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Technology and Competence

March 30th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

All software is a beta. And we are forever messing with the structure of the Pontydysgu web site. So here is a new innovation. We are going to use the front page right hand column for short news items and announcements (please feel free to send in anything you would like to be posted there). And that frees up this news column. For what? For an editorial column, I think. Or an excuse for a rant.

And here goes rant number one. I am ever more dismayed by projects claiming to use technology to measure competence. Why? Because firstly I think we should be using software to develop imagination, to let people play, to encourage creativity, not restricting the idea of what is or is not legitimate learning or achievement. And secondly simply because I don’t think we can measure competence through software. Inevitably such attempts become just lists of tasks or formal knowledge which can be ticked off – with or without the help of evidencing. Such check box lists tell little of what people can really do and next to nothing about their ability to use skills and knowledge in real world situations. It was that approach which led to the near demise of the first wave of e-Portfolio development. And it is time we learned from that lesson.

Here endeth the first rant 🙂

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    Cyborg patented?

    Forbes reports that Microsoft has obtained a patent for a “conversational chatbot of a specific person” created from images, recordings, participation in social networks, emails, letters, etc., coupled with the possible generation of a 2D or 3D model of the person.

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    Racial bias in algorithms

    From the UK Open Data Institute’s Week in Data newsletter

    This week, Twitter apologised for racial bias within its image-cropping algorithm. The feature is designed to automatically crop images to highlight focal points – including faces. But, Twitter users discovered that, in practice, white faces were focused on, and black faces were cropped out. And, Twitter isn’t the only platform struggling with its algorithm – YouTube has also announced plans to bring back higher levels of human moderation for removing content, after its AI-centred approach resulted in over-censorship, with videos being removed at far higher rates than with human moderators.

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    Gap between rich and poor university students widest for 12 years

    Via The Canary.

    The gap between poor students and their more affluent peers attending university has widened to its largest point for 12 years, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

    Better-off pupils are significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers. And the gap between the two groups – 18.8 percentage points – is the widest it’s been since 2006/07.

    The latest statistics show that 26.3% of pupils eligible for FSMs went on to university in 2018/19, compared with 45.1% of those who did not receive free meals. Only 12.7% of white British males who were eligible for FSMs went to university by the age of 19. The progression rate has fallen slightly for the first time since 2011/12, according to the DfE analysis.

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    Quality Training

    From Raconteur. A recent report by global learning consultancy Kineo examined the learning intentions of 8,000 employees across 13 different industries. It found a huge gap between the quality of training offered and the needs of employees. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said they , with only 16 per cent of employees finding the learning programmes offered by their employers effective.

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