Archive for the ‘Pedagogy’ Category

Sustainable Development and an Action Oriented, Transformative Pedagogy

August 20th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

I missed this presentation at the time but today with the crisis in education due to Covid 19 it seems more relevant than ever. Dr Rajiv Jhangiani says “Education for Sustainable Development does not only integrate contents such as climate change, poverty and sustainable consumption into the curriculum. It asks for an action oriented, transformative pedagogy, which supports self-directed learning, participation, problem orientation, inter- and transdisciplinary an the linking of informal and formal learning.

Only such pedagogical approaches make possible the development of the key competences needed for promoting sustainable development.”

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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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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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Artificial Intelligence for and in Vocational Education and Training

June 30th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

Last week the Taccle AI project organised a workshop at the European Distance Education Network (EDEN) Annual Conference. The conference, which had been scheduled to be held in Romania, was moved online due to the Covid 19 pandemic.There were four short presentations followed by an online discussion.

Graham Attwell introduced the workshop and explained the aims of the Taccle AI project. In the next years, he said “AI will change learning, teaching, and education. The speed of technological change will be very fast, and it will create high pressure to transform educational practices, institutions, and policies.” He was followed by Vidmantas Tulys who focused on AI and human work. He put forward five scenarios for the future of work in the light of AI and the fourth industrial revolution. Ludger Deitmer looked at the changes in the mechatronics occupation due to the impact of AI. He examine dhow training was being redesigned to meet new curriculum and occupational needs and how AI was being introduced in the curriculum. Finally, Sofia Roppertz focused on AI for VET, exploring how AI can support access to education, collaborative environments and intelligent tutoring systems to support teachers and trainers.

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AI cloud computing to support formative assessment in vocational education and training

June 30th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

I have written before abut the the great work being done around AI by Bolton College in the UK and particularly their ADA Chatbot.

One of my main interests about the use of AI in vocational education and training is the potential for freeing  up teachers for more personalized learning support for both those students who are struggling and also for the advanced students. At the moment too many teachers are forced by workloads to teaxh to the middle.

My second big hope is around assessment. Vocational students need, I think, regular feedback and that can come form formative assessment. However, at present teacher do not have the time to prepare and provide feedback on regular formative assessments. But with AI this become possible.

Bolton College previously received VocTech seed funding to prove the concept of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse short and long form answers and to demonstrate that real-time feedback can be offered to vocational learners as they respond to online open-ended formative assessment tasks.

Their FirstPass tool provided an initial introduction to AI cloud computing technologies which are able to support vocational students and their teachers with open-ended formative assessment tasks.

Now according to Ufi who provide Voctech fundiing, a new project :will provide further development of FirstPass to ensure that it is effective and robust in use and can demonstrably improve the teaching, learning and assessment experience of vocational learners. It will provide teachers with a richer medium for assessing students due to its ability to pose open-ended questions that can be automatically analysed and assessed by a computer, giving students real-time feedback and the opportunity to qualify and clarify their responses.”

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What and who is being pivoted

June 30th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

Most universities did a great job in pivoting to online teaching in Spring this year. But fairly obviously some students were left behind. And with the realisation there will be no return to the ‘old normal’ there is a need to think fast about not only about how universities will provide education but about the student experience in the future: as Sheila McNeil puts it “New ways of being and belonging”.

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Microcredentials: a new way of monetarising MOOCs?

June 26th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
block chain, data, records

geralt (CC0), Pixabay

There is a bit of a buzz going on at the moment around micro credentials. At the European Distance Learning Network (EDEN) annual conference this week, not only did Anthony Camilleri from the European MicroHE project deliver a keynote presentation on micro credentials but there was three follow up sessions based on the work of the projects

Anthony Camilleri says that “HEIs are increasingly confronted with requests from learners to recognize outside learning such as MOOCs as credit towards a degree. For those, students look for the most prestigious and up to date learning opportunities, which they often find online.” He believes the “recognition of micro-credentials can enhance student motivation, responsibility and determination, enabling more effective learning.”

However, it is noted that there remain barriers to the widespread development of micro credentials. These include scaling procedures for the recognition of prior learning, the emergence of parallel systems of credentials and open courses offered by universities do not necessarily award recognised forms of credit.

The MicroHe project is proposing a harmonised European approach to recognizing and transferring open education digital credentials thus enabling virtual student mobility, and “empowering students to adapt their learning portfolio to changing labour market demands and new technological trends.”

A further argument put forward for Microcredentials is that they provide “an alternative approach towards handling the development needs of the modern-day learner, not only helping individual competence development but also offer increased flexibility and personalization.”

Although the COVID crisis has focused attention on the potential (and possibly, the necessity) of digital course provision a major driver which predates the crisis is the speed of development of automation and AI. There are different predictions of the impact on jobs and perhaps more importantly the tasks with jobs. This diagramme is from a forthcoming publication produced for the Taccle AI project.

But, however it plays out, it seems likely that there will be a need for retraining or upskilling for a significant number of people, and also that there will be increasing demand for highly skilled workers. Microcredentials may well be part of the answer to this need and universities could have a key role in providing online education and training.

However, the question of who pays will be critical. It is interesting that FurtureLearn, the MOOC consortium led by the UK Open University, is getting in on the action. Previously attempts to monetarize their MOOCs has been through charging a fee for certification or extended access to content. But in a email circular this week they announced a new MOOC, run in conjunction with Tableau.

In the age of analytics, transforming large datasets into meaningful customer value is essential to effective data-driven business practice” they say.
“On our new microcredential, Data Analytics for Business with Tableau, starting 13 July, you’ll develop the in-demand data analytics skills you need to progress in your field as a business or data analyst.” The course lasts twelve weeks and is certified by the University of Coventry. It is targeted at early-stage or aspiring data or business analyst, business professional and business or arts graduates looking to start their first professional role. And the cost: 584 Euro for a twelve-week online programme. The course looks very good and the model of micro credentialing could well work. But the cost is likely to be prohibitive for many people, unless, of course there is funding for individuals doing such courses.

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Using AI in a German VET School

June 3rd, 2020 by Graham Attwell

This post by Sophia Roppertz and Ludger Deitmer is part of the TaccleAI project for “‘Improving the Skills and Competences of VET teachers and trainers in the age of Artificial Intelligence.” It describes what is clled a ‘Deep Reinforcement Learning Project” in a German Vocational Education and Training school.

The topic of the project was Deep Reinforcement Learning – preparation of the topic “artificial intelligence” and implementation of an agent in the game “Sonic the Hedgehog”. Sonic is a computer game series of the Japanese publisher Sega. The classic main parts of the series are characterized by fast 2D jump ‘n’ run passages. There you control the blue game character Sonic The Hedgehog through so-called “zones”, which are divided into individual “acts”. In all Sonic games, rings are collected, which the main character loses when touching an opponent. If he is hit without rings, you lose an extra life. In the classic main games, after using up all extra lives and continues, you have to start all over again after a game over.

The task of the student group was to implement an agent into the game and finally to give a project presentation about the project. To accomplish this overall goal, some intermediate goals had to be achieved:

1) Acquire an understanding of artificial intelligence and neural networks

2) Gain advanced knowledge of the Python programming language

3) The AI should master different levels independently

How is the project structured?

Trainees of the vocational school “information technology assistants” (German: “Informationstechnische*r Assistent*in”) took part in the AI project. The AI project took place in the second year of training within the framework of the learning field “Planning, implementing and evaluating projects” (practice). The total time required was 160 hours per school year. The project meetings usually took place on a full day of lessons. The students had the opportunity to work in the computer room or in the corresponding workshops of the school. During this time, a teacher was present to provide support but did not actively participate in the project.

As part of the KI project, the students were given a presentation on project management by the responsible teacher. With this knowledge team rules were established, field analyses were made, a target matrix was created, a schedule and work packages were created. The individual work packages were assigned performance specifications and outputs that had to be delivered. Responsibilities for the work packages were also defined. Furthermore, the students were assigned roles within the project group: e.g.

Team speaker: Moderates the group work and makes sure that everyone can get involved, that the topic is worked on consistently, and that the team rules are observed.

Timekeeper: Makes sure that the timetable is respected.

Foreign Minister: Communicates with people outside the team, maintains contact, and involves people.

What do the trainees learn in the project?

The trainees were able to acquire both technical and social skills in the course of this project. On the one hand, they learned project-oriented work in a group, they set themselves goals and divided and organised their work independently. On the other hand, they independently dealt with a programming language (Python) that was new to them and learned its basics to the extent that they were able to understand, modify, and create programs. In addition, the trainees have dealt with the basics of neural networks and the different terms of machine learning, so that they were able to present the basics to their fellow students and explain the terms. They acquired this knowledge mainly by watching videos. They used textbooks less because they mostly dealt with the AI topic in a very mathematical way and the mathematical knowledge of the students was not sufficient for this.

They have dealt with the topic “Deep Reinforcement Learning” and were able to program an agent to such an extent or to change existing programs in such a way that this “agent” learns to improve “his” game. In the end, they got so far into the programming of the “agent” that they were able to explain to their classmates which parameters they had to adjust/change so that their “agent” could improve his game.

Reflection and Recommendations for other teachers

The supervising teacher reports in the interview that basic knowledge in the field of AI is becoming increasingly important for information technology assistants since, in the context of the digitalised working world, processes are increasingly influenced by algorithms and the use of computers. In addition, many of the students attend the technical secondary school (In Germany: Fachoberschule für Technik) after their vocational schooling in order to subsequently complete a corresponding course of study. Since the students have to deal with the topic of artificial intelligence at the latest then, it makes sense to deal with it already in the vocational school. In the project documentation, the students report that it was surprisingly easy to acquire basic knowledge about AI. However, they emphasize that the deeper immersion in the subject matter was an obstacle, as more complex mathematical knowledge would have been necessary. The students report that reading about this AI content sometimes led to lower motivation and productivity. Overall, however, the students report that the choice of project was a good decision and that they have gained an advanced understanding of AI and its practical implementation.

When asked about what needs to happen on the part of the school and the teachers so that such projects can be practiced regularly, the teacher interviewed reported that, on the one hand, appropriate further training for the teachers is necessary. Besides the transfer of knowledge about AI, the joint development of teaching concepts should be more important. In addition, existing teaching materials should be jointly reviewed and classified. Useful material could then be made available to interested colleagues as Open Educational Resources. The exchange with product developers is considered desirable in the area of teacher training. In such a framework, the social, political, and sociological aspects of AI should be discussed more critically.

The teacher recommends that the students have a say in choosing the appropriate topic. Students need motivation and perseverance to work in project groups, so it is an advantage if the project tasks are linked to the students’ interests. In addition, clear evaluation criteria should be established and communicated transparently.

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The future of work, Artificial Intelligence and automation: Innovation and the Dual Vocational Education and training system

March 2nd, 2020 by Graham Attwell


I am speaking at a seminar on Vocational Education and Training’s Role in Business Innovation at the Ramon Areces Foundation in Madrid tomorrow. The title of my presentation is ‘The future of work, Artificial Intelligence and automation: Innovation and the Dual Vocational Education and training system in Valencia’ which is really much too long for a title and I have much too much to say for my allotted 20 minutes.

Any way, this is what I told them I was going to talk about:
The Presentation looks at the future of work, linked to the challenges of Artificial Intelligence, Automation and the new Green Economy. It considers and discusses the various predictions on future jobs and occupations from bodies including CEDEFOP, OECD and the World Bank. It concludes that although one jobs will be v=craeted and some occupations be displaced by new technologies. the greatest impact will be in terms of the tasks performed within jobs. It further discusses future skills needs, including the need for higher level cognitive competences as well as the demand for so called lower skilled work in services and caring professions.
It considers the significance of these changes for vocational education and training, including the need for new curricula, and increased provision of lifelong learning and retraining for those affected by the changing labour market.
Artificial Intelligence may also play an important role in the organisation and delivery of vocational education and training. This includes the use of technologies such as machine learning and Natural Language processing for Learner engagement, recruitment and support, Learning Analytics and ‘nudge learning’ through a Learning Record Store, and  the creation and delivery of learning content. It provides examples such as the use of Chatbots in vocation education and training schools and colleges. It is suggested that the use of AI technologies can allow a move from summary assessment to formative assessment. The use of these technologies will reduce the administrative load for teachers and trainers and allow them to focus on coaching, particularly benefiting those at the top and lower end of the student cohort.
To benefit from this potential will requite new and enhanced continuing professional development for teachers and trainers. Finally the presentation considers what this signifies for the future of the Dual VET system in Spain, looking at findings from both European projects and research undertaken into Dual training in Valencia.
And I will report back here after the event.
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AI and the future of Education

February 20th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
abacus, calculus, classroom

Pexels (CC0), Pixabay

More as promised in my last post from the interviews we are doing on AI and Education.

One implication of AI and automation is changes in curriculum content and pedagogy. I talked with Chris Percy about this.

Chris pointed out that for school leavers qualification at GCSE level maths and English are a requirement even for vocational students and he thinks this is unlikely to change. However he thinks that programmes in these subjects will move to  –to adaptive personal learning environments.

Furthermore he says the flipped classroom model will change the role of teachers. “It has proved impossible to improve the staff student ration – general courses have 20 – 40 students or 7 to 10 on niche courses. This needs 3 / 4 way differentiation. Teachers are more conductors than coaches.” However Chris added a caveat – research suggests the the flipped classroom re model has limits. “It only really works for those who want to learn. It is possible that adults know what they want to learn but lack the motivation for self learning. Peers and teachers are important for extrinsic motivation. Disengaged teenagers are frequently not sufficiently motivated. Self taught learning even wth a mentor will only go so far. ” Cris also says that learning has a social element and questions whether avatars can really replace the social role played by teachers. As he points out, generalized AI is still out of reach.  “Chatbots cannot replace teachers at the front of a classroom. Students will have no respect for a chatbot. Teachers are skilled in developing engagement. Chatbots are good for students with a base level of motivation.”

The issue of motivation has come up in most of the interviews I have undertaken as part of the AI and Vocational Education and Learning project. I will talk more about this in a short podcast this weekend talking about my experiences as a language learner using the popular and heavily gamified DuoLingo application.

 

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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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