Monday, April 04, 2022

Fujitsu Scottish College Ambassadors Gathering

Last week in the splendid surroundings of the  Glass House Hotel in Edinburgh I outlined what we had intended to do and what we will actually do with our new Fujitsu learning Hub. 

It's a none technical presentation and does not cover the systems we use in learning technology nor our current journey to Canvas by Instructure.  You can find these in more detail on the Learning and Teaching Academy site.

It was great to meet my fellow ambassadors and hear about developments across the Scottish College sector.  I am looking forward to the next chapter as we deepen our relationship with Fujitsu and industry partners. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

#BETT22 , #BETT2022 What I will be up to.

 


I'll be around for another flying visit to Bett22 . I think there will be lots of good things to share and I am sure the educational community will be excited to be back together again.

I'll be around Thursday and Friday - as usual heading home as #Teachmeet Bett stars 

At moment I am visiting and/or meeting 
  • ThingLink
  • Intel 
  • Fujitsu
  • Click-View 
  • Microsoft Education 
  • Google Education 
  • Advantis Systems/Class VR
  • Instructure Canvas  
I am looking for innovative partners and potential sponsors for our annual Learning and Teaching Conference scheduled for Tuesday 28th June 2022. A great way to bring innovative solutions to the Scottish College Sector.

My focus on hybrid learning and how best to support a large ambitious metropolitan College with 30,000 student population and broad curriculum. 


My diary is almost full - if you want a meeting reach out to me on twitter @joecar


I look forward to meeting friends old and new.


Reflections last few years BETT

Friday, March 04, 2022

We interrupt this Service #Ukraine No to War #FightForUkraine #FreeUkraine


I've been doing all the normal work and family routines this week and increasingly being upset and angered by events in the Ukraine and generally feeling helpless. 

Here is a simple mode of resistance and civil disobedience. It's not my idea it is one doing the rounds on social media - but it is easy to do. 

Search google maps for cafes and restaurants in large Russian cities with large numbers of reviews. Use google translate to post a pro-Ukraine message directly on to their website. I suggest the one below but you may prefer a more subtle message. 

Encourage Russians to be opposed to Putin's illegal war and to demonstrate.

Уважаемые россияне, ваши СМИ подвергаются цензуре. Кремль лжет. Тысячи ваших солдат и украинских братьев гибнут на Украине. Узнайте правду в бесплатном Интернете и в приложении Telegram. Время свергнуть диктатора Путина! любовь из Шотландии

Dear Russians, your media is being censored. The Kremlin is lying. Thousands of your soldiers and Ukrainian brothers are dying in Ukraine. Find out the truth on the free web and on the Telegram app. Time to overthrow dictator Putin! Love from Scotland.

Messages are easy to generate just go to https://translate.google.co.uk/ and ask for your politer appeal to be translated into Russian. You may prefer the threat of No more Scottish single malts ! Больше никаких шотландских односолодовых виски! if you are uncomfortable with the blunter over throw of Putin. 

You could also let the Russians know what is happening in #Ukraine by sending a random Russian a text message via http://1920.in  

We need to tear down the wall of Russian propaganda and censorship! and let them know the truth. Let them know the eyes of the world are upon them and that we support them even in these terrible times. 

This is the best way to communicate with the people of Russia, as Twitter , Facebook , LinkedIn  and other social media platforms are blocked in Russia.  The Telegram app is their equivalent of Twitter or more accurately WhatsApp. 

If you are not sure how to do this here is a simple set of instructions.
You could move on from restaurants to reviewing hotels - they all have websites with visitor and comments books.  Remember to put your chosen comment onto their website and not as a Google review. I am guessing that Google maps may soon be blocked in Russia too. 

If you are not sure how to do this get one of your family or friends to show you how and donate too to one of the many charities raising funds for Ukraine. 

Russians can't do this for themselves as they would get 15 years in jail for saying that Russia has invaded Ukraine. 




#FightForUkraine #FreeUkraine

Friday, December 31, 2021

Reflections on 2021 #oerxdomains , #phygital , #Fujitsu , #openscot , #Bett22


The end of another strange year - this year without the lockdown beard. 


It's all been a great team effort. This year topped and tailed by two College Development Network Awards both reflecting well on the work of the Learning and Teaching Academy

Amazing really as the team have battled the frustrations and heartbreaks  of  CoVid like everyone else.

    

Highlights 

  • Continued staff support for webinar training and development .
  • Chairing #OER21 
  • Launching College Fujitsu Hub.
  • Sourcing speakers , open badges and chairing sessions at  #Phygital conference
  • Staff and Student input to business case that led to procurement of Canvas.
  • On going cross College work on transition to Canvas. 
  • Trying to figure out what hybrid learning and teaching actually means.
  • On going sanity checks from colleagues in College  and  from ALT and many others across the sector ( you know who you are) and patience, kindness, consideration and teamwork.
On personal level - I am still frustrated by the Scottish systems ongoing disregard of Unesco's guidance on Open Educational Resources - startling really in year of COP26. I will keep doing my bit at institutional level and through Open Scotland

We once again missed our French fix on the Ile De Re and had none of our usual foreign jaunts and as CoVid restrictions are back in place in Scotland there will be no #Bett22 for me this year. 

We did manage two great escapes to Isle of Raasay and to Isle of Lewis. We also juggled cases of household CoVid - we still are, currently spending Christmas and New Year in splendid isolation.  

I know 2022 will bring more challenges.  I think the main message in these strange and disrupted times is not to be distracted, keep your eye on the horizon and show compassion for all those around you. 

And just noticed this marks 21 years of blogging ;-). Open reflection and blogging will eventually catch on. 

Happy New Year to one and all when it comes !  Slainte ! 


Monday, November 08, 2021

#COP26 Week One Glasgow

As a Glaswegian it’s been great to welcome #cop26 to Glasgow. I am sure our visitors are picking up friendliness of city. The friendliest city in the world. There were some cracking placards on Saturday reflecting humour of crowd. I am posting this as I was asked twice today in external meetings about what's it like to be in Glasgow at moment. 

                                                https://twitter.com/PuddingPop0802
I’ve been working remotely most days but in the city and College on Tuesday, and on Friday in College as duty manager. The city campus has a great range of Cop26 events on and the Riverside Campus is hosting the large International Cop26 Maritime Hub. Both building and libraries are open for students and there is a full programme of events for learners and the community.

My commute from south side into City centre has been pretty much as normal and if anything the city is much quieter than I expected it to be. I’ve not experienced the disruption and road closures around the UN Blue Zone north of the river. But was very aware of the increased police presence across the city centre. Particularly on my walk back to central station on Tuesday evening I was suddenly in a phalanx of armed police but I think Leonardo DiCaprio was doing some shopping nearby. 

I thought there would be more going on and a more visible presence of all the visitors. I do hope they are getting out and about and enjoying the city. The autumnal rain has been torrential this week

I was kindly invited to participate and contribute to a Herald and Epson sponsored event on education and #cop26 on Tuesday morning. Thanks to Doug Belshaw for line and it was a 'white manel' but the audience was diverse and included school pupils.
There was some pessimism about role education can play in whole carbon neutral agenda 80% of school buildings today will still be with us in 2040 and they are hard to heat and insulate. Consensus seems to be that without gas boilers best way to heat schools is by biomass boilers.

Our domestic gas boiler went on blink to this week so I had a chance to talk to a british gas engineer. Old houses will never be able to take all the insulation needed for ground or air source heat pumps.  Hydrogen is apparently the answer. We'll see I hope boiler has a few years left of life. 

I am really fortunate to work in a new build and an institution that has thought through its own contribution towards the zero carbon agenda and as a skills based organisation leading out changes to other sectors of the economy. 

There has been lots of progress around getting a green curriculum into schools in most subject areas. This is easy to understate and some in the audience felt that special new green subjects should be shoehorned into the curriculum.

My bigger reflection;  the schools and media do need to end their fixation on SQA  changing its name is not going to change culture. One of the panel even suggested that everything can change, but attaining 5 highers will still be the gold standard,  that’s not really change at all. The debate strayed for a while onto global warming is really all SQA's fault.

We really need to get away from a knowledge based curriculum and move to a competency based system. What you know is good , what you can do is much better.

On Saturday I did my own bit and went out and enjoyed the #COP26 demo. I think there was around 150,000 people out on the streets and met many international folks and protesters from across the UK. Not tens of thousands as the BBC reported - pretty shocking really. The rain was torrential. 
I hope next week brings some sensible and workable actions from #COP26 .

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Towards A new Curriculum and Assessment Agency in Scotland Part Two

 

image of exam hall in school gym

© Copyright David Hawgood and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I did promise a follow up to my first post upon hearing the news that SQA and Education Scotland were to be re-engineered. Having taken part in some of the initial consultations.  It was good to hear that the reform will be phased and planned. But I am no clearer on where the destination will be. I am not sure publication of OECD senior phase report this week makes the destination any clearer.

There will be the same impasse around both what the content is in any national qualifications and how it should be assessed. I'll leave that to the end. 

I am going to jump to other side of challenge. There are some parts of the Scottish system that need fixed and these suggested changes would support any future system. 

If we stay fixed on the contentious parts of the challenge,  as I covered in my last post the real and present danger that by making the reforms all about schools then lots of other useful parts of the system could be lost  and we may not make the headway required. 

So here is a list of things that simply need fixed for any system to operate more effectively for all.

  • Data : As a system, the Scottish system small as it is , is very poor at capturing and sharing data on what is actually happening across the learning system. To future proof the system we need to acknowledge that everything is now data and we need to set up a new awarding system that is more effective at providing learners , teachers , centres, employers and the broader community access to reliable information.
    • It should start by making everything digital by default. Start by designing a system that is future proof.
    • This could be as simple as making proper use of the Scottish Candidate Number (SCN),  it has been used  for decades but it is not used  across education and/or consistently by Higher Education Institutions. If you really wish to track attainment gaps being closed and the impact of FE, HE and work based learning this needs to be addressed. It is there already don't invent something new,  just ensure no one gets any public money unless they use it to report on learners' progress.    
    • More ambitiously and much more productively would be to publish any outcomes or eventual curriculum in a machine readable way. Yes , other countries do this already ! . Then if a PDF document is the  output you need, you can have it , but by creating data in this way,  the assets can be easily reused across the system. No more collective keying of unit descriptors , experiences and outcomes etc into lots of spreadsheets and databases.
  • Certification :There is a quick easy win to make all certification digital and online. SQA were almost there, but lacked political support to push this across the line.  A new agency should start by making sure no learner ever needs to worry about a lost certificate again. The system should be set up to allow learner to share a secure view of their certification on any job application etc. Smoothing recruitment processes for all. It would also be cost effective way to deliver richer information to learners. This probably is about data again but needs a heading of its own. 
  • Subject Communities Who owns and decides what is in the assessable certifiable bits of learning in the Scottish system ?.  It should be transparent and clear to all learners , parents , teachers. For teachers and learners there should be clear ways for them to suggest and shape the content of awards. There have always been subject panels - you do still need experts - but make the process more open. Qualifications could be maintained by an iterative yearly online process to keep them current. This with clear stakeholder engagement. Solves relevancy issues with computing and some sciences subjects. It needs to be clear that what arrives in a qualification is actually informed by national occupational standards when this is relevant. 
  • Learner Communities for learners sitting national assessments the national system should have figured out a way by now to give learners some safe secure spaces to allow learners to access to peer support. If the system is not brave enough to tackle this, it should be brave enough with caveats to highlight services like The Students Room. that have been around for years - but the system should be able to do better. We don't encourage our learners to see that there is a national education system. We should be encouraging national and international engagement. 
  • Courses and Assessment  Direct to Learners If most learners now have laptops. The new agency  should work towards having a clearer offer direct to learners. In partnership with relevant agencies Education Scotland, SDS and College Development Network and others. It can be piloted, it does not have to be a big bang. Any learner should have access to any national subject anywhere in Scotland and the opportunity to be assessed and certificated in that subject. This is something that any new agency should be able to coordinate - Colleges ,local authorities, Scholar and other partners can deliver. Perhaps precipitated by more of a focus on open learning. 
  • Open Learning Materials  If you follow my blog you will see a lot about this. If the learning content is created by lecturer , teacher and or funded by public money whether through an institution , agency or local authority . The learning material should be made open and available under an appropriate open licence Non Commercial Share Alike to allow teachers and learners to remix and use.  Simply aligned to UNESCO global standards in this area. This does not replace a teacher or trainer but gives learners and teachers access to better learning resources. Initially this does not need massive investment in any national system it simply needs positive policy messaging and support so that all actors in the system adopt the UNESCO guidelines. 
  • Staff Development  The new agency should be seen to be lowering the administrative burden on teachers and College staff while not diminishing their responsibility to understand any national standards – There should be pilots around roll on and off secure assessment ( Solar mkt 2) The system  can collectively maintain standards while lessening the assessment burden on teachers and learners.
    • Validation process In Colleges and work based learning, the centres actually have to have teaching staff and resources in place to deliver new courses . This includes ensuring that staff have adequate training to deliver new courses.  This may be bridge too far but in many subject areas staff do need annual development. Perhaps having some better validation processes in school sector would raise standards. 
    • Verification processes:  it still has not really been picked up but teaching staff do feel insecure on their decision making. Make sure that there is robust internal, regional and national mechanisms to support teacher decision making. Make sure everyone knows that standards they are working to. In an interconnected world this should not be a logistical challenge. Learners need this exemplification too. Imagine you are learning in a school or centre that can't show you what an "A" looks like. In learning it is not mythical - teachers and learners should be clear about competencies and levels they are working towards. 

  • Digital Portfolio We should aim to give every learner a digital profile a portfolio of their learning.  They build it and they can decide who and or which components of this they wish to share. This more than an online CV and could include link to their digital certification from a range of sources. There are lots of ways this could be achieved freely and within GDPR regulations. 
The list above I hope is non contentious and looks beyond the battle around what should or should not be included in school programmes ( this is actually not about assessment at all) 

If the reform is because the current system is no longer fit for purpose. Then I really would expect to see the end of paper based examinations - I promised not to be contentious. 

I would go further and re-look at the subject silos - perhaps looking again at the experiences and outcomes and stretching these to end of formal schooling. But that is probably a bridge too far.  The suggestions above will support a new landscape whether we are assessing latin , maths, english, astrophysics, languages , welding , music , digital literacies,  meta-skills  or tap-dancing.