Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Unpaid work is bad for business

June 30th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian newspaper reports that in the UK figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) reveal more than 20,000 students – around one in 10 – who left university last summer were out of work six months later. This figure has almost doubled in the past four years, as has the number of graduates in “elementary occupations.”

Half of university students are willing to work for free to kickstart their career, while 40% said they would take a minimum wage position, according to research carried out by

I have worked on a series of projects with colleagues at the University of Bremen looking at a  pedagogic approach to work placements or internships and at the added value to students, universities and companies.

However, our approach is very different to the neo-liberal idea of unpaid labour as a pre-requisite for finding employment. Firstly we have been trying to integrate internships in companies within the curriculum. Secondly we have been looking at better coodination between companies and universities and at teh design of ‘rich’ internships in terms of learning experiences. At the same time we have been examining how interns can undertake projects and work which brings extra value to the company especially in terms of innovation. Our assumption is that students are paid a living wage – either in the form of a student grant or through the company itself.

It strikes me the way the UK situation is evolving everyone is a loser. In terms of teaching and learning, work experience is not integrated into the curriculum – but rather comes as a somewhat random bolt on. Students – who already often have a substantial overdraft – are forced to work for free. Companies may be happy in that they are getting something for nothing – free skilled labour. But in terms of access to the best potential employees, the field in limited to those who can afford to work for free. Furthermore, it seems that they are using graduates for lower level tasks, rather than seeking to develop innovation and professional development through better integration in higher educations systems.

As the Guardian reports, Ben Lyons, from Intern Aware, has said the new phenomenon of unpaid work is a short-sighted business practice. “As well as pricing out smart, hardworking young people, it’s bad for businesses who lose out on talent, and risk the consequences of being in breach of employment law.”



Summer Radio Goodness with Bildung im Dialog

June 23rd, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I had a lot of fun in Koblenz last week. We have been experimenting for some time with different ways of using internet radio. And my old friend,  Andreas Auwärter, invited me to co-host a live radio internet radio programme as the conclusion to the tenth Koblenz e-Learning days conference on Wednesday 12 June. The programme focused on the current “Big Challenges,” in the field of media-supported learning.  What is our “… giant leap for mankind” for e-learning in the college in 2015 or 2020? It was supposed to build on an hour of group work to prepare the contents for the programme. To be honest I was unsure if an hour would be long enough. In the event the conference overran and there was only 15 minutes. But, to my pleasant surprise, the participants had worked their socks off in the 15 minutes available and came up with some wonderful and rich ideas which they explained in the programme.

You can listen to the programme here. A couple of interviews are in German, the majority in English.

Thaks to Andreas and to everyone who took part.

Recognising learning with badges

June 19th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Moving into uncharted waters: are open badges the future for skills accreditation?

I am ever more interested in the idea of badges in generla and the Mozilla Badges project in particular.

Having said this I think some of the pilot work has been on the wrong track – in providing accreditation for vocational competence in fields with pre-existing qualifications, rather than looking at areas lacking existing froms of recognition.

Badges should be about recognising learning. And it is probably more important in motivating learners that they are able to recognise their own learning. So I see badges as an extension tot he assessment for learning movement. In this respect the sample badge on the Mozilla Open Badges project site is unhelpful. I know it is up to the provider to determine the forms of assessment and that Mozilla does not determine who can become a provider. But the example inevitably will influence how potential providers view badges. Assessment needs to be an active process, contirbuting both to the leaners’s understanding and facilitating the process fo recogniciton. Simple check boxes as in the example above do neither.

L like the Mozilla Backpack and obviously a great deal of effort is being put into developing a robust architecture. But just as important as the electronic badges is something learners can display. Jenny Hughes has suggested we should provide learners with a badge holder (at least for younger learners) and that they should be allowed to select one badge to wear to school each day.

The badges could look very similar to the popular football cards being distributed by German supermarkets. If youlook at the back of the card (below) thereis even space for several metadata fields.

In a follow up post I will discuss several practical ideas for piloting the badges.

Engaging and useful places

June 18th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I’ve written a number of posts lately pointing to the fragility of business models based on advertising for web 2.0 and social software.

And I have been wondering about what we accept and what we do not in terms fo adverts. Certainly, advertising on mobile devices feels amore intrusive leading to lower than expected revenues in this area. That is a concern to companies like Facebook who are effectively cannibalising their own market and more users link up through mobile apps.

The latest app to ‘go adverts; is skype. And its not surprising that the somewhat intrusive adverts, as large as the picture of the person you are talking to, should have resulted in a lot of complaints. But Microsoft, owners of skype are unapologetic. They say:

While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day.

Given that the adverts are designed to make skype a more erngaging and useful place, itis soemwhat surpising to find that those peopel eweith paid accounst do not get the ads. Is this teh first time a network is allowing yopu to pay for a less engaging and useful experince. Ot – just possibly is Sandhya Venkatachalam from skype bullshitting.



Great Design

June 11th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Design matters! And one of the problems with educational technology is that developers ignore design. Interfaces are unimportant, they say. It can be sorted after we get the coding debugged. they do not generally understand when users complain that the Alpha is hard to navigate and is not attractive.

I know because I have been there.  We try our best but none of us in Pontydysgu are specialist graphic designers. One of the problems is that project funding rarely (if ever) includes a budget for graphic design. Life is getting easier because of the more advanced templates for platforms like WordPress but even these need customisation. And lets face it, 90 per cent of Moodle sites look soooo boring.

So it is refreshing when a well designed educational technology web site comes out. So congratulations to Jisc TechDis who have just released a new Toolbox.

The technology section of the site explains:

The word technology is a simple way of describing tools to help us do things. These tools can be computers or tablets, but could just as easily be a mobile phone or even an ebook reader.

All types of technology can be changed and adapted to make them just right for you. This could be changing the size of the font on a screen or having the text read out loud. You may prefer to plan your work using mind mapping software or to record your thoughts as a video. Whatever you choose you can set it up in the way which is the best for you.

This section contains a large number of ideas to help you adapt the technology you use everyday. It covers both Windows and Mac computers as well as using mobile devices and tablets.

And it looks fantastic.

A World of Imagination and Vision

June 8th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I am ever more interested in how we can use storytelling for learning in and about practice. together with my good friends from Raycom,  I am developing a story telling application, which I hope to pilot in the LearningLayers project, due to start in November. And we have submitted a proposal for a workshop at Educa Online Berlin. This is the abstract.

“And I know that This World is a World of Imagination and Vision. I see Every thing I paint in This World. But Every body does not see alike…”

(The Letters of William Blake. “To Dr John Trusler”, August 23, 1799)

Jerome Bruner has contrasted two ways of knowing: the narrative and the scientific. The former seeks to find a good story (which resonates with readers as life-like) while the latter seeks to draw out key concepts and ideas by abstraction and the application of logic.

Narrative is a means of examining actions, intentions, consequences and context.

A good story should be emotionally engaging, capable of application in different contexts and provide a broader framework for understanding generalities, partly because there is a certain looseness of ideas. Generalities in this sense are different from knowledge derived from abstraction: in this case learning and knowledge are the result of multiple intertwining forces: content, context, and community.

Brown says in purposeful storytelling people should get the central ideas quickly and stories should communicate ideas holistically, naturally, clearly and facilitate intuitive and interactive communication. Story telling enables us to imagine perspectives and share meanings by conjuring up pictures more conducive to a culture of learning and development than a formal analytical presentation which is more in the form of knowledge transmission.

According to Flowers (1988) “People tell stories in an attempt to come to terms with the world and harmonize their lives with reality.”

Storytelling has always been used to transmit knowledge and learning. Within traditional apprenticeships storytelling has been powerful form of learning, but usually in a one to one mode.

The advent of printing allowed stories to be transmitted to many people, but the printed book is a less effective form of transmitting practice-based knowledge and learning

With the increasing power of social software today we are able to weave multimedia and interactive stories and to share them with others though the internet. With mobile devices these stories can be generated through in the different contexts in which we live and learn – in the community and the workplace as well as from a computer or in a classroom.

Moreover, the web and mobile devices allow us to move from a broadcast mode to an interactive and collaborative mode of storytelling, supporting informal learning in different contexts.

This workshop will explore storytelling for learning in different contexts and sectors.

Participants will first be invited to look at the different ways in which storytelling can be used for learning.

They will be supported in telling their own stories and in using different software applications (including audio and video) to share those stories. They will explore the concepts of informal learning collaborative meaning making and how this might be supported by new technologies.

Finally the workshop will look at how facilitators can support story telling – online and face to face – and in the different contexts in which we learn.

Dream Weaver

June 7th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Last week I wrote about the TACCLE 2 project. Amongst other things, I said,  TACCLE will provide for teachers:

  • 5 step-by-step guides to integrating ICT and e-learning in YOUR classroom: primary education, maths, science and technology, key competences, arts and culture and humanities.
  • practical materials and ideas customised for YOUR subject area and pupil age range

Pontydysgu are coordinating the production of the first handbook, for primary education. This work is being led by Jenny Hughes, Angela Rees and Nick Daniels. Nick is an experienced primary school teacher and author of childrens’ books (check out his very cool web site) and produced the following magical activity for the handbook.

Everything produced under the Taccle project is available under a Creative Commons License. So please feel free to translate this into other languages. And, if you are a primary school teacher, try it out. We’d love your feedback.


Dream Weaver                        5-7yrs

Ease *****


This activity really encourages learners to express their wildest imaginings as they recall and describe their dreams. Here, the software is used as a visual stimulus and to encourage pupils to express opinions.


As an introduction, ask learners to tell you everything they know about dreams. Ask them if they know what dreams are, where they come from and if they think they have any meaning. Select learners to describe a dream they’ve had to the class.

Explain to them that they’re going to be weaving their own dreams but in order to do so everyone must go to The Land of Wild Imagination!

You will have loaded the online software on the interactive whiteboard, explain to learners that the software, like us, has dreams! In the box you’ll need to finish the sentence starting “I dreamed that…” You can continue in one of two ways. Either you can type in a concise description of a learner’s or your own dream (there is a maximum of 140 characters), or you can type in key nouns, verbs and adjectives only e.g. “I dreamed that… Ghost scream, wolf howl, rocket whirring, red moon, gold stars, boy running, scared, home, mother, safe.”

When you’ve done this click on ‘Max My Dream’. The software will take a few seconds to weave the dream so use this time to ask the children what images they think they’ll see in the dream. Ask them to name everything they see appearing in the dream as it appears.

After the dream has finished, discuss with the dreamer if it was similar to their actual dream. Ask what was different also. You can replay the dream or re-run the activity as many times as you like using different learners’ dreams.

To finish, explain to the learners that over the coming week, they are going to create their own dream collage. They will need to think of their best dream ever (for those who cannot remember a dream they’ve had, ask them to create a dream they would like to have) and write a list of all the things in their dream e.g. ‘me, dog, moon, rocket’. Next, they’ll need to find images for each thing on their list, they can do this either by searching the net or by taking photographs with a digital camera and printing them.

Give each learner a large piece of card and ask them to decorate it with glitter, paint, sequins – anything they would like to use to create a background or ‘dream-board’. When their dream-board is ready and they have all their images, they can cut them out, arrange them on their dream board and finally glue them into place when their happy with it.

When they’ve finished, ask them to present their dream and dream-board to the class.

Key information

Meatadata – to be added

What do I need?

Internet access, interactive whiteboard, large card (A3?) and as much art and craft stuff as you can find… the brighter and gaudier the better!

Suggested tools  (for dream making)  (for license-free images)

www.images.googlecom/ (for images)

Added value

Dreams are difficult enough for adults to comprehend, for children they can be both wonderful and terrifying. This software is incapable of creating horrific dream sequences, regardless of the dream description you put in! The dreams created are often very silly causing the whole class to laugh! It can help children make peace with their dreams and nightmares. Obviously, dreams are very abstract in nature so this software allows learners to create a visual representation of something which is sometimes very difficult to articulate. Therefore, creating the dream visually and then describing it supports the development of oracy skills.

Hints and tips

You know your class, and you know if you want to steer clear from nightmares altogether. In the description above, we focussed on ‘best dreams’ or ‘a dream you’d like to have’. You may prefer to stick to this idea.

If you’re doing the craft activity with one or two groups at a time, you may want to have other pupils experimenting with the software, typing in their own words and phrases in order to create brand new dreams!

Personal notes

Depending on your internet connection and your hardware, the software can be slow to load; this makes the recap of ‘what we expect to see in the dream’ very useful.


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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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