Archive for the ‘Mature’ Category

Talking about Data – Careers Information, Advice and Guidance

April 6th, 2011 by Graham Attwell


This is the first in a new weekly series ‘Talking about Data’. As the name implies, each week I shall be publishing data related to education and learning and talking about it. And I hope you will join in the discussions.

This weeks ‘Talking about Data’ focuses on the provision of Careers Information, Advance and Guidance in England. The data source is Wave Six of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England. The main objectives of the study are:

  • to gather evidence about the transitions young people make from secondary and tertiary education or training to economic roles in early adulthood
  • to enhance the ability to monitor and evaluate the effects of existing policy and provide a strong information base for future policy development
  • to contextualise the implementation of new policies in terms of young people’s current lives.

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!

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.

References

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.

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

Story telling with Data

February 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Today Google Labs released their new data visualisation store. Very impressive it is too, although it is not a straightforward task to register on the site, upload uses an XML format and you cannot download data. But the visualisation is pretty good and Google themselves have linked to a number of large Eurostat data sets.

I have been working on data for the last couple of weeks. I am trying to build a TEBO – a Technology Enhanced Boundary Object (or objects) for explaining Labour Market data to Careers Advice, Information and Guidance (CAIG). Together with my colleagues from the Institute for Employment Research at Warwick University, I have been looking at TEBOs for some time.

Alan Brown explains the conceptual idea behind TEBOs:

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 guidance practitioners about common scenarios involving Labour Market Information (LMI) which could inform the development of prototype technologically-enhanced boundary objects (TEBOs). The development … was 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 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
  • Decide how to employ support from communication and discussion tools
  • Developing and transmitting Labour Market intelligence – importance of communicating to others
  • Preconfigure certain ways of thinking through use of scenarios; discussions can point into and lead from scenarios.

In practice it is not so easy to develop such TEBOs. Identifying key problmes is probably the most useful approach. But then there is an issue in accessing different data to visualise as part of the process. A great deal of data is now publicly available. But I am no data specialist and have faced a steep learning curve in understanding and interpreting the data myself. then there is the issue of visualisation – I am mainly using Google Gadgets, although we are also working with Tableau (a powerful tool, but unfortunately only available for Windows) and IBM;s Many Eyes. All these tools are good, but are all extremely finicky about how the data is formatted. We are working with data in xls and Apple’s Numbers but I suspect longer term it would be better to use the Open Source R programming environment.

And the hardest task of all is the storyboarding. At the end of the day we are trying to tell stories with data: TEBOs are a storytelling and exploration approach to learning. So for each TEBO I intend to make a short video explaining the key concepts and showing the various visualizations. We will also provide access to the raw data and to static versions of the graphing, along with explanatory notes. And for each TEBO we will try to construct an interactive visualisation tool, allowing learners to play with the data and displays. I also want to try to build some sort of simulations using the Forio tool. No doubt there is better software (and if anyone has any ideas I would be very grateful). But I sort of feel that the more social software, open source or free tools we can use the better. We want to encourage people to do it for themselves. And they have no money to spend on fancy software tools.We cannot possibly provide access to visualisations of all the data available. But if we cane explain what is possible, hopefully interested CAIG professionals will start there own work. And then who knows – a Careers Guidance data store?

Using social software for managing research and development projects

February 2nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell

In around 1995 I was appointed by Bremen University to manage a relatively well funded European project on the teaching of teachers and training for vocational education and training. The project had partners in seven or eight countries. I set up a project newsletter and after three or so months announced I would no longer be ending postal copies but it would be sent exclusively by email. There was considerable opposition to this, one person (the Swedish partner) saying he had a Mac and documents would not be compatible, others claiming that they lacked the skills and technical infrastructure to manage a project electronically (my own professor used to get his secretary to download and print off copies of any emails to him).

But the shift was made and by the end of the three year funding period no-one could imagine going back to post as the main means of project communication.

In the last two or so years we have seen a similar radical shift in the technologies we use for research communication and collaboration. At the launch workshop for a project in January I was asked what tools I wanted to use for the project. My list got surprisingly long:

  • Skype for day to day chat and audio communication
  • Flash meeting for online project meetings
  • Diigo for shred bookmarks
  • Twitter for project dissemination and sharing outwards
  • WordPress for the project website
  • PB Works for sharing work in progress
  • Flickr for sharing photographs
  • Google Docs for collaborative authoring
  • DropBox for sharing documents

Interestingly, one of the parters offered us a space on a relatively mature project management system and although we all agreed to use it I doubt we will. In my experience these systems are too restrictive and do not provide sufficient facilities for active collaboration. Of course they usually provide forums, but I have never worked on a project where there has been prolonged collaboration through a forum (despite most projects trying).

The one application not on my list is of course email. And despite having taken part in many projects where it is decided not to use email as the primary means of communication, after a short period everyone reverts back to it. Is this because of familiarity or because it perhaps is the quickest and simplest means of communication?

None of the applications listed require any great technical abilities (although firewalls and interoperability issues do sometimes arise). However they require changes in our working practices – in our socio-technical competences. And that can be difficult, especially where researchers are not used to working in an open and collaborative environment.

In terms of distributed international projects it is probably skype and Flashmeeting which have made the greatest impact. even then it takes time to get used to working online in synchronous environments. Online meetings require preparation and moderation – just as do face to face meetings. Yet because it is online there is often a tendency not to prepare in the same way as we would for a face opt face workshop.

I am not quite sure how DropBox is going to pan out in all of this. It certainly has a clever financial model – my free account was overflowing within a month of setting up an account.

And it is an uncertain science. Whilst organisations like Jisc have invested considerable expenditure into developing relatively heavyweight online research environments I do not know of any research into how we can use loosely coupled social software tools for research projects. We are maki9ng up our own practice as we go!

Serious Social Networking

January 24th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The Guardian newspaper points to a so called ‘backlash’ against social networking, expressed in a number of recent academic studies and books. And to an extent, I agree. I suspect the novelty factor has worn off. That does not mean social networking is dead, far from it. But it does mean we are slowly evolving an ecosystem of social networking and I am not sure that the Facebook model, driven by the desire to monetarise a huge user base will survive in the long term.

Instead I see two trends. With applications like Facebook, or whatever succeeds it, friends will return to being friends. People we know, people we want to socialise with, be it family and friends we see regularly face to face or friends in distributed networks.

The second will be the growth of social networks based on shared interests and shared practice. Of course this is nothing new. The early days of the web spawned many wonderful bulletin boards with graphics being based on the imaginative use of different text and fonts. Ning led to the explosion of community sites whilst it remained free. But now we are seeing the evolution of free and open source software providing powerful tools for supporting interest and practice based communities.

Cloudworks, developed by the UK Open University has now released an installable version of their platform. Buddypress seems to have developed a vibrant open source community of developers.And I am greatly impressed by QSDA, the Open Source Question and Answer System. Quora is all the hype now. But like so many of these systems, it will be overrun not so much by machine driven spam, but by the lack of a  shared community and purpose.

According to Ettiene Wenger, a community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:

  • What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members.
  • How it functions – mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity.
  • What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artefacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

Open Source networking tools can allow us to support that shared repertoire of communal resources. I am working on the development of open and linked data for careers guidance and counselling. it is a fairly steep learning curve for me in terms of understanding data. And one of the bests sites I have found is Tony Hirst’s Get the Data site, only launched a week ago and based on the QSDA software, but already providing a wealth if freely contributed ideas and knowledge.

it is this sort of development that seems to me to be the future for social networking.

Those Barcelona PLE papers

January 24th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I(n the concluding session of the PLE conference last year in Barcelona I made a rash promise. We would go through all the papers submitted to the conference, I said, and for those authors that wished, we would seek to publish the papers in a series of special editions of journal. We had no shortage of journals, with four editions offering us space. then the problems started. it is much, much more work than I had anticipated to select appropriate papers for journals with differing foci, to organise peer reviews, to contact authors and get them to undertake the revisions requested and to finally edit and format the different contributions.

I still am not sure how I feel about the academic publishing industry (for that is what it is). I am much happier with publishing in online and open journals. But I wonder if the traditional journal format best serves knowledge development. However I recognise the i9mportasnce for individual researchers in publishing their work. And although laborious, most of the reviews we received were thoughtful and helpful, although there still remain widespread discrepancies over perceptions of academic quality.

Anyway, here is the first of our edited journals, published by the online and open journal, the Digital Education Review (the second will be in International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments – to be published this Spring.

The papers in this edition are all from authors working in Spain and the journal was edited by Ricardo Torres and myself

Strategy approach for eLearning 2.0 deployment in Universities

Oskar Casquero, Javier Portillo, Ramón Ovelar, Jesús Romo, Manuel Benito

Building Personal Learning Environments by using and mixing ICT tools in a professional way
Linda Castañeda, Javier Soto
El diseño de Entornos Personales de Aprendizaje y la formación de profesores en TIC
Julio Cabero Almenara, Julio Barroso Osuna, M.Carmen Llorente Cejudo
Ventajas pedagógicas en la aplicación del PLE en asignaturas de lengua y literatura de educación secundaria. Análisis de cinco experiencias
Rafael Martín García
Evolución y desarrollo de un Entorno Personal de Aprendizaje en la Universidad de León
Fernando Santamaria



Declaring our Learning

January 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I am ultra impressed by the idea behind the Declare-It web app. The site says

Declare-It is a tool that assists you in creating, tracking and being held accountable to your goals. For every declaration you make, Declare-It requires you to add supporters. Supporters are notified of your declaration and receive progress reports along your journey. If you start to fall off track, your supporters are sent an ALERT message. They can send you comments and even add incentives to help you stay motivated.

Sadly, Declare-It is a commercial site. Although it allows a ten day free trial, it then costs $9.99 per month. And I don’t honestly see enough people being prepared to pay that money for the site to gain critical mass. But the idea is simple enough and could easily be adopted or extended to other web tools.

Essentially all it is saying is that we set our own learning goals and targets and use our Personal Learning Networks for support. Then rather than just selecting friends to monitor our progress and receive alerts when we slip behind, as in the Declare-It app, we could select friends from our Personal Learning Network to support our learning and receive alerts when we achieve something or need collaboration.

Of course many of this will do that already using all kinds of different tools. My learning is work based, and most of this work is undertaken in collaboration with others – using email, forums or very often skype. Having said that I have  never really got on with any of the myriad task setting (lists) and tracking tools and astikll  tend to write my lists on the back of envelopes.

But rather than a separate web site like Declare-IT (which admittedly does have some Twitter and Facebook integration), I need some way of integrating Declare-It type functionality with my everyday workflow. A WordPress plug-in could be wonderful, particularly for project work.

Conference time

January 14th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu is sponsoring the Mobile learning: Crossing Boundaries in Convergent Environments 2011 conference being held in Bremen on March 21 – 22. And as I did with the PLE2010 Conference last year, I will be writing the occasional bog about how we are organising the conference and why.

We held a meeting of the organising committee today. The committee is small, Klaus Rummler, Judith Seipold, Eileen Luebcke and myself. The advantage of such a small group is that meetings are informal (and generally productive) and we can all meet face to face. The disadvantage, of course, is that there are not many people to do all the work. Informal is key for me. Long gone re the days when conferences could only be organised by the great and the good, and organising committees were full of Professors with many letters after t5heir name. This is one of the democratising effects of social media. In the past it was necessary to have such grand committees in order to get word out of an event. Now we use twitter and facebook and viral info0rmation flows. In additio0n I think researchers are changing their attitudes towards events. In the past it was the authority of the organisation running the vent which was key – were they and their organising committee respected academics with many publications to their name. Now people are more interested in the subject of the conference and on the possibilities for fruitful exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Of course there remain issues. It is often difficult for researchers – and especially students – to get funding to attend a conference. for that reason we have tried to make the event as cheap as possible. We are only charging 50 Euros, and even though we have no sponsorship, we are confident we can break even. I was disappointed last year that the conference on Open education in Barcelona was charging something like 500 Euros to attend.

We rely on the goodwill and input of the community to organise the event. The hardest job is reviewing. We are sending all of the submissions for the conference to two reviewers. With something like 50 submissions that means 100 reviews. the open source Easychair system helps in organising this but is by no means perfect. And I remain sceptical about how review systems work. However clear the instructions, different reviewers seem to have very different perceptions of submissions. however, I have no ideas of a better system for quality. And at the end of the day, the success of the event depends on the quality of the inputs.

One of the more bizarre problems in organising such events is collecting the mo0ney. It is extremely hard to get systems for universities to accept money in (and often just as hard to get the money out again. Furthermore, an overview of who has paid is vital and university finance systems are rarely geared to providing such information on demand. however Paypal makes setting up your own payments system fairly easy.

We started  talking about the programme design today. One thing we are keen to do is to separate between the submission of a high quality research paper and the traditional academic form of presentation. Endless paper presentations do not stimulate discourse and ideas, and seldom lead to the generation of new knowledge. Thus we are looking at different forms of presentations, including cafe type sessions and debates. It is also very heartening that we have received some excellent proposals for workshops with real interaction with participants. And once we have got an outline programme we will be looking at add different unconferencing sessions.

Submissions for the conference officially closed last Friday. But if you do want to make a last minute proposal email it to me by Sunday. But even if you haven’t got a proposal in their will be plenty of ways to participate. Hope to see many of you in Bremen in March

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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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    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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    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!


    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


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