Tuesday, June 09, 2015

#dangeroused Festival of Dangerous Ideas





I made a promise today to do a quick post on the launch of this year's Emporium of Dangerous Ideas held in Govanhill Baths.

We were challenged to describe the change we wanted to make and explain what was holding us back.  

In terms of change 

I'd like learning to be a much more collaborative activity to reflect both how learners learn and the speed that we all now need to work at .  

I promised that I would do more to tell others that is what I think , hence this blog post . 

I also decided the best way to get this change was to reach out to other people who work in education, learning and training . Those of you that know me know I have been doing this for a while .  But perhaps I need to tackle things in different ways.

I am a great believer in everything being in beta .  But most people are scared of this.

The most interesting and notable things I've achieved I've achieved working in , with or leading great teams. So I know I can eventually convince people, but to make the change I want we need more people to embrace new ways of working.

I was challenged too on why I was not doing more to make this change happen . 

Why I was not leading this change .

On reflection I don't mind challenging thinking but I probably spend too much time with those who are already convinced that this is the future and not enough time with those who don't look at new ways of working and communicating online.

I probably don't spend enough time thinking about the barriers that are holding back others from jumping in at the deep end and finding the right ways to motivate them.

In the nicest possible way over the next month or two . I'm going to encourage more folk to jump in. 





Sunday, May 10, 2015

All Change - Reflections on College Development Network




I've arrived and I am taking some great people on a journey that is in some respects back to the future. When I worked here in a previous life the organisation benefited from 30% of its funding coming from the funding council and we generated the other 70% through charging for service delivery and through project based funding from a range of sources. We need to get back to this model for long term sustainability.

With the support of an energetic chair , a supportive board , and the support of College Chairs and Principals , change is now under way on a number of fronts. 

We have  new organisational structure . I am currently filling a Marketing and Communications Manager and Business Development Officer post and gratified that we have a very strong field of applications. We've also shuffled roles and responsibilities to make us more outward and delivery  focused. 

We've finalised tenancy agreements with Colleges Scotland , JISC and the Energy Skills  Partnership, who we host in our offices at Argyll Court. We've got some modest plans too for an office re-configuration.

We've switching over to Microsoft 365 and moving mail , documents , the works up into the cloud to improve our productivity 

We've just appointed a developer for a new wordpress based website . Which will make content management and workflow much easier and will make blogging and telling the story of what we do much easier for all of our advisers and for our customers.

After a brief hiatus ..but we haven't got a social software policy !  < we did > and a bit of training, I've got all the advisers onto twitter . The next bit is reflective blogs . Social software is the way of doing the business of learning and  not just an adjunct for the enthusiasts. We all need a personal learning network.

Still work in progress but our subject and specialist networks will move out from the big database of contact emails and 'once again ' are moving back towards becoming online networks where we can stimulate these into becoming communities of practice . With all the change that has gone on in the sector not least in personnel this is a major task.

In terms of informing what we do, we  have a robust collection of Principals , Depute and Assistant Principals from across the sector  on our development committee and we have once again a system of named contacts in place and an annual engagement schedule for every College in Scotland . This combined with ongoing communication with Scottish Government, Education Scotland , Scottish Funding Council , Skills Development Scotland and other relevant stakeholders across the public and private sector should mean that our offerings are in line with both what our customers need and in line with meeting the national outcomes and most of all the needs of learners. 

Work in progress here includes a new handbook for College Board Members and an agreed programme for College leaders for first line , second line and senior managers in the sector that reflect the strategic and operational needs of the new regional college structure and allows lots of scope for innovative and dangerous thinking.

Looking forward the challenges for the sector are - managing at scale across new regional college structures and ensuring effective regional outcome agreements  , the challenges that a new funding formula will bring , the development of new approaches to external quality evaluation from Education Scotland and towards new standards for entry and CPD for College teaching staff, to be in place by 2017.

These are the big ticket items . Above all I want to support a sector that delivers much more flexibly either on line , blended or face to face that serves the needs and aspirations of Scotland's life long learners and beyond. 

We will achieve this through leading , creating and sharing which will be  under pinned by the creative use of technology and by building a culture of collaboration , sharing and trust 

If you have ideas that will shake the pillars of learning . We have a great team and we are ready for business . 










Saturday, February 21, 2015

#Jorum , UK Skills Portal , Repositories for Learning materials, #JISC



I did some thinking the other week as I made my way down from Inverness and then back up to Glasgow for the Manchester meeting of the UK Further Education Skills Window Project which I am currently chairing.

Some of the challenges we are hoping to solve have been around as long as I have worked in learning and development 

  • Across the UK lots of teachers and  lecturers are teaching the same things.
  • Learners want quality and effective learning experiences
  • Learners want to move through learning materials at their own pace and following their own path,  you need a lot of good material to accommodate this .
At an institutional level a  virtual learning environment helps staff structure on line courses and provides a navigation and communication system for learners but it is usually institutionally based and has the delivery of learning within a course structure its aim rather than the storage and discovery of relevant learning materials.
It is also not designed to share materials with peers within other institutions.

An institutionally based VLE cannot  therefore easily share learning materials with staff and learners beyond the institution or accept content created by staff or students out with the institution . A VLE is principally about giving learners a prescribed  and guided route through learning rather than being about the collection , discovery and presentation of a myriad of routes to understanding.

For some the answer is easy . The solution is the cloud . The argument goes that teachers and learners can just upload their materials to Youtube , Slideshare , a personal blog or webspace , google apps , flickr, scribd .. it could be a very long list and use these tools to share their learning materials.

Then students and teachers would  simply do a google or other search and they will find the useful learning materials created by their peers .

This is a cogent argument for not requiring a learning repository . The magical internet will  act as a storage, discovery and presentation medium for teachers and learners .

Well it could , but what would be needed for this to work would be standard global and local metadata standards and that they were uniformally  being applied . As learning materials went up into the cloud they would need to be tagged with at least some metadata to make them at least discoverable in a broad subject context and ideally tagged with some indication of what type of learner the materials are aimed at .  If things like LRMI and other standards were being adopted by organisations like google and other search platforms, then with some training in tagging for discoverability,  the cloud or even a local centre based learning materials bank would be the place to share learning materials .

One day this will be possible but at the moment it is not and we do need some national initiatives in this space. The technical arguments were won a long time ago but arguments for not supporting something like JORUM  seem to keep resurfacing .

The ETAG targets in England of getting 10% and then 50% of all Further Education online by 2017 has focussed minds and across the UK we need to support national repositories like Jorum and initiatives like the UK further education skills portal to make sure our teachers are sharing resources and our learners have access to a richer and relevant supply of learning materials.

I think it is important too that the vehicle for sharing lies outwith the bailiwick of any individual institution . The materials themselves can come branded but it important for deposit that the portal belongs to the commons. 



Friday, February 20, 2015

On Aspirations for Learning and Learners


I read an article today about future of learning
The whole article is worth reading but last section for me is what learning and learning anything is all about ...
"On the first day of my course, I tell students that they have three responsibilities: to advance their own learning, to advance the learning of their classmates and to advance the learning of their wider communities. If they are successful as students, they’ll benefit not only themselves, but their classmates and colleagues beyond." 
Justin Reich is the Richard L. Menschel HarvardX Research Fellow, and an Adjunct Lecturer in the Technology, Innovation, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Friday, January 30, 2015

College Development Network




I am settling in to a new office and new role and this week between snow showers I had a moment to enjoy the view .  I am looking forward to our mission to reinvigorate support to the further education sector in Scotland and take our support services out to new customers too.

I've been interviewed a few times this month - I've set out my ideas here. 

It has been a great month to arrive - I have already been able to meet most College Principals and Regional Chairs and our other partner agencies



Thursday, January 22, 2015

#BETT2015 Reflections on Day One



In between meetings I've walked about half the floor space will do rest by to tomorrow 

Feature of last few years lots of stands with the technology to manage class sets of tablets .  Lots of stands with systems for teaching primary learners programming many of them based on building and moving robots around and some them controlled by apps that you can use on your phone or mobile device .

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#bett2015 Nicky Morgan ministerial address

#bett2015 Nicky Morgan 






On education reforms in England all about restoring faith in school qualifications and breaking up the closed shop of the old educational establishment by giving learners and parents more choice.  We have have now broken the mould .  < hoping they haven't lost it > 

Then to problems infrastructure and skills problems in schools . 
English government now has world leading computing curriculum for primary and secondary schools . Teachers might not have skills to deliver this .  Through the computing at schools programme local computing master teachers can help primary teachers develop the skills.  The department for education allocating additional 3 million pounds to match fund new materials coming from range of private sector firms .
In addition will continue to provide grants of up to 25K for teachers who want to becoming computing teachers .

Accountability we have analogue system in a digital age ..parents and pupils need more data . Destination data will appear in league tables , Tax data will be used to evaluate career and qualification choices . Systems will be put in place to do real time monitoring around things like learners maths skills .

Report from Steven Heppell's group mentioned ..published today - see graphic above
Full Text here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_4FnLyL2BFvMjBOVFY4ZnhRVTA/view

Quickly scanning app for marking learners work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KEk6w9o-U 
Not sure if scanning sheets like this is future or just embedding old bad assessment practices

Rising Stars supporting primary teachers with learning materials and software and just sold a package of this to Vietnam

The full text of speech is now available here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/nicky-morgan-speaks-at-the-2015-bett-show




#bett2015 Will be same old chat about new things ?


Bob Geldof kicks off #bett2015 he is a great advert for learners who fail in formal schooling system but I am sure too he went to quite a posh school in Dublin. Does that mean he had less far to fall ? still a great bloke and all uplifting stuff 

I am here on a fresh mission, this year as the new chief executive of the College Development Network. 

I am looking  at all things #etag .  Last year the English Education minister set some hugely ambitious targets for delivery of online further education in England 10% this year and 70% by 2017 driven by funding policies .  Is it actually happening ?  and is it happening in both a sustainable < I'd argue open educational resources way > and more importantly a learner centred way ? 

In addition continuing conversations with Microsoft , Google , Adobe , Smart Technologies and many more old partners and friends. 

Catching up too with small Scottish contingent that come south to engage with the massive industry that sits around educational technology. See previous year's posts we still can't all join up . 

I've still some spaces in my diary . If you have some compelling hardware , software , cloud service or content for further education colleges and Scottish learners tweet out to @joecar and I'll catch up with you .  Happy to help too if you want to find out how to engage with the Scottish Education system which is unique in UK .

Wherever you are from have a great #bett2015 and don't buy any of the sales folks bullshit look for the things that will make a difference to your learners .