in nationalities immediately foregrounded what is an often overlooked dimension in discussions around digital identity – namely the impact of cultural difference. Different cultures both create and consume their [digital] identities in different ways. This was most keenly reflected in the shared conversations around where we perceive the boundary between our public and private lives. The mass use of social services such as Facebook can appear to have a homogenising effect, erasing cultural distinctions through normalised ’social-networking’ practices.”

I have not read the full Pew report. But issues like this will not go away and I am intrigued to find out in which ways the experts Pew interviewed see the mixed impact on basic social relations

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    Graduate Jobs

    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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