Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Key Messages from UNESCO European Regional Consultation #OER #Openscot #Digiscot


I had a moment or two this morning to try out Lumen5  what a cool tool - but I hope you pick up the key messages as well as learning about this new medium



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All England but worth reflecting on Skills Policy/ Politics in England


Thanks to https://unsplash.com/@heftiba for this image

Education and Skills is thankfully a devolved issue in Scotland and we have our own levers and our own challenges in making Education and Skills in Scotland reflect the needs of Scottish learners, employers and broader civil society. And thankfully education and training is still viewed in the main as a social good across the political spectrum in Scotland.

But it is worth having a keek over Hadrian's Wall as large UK employers will have an appetite or at least will question the Scottish institutional response to some of the broader English reforms around Further Education and Vocational Skills Reform.

Some of these policy commitments could have big implications for Scottish training providers operating in England and for FE Colleges in Scotland trying to hold on to training contracts from English based organisations.

In amongst all of this there are some good ideas, from both sides of this political divide. Some of these ideas might even creep north of the border but only the good ones,  I hope.

The summaries of Labour and Conservative Manifesto's as reported by The Federation of UK Awarding Bodies appear below along with links to the full party manifesto.

Labour Party Manifesto
  • Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in FE colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.
  • Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new Technical Colleges, redirecting the money to increase teacher numbers in the FE sector.
  • To implement Sainsbury’s recommendations, we would correct historic neglect of the FE sector by giving the sector the investment – in teachers and facilities – it deserves to become a world-leading provider of adult and vocational education. 
  • Labour would restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
  • Labour would replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use.
In relation to apprenticeships, the draft manifesto includes commitment to:
  • Maintain the apprenticeship levy while taking measures to ensure high quality by requiring the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to report on an annual basis to the Secretary of State on quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships to ensure they deliver skilled workers for employers and real jobs for apprentices at the end of their training 
  • Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022
  • Cover apprentices’ travel costs, which currently run to an average of £24 a week – a quarter of earnings if apprentices are on the minimum wage. 
 
  •  Roll out of T Levels with an average of 900 teaching hours per year and a 3 month work placement. No specific mention of or timescales licences etc.
  • Repeated commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020.
  • A UCAS-style portal for technical education
  • Commitment to establish skills as a key part of the "modern industrial strategy"
  • £250 million investment in skills by the end of 2020 from the National Productivity Investment Fund
  • Double the Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament.
  • Ensure that the skills and qualifications gained by members of the armed forces are recognised by civilian employers
  • New institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to universities, in every major city in England. They will provide courses at degree level and above, specialising in technical disciplines, such as STEM, whilst also providing higher-level apprenticeships and bespoke courses for employers
  • Employers still "at the centre of these reforms" with Skills Advisory Panels and Local Enterprise Partnerships working at a regional and local level.
  • Discounted bus and train travel for apprentices
  • A new right to request leave for training for all employees.
  • A national retraining scheme - the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the Apprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period.
  •  A right to lifelong learning in digital skills.
 
 
 
 
 

 







 
 



 
 





 



 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#oereumt UNESCO Regional Consultations for 2nd World #OER Congress 2017 #openscot #digitaldifference



Interview with Joe Wilson

Joe Wilson

Spotted that the papers and all the sessions from the UNESCO #OER Regional Consultations are now up - if you are interested in this important global dimension of learning really worth having a good dig around.  You can get all the key notes here  and if you don't already know about Video Lectures as a platform worth having a look at that too.

Here is me caught on one of the coffee breaks on a sunny balcony over looking Valletta harbour.
Shout out to https://twitter.com/LornaMCampbell whose work I plugged in session but is not mentioned in this edited version.

Main lessons coming out of sessions

1. Open Educational Resources is  a subset of Open Practice
2. That countries need quite clear competency frameworks around digital literacy for learners and for those who work with learners ( teachers , lecturers , trainers , librarians , community education workers , GLAM workers ) which includes an understanding of Creative Commons , open licensing and how to create, publish , find and re-purpose open educational resources and embed this in their practice.
3. That to move on both digital skills and open educational practice there needs to be some quite clear policy drivers - not sector by sector - but from government. To be really effective this can't be from Education Ministry alone it should be seen in broadest context to get both civil society and industry engaged,  they all have things that they can share openly to support learning. But Education Ministry is a good place to start.
4. That there does need to be some sort of technical infrastructure a national repository or another suitable  aggregation, tagging , discovery  tool as a means of  finding and tracking openly available learning materials

Remember too where ever you are in the system you can just share your own learning materials with an appropriate creative commons licence . You don't have to wait for permission to innovate. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#Jisc #FELTAG UK FE and Skills Coalition London


I had the opportunity to present to the #FELTAG FE and Skills Coalition in London this week on the challenges I see around the vocational reform programme in England and the opportunities emerging from this. I will not rehearse them all here but  will offer a short summary.

I think the system is becoming comfortable but needs more challenge around delivering 20% of apprenticeship programmes off the job. There is still room for more innovation around on-line delivery. Training organisations unused to classroom delivery need most support here in shaping innovative on-line offerings.

The main challenges lie around how to manage the movement of learners through programmes and towards end point assessement without the scaffolding of the unit based qualifications that existed in previous frameworks. There is an opportunity here for open badges and other forms of micro-credentials.  You can see City and Guilds and the other former awarding bodies that operated in this space positioning their delivery systems to supply learner content and step by step assessments that are supported by open badges.

Managing learmers progress is a mechanistic  challenge too.  Many frameworks require the collection of  on-going evidence to be presented at end point assessment. The system as a whole needs new approaches to e-portfolios that better support learning and development.  The previous vocational system was over reliant on checklist based systems while the systems that are used in Higher Education are too aimed at deep reflection against very broad outcomes.  The ideal system for the new apprenticeships lies somewhere in the middle - twinned with an reliable virtual learning environment for learner delivery and tracking. This to allow trainees, employers, training providers and End Point Assessment providers a window on the progress of the learning.  Trainees need to be highly confident that they are ready for end point assessment.

For providers there is still a challenge around making sure that there is a consistency of decision making and reliable quality control both around delivery and in decisions about predicting gradings.
Grading is a new concept in this area of training.  There needs to be greater transparency around the quality assurance mechanisms for End Point Assessments. Candidates and training providers need clear guidance both around understanding the pass/fail criteria and the grading criteria in many frameworks.

There remain some gaps - some of which might have been held up by the general election. I think many observers were anticipating the publication of a new set of digital competency standards around digital literacy to be published in England. This to form part of the underpinning essential skills for apprenticeships. There is already a new framework in place in Wales.

There remain too some deeper structural challenges that need tidied up by the new Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Some standards and assessment standards are not fit for purpose though published and approved. Probably best exemplified by the diminishing but still stubbornly high list of frameworks with no end point assessment body. This is still a potential crisis needing averted. The offer for non-levy paying employers still seems unclear and will stop many SME employers engaging with the programme. I think too the cost of end point assessment may act as a deterrent for both employers and employees in achieving fully qualified status.

From a Scottish view point 

As someone with a lot of experience of this sector in UK and internationally I understand the English drivers for many of these changes - but I don't agree with many of the reforms. I think the system should be rightly very anxious about the next wave of changes in trying to shoe horn vocational delivery towards 15 strands. Yes,  they do things like this in New Zealand and in other vocational systems but not in the manner that is being attempted in England.

I wish the term UK Vocational Reform Programme was used less - in what is in essence and practice an English Vocational Reform programme.

But I am jealous about some of the high level movement and thinking going on.

On the data side, the willingness to make more use of the Universal Learning Number ( we have had this in Scotland since the 1970's, the Scottish Candidate Number,  but have never fully exploited its utility around reporting learner progress through all of our learning system) The work around both the Individual Learning Record and the Individual Learning Plan with that focus on how the system supports and pushes on the performance and achievement of the learner so that centres are  not rewarded for simply allowing the learner to mark time is something the Scottish system should be exploring.  Yes,  it does take some learners longer than others to achieve but system should be working to understand this.  It will be interesting to see how the final link to HMRC shows a clear link to income and productivity. Would be great to see some of these approaches in Scotland.

We have data and some of these tools but have lacked the willingness and ambition to join this data up in Scotland.

I like too the grading of apprenticeships - as will employers and apprentices - but I think you can achieve this without the cost and disruption of End Point Assessment.

I like too the broader ambitions of the graduate apprenticeship programmes in England . In Scotland we are doing these targeted at areas where there has been a lack of flexibility from the Universities and a latent demand from industry. In England you are doing this too  but also building a rich set of alternative pathways into the professions like law and accountancy. This will really close the academic and vocational divide.

Finally I like the innovation around delivery and assessment that has been driven by both the FELTAG coalition and by the changing landscape shaped by the vocational reform programme. There is a greater sense of urgency to adopt new delivery methods and drive up the technical capacity of centres and teaching staff in English Colleges and training providers.  We do have some excellent practice in Scotland but it is more distributed.  Jisc and other have been doing a great job in supporting centres through this period of change .

I'll do a follow up post on the growing list of support available for centres in this new landscape.







Friday, April 21, 2017

Klik2Learn




                                                                                
I spotted this company some years ago while working at SQA since then they have done well in establishing both a Scottish and an international footprint for their innovative English language learning materials  . Their voice recognition software to support English language acquisition and development is particularly innovative and effective. 

Ann the CEO has drawn my attention to their latest development. I think there are some real benefits to explore here for Colleges willing to partner with Klik2Learn. 

I think Colleges and ESOL training organisations across the UK will be interested in this. 

I'll let Ann explain the rest .... 


Hello, 

I’m dropping you a note to let you know that there’s a small window of opportunity (till 4th May) to buy licences for  our SQA –endorsed intermediate ESOL course, ‘Journey 2 English’ at a substantial discount – up to 85%. The course is being used in a number of FE colleges and Councils throughout the UK.

 You can also pre-order the course many people have been asking us for – ‘Journey 2 Basic Skills’ which combines basic literacy, numeracy and English at beginner level – A1/A2.

You’ll find all the details on this link to our campaign: http://kck.st/2nDg62y
where you can help support the development of the beginners’ course and receive licences for the intermediate course to use now, in return. There’s even an option to have a bespoke promotional video for your college.

If you’d like further information, feel free to contact me by email: info@klik2learn.com

Thanks for reading this far!

Ann Attridge

Director, Klil2learn

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What I've been up to ;-)


I keep being asked what I've been up to,  or what I've been doing - here is a whistle stop tour of some of the highlights.  Thanks too to all my connections and friends across FE/HE/Schools and Work-based learning in Scotland , UK and internationally for harnessing my enthusiasm for learning and keeping me busy, by making full use of my breadth of experience,  expertise and network.

If you follow this blog  or keep up with my linkedIn profile or follow me on twitter you'll see what I get up to.  Learning and development is an open activity ;-).  You can still make a living outside but alongside the institutional atriums'.  I liked this post from an old friend  Eylan Ezekiel  on the  life of a freelancer.

There are still too many closed minds around, too many folks chained to the iron rice bowl, and not prepared to think out of the box or challenge the established orthodoxies or speak to those who wield power,  but who often have little understanding of skills delivery in FE and or the development needs and motivations of those who work in vocational training sector. These folks are often badly in need of sage advice.  You can break the chains, keep smiling and make a positive contribution. (Chained to the Iron rice bowl is analogous of prisoners within a system, who just keep their heads down no matter what changes are instigated as they know any challenge to the orthodoxy will cut off their food supply - this from a senior colleague still working within education policy circles)

Recent substantive assignments - I can't list them all here ...particularly all the events I've talked at or chaired over the last 18 months.

Whitepapers and webinars for international VLE suppliers to support entry in UK educational and vocational marketplaces. Example 

Evaluation of the  Socio and Economic Impact of Massive Open On-line Courses with recommendation for future development models ( client  global UK University with courses on Coursera, MitX , and Futurelearn) Enjoyed working for Edinburgh University.

Bid writing and partnership building for a public tender for national on-line testing system for schools (client global e-assessment provider in need of curriculum advice to tailor product for UK market)

Papers , Workshops and Advice developed and delivered  for JISC  for Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. This spanned - advice on creation processes to enable digitisation of the national occupational standards development process ,  advice the creation of trailblazer standards to ensure  that they are open to on-line and blended delivery , guidelines to encourage the  creation of assessment standards to encourage best use of digital technology in assessment delivery and quality assurance, suggestions on better use of data management and the on-line rather than paper certification of apprenticeships, this  for the UK Vocational Reform Programme in England. ( client Jisc) I do think we are missing some tricks around how to make best use of the Employer Levy in Scotland and will keep trying to be heard.



Advice too on the adoption of suitable new standards for digital literacy for learning, life and work. Based around the excellent work of Helen Beetham and Jisc and in line with the new essential skills framework developed in Wales. ( For various clients )

Identification of suitable international consultants for design and delivery of range of international vocational learning projects for a range of clients including large UK based awarding bodies for assignments in  Middle east , Africa , China and within Europe.(clients international consultancies and international awarding bodies)

Advice and support for organisations around the SCQF Credit and leveling and the sourcing of credit and leveling services. ( international awarding body)

Partnerships and introductions around content development , campus apps , the development of digital learning spaces and associated innovative thinking for relevant Colleges and training providers. ( range of providers and clients )

Workshops for senior management teams - trying to find routes ahead for service delivery and for staff development in an increasingly on-line and cloud based world of learning.( Colleges, training providers and in company sessions) I'd like to do more of these. There are far too few open practitioners in Scottish Further Education and it is a poor reflection of the innovation and great teaching practice that I know exists.

Pro Bono

I am enjoying the continued challenges :  as Board Member of Youthlink Scotland , ALT as Co-Chair in Scotland and  as a Board Member at  Glasgow's Kelvin College.

As Co-Founder of Open Scotland I continue to support any  initiative encouraging the open sharing of learning materials , collaborative learning  and the development of teaching staff and learners' digital skills and I am looking forward to contributing to Scottish Government's Information Literacy Community of Practice as an adviser.

This year I supported #oer17 and the UNESCO Global Consultation on #OER as a chair and contributor. Thanks to the generosity of ALT and UNESCO for their invitation and support..

I still feed  back where I can opportunities for  Scottish FE , to individual colleges and to organisations I have worked for in the sector. The focus needs to get back on to innovation in  life long learning.




It's been a fun 18 months and if you need to drive real change in your organisation  along with your staff ( driven with them not at them or over them ) and or have an interesting project that is around collaborating and improving the lot of learners in Scotland, UK or internationally and above all you are positive and fun to work with - I'm always on the look out for my next gig.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Budget : The bits not reported in Scotland ! Vocational Reform.


Picture of Philip Hammond , Chancellor
CC/BY https://www.flickr.com/photos/mfa_lithuania/ 

Yesterday,  I read and heard various accounts of the Chancellor's budget in the Scottish media  . They all said that much of the budget focused on the national health service or educational reforms in England which were not of any consequence for the devolved administrations.

In fact,  we should be paying close attention to the vocational reform programme happening in England. There are some really interesting and challenging developments springing from it,  which should be shaping thinking in Scotland.

Here are some accounts from the English media

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/08/t-levels-aim-to-improve-technical-education-and-improve-uk-productivity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39212506/t-levels-what-are-they

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/education/t-levels-will-work/

I've a live Google Doc that keeps an eye on these developments from a Scottish perspective which I will update later.

The main news announcements in England show the continued shifts in thinking around what are now being called the T-Levels or technology level qualifications in England.  The Chancellor announced an additional £50 Million investment in Further Education. This based on increasing the contact hours for 16-19 year olds in Colleges from 600 hours to 900 hours per year.
This will make College courses almost 9-5 programmes , as  previously highlighted they will also have an up to three month work placement embedded in them. This will be norm by 2022. Initially this funding appears to be going into developing the new system.

In Scotland FE programmes still sit around the 600 hour mark - we have many of the same challenges around retention and achievement and the work readiness of FE learners. The additional funding and the approach of extending the hours for these learners is something that should be given every consideration in Scotland.  This model is moving the training hours closer to the systems in Germany and other European states - which matches the rhetoric around the future of vocational learning in Scotland.

In 2018/19  there will also be an additional £40 Million invested in 'Life Long Learning' a term that is familiar to us in Scotland but has not been used in England for more than a decade. This to support adult literacy and numeracy and improve work based skills in line with the Industrial Strategy. The expectation being that a series of pilots will use digital technology to deliver new skills into the workplace. This part of developing plans around future skills and life long learning.  So worth too having a dig into this.

The English system is in an incredibly disjointed state  - but we should be learning the best lessons from it.

I hope the  Scottish media start doing a better job of covering this reform programme and its implications for Scottish learners.

If you work in Scottish Further Education or with a Scottish Training provider you should tune into the English vocational reform programme.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Final call for #OER17: The Politics of Open. Registration closes 16 March 2017

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/scotland/ 
 
This makes a good follow up post to my last one on the
UNESCO #OER consultation - I do hope everyone knows that we are all on a journey to a world of much more open practice and collaborative learning . Though I am sure there are a few individuals and institutions who will be determined to keep their knowledge locked up. You'll be wearing a creative commons t-shirt in no time !

Open educational resources are important because they allow freedom of access and enhanced opportunities to learn for all.



https://oer17.oerconf.org

The #OER17 conference takes place in London on 5-6 April, it provides an ideal opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about open resources, policy and practice to connect with experts and enthusiasts. We welcome delegates from all sectors to come and share knowledge and experiences, network and learn. 
 
With keynotes from: Maha Bali, American University in Cairo; Lucy Crompton-Reid, Wikimedia UK; and Diana Arce, Activist Artist and Researcher, Germany, and plenary panel with Catherine Cronin, Laura Czerniewicz and Muireann O’Keeffe plus over 100 sessions from the open education community we hope it’s the open education event you can’t miss.
 
The conference will be chaired by social and educational technologist and Wikimedia UK Trustee Josie Fraser, and Alek Tarkowski, Director of Centrum Cyfrowe, co-founder and coordinator of Creative Commons Poland. The conference themes this year are:
 
  • Local, national, and international policy and practice
  • Institutional/organisational politics
  • Participation & social equality
  • Open Party
 
Registration closes on the 16 March 2017 and tickets are available for single and two days. For more details visit https://oer17.oerconf.org/registration/
 

Monday, March 06, 2017

#oereumt UNESCO Regional Consultations for 2nd World #OER Congress 2017 #openscot

Europe Regional Consultation on OER 23rd-24th Feb 2017 Valletta
It was a great privilege to be invited as one of 70 participants from 25 countries gathered in Malta  to contribute to the UNESCO European Regional Consultation on Open Educational Resources in Malta. This to shape the inputs for the 2nd World OER Congress to be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia 18th-20th September 2017.  I hope the remaining regional consultations  for the Middle East/North Africa, Africa , Americas and the Pacific Region are as productive as our gathering. The consultation events are ably supported by the Commonwealth of Learning and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. You too can take part in the consultation by completing http://rcoer.col.org/surveys.html

 The theme of the World OER Congress is #OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education ; From Commitment to Action. This to move the global education system on from the Paris Declaration of 2012 calling on all governments to make a commitment to OER. The aim to use OER policies and practice to meet the United Nations aims of achieving a set of sustainable development goals for Education by  2030.

We were tasked with :

1. Reviewing the progress of OER in Europe since the World OER Congress 2012
2. To identify strategies for maintaining OER
3 Agreeing  a set of action points to be presented at the next Congress in September

Our outputs providing strategies, examples and models for the creation of a sustainable open educational infrastructure and mainstreaming open educational resources will be fed into the Congress but will be published here as they are pulled together and there will be a collection of interviews from the consultation events published here.

I was invited as Co-Founder of Open Scotland and I carefully prepared our inputs with Lorna Campbell my co-conspirator and  Scottish colleagues from the Association of Learning Technology before setting off.

I'll share the key parts of my report here and some reflections from the group I worked with who were tasked to  focus on the barriers to the creation, sharing , use and re-purposing of Open Educational Resources at a national level.

In terms of Scottish approaches,  the formation of Open Scotland and the creation of the Open Scotland Declaration has positioned Scottish Education as thought leaders in building both grass roots support for open educational practice and for encouraging policy shifts at national and institutional level and this is still garnering Scotland and Scottish education with global recognition.

The OEPS project has produced some open assets that could do much to drive open practice across Scotland https://oepscotland.org/resources/open-courses/ While the Open University's broader offering for learners http://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/ offers learners access to a rich set of online courses and allows providers the opportunity to build their own courses on the OU  platform.

There are some other green shoots around the UK. The continued healthy support across the community for conferences like #OER17 , the FELTAG coalition supporting  blended learning and the sharing of developments. Some set backs too,  it is hard as yet to see the new Jisc Content and App Store as a serviceable replacement for JORUM .

However, while Scottish Government investment has been made in the Open University led OEPS project and some large global institutions like Edinburgh University have taken up the challenge to embed both open educational resources and a broader set of open educational practices across their operations for the public good and some others notably Glasgow Caledonian University are forging ahead with policies that will support OER, momentum is slow.

Why is the case - these are my own thoughts on Scottish Landscape and updates the last review of Scottish activity from October 2016.

Some of the global arguments for the adoption of open educational practices and resources do not have the same traction in Scotland. Scottish Education is not a text book driven system in Universities, Colleges or Schools - so the economic case for the adoption of Open Textbooks or more open practice around the development and sharing of resources does not have the resonance it might have in other countries where national administration's buy text books.

The levers in Scotland have to be around our life long learning system, our belief in education as a social good, open to all and around the social benefits of OER to all in the system.

Universities continue to conflate OER with lots of other policy initiatives and developments - We have a MOOC so we must be making and sharing OER ( rarely the case). We have an open research policy and we have policies and practices around open data. ( no realisation that OER is different). There are few formal staff development programmes around the creation, use and repurposing of OER and only a few policy levers to encourage their consideration.

Colleges - Recently regionalised and finding their feet have forgotten traditions of developing learning materials collaboratively and when they remember they tend to do this in closed communities as content clubs. If you do a dig into the public contracts Scotland you can see a growing trend over last six months for Colleges to buy large collections of commercial content. They are trying to make more courses available on line and playing catch up,  by buying in the learning content. The entry level and CPD standards for lecturing staff are due to be refreshed but the current standards are weak around developing skills around embedding digital practice and make no mention of OER.

Schools - No real recognition that sharing learning materials is a good thing and to a degree still struggling with the notion that teachers create  learning materials. In Scotland we have a superb platform in GLOW a Scottish Schools Intranet with excellent set of tools to support learning but it lacks a learning object repository it is hard to find materials inside GLOW and there is no coherent approach to adopting standard open licencing like Creative Commons. In terms of development there is the recently published Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy this encourages the development of digital skills in both initial teacher training and in teacher CPD for continued registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland but it tends to focus on the use and deployment of technology and makes no mention of content creation or open educational resources.

Third sector and libraries - perhaps most progress is being made here. Libraries and museums are digitising their resources and releasing these into the public domain with open licences. Trade unions and third sector organisations realise that a sharing economy is the most effective way to support their stakeholders. Good signs here that the methods and approaches of the wikimedia foundation are being adopted.

Government, while the government has usefully made a significant investment in the OEPS Project, which it references in any enquiry about the progress of OER in Scotland, it still appears to view activity in this area as peripheral in meeting sectorial objectives.

The broad view of the administration seems to be  that policy around open educational practices is not required as initiatives in this space are being driven out by Universities fulfilling their charitable and philanthropic traditions  and that there is a lack of an evidence base around the benefits to learners that justifies a policy intervention.

The growing evidence base from other countries and global initiatives is counter to this view. A healthy open educational resource driven system needs both top down and bottom up support. The papers from this consultation and from the World Congress should allow an informed reappraisal of this position.





















Friday, February 17, 2017

Useful Sessions from @A_L_T including "Course Design for Reflective Learning"


Don't Fear the Webinar image CC thanks to https://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/
 
 
I would not normally devote a post to a series of webinars but I think its important that FE staff in Scotland pick up on these and we move dialogue back to teaching and learning - in new ways !
 
With usual declaration of interest I am one of the ALT UK Ambassadors.
 
The FELTAG movement has moved on both the conversation and the delivery of learning in English Colleges and training providers it continues to prompt a multi-agency response to modernising learning practices.
 
I think all six topics are directly relevant to Scottish FE.
 
 
'New course design for Reflective learning'

Wednesday 22nd. February 2017 at 12.30pm. for one hour. 

 
This is our second of six webinars and is being led by Dan Scott, lately of Barnsley College and now working in e-learning development in the commercial sector. He will explore ideas and thinking around how e-learning design is now able to incorporate more reflection into courses as a means of learning, demonstrating achievements and characterising attributes.  


Dan will lead a ‘walk and talk’ webinar, exploring ideas on how reflection can be utilised more in online course design, drawing on his own experience as an expert in e-learning both in a college settings and in the commercial world.

He will be looking in particular at two questions:

  • How do we increase learner responsibility for what they learn and what they want to learn next?
  • How might  we design e-learning to enable this to happen?

This Webinar touches on another of our frontier themes; teaching the skills of self-employment, as we think about increasing the ability of all to self-manage learning and plot unique journeys through the learning. This is increasingly true for teachers in their own careers.

 

The FELTAG  reports are seen as the moment when e-learning became normative and an expected part of everyday funded learning in our Sector, rather than an excellent supplement or exotic add-on. For students, the need to turn their 'tech savvy’ knowledge into sound digital literacy is accepted as a discrete ability and as a part of the ‘employability’ mind-set that is now fully explored and understood. It has highlighted the importance for teachers of having their own literacy in using technology for purposeful pedagogy, rather than simply knowledge of it and is characterised by teachers being excited by articulating great teaching through technology, rather than simply using technology for its own sake.

 
Our 6 webinars are based on what we identified at ALT 2016 Conference, not so much as challenges but the new frontiers for us to cross. They are:

 

            • New course design for Reflective learning

            • Using technology to support unique Apprenticeship learning journeys

            • Digital literacy-in-action

            • Teaching the skills of self-employment

            • Utilising personal learning spaces in learning design

            • Using technology to capture and present soft skills

 

Registration details available now at

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Thinking about institutional On-Line Learning and Adding Value




This week,  back from the tropics,  I caught up with my emails and projects, had a tour around Kelvin College and caught up with Jason-Miles Campbell who looks after all things JISC in Scotland and we did our usual brain dump on what we are seeing across Scottish FE and HE - though some of these messages just as relevant for Scottish based training providers.

These are my own quick reflections.

1. Things are still going too slowly - FE and  HE institutions have focus on full-time students in classrooms and lecture theatres but they are not doing enough to support either these learners , part-time learners or perish the thought potential learners that are not yet in the institution or based in the workplace , through flexible  on-line offerings. Perhaps a change in the funding landscape is required to drive new behaviours ?

2. Having a virtual learning environment,  electronic whiteboards in every classroom  and great institutional wifi coverage are not on their own sufficient to change the learning paradigm. Surveys of full-time learners go someway to mapping out the services they need - but what about part-time learners , potential distance learners and employers ? What are institutions doing to close the skills gaps and confidence of teachers or to encourage new models of delivery ?  More work needs done on the entry and CPD standards for FE staff in particular.

3. Eduroam is still not embedded in all the places it should be . It makes it easy for academic staff to pick up wifi in any institution and encourages collaborative working . Makes it easy too for learners to move between campuses and institutions. Why are there still a number of centres resistant to Eduroam ?

4. If you follow the tenders coming out of Public Contracts Scotland - then you will have seen this year some big contracts to purchase on-line content for both College and University courses appearing from a number of institutions. Paid for content has a place - but would be good to see some more institutional development around the thinking required around the creation and  sharing of re-sources. Why are more institutions not thinking about content strategies, particularly around how they encourage more open practices among teaching staff?

5. Some developments spawned by a more proactive take on changing delivery models in FE in England are offering excellent staff development and content collaboration partnerships. There are some great models from Heart of Worcester College on content front , from UFI trust ( Citizen Maths and more )  , the Education and Training Foundation  and others on the staff development front and lots of really useful developments coming through from JISC . There still seems a lack of ambition and drivers in Scotland in this space. Given the different landscape a Scottish FELTAG model should be inclusive of schools , colleges , training providers and Universities - who all drink from the pump of public funding. This is beyond the bailiwick of any of the current agencies - can the institutions be collectively more ambitious?

6 Shared services, which was a big part of the modernisation agenda driven by SFC,  seems to have run into a wall.  Its hard to spot examples other than the collaborative procurement models from APUC   I hope someone corrects me and shows me some good examples of shared services in operation perhaps across the FE/HE divide ?  - other than of-course the great work of Jisc.

7. If Colleges are to make more of the opportunities that are arising from the growing apprenticeship market - they need to quickly start learning from some of the market leaders . There is a lot to be learned from organisations like http://apprenticeships.qa.com/  and probably scope too for some productive cooperation.

8. Moodle has its limitations as a VLE when it comes to ease of content creation and management and delivery to a broad range of mobile devices. A lot of  institutions are now wrestling with content mirrored across three or more server rooms - a growing challenge,  as finally the graphics  , music and video production sections have worked out how to upload content for teaching and assessment purposes. For institutions who are interested in moving more of this up into the cloud and thinking about giving learners a better all round experience - perhaps its time to take a long hard look at the new tools that are emerging for institutional delivery. The IT crowd will be worried about ease of migration and provisioning of the system. Canvas is really worth looking at . Spotted in last few weeks that Norway is one of first European countries to adopt Canvas as the VLE of choice for the University sector . It is worth a look at how this market is changing http://mfeldstein.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/e-Literate-European-LMS-Market-Dynamics-Fall-2016.pdf 

9. The new inspection model for Colleges could do with some more detail around new delivery models to help encourage new ways of supporting learners. The old model of awaiting an aspect report that gives some examples of progressive pedagogy seems clunky in what is increasingly a faster paced  on-line world.  Now staffing and responsibilities have settled down again - we could do with some more open on-line communities in this space to share best practice.  Would be great if these were inclusive of HE , FE and training provider practitioners from across Scotland.  Everyone is wrestling with same challenges around staff skills and delivery technology.

10.  It is superb news that Gary Maclean from City of Glasgow College won UK Master Chef   It is great news for the FE sector in Scotland as a whole . FE is the skills engine of many workplaces and delivers the skills training that simply does not happen in Higher Education . I hope it gives the sector back some more self confidence and it is picked up in  the Enterprise and Skills Review   Recent reforms have often underplayed the deep links that Colleges have to the workplace and the practical nature of skills delivery that is embedded in both the delivery and the  qualifications system in Scotland.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Report from @IPPRScotland "Equipping Scotland for the future: Key challenges for the Skills System in Scotland " Some Observations



The two upcoming brands of Malt Whisky in the Philippines

I came back to the  publication of  A report  by IPPR, Scotland, sponsored by FETL that  explores the current and future challenges facing the Scottish skills system and makes suggestions on some key areas for action.

It is a thorough piece of work, though one that you might have expected to come with a confident and joined up voice from within the Scottish FE system.

I had a look for some informed critiques on this excellent piece of work. It will probably start arriving once the paper has had broader circulation and folks have battled through their new year emails . I see it is being raised in a question at Holyrood today,  that may stimulate some further debate  - here is my tuppence worth.

The IPPR Scotland report outlines six priorities for action for the skills system in Scotland: I've set them out here with some commentary. I think it is worth too setting this paper alongside the ambition of the reforms that are currently moving at pace through the English system.

My overall reflection is that we need to speed up our thinking in this space in Scotland.  While a lot of focus has been on  the reorganisation of delivery structures to reflect the public funding available - we have perhaps been marking time around the bolder thinking that has in the past been a hallmark of the Scottish vocational system. It is often overlooked that like Scottish Whisky this can be a successful export if we are bold and get our thinking right.  This is not about sectors - it needs built around a learner's journey


1  Embedding an outcome approach and setting a clear national purpose of the skills system – it is not clear what the overall purpose of the skills system is
I think this also stretches into Schools and University system - some sectors or parts of it have forgotten than deep links to industry and employers  are significant for learners and for the CPD of teaching staff.
Outcomes should be for learners with institutions being rewarded on their delivery,  but these should be around distance travelled - so that the  resources follow the learners need for support. We can have both a high achieving and a more equitable system - this should not be seen as mutually exclusive.
2  Regional integration of the skills system – not just college regionalisation but across the skills system
While large structural reforms and regionalisation  are referred to frequently in the report this must mean more than simply College Regionalisation - The report does not pick up that there are a significant number of Regional DSWY groups with no College representation
There needs to be clearer vehicles for employers, local authorities, Schools , Colleges , Training Providers and Universities to engage with.  Perhaps there are still too many separate funding streams and this discourages real cooperation.
How in practice are skills investment plans (SIPs) and regional skills assessments (RSAs) really aligned with College Outcome agreements and how are the other delivery partners involved ?  If Colleges shape their offerings around these then all parts of the supply chain should be doing this too.
Also worth reflecting that though Colleges are now regional - there is greater disparity than ever in the size of these regional colleges.
You can be global and still reflect the needs of local learners.
3  Clarifying roles of learning routes within the skills system – there is too much confusion and duplication between routes at present
The University system has in many cases needed the carrot of additional funding to support articulation and the acceptance of HND/C students into the 2nd and 3rd years of degree programmes.
While there is increased investment in apprenticeships - the articulation links for these are very uncharted. How easy is it to switch and get due credit from an SVQ3 in to an HND or Degree programme ? or SVQ4/5 into post-graduate study ?  
The system seems to ignore the growth in wholly work based  professional routes in areas like accountancy and law spawned by English system of paying fees for Higher Education.  There are likely to be more wholly on-line global offerings arriving too. The system could get more confusing without some clear guidance and coordination.
4  Learners and employers co-designing a responsive skills system – the funding and implementation of the Apprenticeships Levy in Scotland offers opportunities in this regard
The levy is being used in the main to deliver the system in England not to re-design the system or the underpinning standards that support the system - the state is paying for this bit . Should the system not be redesigned around learners , employers and those who deliver the skills system.  You can't write out training providers , colleges, universities  and in time schools who all have a stake in delivering a responsive skills system.
There needs to be a more explicit expectation on employers. Reforms in England all about them making a contribution and having a greater say in the system.  
If it is going to be based on qualifications and assessments you need to use SCQF and make better use of SQA in this mix . There is a lot of experience in the system.  
5  Improving flexibility of learning so that learners can learn at a pace that suits their needs
Innovation here is being led by a few UK based training providers who are delivering directly into a growing number of Scottish employers and supporting apprenticeships in the main.  Colleges and Universities have been incentivised to focus on full-time learners in the 16-24 year old cohort.  There needs to be some fresh thinking and some fresh stimulus around the flexible learning agenda. This bit of innovative , flexible , on-line delivery has atrophied in the main-stream but there is lots of experience around Massive Open On-line courses and around open educational resources that need brought into mainstream delivery.
6  Increasing transferability of learning so that learning can be built up over what will be longer working lives, potentially in multiple careers and for multiple employers
There is much more scope for SCQF but we are not far away from having a national qualification transcript. We already have all of the elements in the Scottish Candidate Number and if you think digital rather than paper learners and employers should be able to access a single on-line transcript of learner achievements.
There is no mention in this report of the importance of core or transferable skills. Perhaps there is some wish to dilute this ?  - but for learners:  numeracy , communication skills and digital literacy will underpin most occupations in the future.
Finally as a footnote - I batter things into this blog so I should never be a spelling or grammar pedant (that in my opinion is the job of a good sub-editor)  However , I did spot Principle being used on a number of occasions in this report rather than Principal ;-)

Friday, January 06, 2017

Happy New Year to one and all - and make 2017 special


Hope you are all ready for another busy and productive year . I've not blogged much since early December as we were off visiting extended family in the Philippines over Christmas and New Year - here is a wee tropical tonic.


Philippines 2016/17

Looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones in the year ahead.

All the very best for 20017