Introduction

    Welcome to the Wales Wide Web

    October 25th, 2007 by Dirk Stieglitz

    Wales Wide Web is Graham Attwell’s main blog. Graham Attwell is Director of the Wales based research organisation, Pontydysgu. The blog covers issues like open-source, open-content, open-standards, e-learning and Werder Bremen football team.

    You can reach Graham by email at graham10 [at] mac [dot] com

    Wales Wide Web

    Evolving Education and Careers: Share, Learn and Transform

    August 3rd, 2020 by Graham Attwell

    The job markets were already looking problematic at the start of the year. Researchers and policy makers alike were warning that automation and Artificial Intelligence were leading to changes in the tasks undertaken in different occupations, requiring new skills and competences. Employment in some occupations were threatened by these developments. This was resulting in the need for enhanced Careers Advice, Information and Guidance, in particular ensuring that adults has access to such services to help them transition to new jobs.

    Now this has been amplified by the Covid019 pandemic. Many people’s jobs are furloughed, others have lost their jobs. The prospects for young people and graduates entering the labour market are particularly grim.

    From 20 – 22 October DMH Associates are organizing a major online conference looking at these issues and more.

    The conference web site explains that the world has experienced major economic, social and technology impacts. Societies everywhere are undergoing deep transformation.

    Climate change, an ageing workforce and skills gaps are major issues that governments need to address. Only time will tell what the impact of the current health crisis will have in the medium and long-term. As a consequence, careers will evolve in response to a dynamically changing environment. How will this affect jobs, training, employment, the gig economy and/or unemployment in the future? We will be exploring forward-thinking approaches to careers support systems drawing on international good and interesting policies and practices.

    For leaders, educators, career development, HR and employment specialists a fundamental question is: – how best can individuals be better prepared to adapt and prosper through lifelong learning and work? Individuals’ must be well equipped with the mindsets and tools they need to find and benefit from purposeful learning and work opportunities. Organisations working with young people and/or adults in differing contexts will need agile responses to meet citizens’ needs.

    With all this in mind, time away to network with experts and like-minded colleagues is just what the doctor ordered. This year’s theme is Evolving Careers. Delegates will learn from experts and peers whilst sharing experiences, research and best practice to take back to the day job of helping to transform people’s lives.

    The conference content includes international keynote speakers and breakout sessions hosted by leading experts and contributors

    Session topics include:

    • Career-related learning in primary schools
    • An evolving curriculum in secondary, tertiary, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education settings
    • Future scoping careers
    • Digital innovations
    • Building Partnerships
    • How to Make a Difference to Those That Need Support Most
    • Youth Transitions: Creating Pathways to Success
    • Adults in the workplace
    • Labour markets: where next?
    • Tackling unemployment
    • Lifelong guidance
    • Social inclusion

    Registration for the conference costs £25. There are already 210 delegates registered to attend from the UK, Ireland, Canada, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, The Netherlands, Turkey and the USA.

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    Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence and Vocational Occupations and Skills

    July 27th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
    web, network, programming

    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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