Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

After the event – what are the lessons from organising the Bremen Mobile Learning Conference?

March 30th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Just a few quick comments about the Mobile Learning Conference Bremen, which took place last week. By all accounts it was a big success – at least if the feedback from participants is to be believed. And I enjoyed it greatly.We had about one hundred delegates – from 19 different countries according to Judith Seipold. What were the lessons for the future?

1. The conference theme – ‘Mobile Learning: Crossing boundaries in convergent environments; allowed us to look at learning from a  number of different perspectives including from pedagogy, the arts and entertainment as well as from technology. As learning is embedded in ever wider contexts these perspectives can provide us with a richer and wider perspective on our work.

2. The venue is important. Although it raised some eyebrows when we said we were holding the conference in a youth hostel – the deign and location of the building – allowing different interlinked spaces with lots of light and right by the river (with a sun terrace) – facilitated informal discussions and learning linking the formal presentations and workshops with that valued ‘out of conference’ time.

3. Conferences do not need to be so expensive. We only charged 50 Euro per delegate and provided free access to students. How did we do it? Firstly the youth hostel gave us an excellent deal – considerably cheaper, I suspect, than we would have been charged by purpose built conference venues or by universities. And it was a no frills conference – no gala dinner and no free iPads. We managed all the administration ourselves using free or open source software – EasyChair, Twitter, Google forms etc. (The most tricky bit was negotiating with PayPal which took for ever).We begged and borrowed equipment.

Ok it was a bit touch and go – we haven’t paid everything yet but my guess is we will make a profit of about 45 Euro. But if we can do it so can others – the cost of conferences at the moment excludes many people resulting in a poorer discussion.

3. We encouraged multiple formats including workshops and demonstrations. the poster sessions was particularly good. And although the multiple strands meant some of the sessions were quite small it was those sessions which in my experience were the most interesting.

I think we still have some way to go in integrating unconferencing sessions properly in the agenda. Unconferencing takes a lot of organization and facilitation. But perhaps we should stop thinking about a dichotomy between conferencing and unconferencing and look at how we can encourage the maximum involvement and participation in all of our work.

4. We have got some sort of record of our conference on Cloudworks. But that took a lot of work and we need to look again at how we can pull together diverse information sources from the different places – slideshare, twitter, blogs etc which people use to show their work and ideas. This links back to the idea of how we amplify conferences and events.

5. We had a relatively small local organising committee. This has pros and cons. On the good side this allowed us to work together informally and intensely. On the down side it resulted in a few individuals ending up with a lot of work. We also had recruited a lot of reviewers prior to the conference which spread out the time consuming work of reviewing proposals. And we were extremely lucky to be able to draw on support from students from the local university who did this work for free as part of their studies.

And people are already asking about next years conference. I think we should do it again. But one suggestion is we might stick with the Crossing Boundaries theme but move on with the technology. After all mobiles are not alone in crossing those boundaries!

The Practice of Freedom

March 24th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

What is the purpose of education? To express and exchange ideas about matters which concern us all. To exchange those ideas freely and openly without fear of ridicule, in spaces where we are respected equally. To be privileged to listen to the ideas of significantly knowledgeable others. To share and grow in our ideas. To participate in collective experiences, to grow in understanding and to make meanings. To learn about and respect other cultures. The purpose of education is to open the box and draw on the imagination of individuals and collectives in the passion for learning and to influence and shape our societies.

Sadly the reality of education is different. All too often education is based on divisions between those that have and those that don’t, differences of class and income, differences of gender and religion. Education is about conforming to the norm, heterogeneity, of fitting in to prevailing power structures and economic realities – realities dictated by the logic of capitalism. Education is institutionalization, testing and certification. And for those who do not conform, education is about rejection and failure.

Thus we see a very basic contradiction in the debate around the purpose of education. A contradiction between the provision of free or subsidized education to provide the factories and enterprises with sufficient skilled labour to produce profit and between educators and learners who value ideas and knowledge to shape and change society.

And technology is important. Educational technology has achieved little other than facilitating the management of learning. But the internet has allowed knowledge and learning to escape from the walled gardens of the institutions. Some forty years ago, Ivan Illich envisaged how we could use computers to deschool society and open learning to all. Freire developed the idea of a critical pedagogy where education meant the  ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Friere wanted to overcome the dichotomy between the teacher and the learner, thinking instead of the teacher-student and student-teacher.

The internet provides us with rich and free spaces for expansive learning. The institutions only have left their monopoly on funding and on certification. And so capitalism has begun a new project. The first aim is to strike out at democratization of learning by privatizing education, by deepening barriers to equality and access. And the second more audacious aim is to privatize knowledge itself, to turn knowledge and learning into a commodity to be bought and sold like any other consumer good.

Thus we find ourselves at a turning point for the future of education. The contradictions inherent in the different views of the purpose of education do not allow any simple compromise or reform minded tinkering with the system. For those that believe in education as the practice of freedom there are two challenges: to develop a societal discourse around the purpose of education and secondly to develop transformative practice, as teacher students and student teachers.

Second radio programme from the MLCB 2011

March 22nd, 2011 by Dirk Stieglitz

Here is the recording of the Sounds of the Bazaar live internet radio programme broadcast from the MLCB-Conference 2011 in Bremen.just as in the first day, we focused on encouraging participants to tell their own stories about the use of mobile devices for learning in different contexts.

First up on this programme was Helen Keegan who has earlier wowed the conference with her presentation on mobiles and film (more to come on this). Jenny Hughes went on to interview Ceridwen Coulby, Alice Huskinson, Prabhjoyt Kler, Catherine MacMillan and  Helen Macrorie, students at Leeds Univeristy Medical School, about their perspective on use of mobile devices in medicine and health care. Antje Breitkopf talks about the One Laptop Per Child project, based on her experience of working with the project in Peru. And in a series of vox-pops Jenny Hughes talks to John Potter and Ludger Deitmer amongst others about their impressions of the main issues arsing from the conference.

Production by Dirk Stieglitz, interviews jenny Hughes and anchorman Graham Attwell.

The music is from the Album “Velvet Dress & Stockings” by Dazie Mae and is available from the Jamendo web site.

License: Creative Commons 3 Attribution, Share-Alike.

Sounds of the Bazaar at the MLCB in Bremen

March 21st, 2011 by Dirk Stieglitz

The live internet radio programmes from The Mobile Learning Conference Bremen this week were a real gas. We are pretty confident with our sound set up these days which leaves us free to focus on content. And I think we did a pretty good job in catching the debates and ideas of the conference. If you are interested in the theory and practice of mobile learning, then I’d recommend you to listen to the two programmes. Each lasts about half an hour.

The first programme features Daniela Reimann talking about her keynote presentation on art and mobile devices. Andy Black preveiws his popular workshop on future trends in the use of mobiles for learning. Klaus Rummler, one of the conference commitee, tells us why and how the conference was organised. Julia Laxton, from Leeds University Medical School, talks about the use of mobiles in medical education and issues for institutions. Anke Königschulte from Bremen talks about using audio technologies in museums. And last but not least, John Traxler looks at the international dimension of the use of mobile devices for learning.

Great stuff! The music we played is made by Daniel Berges & The Windsurfers on his album Drop By Drop and like the programme itself is licensed under Creative Commons. Graham Attwell anchored the programme, Jenny Hughes was interviewer and as ever the producer was Dirk Stieglitz.

Technology Enhanced Boundary Objects and Visualising Data

March 16th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I have been spending a lot of time lately on visualising data as part of our efforts for build technology Enhanced Boundary Objects (TEBOs) to support careers professional in understanding and using Labour Market Information. The work is being undertaken as part of the EU funded Mature-IP and G8WAY projects.

In a short series of posts I will be reporting on my experiences with this work. But first more about those TEBOs.

Background to TEBOs

One particularly fruitful way of thinking about skills development at work is to look at the boundaries between different communities of employees within a workplace and the artefacts (documents, graphs, computer software) that are used to communicate between communities (Kent et al., 2007). Following the analysis of Bowker & Star (1999), “boundary objects” are “objects that both inhabit several communities of practice and satisfy the informational requirements of each of them”, thus making possible productive communication and “boundary crossing” of knowledge. In an earlier project on knowledge maturing and organisational performance (including in career guidance) we developed an approach to learning based on the design of symbolic boundary objects which were intended to act as a facilitator of communication across community boundaries, between teams and specialists or experts. Effective learning could follow from engagement in authentic activities that embedded models which were made more visible and manipulable through interactive software tools. In bringing the idea of boundary objects to the present research, we realised that a sub-set of general boundary objects could be ‘TEBOs’ (technology-enhanced boundary objects), resources within an OLME which were software based.

This approach makes use of the notions of boundary object and boundary crossing. The ideas of boundary crossing and tool mediation (Tuomi-Gröhn & Engeström, 2003; Kaptelinin & Miettinen 2005) and situated learning with a close alignment to the importance of a focus upon practice (Brown et al., 1989; Hall, 1996) informed considerations of the role of technologically-enhanced boundary objects in knowledge maturing processes in different contexts. One specific concern is to make visible the epistemological role of symbolic boundary objects in situations in which people from different communities use common artefacts in communication. A fruitful approach to choosing ways to develop particular boundary objects is to focus on what Onstenk (1997) defines as core problems: the problems and dilemmas that are central to the practice of an occupation that have significance both for individual and organisational performance — in this case the problems associated with providing advice relevant for career planning. One method this development project used was therefore to engage in a dialogue with careers guidance practitioners about common scenarios involving Labour Market Information (LMI) which could inform the development of prototype technologically-enhanced boundary objects (TEBOs). The development of the TEBO is therefore informed by a consideration of the following issues:

  • Importance of developing methods and strategies for co-design with users.
  • Need for conceptual tools to help people understand the models and ideas which are part of LMI.
  • Need for a more open pedagogy (than is typical of much existing technology-enhanced learning, and existing workplace training practice).
  • A system in which boundary objects are configurable by end-users. (practitioners) and by guidance trainers to be used in multiple ways
  • Need to build an understanding of how TEBOs may be used in ways that have utility for the employing organisation (in terms of efficiency savings), are empowering for practitioners, and ultimately for clients too.

These concerns could be coupled with another set of issues concerning appropriate skill development:

  • Need for time for people to interact, reflect, use concepts etc.
  • Trying to reach a stage where practitioners have justifiable confidence in the claims they make and can exercise judgement about the value of information when faced with unfamiliar LMI.
  • Choosing between a range of possible use-contexts.
  • Deciding how to employ support from communication and discussion tools.
  • Developing and transmitting Labour Market intelligence – importance of communicating to others.
  • Preconfiguring certain ways of thinking through use of scenarios; discussions can point into and lead from scenarios.

The above sets of issues provided a clear steer to the type of investigations that would be needed to investigate how TEBOs might be used to support the learning and development of careers guidance practitioners. There are also broader questions about the overall design of the learning system and how users might interact with the system in practice.

Communities of Practice

The importance of Labour Market Information (LMI) in Careers Advice, Information and Guidance has been recognized by the EU in its New Skills, New Jobs strategy. LMI is crucial for effective career decision-making because it can help young people in planning future careers or those planning a change in career in selecting training new careers pathways. LMI is also critical for professionals in supporting other stakeholders in education (like careers coordinators in schools) and training planners and providers in determining future skills training provision. LMI is collected by a variety of different organizations and agencies in Europe including government and regional statistical agencies, industry sector bodies and private organisations. Each collects data for different purposes. Some of these data are made available in a standardized form through Eurostat. However access is uneven. Furthermore the format of the data is seldom usable for careers guidance, and there are few tools to enable its use by advisors or job seekers. This is especially an issue at a time of financial pressures on training courses when potential participants will wish to know of the potential benefits of investing in training. It is also often difficult to access potential training opportunities with the lack of data linking potential careers to training places.

The use of LMI, therefore, lays at the boundaries between a number of communities (and emerging communities of practice).

The practice of careers professionals is related to the provision of careers guidance to clients, such as young people, those returning to the labour market, unemployed people and those seeking a change in careers, amongst others.

LMI is predominantly collected by statisticians working for governmental or non-governmental organisations and agencies. Their practice relates to the collection, compiling, curating and interpretation of data. Data are not collected primarily for providing careers guidance, but for economic and social forecasting and policy advice.

The forms of artefacts used in these different practices vary considerably, with data being released in data tables, which make little sense without (re)interpretation and visualisation. Visualisation is an emergent specialist practice itself requiring cross disciplinary knowledge and a new skills base. Furthermore the use of data in careers practice may require the use of statistical and visualisation tools, however basic, which are generally outside the skills and practice of careers professionals.

In the next post in this series I will look at the identification of the core problems as the basis for the pilot TEBO.


Ainsworth, S. & Th Loizou, A. (2003) The Effects of Self-explaining When Learning with Text or Diagrams, Cognitive Science, 27 (4), pp. 669-681.

Bowker, G. C., & Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting things out. Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989) Situated cognition and the culture of learning, Educational Researcher, 18 (1), pp. 32-41.

Chandler P. (2004) The crucial role of cognitive processes in the design of dynamic visualizations, Learning and Instruction 14 (3), pp. 353-357.

Hall, R. (1996) Representation as shared activity: Situated cognition and Dewey’s cartography of experience, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 5 (3), 209-238.

Hegarty, M. (2004) Dynamic visualizations and learning: getting to the difficult questions, Learning and Instruction 14 (3), pp 343-351.

Kaptelinin, V., & Miettinen, R. (Eds.) (2005). Perspectives on the object of activity. [Special issue]. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 12 (1).

Kent, P., Noss, R., Guile, D., Hoyles, C., & Bakker, A (2007). “Characterising the use of mathematical knowledge in boundary crossing situations at work”. Mind, Culture, and Activity 14, 1-2, 64-82.

Lowe, R.K. (2003) Animation and Learning: selective processing of information in dynamic graphics, Learning and Instruction, 13 (2), pp. 157-176.

Lowe, R. (2004) Changing status: Re-conceptualising text as an aid to graphic comprehension. Paper presented at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) SIG2 meeting, ‘Comprehension of Text and Graphics: basic and applied issues’, Valencia, September 9-11.

Narayanan, N. H. & Hegarty, M. (2002) Multimedia design for communication of dynamic information. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 57 (4), pp. 279-315.

Onstenk, J. (1997) Core problems, information and communication technologies and innovation in vocational education and training. Amsterdam: SCO Kohnstamn Institut.

Ploetzner R. and Lowe R. (2004) Dynamic Visualisations and Learning, Learning and Instruction 14 (3), pp. 235-240.

Tuomi-Gröhn, T., & Engeström, Y. (2003) Conceptualizing transfer: From standard notions to developmental perspectives. In T. Tuomi-Gröhn & Y. Engeström (Eds.), Between school and work: New perspectives on transfer and boundary-crossing. Amsterdam: Pergamon, pp. 19-38.

van Someren, M., Reimann, P., Boshuizen, H.P.A., & de Jong, T. (1998) Introduction, in M. van Someren, H.P.A. Boshuizen, T. de Jong & P. Reimann (Eds) Learning with Multiple Representations, Kidlington: Pergamon, pp. 1-5.

Identities, relationships and on-line spaces

March 15th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Interesting post by Karen Romeis on identities.

Karyn says:

I have noticed that some of the people with whom I have both and on- and off-line relationship are competent at conducting a single relationship in two spaces. Others less so. In some cases, there is a strange split. There is one relationship going on online and another offline, and that it seems to be ‘not done’ to break that wall…….In cases where people pursue two separate relationships with me, I have come to regard that as a sign of an inability to assimilate an online space into an existing relationship. An indication that there is a level of maturity still to be gained. By and large, this two relationship experience tends to be restricted to those for whom social media tools are little more than toys.

I am not sure it is as simple as that. We are increasingly morphing the digital into all aspects of our lives. But at the same time – just in the way the environment shapes our face to face relationships – then digital tools intermediate digital relationships. And I think that we all have different identities. Such identities are mediated by environments. And I am unsure that it is simple to just ‘assimilate’ an online space into an existing relationship. That on-line space surely mediates the nature of the relationship – off and online. In the comments on her post Karyn says when she talks about maturity she is referring to the maturity of the digital environments we use. But I can see more ‘mature’ digital environments – for instance augmented reality – further enhancing our different identities – rather than leading to a single identity – on or off-line.

Education and Twitter – the end of a beautiful affair

March 14th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

It is always sad when lovers break up. especially close lovers with a growing relationship who suddenly fall out with each other. And the educational technology community has certainly has a long love in with Twitter. Twitter for teaching, Twitter for learning, Twitter for developing projects, twitter for maintaining communities and twitter just for nattering with each other. But I foresee a more tempestuous relationship ahead. Why? As the Guardian newspaper reports: “Twitter has amazed and outraged developers by warning them that it will severely curtail their ability to build apps that use its output.” The Guardian quotes Ryan Sarver, the head of platform and API at Twitter as saying:

Twitter will provide the primary mainstream consumer client experience on phones, computers, and other devices by which millions of people access Twitter content (tweets, trends, profiles, etc), and send tweets. If there are too many ways to use Twitter that are inconsistent with one another, we risk diffusing the user experience.

It was just because Twitter opened up its API to third party developers and applications which led to such rapid innovation and experimentation – in education as much as elsewhere. This looks to be over. Sarver might claim this is due to the desire to guarantee the user experience but few will believe that. fairly obviously Twitter want to make money out of their loss making application.  I suspect it is not so much apps they want to make money out of but advertising. and to control advertising they want to control the app market.

As Dave Winer (who has seen all this a few times before) says: “The Internet remains the best place to develop because it is the Platform With No Platform Vendor.” Winer goes on to say:

Facebook may have a huge installed base, but it’s dead to me. I can’t get there. The platform vendor is too active. Same with Twitter, same with Apple. Give me a void, something I can develop for, where I can follow the idea where ever it leads. Maybe there are only a few thousand users. Maybe only a few million. Hey, you can’t be friends with everyone.

And that I guess is the lesson for education. Follow our ideas. See where they lead. Don’t worry about how many users there are. And above all lets work on the platform with no vendor. Education is a public good, not a vendor platform.

But it was good whilst it lasted, Twitter.

The Purpose and Funding of Research

March 13th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Most of the debate over the future of Higher Education in the UK has focused on funding and within that of funding for teaching. And regarding research, the major concern has been obviously cutbacks in research funding. Of course that is a valid concern.

There has been less attention to the nature of research funding. The government’s main thrust would appear to be to encourage private sector funding of research. Of course there are trust funds concerned with the longer term benefits of research and of developing a public knowledge base. But much private sector funding is looking for short term return on funding. Nothing wrong with that. But in terms of developing knowledge it will inevitably skew the subjects of research. Secondly private sector companies will often be unwilling to share or make public the results fo such funded research. In the long term it all amounts to another step in the privatisation of education.

There are also concerns over the nature of public sector research funding. Talking in the Times Higher Education Supplement about the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), Professor Delpy says:

… the RAE, which still determines the distribution of about £1.5 billion in annual quality-related research funding, had “driven a fantastically efficient and very competitive research base that has not helped people collaborate, because institutions have been measured against what they as individual institutions have done”.

He added: “You didn’t get extra brownie points because one-third of your research was collaborative.”

This in turn meant that universities’ promotion criteria typically did not reward collaborative efforts such as “enabling a whole area of research to gain large-scale funding from the European Union” by “corralling and marshalling” individual researchers to put together joint bids, Professor Delpy said.

In other words, the nature of funding and the policy drive for competition between universities and even between departments, is inhibiting the development of collaborative research. Yet it is just such collaboration which can lead to new knowledge development and to the development of careers for emerging researchers.

Once more this illustrates the importance of the emerging debate over the purpose of education and the role of research within society.

Barriers to elearning in Small and Medium Enterprises

March 9th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I have been doing some thinking recently on the use of technology for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Or rather the lack of it. Some six or seven years ago we did a project on this finding that although there was much use of technology for informal learning, there was very little awareness, take up or implementation of elearning systems in SMEs (the book of the project is available on our publications page).
Since then there has been considerable public expenditure in Europe encouraging the enhanced use of technology for learning. Small and Medium Enterprises are seen as a key sector for creating employment and for innovation. Training and Continuing Professional Development are critical to innovation and the growth of SMEs. SMEs do not provide sufficient training because they cannot spare the time for staff to attend external training programmes and because internal training is too expensive. Therefore use elearning – so goes the logic. But the logic is clearly flawed. SMEs have not rushed to embrace the possibilities of elearning, despite pubic subventions. So what are the barriers and constraints. The following list is based on a series of meetings and consultation albeit in the somewhat specialist field of careers guidance, which, in England, is organised through private careers companies under contracts with local and national government. Indeed, one of the problems, I think, is that we have tended to treat SMEs as a homogeneous entity, whilst, in reality, the possibilities and approach in different sectors varies greatly and there is also big differences between an SME of 250 workers (the EU says an SME is any organisation employing less than 300 staff) and small enterprises with say 8 or ten staff.

  1. Lack of resources. Lack of formal based learning courses or resources. Most training programmes and Continuing Professional Development opportunities are face to face. This may reflect culture, lack of awareness of potential of e-learning and lack of technically proficient specialists to develop e-learning resources, plus of course the cost of producing high quality learning materials.
  2. Poor infrastructure. Many careers companies have a poor network infrastructure and are using out of date computers with even more out of date web browsers etc. Furthermore many of companies have set up heavy firewalls preventing access to social networking sites.
  3. Lack of competence or confidence in use of computers by some careers advisers. May be some reluctance by staff to become involved in elearning.
  4. Lack of awareness by senior managers and staff development officers of potential of elearning. Lack of local champions for change
  5. Despite all these problems and barriers, most careers advisers use computers as part of their everyday job. There are requirements to use networked systems for record keeping. In addition many use the computers for informal learning and especially for browsing for resources, also using the computer in direct work with clients. However such activity is not viewed by managers as ‘learning’ neither is it accredited.
  6. Lack of time. It is difficult to persuade managers to provide time for informal (or formal) online learning, especially given present financial climate. Many do appear to use computer for work purposes at home and in their own time.
  7. Cost. Many online resources are expensive and at present careers services are under heavy financial pressure. Is also worth noting that practices of companies in paying for online access by say mobile phone varies greatly. Staff may be unwilling to use mobile devices if are expected to pay themselves.
  8. Confidentiality. Much of the work is confidential. This may mitigate against the use of open social software networks.
  9. Organisational structures. Careers companies have to bid for contracts and may be unwilling to share learning opportunities or resources with other companies who may be perceived as competitors.
  10. Lack of functionality to share informal learning. Are only limited networks and community applications for sharing learning. there are some signs this may be changing but most learning is hared and disseminated face to face or by email.
  11. Much of the work of careers advisers take place outside the office. Access to resources including internet may be limited.

These barriers could be categorised as social, pedagogical, organsiational and technological. In reality the different categories probably reinforce each other and overlap. But each area needs to be addressed if progress is to be made.

I would be interested in other opinions as to barriers in developing elearning in SMEs – in this or other sectors

Open Data and the Greek Debt

March 7th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

This is the first of three or four posts on Open Knowledge and Open and Linked Data.

For some time I have been looking at the movement for Open Knowledge, mainly from the viewpoint of teaching and learning. Open Knowledge pushes back at the attempts to privatise knowledge through ever more draconian intellectual property laws. And of course such laws are being introduced precisely because of the capability of the internet from opening up knowledge resources and sharing knowledge and knowledge artefacts. Recently I have been looking at the potential of open and linked data, an idea whose time has come in terms of the ability of machines to collect data and process data, to allow interrogation of that data and to visualise the results.

But this is not just about teaching and learning. Access to data could be central to democracy. Last weeks call from the Jubilee Debt Campaign for an audit of the Greek debts is a case in point. The Jubilee Debt Campaign web site says:

Today, more than 200 prominent Greek and international figures launch a call to audit Greece’s debts. Economists, activists, academics and parliamentarians from across the world are demanding the establishment of a Public Commission to examine the debts that lie at the root of Greece’s crisis. The Commission would look at the legality and legitimacy of those debts, with a view to negotiating better terms and holding to account those responsible for unjust debts.

There is little doubt that any initial examination of those debts will find a tangle of wheeling and dealing, of strange financial instruments and money movements. How better to discover what has been going on than to make this data publicly available. So not just a public audit by reputed financial specialists but an audit by the crowd. If the Greek people are supposed to pay for this crisis why should they not have the full details of what is owed, to who and for what.

And come to think of it, it is not just Greece which needs such an audit. The Ireland economy is in tatters, and in the UK we are constantly told that austerity measures and cutbacks are necessary because of the size of the UK’s sovereign debt. If my taxes are going to pay these debts I want to know who they are to and how those debts occurred. The UK government seems keen on publishing data it wants us to see (like the pay of civil servants), other data it is less keen to see in the public domain.

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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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