Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Occupations and Skills

July 27th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

The Taccle AI project on Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Education and Training, has published a preprint  version of a paper which has been submitted of publication to the VET network of the European Research Association.

The paper, entitled  Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Occupations and Skills: What are the needs for training Teachers and Trainers, seeks to explore the impact AI and automation have on vocational occupations and skills and to examine what that means for teachers and trainers in VET. It looks at how AI can be used to shape learning and teaching processes, through for example, digital assistants which support teachers. It also focuses on the transformative power of AI that promises profound changes in employment and work tasks. The paper is based on research being undertaken through the EU Erasmus+ Taccle AI project. It presents the results of an extensive literature review and of interviews with VET managers, teachers and AI experts in five countries. It asks whether machines will complement or replace humans in the workplace before going to look at developments in using AI for teaching and learning in VET. Finally, it proposes extensions to the EU DigiCompEdu Framework for training teachers and trainers in using technology.

The paper can be downloaded here.

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July 22nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell

As part  of the Taccle AI project, around the impact of AI on vocational education and training in Europe, we have undertaken interviews with managers, teachers, trainers and developers in five European countries (the report of the interviews, and of an accompanying literature review, will be published next week).  One of the interviews I made was with Aftab Hussein, the ILT manager at Bolton College in the north west  of Engand. Aftab describes himself on Twitter (@Aftab_Hussein) as “exploring the use of campus digital assistants and the computer assisted assessment of open-ended question.”

Ada, Bolton College’s campus digital assistant has been supporting student enquiries about college services and their studies since April 2017.In September 2020, the college is launching a new crowdsourcing project which seeks to teach Ada about subject topics. They are seeking the support of teachers to teach Ada about their subjects.

According to Aftab “Teachers will be able to set up questions that students typically ask about subject topics and they will have the opportunity to compose answers against each of these questions. No coding experience is required to set up questions and answers.Students of all ages will have access to a website where they will be able to select a subject chatbot and ask it questions. Ada will respond with answers that incorporate the use of text, images, links to resources and embedded videos.

The service will be free to use by teachers and students.”

If you are interested in supporting the project complete the online Google form.

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AI and Young People

July 17th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

Last December, the Youth Department of the Council of Europe organised a seminar on Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Young People. The aim of the seminar was to explore the issues, role and possible contributions of the youth sector in an effort to ensure that AI is responsibly used in democratic societies and that young people have a say about matters that concern their present and future. The seminar looked, among other things, into three dimensions of AI”

  • AI and democratic youth participation (including young people’s trust/interest in democracy)
  • AI and young people’s access to rights (including social rights)
  • AI and youth policy and youth work

According to the report of the seminar, the programme enabled the participants to put together their experience and knowledge in proposing answers to the following questions:

  • What are the impacts of on young people and how can young people benefit from it?
  • How can the youth sector make use of the capacities of to enhance the potential of youth work and youth policy provisions for the benefit of young people?
  • How to inform and “educate” young people about the potential benefits and risks of AI, notably in relation to young people’s human rights and democratic participation and the need to involve all young people in the process?
  • How does AI influence young people’s access to rights?
  • What should the youth sector of the Council of Europe, through the use of its various instruments and partners, do about AI in the future?

Not only is there a written report of the seminar but also an excellent illustrated report. Sadly it is not in a format that  can be embedded, but  it is well worth going to the Council of Europe’s web page on AI and scrolling to the bottom to see the report.

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European Union, AI and data strategy

July 9th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
lens, colorful, background

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

is the rapporteur for the industry committe for European Parliament’s own-initiative  on data strategy and  a standing rapporteur on the World Trade Organization e-commerce negotiations in the European Parliament’s international trade committee.

Writing in Social Europe she says:

Building a human-centric data economy and human-centric artificial intelligence starts from the user. First, we need trust. We need to demystify the data economy and AI: people tend to avoid, resist or even fear developments they do not fully understand.

Education plays a crucial role in shaping this understanding and in making digitalisation inclusive. Although better services—such as services used remotely—make life easier also outside cities, the benefits of digitalisation have so far mostly accrued to an educated fragment of citizens in urban metropoles and one of the biggest obstacles to the digital shift is lack of awareness of new possibilities and skills.

Kampula-Natri draws attention to the Finnish-developed, free online course, ‘Elements of AI’. This started as a course for students in the University of Helsinki but has extended  its reach to over 1 per cent of Finnish citizens.

Kampula-Natri points out that in the Nordic countries, the majority of participants on the ‘Elements of AI’ course are female and in the rest of the world the proportion exceeds 40 per cent—more than three times as high as the average ratio of women working in the technology sector. She says that after the course had been running in Finland for a while, the number of women applying to study computer science in the University of Helsinki increased by 80 per cent.

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Is graduate pay a true measure of the quality and relevance of courses?

July 8th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
learn, school, balloon

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

That education policy in the UK is confused is nothing new, neither given the rapid turnover in education ministers is it surprising. But the latest turn, although rhetorical at the moment, is both strange and worrying.

In the last two weeks both the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Education Minister Michelle Donelan have criticised the quality and relevance of university courses. Johnson talked about “low-value courses” in his major set-piece speech on economic recovery post-Covid-19 while Donelan said that too many students “have been misled by the expansion of popular sounding courses” with what she described as poor standards and “no real demand from the labour market”.

Clearly most of this rhetoric is ideological. Johnson is talking about more funding for Further Education Colleges, which have been starved of funding through the period of austerity. However, it is being suggested that one motive may be that university cities tend to vote Labour, but in many of the towns in which the Conservatives won new seats in the election last November, there are not universities but are Further Education colleges.

To justify the talk of low value and poor quality courses the government produce various data as evidence. There are different surveys looking at issues related to satisfaction and student outcomes. The first is the student satisfaction survey conducted in every university. Although comprehensive it is doubtful that this survey has much greater validity than the happy sheets I used to hand out at the end of staff development workshops. Universities go to great lengths to make sure students are happy, through various gimmicks and social events.

The Graduate outcomes for all subjects by university (LEO) survey is undertaken by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). It surveys the employment and earnings of higher education graduates using matched data from different government departments. It is interesting that the ONS describes the survey ads “experimental.”

Although interesting the sheer number of variables impacting on graduate earnings after finishing at university render the findings meaningless when compared to subject sample sizes. After Donelan’s speech, former universities minister Jo Johnson tweeted salary data is about as useful a guide to course quality as an MP’s majority.

Of course, one of the “experimental” findings is that students undertaking STEM subjects have higher earnings that those doing humanities and arts. And the strong suspicion it is humanities and arts courses that Johnson and Donelan are firing at.

Many would probably argue that earnings are not the best proxy for judging course quality in any case. But it is interesting that the Graduate Outcomes survey, through a series of reflective questions. found that graduates of creative arts courses are more likely to be using skills learned during their course in employment than their peers who studied maths, biology, or physics.

 

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Learning about surveillance

July 3rd, 2020 by Graham Attwell
eye, surveillance, privacy

GDJ (CC0), Pixabay

I found this on the Social Media Collective website. The Social Media Collective is a network of social science and humanistic researchers, part of the Microsoft Research labs in New England and New York.

Yesterday the Wayne County Prosecutor publicly apologized to the first American known to be wrongfully arrested by a facial recognition algorithm: a black man arrested earlier this year by the Detroit Police. The statement cited the unreliability of software, especially as applied to people of color.

With this context in mind, some university and high school instructors teaching about technology may be interested in engaging with the Black Lives Matter protests by teaching about computing, race, and surveillance.

I’m delighted that thanks to the generosity of Tawana Petty and others, ESC can share a module on this topic developed for an online course. You are free to make use of it in your own teaching, or you might just find the materials interesting (or shocking).

The lesson consists of a case study of Detroit’s Project Green Light, a new city-wide police surveillance system that involves automated facial recognition, real-time police monitoring, very-high-resolution imagery, cameras indoors on private property, a paid priority response system, a public/private partnership, and other distinctive features. The system has allegedly been deployed to target peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.

Here is the lesson:

Race, Policing, and Detroit’s Project Green Light

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Covid 19 and the recession

July 2nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell
valencia, spain, europe

Rezwan (CC0), Pixabay

I’ve written a lot of articles over the last year about labour market information and what it means both for careers guidance and support and for vocational education and training. But its all too easy to get blase about data, especially when each forecast seems to be worse than the last,

So I thought I would write something more personal, about the impact of Covid 18 and the recession on people around me. This is necessarily an impressionistic account. Since the 14 March when Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez declared a state of emergency, I doubt I have ventured more than two kilometers from the flat in Spain where I was at the start on the crisis. How, a sort of new normal is emerging. OK, schools are still closed as are vocational colleges the the universities, most people wear masks, the numbers allowed in bars and restaurants severely restricted and there are still very few flights in and out of the city. But the terraces are open, albeit with social distancing and the traffic appears to be getting back to its usual dreadful density.

But this isn’t a return to the old normal or even a new normal.Every time I goo out I see a new closed shop, bar or restaurant. The UK Centre for Cities has shown how Covid 19 is having a different impact on different cities. Interestingly, many of the cities being hit hardest in terms of employment and industries are those already under pressure from automation and AI. I am not sure what the overall impact will be on Valencia. To an extent it may depend on the future of large companies like Ford which is, I think, the city’s largest employer. But Valencia also has a considerable number of SMEs, mainly involved in manufacturing, in sectors like furniture. And of course Valencia is a major tourist centre, which even though now declared open to most European cities, is not going to really recover this year.

But it may well be that the impact is differentiated on a local as well as city basis. The area near me is a middle class district with most people seemingly able to work from home. Inevitably in teh crisis people have not ventured far for shopping so shops have been dependent on people living nearby. To some extent that has lessened the impact in my district, although small clothes ships have closed, many bars and restaurants are closed or struggling and even the local swimming pool is shuttered with a for sale notice on the facade. But on Tuesday I was in a nearby working class district. Here, where presumably more inhabitants had jobs which could not be undertaken from home, the impact is much starker. It is easier to count the shops that are open than those closed. Here the recession looks grim. I/m waiting to get data which may indicate just what is going on. But impressions may be nearly as useful.

 

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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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    News from 1994

    This is from a Tweet. In 1994 Stephen Heppell wrote in something called SCET” “Teachers are fundamental to this. They are professionals of considerable calibre. They are skilled at observing their students’ capability and progressing it. They are creative and imaginative but the curriculum must give them space and opportunity to explore the new potential for learning that technology offers.” Nothing changes!

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