Saturday, September 24, 2011

#tmslf11 #slf11 Quick Post

SLF dots
I managed the first day at SLF and well done GLOW TV for giving us footage of  the whole event . You can catch keynotes here.
The future must surely be on-line and with a  Saturday  thrown in for events like this - parents and learners could be invited too 
Still think that as a "learning festival " needs some more Further Education , Community Education , Higher Education and workbased voices in proceedings, 

Had usual fun at Teachmeet  and even squeezed in a session  - goodies are being collected this time here .  which again hopefully means that the teachmeet message and as importantly the nuggets shared will get further into the system. Special shout out to the new team of organisers who doing a great job.

I've blogged about how I use before 

But here is what I rushed through at Teachmeet is useful on a number of levels
1. It shows in a magazine format part of what you get from following folks on twitter 
2. Makes it useful tool to show people who don't get twitter and/or don't know who to follow 
3. I now follow so many folks that I use it on a weekly basis to view what links  folks have been tweeting
I use it for Scotedutwits  - and example here
and on a weekly basis turns tweets with links into
Here is today's edition the  timing captures SLF and TMSLF by pure coincidence

How you do it - 
1. Set up a list in twiitter of folks who's postings you specially want to follow - share common interest  etc 
2. Set up account and point new title to this list - you can make papers that appear daily or weekly - weekly does me

#altc2011 Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate review Part Two

Here is quick summary of the things I discovered or revisited in last half of the ALT-C Conference 

Karen Cator presented an interesting paper by video-cast to the assembly. Karen's focus in on mending a very fragmented school system - I'd argue a broken system - but others might argue a system with a strong independent and democratic tradition with a deep suspicion of anything led at national level.  They now have a national educational technology plan and they have just set up an organisation ( a bit like BECTA) to drive and support roll out of educational technology in schools across America.  Called the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (Digital Promise  
They are starting off my looking at special software and systems to develop learning through games in first instance.

I spent some time in a couple of workshops re-familiarising my self with Glo-Maker which should be development tool of choice for most teachers in schools , colleges and HE . It is just so easy to use and creates sensible learning objects quickly. I still find lots of folk who don't know about it. 

Then an over view of new LSIS tool for evaluating organisations ICT capacity - a great tool ;  it is free and it is on-line . Particularly due to pretty live debate in Scotland around future of ICT in Schools I think at school level  this and tools like this are a great place for school leaders to start.  Though I am not sure that the Learning and Skills Improvement Service will be able to cope with all the developments that seem to be being pushed their way.

As a life long  Who fan - (just before I became a punk rocker)  - it was great to have dinner in the hall where "Live at Leeds" was recorded. 

As conference closed I enjoyed the style and old fashioned but hard nosed rhetoric in John Naughton's lecture . He sat and told us many things we knew but challenged us too . I think proof that the lecture is not dead.  Nice too to hear from one of those rare creatures a public intellectual.  I'm looking forward to seeing this and more on ALT Youtube Channel. 

The elephant in the room at this session and indeed many of sessions I attended is the impact that the new fee structures will have on higher education in England.  The Vice Chancellors have made the price 9,000 a year but no-one knows how it will really impact on recruitment and on institutional learner relationships.  This is a system in transition and one that is  afraid of the changes and times that lie ahead. 

It is also a system where learning technology now more than ever has the capacity to support learners on  the journeys that they want to make those  individualised learner journeys  . One wonders if the price will lead to greater product differentiation and those richer individualised learning opportunities but  the danger must be a crude race to the bottom with lots of institutional failures. The die is now cast.

And in all of this I hope not too many learner blues - the schools are currently packed with young folks who need a strong innovative and vibrant tertiary education system.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

#altc2011 Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate review Part One

It has taken me longer than I thought to get to reflecting on #altc2011,   really as the winds of policy change have been blowing strongly in Scotland over last week or so.

Association of Learning Technology members should have a look at our Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Education Mike Russell - leading from the the front on giving the educational system a shake and trying to put the whole debate on educational technology in schools and beyond on a new and different footing - the debate is all focused on making the most of what we have in that colder and more challenging climate - which will be all the clearer at the end of this month when the Scottish budget settlement is finally revealed and in place.

It would be good too to get some input from the ALT Community in the work that is going on to shape the educational technology future of Scottish Education here - I am already seeing things where I know a lot of lessons have been already learned across FE and HE. Folks from global community should have a look at all  things tagged #EduScotICT.

It was a rare treat and a privilege to get away from my desk and get to a whole ALT-C conference and it did not disappoint I came back buzzing with ideas and just as significantly an armoury of practical solutions and for my day job some potential business opportunities. You can't really ask for a richer diet than this.

The big picture stuff which colleagues in Scotland should have a hard look at came from Uruguay , America and a timely reminder that "the future is here already it is just not evenly distributed". Though I came away from my first session being more and more convinced that the cycle of innovation adoption is getting shorter and shorter around the world.  Here is just a snapshot and some links for folks to have a look at

1. Day One  I managed to attend two of the pre-conference workshops 
  • The Horizon Report on new and emerging technologies really worth a look - especially on the ever shortening adoption curves. If we are thinking in Scotland around tools we will have access to in 3 years time this is the  place to look  This work is really worth having a look at.  This work is commissioned by JISC for the UK but is based on similar studies from around the world.
  • Also managed to spend some time looking at impact of learner analytics oops I should be calling it Activity Data . I am still a bit sceptical of this  approach  while I appreciate most organisations are now data rich and information poor . I worry that  monitoring  lots information on a business systems dashboard around an individual learners attendance , performance , time spent accessing VLE , books borrowed from library, even through GPRS how the move around campus  etc replaces human contact with the institution.  One staggering piece of research showed those borrowing most books at a particular institution were most likely to get a first class degree. If you are interested in this area of work you should check out this site.
2.  Day Two

  • The highlight of conference for me was hearing Miguel Brechner and about the progress of the one lap-top per child programme and educational and social impacts of Plan Ceibal – a new approach to the use of technology in educationUruguay has deployed more than 450,000 computers to every pupil in state education from the 1st year of primary to the 3rd year of secondary school. 99% of these students now have Internet connectivity in their school. All wireless and we're talking schools some of which had no power before programme started. It is totally transformational.
    From Miguel - as all pupils have laptops and connectivity new challenges appear and the personalization of education becomes a real possibility.

  • I then spent a session looking at the growth of virtual schools and colleges around the world and in the UK .  Currently I get approached once a month or so by a new virtual college or school looking at ways they can support education in Scotland and Scotland's learners. Worth having a look at VISCED they are uncovering some great practice from around the world and some in our own backyard that has so far been over looked.

Monday, September 12, 2011

#EduscotICT Schools in Scotland and Mobile Devices

Still compiling a report on Alt-C conference . I was especially impressed by Miguel Brechner's update on the progress of the one lap-top per child scheme in Uruguay and evaluation of this in English is here

Picked up too this morning a useful post from New Zealand from Derek Wenmoth - both the barriers he describes and the solutions they are seeking will not be alien to Scottish Education audience  - I'll quote a bit

  • Burnside High School in Christchurch is encouraging its senior pupils to bring their own computers to school, but has no plans to make the devices compulsory.Burnside High School is encouraging its senior pupils to bring their own computers to school, but has no plans to make the devices compulsory.
  • Point England School in Auckland has embarked on a student netbook programme combined with a roll-out of wireless access to homes.
  • At Kaitao Intermediate School in Rotorua they've also announced a programme to provide tablets to every student at minimal cost to parents.
  • Brand new school, Albany Senior High School, started the way they planned to go on, with a "high trust" approach to technology use in the school, with all students able to bring their own device.
  • Orewa College hit the headlines with its plan to require students to purchase a 1-1 computing device for their work at school, with a recommendation that it be an iPad2
  • Perhaps the most ambitious is NZ's largest secondary school, Rangitoto College, which will welcome student devices into the school from next year, providing free access to the internet.
The examples above can be matched by others, I'm sure, that haven't made the headlines in this way. The big question is WHY? What is driving these decisions to be made? Some of the reasons become apparent in an examination of the stories:
  1. Equity – providing students with devices is a way of countering the perceived gaps between the 'haves' and 'have nots' (digital divide)
  2. Cost – BYOD programmes minimise cost (and risk) for schools, who can then divert money into building a robust network to support them
  3. Competition – a fear of 'being lft behind', or of facing competition from other schools
  4. Curriculum – enabling 21st century learning to take place, recognising that digital literacy and competence will be required across the board
  5. Choice – a response to the increasing diversity of devices available, and to students wanting to use the device of their choosing

I am sure world that Derek is describing chimes with some of our own experiences in Scotland

Saturday, September 10, 2011

#EduScotICT Future of ICT in Scottish Schools Ramblings

I just had a go at chipping some ideas in to an ongoing debate on future of ICT in Scottish Schools  . I am not sure if I put the right bits under the right heading but that is the joy and strength of a wiki and an open approach to encouraging the exchange of thoughts and ideas.  This approach has much to commend it.

At moment folks are still storming around the decision to stop the big national re-procurement of GLOW . Which is understandable but we must first remember that the system was courageously always in Beta.
We need to move quickly from talking about which bits didn't work to looking at what we need to support education across Scotland

I'll try to expand here on some of the bullets I added

If we have no GLOW do we still need a national system ?  - answer needs to be yes. But this time school system and policy makers need to learn from other parts of education system and build a system that supports life long learning. There is lots of experience in the College system around Management Information Systems and around the deployment and management of virtual learning environments. The University system has worked hard at building a national platform that is both open where it needs to be ( though it still needs to be more open) and closed where it has to be. The core  of the HE system is

  • Janet superconnect managed by UKERNA
  • Shibboleth secured authentication for users and content providers
  • Single login 
The most cost effective way to buy bandwidth for education system is to do this on a national basis 

A host of other local and national services are then built on this national infrastructure. The national services are in many cases provided and procured from those institutions that sit on the network. The system allows the purchase and distribution of collections of learning materials and other assets.  Even with the emergence of Open Educational Resources - secure repositories for some learning materials will continue to be a feature of learning for some time. The one thing that appeared missing from GLOW was a place where teachers or indeed national agencies could position content. Worth having a look at JORUM

A single login and robust authentication systems means that other services like e-portfolios or indeed a  national on-line assessment system can plug into this - in the  knowledge that the learner is already authenticated and verified by the system. A national directory should also improve all kinds of communication across the sector.

There is lots of space for cloud and web2.0 solutions in all of this. They should already be in wide use at school level and be used at national level where appropriate. Issue here is not about which service but around the fact that there are no standards for accessing these services across Scotland. Most teachers and learners will find their paths to services like these blocked.

We need a proper quality system that puts the onus on schools and local authorities to open up almost everything to teachers and have appropriate filtering for learners. Combined with a positive dose of digital literacy and Internet safety training.

We need to be more open around a lot of this - local authorities should be mandated to share on an open document system their policies and procedures. This would encourage both the adoption of good practice and discourage the fragmentation that does exist across the system - would help too the private schools , charitable institutions , special schools  and other smaller entities that are struggling too in this landscape. To reinforce the  duty of  the system to be inclusive for all learners in our landscape.

In Holland and Denmark academics in public institutions are now mandated to share their academic publications in open journals. Many UK institutions now use d-space and other platforms to openly publish their academic outputs the UK and the  global  education debate is about openness . To make Scottish education great we need to be part of this and be confidently sharing our learning materials beyond the walls of our institution , the confines of our local authority and be sharing and exchanging learning materials and ideas globally.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Barriers to Adoption of Open Educational Resources

Just spent some useful time in a workshop with lots of colleagues looking at  some of the challenges around the adoption of Open Educational Practices.

Here is wee list we came up with

  1. Generally legal issues around publishing in open way are not recognised by institutions or individuals
  2. There are issues around current employment contracts - not clear to individuals or institutions around IP rights. Simple things like what happens when an academic leaves or moves to another institution.
  3. Some practice that are ok in classroom under fair dealing or other institutional licences are not ok if works are published on openly - few institutions have specific copyright checker
  4. Human factor too - institutions and individuals may not have an appetite for sharing - job fears, quality fears , and also concerns around or repurposing materials not invented in the institution.
  5. Not enough knowledge about things like Creative Commons and other licence policies
  6. Not enough information on best formats for publication of OER - things like EPub format not well understood
  7. On using other peoples OER even under creative commons concern around attribution of derivative works
  8. On specific things like images where meta data can be important you may want to share image but be concerned about licence of meta data
  9. Good practice identified in Holland and Denmark where academics are mandated to publish to Open Educational Journals.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

#altc2011 Thriving in a colder and more challenging climate

Association for Learning Technology

Last year I did quite a detailed post on the things I am looking for at the Association for Learning Technology Conference.

From my original list from last year

  • Exemplifying models of holistic assessment utilising range of different mediums.
  • Exploring use of E-portfolios and their application across institutional boundaries - portfolio moving with learner.
  • Describing and exemplifying Assessment strategies beyond the written word video or other evidence capture mechanisms including Virtual Worlds
  • Demonstrating use of Wki and Blogs for assessment of collaborative and group work
  • Piloting and creating models for test item sharing in (maths , sciences and computing ) how far can we share/ re-use  items between institutions /continents/ education systems  ?
  • Further exploring potential of Games Based Assessment
These areas of work and some broader work around building and defining Digital Literacy across  the spectrum of life long learning.and how qualifications support this.  

I'd add looking at how open educational resources are being used to support learning and teaching.

I still think too that the use of Crowd Vine is exemplary and I wish systems like this could be used as some of the other conferences and events I get to attend. 

New Ways to Change the World or at least talk about it

purpos/ed logoLogo

It is worth reflecting following some active UK Government discussion around greater regulation of twitter , Facebook  blackberry messaging and social software generally on the usefulness of social software as a means of driving positive change across the educational landscape. There are currently lots of useful places where policy makers, teachers , educational leaders, academics and those with an interest in education can exchange ideas. Here is a quick snapshot of some of the sources and activities I find useful mainly in a Scottish context,

1. The professional stream on Scotedublogs gives you an RSS of most education blogs that matter from across Scottish Education
2 Get along to a Teachmeet and make a contribution - event at Scottish Learning Festival is where it all started.
3. Follow Pedagoo in Scotland and purpose/ed for an interesting exchange of ideas
4. Have a look and follow or get along if you can to David Cameron and Laurie O'Donnell's event  at 
5. Follow some Scottish Educational Twitterers This week Don Ledingham made a series of inspiring tweets on ideas around developing senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence!/search?q=%23cfeseniorphase
6. Get and follow  RSS feeds from the Scottish Government who are making intelligent use of social software. The Engage for Education Website is engaging with teachers and has engaging content.

These are all positive things you can  follow , engage and contribute to the changing face of education and learning.

The darker underside is still there too in the often anonymous posts found in the forums of the Scottish Times Educational website - forums.

Worth noting too there are still too many folks who don't have a voice in any of this,