Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

No ‘Team GB’ for education!

September 30th, 2012 by Jenny Hughes

The Wales Government has announced its plans to implement the recommendations of a report it commissioned earlier this year “Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in Digital Wales.”  We are quite excited that Wales is one of the pioneers in developing a whole-country strategy for the promotion of digital technologies in school classrooms – including advocating the widespread use of mobile devices, a shift to a PLE rather than MLE focus and the use of social software for learning.  There are one or two things we disagree with, such as the heavy emphasis on a ‘national’ collection of resources, but the rest of the report is exciting, forward thinking and realistic.  There is a serious commitment to mass staff development at all levels – surely the biggest barrier to take up of new technologies in the classroom – including defining a set of digital competences for teachers. This report also recommends that these competences (personal AND pedagogic) be compulsory in ITT courses.

The other section of the report which will cause major ripples is the chunk entitled “External conditions for success” which seem to us to identify all of the brick walls which teachers come up against and suggests that they should be dismantled. I am going to quote the report in full because it is music to the ears of most of us involved with e-learning in schools.

Universal take-up of digital opportunities assumes that:

  • all learning providers, and indeed all classrooms, can connect to the internet at sufficient speeds to enable efficient use of digital resources
  • interface equipment – whiteboards, PCs, tablets, mobile devices, etc. – are available widely enough within learning providers to give quick and easy access to resources. ‘Bring your own device’ solutions may be appropriate here
  • learners and teachers are not prevented from using resources by general restrictions imposed by local authorities or learning providers on certain types of hardware (e.g. smart phones), software (e.g. ‘apps’) or web resources (e.g. Facebook, YouTube or Twitter)
  • learners and their parents/carers have adequate access at home (and increasingly on mobile devices) to ensure that technology-enhanced learning in the classroom can be replicated and deepened outside the learning provider. 

LEAs, take note!!

The main vehicle for turning the report into reality will be an organisation called the ‘Hwb’ (no, not a funny way of spelling Hub, ‘hwb’ means to promote, push or inspire). Its remit will be to lead, promote and support the use of digital resources and technologies by learners and teachers across Wales and create and develop a national digital collection for learning and teaching in English and Welsh.  Both Pontydysgu and the Taccle2 project in Wales are committed to doing what we can to support the Hwb and will make sure that all our resources and experience in the field are freely available.

The driving force behind it all is Leighton Andrews, the Minister for Education in Wales – with whose politics I usually disagree – but I am very happy to admit that he has come up trumps with this one!  He is knowledgable, committed and comes across as a genuinely enthusiastic technophile with an understanding of what education could look like in the future and a clear vision of how, in Wales, we are going to get there.  (“Just like Michael Gove!”, I hear my English colleagues say….).  I must admit, that even as a card-carrying member of a different party (byddwch chi’n dyfalu!), devolution has been all good in terms of education and we have had two excellent Ministers.   Look at the image on the top of this post and you may understand why we are looking forward to an increasing divergence and autonomy.  Team GB? No thanks!

 

 


 

Live from the European Conference on Educational Research

September 12th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) starts next Tuesday in Cadiz in Spain. Some 2000 delegates will take part, organised through 28 networks covering different areas and themes in education.

Not able to attend yourself? Pontydysgu are working with EERA, who run the conference, to provide alive stream of the four keynote speeches. We will be also broadcasting three live half hour internet radio programmes from the conference. The details are below (all times are Central European summer Time).

The live video can be accessed through the conference web site (full details will be on the site in the next 48 hours).

The radio programmes can be accessed at http://uk2.internet-radio.com:31022/live.m3u. Click on the link and the stream will open in your MP3 player of choice (e.g. iTunes).

Wednesday 19 September
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 1 – What is ‘the Human’ about the Humanities today?  – Rosi Braidotti
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 2  – Two different realms. Politics and Educational Knowledge in European history – Marcelo Caruso

Thursday 20 September

10:30 – 11:00 Conference radio programme 1
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 3 – What is Wrong with the What-Went-Right Approach in Educational Policy? – Gita Steiner-Khamsi
14:00 – 15:00 Keynote 4 – Constitution, Education and Research – Fuensanta Hernandez Pina

Friday 21 September
10:30 – 11:00 Conference radio programme 2
15:00 – 15:30 Conference radio programme 3

 

Wales to encourage schools to make full use of social networking technologies

August 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell
Leighton Andrews, Wales Assembly Government Minister for Education and Skills, has announced an ambitious agenda in response to an independent review of digital classroom teaching. Of particular note is the commitment to “a new approach to the use of social networking technologies in education” through “encouraging schools to make full use of social technologies in order to engage learners and improve learning outcomes.”
Andrews says:

In previous years, local authorities have been asked to block access to social networking sites in schools, libraries and youth clubs, as a result of very understandable concerns about online predators, cyberbullying and the risk of disruption to classroom activities. However, this policy can have adverse effects. It deprives schools of access to tools and resources which might otherwise be used creatively and constructively in education both within and beyond the classroom. More importantly, it means that children are most likely to be using these sites outside the school, at home, or on mobile devices, in environments which may be unsupervised and where they have less access to informed guidance and support on how to stay safe online.
In 2008, Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce the teaching of safe and responsible use of the Internet into both the primary and secondary school curriculum. The underpinning approach was that we first teach children to use the Internet safely under supervision, and then help them to develop the skills and understanding they need to manage their own risk as they use the Internet independently. Enabling access to social networking sites in schools will be consistent with this approach, providing pupils with the opportunity to learn safe, responsible and considerate online behaviours in the context of supported educational activities. It will also help schools to include parents in these activities.”

We have long argued that blocking of social networking (and other web sites) in schools was a backward and futile step. Lets hope that other countries follow the lead of Wales.

Engaging and useful places

June 18th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A World of Imagination and Vision

June 8th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rising Voices Radio

May 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

This month sees the launch of the RadioActive project, funded by Nominet. We will be ru8ning a training workshop in London for youth leaders interested in supporting young people in producing their own internet radio programmes. And we have already a lot of interest in the project.

But it is not just north Europe where radio is attracting attention. In the border between Burma and Thailand, the Rising Voices grantee project Karen Border News has launched their audio podcast workshop. In this short film, the students of the radio journalism course speak about their experience.

Innovation not adverts

May 16th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

A geeky article in GeekWire notes that Facebook has downplayed the possibilities of future income from their mobile app. the reason being suggested in that users don’t like mobile apps. I think they are right. I have installed several apps because of the advertising.

And although I have pop ups blocked, I use search engines everyday on my desktop computer which provide advertising. The truth is I never see it. But on a mobile it is pretty hard to avoid. This has some pretty big implications, considering that the whole Web 2 and social software thing has been largely been financed by advertising.

A move back to paid for software and services could be a good thing. It is near to impossible for start up companies or small enterprises with a smart idea to develop a business plan. Indeed, most developers I have talked to just hope that their idea will catch on and one of the big companions will buy them. This doesn’t do much for innovation. Indeed big companies have a generally poor record when it comes to taking over innovatory start ups. Yahoo have managed somehow to run Flickr, perhaps the first really social application, into the ground. Google ended up closing down microblogging service Jaiku and I don’t hold any great hopes for the future of Posterous under Google stewardship.

Not only would a return to paid for applications and services allow a better chance for innovative start-ups to compete and to develop business models which allowed them to remain independent but it could allow the development of better privacy controls and quality. The argument that because a service if free, users have no rights is insidious, but without proper regulation is hard to counter.

And finally, it might get rid of all the advertising spam which pollutes the web.

Reflections on Personal Learning Environments

January 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell


I got a great email from Rui Páscoa, Sérgio Lagoa and João Greno Brogueira, Masters students at the Open University in Portugal. One of their teachers, they say, Professor José Mota, “asked us to interview someone who is a reference in online teaching and, based on thisinterview, write a 2000-word paper as one of the compulsory activities for the subject ‘Elearning Pedagogical Processes’.”

They sent me the questions and rather than write a long text I agreed to reply by video. The questions – see below – are excellent – in focusing on the key issues around Personal Learning Environments. I struggled with some of my answers – it would be great if anyone else could add their ideas by video or in the reply box to this blog entry.

Questions:

  1. What is the pedagogical model you follow as an online teacher and why?
  2. You have been developing some serious thinking on PLEs. How important are they in the learning process?
  3. Do you advise your students to follow a specific  “model” or do you give them full freedom in building their PLE?
  4. Ever since the concept of PLE appeared there have been several discussions about this issue and the concept itself has been evolving. In what way has the PLE interfered in the change of elearning pedagogical models? Or is the PLE merely “a tool” that you can use and take some benefit from in the already existing practices, without real influence in changing them?
  5. Many Universities and Colleges offering online courses tend to adopt pedagogical models quite close to traditional teaching and learning, centred on transmitting contents in closed environments (LMS/VLE) controlled by the institution. How shall we overcome this traditional approach and persuade the universities to change their practices?
  6. Elearning is becoming more and more relevant, both in formal and informal education, and it is seen as essential in lifelong learning processes. How do you see the future of elearning, bearing in mind the technological development and the social and economical changes that will come along with the evolution of society?

The importance of understanding participatory media

November 13th, 2011 by Cristina Costa
For the past 3 1/2 years I have been looking at the impact the web has had on the practices of Academics who are highly engaged in virtual environments. This inevitably takes me to explore the social side of their … Continue reading

Amplifing ECER 2011

September 19th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Last week the Pontydysgu crew were at the Freie Universitat, Berlin for the European Conference on Educational Research. As last year we were working with ECER on amplifying the conference. This included video streaming the three keynote sessions, filming interviews with 11 of the ECER network conveners and broadcasting three live radio shows. The radio hows are already online on this site and will soon be available on the ECER web pages. We will also be updating the programme information to provide more transparent access to the contents! The videos will take a little longer for editing and post processing.

We also experimented this year with using AudioBoo as a semi live audio stream. I have to admit this was inspired by AltC who had announced a live video station from their 2011 co0nference. i was jealous but also aware that we did not have the resources to emulate this. But AudioBoo requires little in the way of resources, other than an iPod, an internet connecti9on, some imagination and of course, great people to talk to. And we found plenty of people at ECER. There were something like 2300 participants enrolled at the conference from all over the world. And although we only managed to talk to a very few of the delegates, I think the AudiBoos work well in conveying the atmosphere and feel of the conference to a remote audience.

However where the Boos work best is where delegates are explaining their research interests, the things that they are passionate about. Listen for example to Benedicte Gendron from Montpelier University in France talking about emotional capital. In the past we have often seemed to have a split between papers and books being seen as media for serious research with audio being reserved for more popularist versions fo the same. I am not sure this divide is necessary. Indeed it could be fun to try using audio for the hard stuff, with easier electronic versions of papers being provided alongside. Video can be an intrusive media and to do it well needs some considerable resources. Audio is not in any way so intrusive and can be recorded on mobile devices. And I think in future conferences, it could be interesting just to arrange turn up at the end of a session and interview one of the presenters about their ideas.

Anyway thanks to all of our crew – to Jo, Jake, Judith, Klaus, Raymond and Dirk. many thanks also to Angelika, to Herr Goldenbaum and the ECER staff who were so helpful to us and of course to everyone who participated in our media fest.

Another blogpost coming up about content and ideas from the conference.

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