Thursday, January 13, 2011

#bett11 First Impressions

I've been really lucky and very privileged to attend BETT the British Educatonal Technology Show for last 12 years either in my current role or in previous jobs. The picture above is of the main hall and the interesting thing is if you have a look at shots over last 12 years  ( probably last three here on flickr) remarkably it  has not changed that much both in terms of who is there and in terms of the solutions being peddled to an educational audience. As usual for me it is the side meetings with partners that matter. Anyway first impressions from day one
  • The changing of the guard - new government seems to mean much less top down guidance on ICT in education. This may or may not be a good thing - but quite hard to find folk on policy side who can set out direction of travel in England.
  • Last year there were shed loads of functional skills materials - this year hardly in evidence - would be interesting to see figures on how much money has been spent on reforms here.That appear to be continually delayed.
  • Whiteboards everywhere as usual but this year turned on their sides to make gigantic tablet PCS
  • Seems more crowded with stall holders than ever but footfall seems much lighter
  • Useful educational focused side programme and more informal teachmeet type content - always better than advertorial and getting better each year.
For those who don't regard education and learning as chiefly a money making enterprise BETT can be pretty harrowing. For a free pen or even a pendrive  there is only so much sales patter you can stomach. Combine lots of people selling stuff with hordes too of home grown or international educational technologists all on the make  and you get a heady brew and has any of it really changed the experience of learners in schools ?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#lwf11 Learning Without Frontiers

Lord Putnam and Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia debate in final session at Learning Without Frontiers.

I had a productive two days at Learning Without Frontiers and well done Graham and team for organising an event with a difference in a useful calendar slot before the purgatory of BETT.  The speakers were awesome , entertaining and informative and looking forward already to watching them be re-streamed and appearing on i-tunes and YouTube soon ( guess announcement will appear here)
I had some prejudices before I came - this was a relatively expensive event - and a free/discounted  i-pad was on offer if I signed some dotted line ( I'd love too but as attending is as part of my normal day job I can't pick up technology like this) . While I am slightly covetous I still can't figure out how owning one will help my day job. Did appear to be bigger version of i-phone for too wealthy short sighted guys ( guess they haven't worked out that it can't phone yet) sort of techno porn for geeks.
I did enjoy the best wifi I have had at a conference out with trips to States ..and so did everyone else - there is a fairly impressive twitter stream #lwf11 and was great too to find some friends picking up video feed from conference as it went out live.
So how could it be made better - event needs more back channels - a live twitter stream behind and beside presenters. - needs some more unconference stuff - there were some really great people in audience a few five minute slots from a few of them would have been really good. The event was about disruptive education - still not disruptive enough - one or two presentations were corporate advertorial.  Would have been interesting to have some input from open educational resource producers. A hook up somewhere with JISC in UK too would be really constructive - slight danger that it becomes schools silo.
Special tribute to David Muir who managed to do a blog posting on every session he attended.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Post 2011

It is the time of the year to make a prediction or two. This year I think more than any other you can feel and see the growth of services like facebook , twitter , linkedin . I've had a few conversations with folks in last six months who I know still have problems with keyboards and e-mails - yes they are still out there - but even some of these hardcore laggards are at least beginning to think about Web2.0. Must be mainstream now there is Social Network the movie!
  • I predict that the massive .. really seismic cuts that are happening in education and the disappearance of some national agencies  across UK will drive users to make more inventive use of social software.
I am on my way to a Learning Without Frontiers Conference .. interesting agenda ..but I'll judge value for money over next three days and then my usual round of meetings around  BETT11. Will be interesting BETT with a void left on the disappearance of BECTA and other national agencies. I wonder where drivers for change on adoption of open educational resources , on-line assessment , digital inclusion, quality of ICT at local school and local authority level and a host of issues move forward. 
  • I think now up to  ALT , JISC and membership organisations to fill void and see how much change can be driven at grassroots level when there is little money for grand national or regional schemes. Good to see lots of teachmeets happening.  Prediction two membership organisations take greater role in driving change.
Hoping too to get more of a grip on Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy.
I didn't get an invitation this year to what was the Learning and Technology World Forum it has been renamed the Education World Forum  I am guessing that  leaders from around the world will be discussing how to meet their population's educational aspirations with a smaller resource. Shame they dropped the technology bit from the title .. the answer is technology but this still seems too tantalising for policy makers.
  • Prediction three more interest in global standards and on Open Educational Resources
Whatever I think 2011 will be a challenging year for learners and for all those who work in life long learning.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year

I did a bit of a spring clean around this blog including moving over to a new template. One day I'll spend some more time and set up a wordpress account . In the meantime I probably need to do a bit more hacking around with this blogger template to get the utility I'd like from it but it is starting to get there.

When I returned to blogging in 2006 I thought I'd probably blog about once a week - the reality is that with the arrival of twitter my posting rate is well down on this.

Hit rates are down too on previous years. The posts that attracted most traffic are mostly all from the end of year 

Should add my favorite post of the year ..first post last January tracking our amazing adventures in the Phillippines  http://www.joewilsons.net/2010/01/happy-new-year.html


Friday, November 19, 2010

New and Emerging Learning Technologies

In education too often the wave is over our heads before we realise. We really don't have any excuse now - here is a superb presentation from  Steve Wheeler on the shape of some things to come - should be enough to put  any educational leaders on to the front foot or poised to surf the next wave.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maths and more Game Apps on iStore

Lots of meetings in last few weeks and playing catch up. I spent some time with Euan Mackenzie the CEO of  3MRT ltd who was pleased to let me know that they have released a number of game playing aps designed to support SQA Maths Candidates and he thinks as he would that he has achieved a few  firsts-
We have our first Scottish based apps on the iStore and the first press

reviews are universally positive.
You can jump off to the apps here: http://apps.inquizitor.com/

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Save on Travel Desk Top Webconference

Just did one of those quick and dirty surveys of what staff are using to communicate with range of stakeholders across UK - worth sharing as it probably gives quite a good picture of desktop web conferencing systems being used accross UK Education. Remember focus here is on desk-top systems not Video Conferencing Suites.

Scotlands Colleges have been using http://www.elluminate.com/  for last two years - though they sometimes also use  http://www.netviewer.com/ 


GLOW ( in the area branded GLOW Meeting ) was using the Marratech System and is now going to make use of Adobe Connect http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html So most mainstream Scottish Schools will have access to this.

There is also an active community across Education using the hosted Open University Flash Meeting service http://flashmeeting.open.ac.uk/index.html  . This is a free service which allows you to set up meetings as well as attend meetings - the Open University offers this service for free to the world wide education community.
It is used to record and broadcast quite a lot of events as well as for hosting meetings.

Finally there is a growth in wholly on-line conferences to get a flavour of these would be well worth signing up for JISC's  Innovating e-Learning 2010 Online Conference http://www.jisc.ac.uk/elpconference10

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best of EdTech Web 2010 #ediff

Resources like these are arriving every day and they can change education
as we know it.. thought this was a great set of new tools..

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Useful Perhaps Observation from Across the Water #ediff

Thought this graphic gives nice picture of how a larger economy is struggling with #ediff
challenges.

Useful graphic from http://www.onlinecollegesanduniversities.net/technology-in-the-classroom/
was taken down last night.  The graphic presented  the challenges in integrating technology into American Classrooms. Where internet access in schools is much lower than Scotland.

Via: Online Colleges and Universities

Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy #ediff

A few folks have aleady had a go at summarising discussions around Friday's event.
Neil Winton Fearghal Kelly Andrea Reid  and I'm sure more will follow.

The focus was on what schools and learners  (think nursery, primary and secondary schools ) should have access to and how a government with limited resources can support the necessary initiatives and investment to support this access.

The best bits.. that there is still broad support for the vision of a Scottish Schools Intranet and the notion that institutions, learners and teachers need to be trusted much more and have greater access to the internet. Expressed as a dimmer switch that could be turned up or down to protect learners as they progress through education. ( this has been aired lots of times and  in lots of ways  before)

This was a gathering of like minds from the Scottish educational  blogosphere. We can like all educators fight over the number of angels that can dance on the end of a pin ..but we didn't have to do too much justification on whether more technology is good for learning and learners.Yes we agree that play is central to learning and that there is a place for games based learning in schools ( and beyond serious games happening more and more in workbased learning)

What we didn't have time to do but I hope will be done was strip the  discussion down to the things that need to be in place
  • Without reliable broad band access across all schools vision cannot happen.  There should be guidelines on what learners should have access to in nursery, primary and secondary across Scotland.
  • Without guidelines on "the dimmer switch" most local authorities will opt for the standardised web filtering policies that keep most learners and teachers in the dark
  • A minimum national intranet should allow interaction between teachers, learners and relevant agencies at a national level 
  • It wasn't said in this way but one of my own - If Starbucks can do wifi why can't Scotland's schools - learners should be able to use their own devices to access their school platform.
 The outputs of what was a full day stimulating debate - not short on big words - and big ideas from Pat Kane @theplayethic  are captured in David Gilmour's photographs of the  flipcharts.

We didn't touch much on the support available through the internet itself - there are offerings from Microsoft, Intel , Cisco, Oracle, Google and more aimed at building up the digital literacy of teaching staff and learners and we only began to consider the growing open educational resource movement. Nor did we spend much time talking about what assets the learner takes in this domain from primary into secondary or the eportfolio they could usefully take into College or workbased learning.

Most of this audience have at some stage or continue to take a professional risk in blogging , adopting twitter or more modestly asking for some webservice or other to be unblocked. I think the education hackers or edupunks are live and well in Scottish education but need more encouragement. They are still a challengingly small minority of voices - echoing , re-blogging and tweeting each other. There needs to be a cultural shift and more support from the agencies that look after standards of access and the teaching standards in Scotland.

I hope this debate moves on at pace. We are not being ambitious enough for our learners in this space. The savvy ones can already do a lot of their own learning in their own time on their own devices in a place and time that suits them. The debate is not about schools staying technologically relevant it is really about the continiuing relevance of our education system.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Open Education #ediff

Some folks in Scotland will know the amazing work done by Brigham Young University in widening access and playing a major role in changing American Society. It is great to see this institution leading from the front in the Open Education debate here is David Wiley's presentation from last week's Educause Conference . Hope it helps some folk understand what I was getting at when I suggested that more and more learning resources would be free and accessible in the futureEducause 2010 - Openness, Data, and a Sustainable Future for Education
View more presentations from David Wiley.

Viral Education 2.0

Getting to the stage where I find a profound presentation like

this every month or so - chimes well with debate we had in

Scotland yesterday about the future of technology and education.

I'd love to see some more of these presentations coming out

from Scottish institutions - I still get the sense we're being stoic

and canny around the place of technology in learning when

we should be jumping right in.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

AXA brings print ads to life

Just think what this technology could bring to interactive learning

and what a great way to sell and Apple Ap

Friday, October 01, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

European Association Of Test Publishers Conference



Halfway through this conference and pleased to hear that we in Scotland are actually doing pretty well in the domain of innovative on-line assessment and in who we have chosen to work with as technical partners. Many of our testing and development partners are here.

I am writing this for those who don't know the commercial side of the computer based assessment industry. This is big multi-national business spanning the organisations that provide pychometric and selection tests to industry , those who provide specialist regulatory tests for different industries ( SQA is included here) to those who work in mainstream education providing the testing systems that support national awarding in the school, college or vocational learning space. ( we feature here too)

It is all here for a price - from the vast aircraft simulation assessments for pilots and ground crew, to the professional tests for global professional associations, to those who offer selection tests for lots of different kinds of employment or for national driving tests and for .. the list goes on...

Tests can be built , beta tested for valididty and realibility and delivered through the medium of the customer's choice to a testing centre for high stakes tests or even out to mobile devices as authentication and on-line proctoring systems develop.

The main changes in the market globally
  • Main move is towards more immersive assessments using virtual worlds or augmented reality - but they are very expensive to develop but allows increasingly authentic assessment this stretches out to serious gaming.
  • Greater regulation CPD and mandated testing in growing number of occupational areas around world.
  • Moves to mobile and Wi-Fi based testing you can now have mobile test centres using i-pads and other devices. 
  • Video Proctoring - allowing candidates to take assessments where ever they wish to tackle these.
  • Costs of hardware going down for equipping test centres from about £6oo to £300.
  • Massive opportunities in places like India and China where the delivery device of choice will be mobile phones.
The good news is that we have thought about most of this. The challenges as ever are not the technology or the ability to change the system but the willingness of those in the training and education systems to embrace change. When assessment on demand is a reality will your institution be ready ?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scottish Learning Festival


Gathering my thoughts on another successful Scottish Learning Festival. For me the opportunity to network around the event is its main attraction. Here are some of my personal  favourite bits from rushing in and out of the conference over the two days.

Still awaiting some really cool SLF t-shirts playing on the Stiff Little Fingers Logo of the 1980's.

  • Sugata Mitra  - Should challenge everyones thinking catch his keynote on conference website.
  • Teachmeet - made 15 minutes of this before I had to scramble off to Scottish Training Federation Awards and Dinner. Check out wiki and flashmeet
  • Ollie Bray and Derek Robertson's infectious enthusiasm - catch the dance..
  • David Cameron's ( @realdcameron on Twitter) perceptive sessions on what Curriculum for Excellence is really all about
  • Finally good to see NQ Games Sessions , Katie Farrell's work on using the new awards  , and the SQA Computing team getting around the event and blogging about it
  • Ewan McIntosh  trying to stay in the debate while flying over to the west coast of America to deliver a keynote
  • Stephen Heppell and his friendly supportive ways
I'm sure a simple Google #SLF10 or #SLF2010 will throw up much more - I had a sense there was more blogging and tweeting going on at this event than any of the past ones and great to see keynotes up on LTScotland Website.  Particularly liked  John Johnston's perceptive post on teachmeet -Looking forward to next year already.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scottish Training Federation Awards

On Wednesday night I was humbled as ever by the work that training providers across Scotland do. The organisation I work for uses SVQ Awards and national occupational standards as an important part of our staff development processes as do many organisations across the UK. 
However, the work of Scotland's training providers in supporting training in the workplace is  largely unreported. We need to shine a light more often on the hard graft that is involved in achieving a modern apprenticeship and the challenges that are involved in supporting candidates in the workplace.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

E-Cert Programme

Interesting project that creates an e-certificate and controls management and verification systems - can operate across different institutions and awarding authorities . Some really useful example uses from across UK  Allows educational organisation to issue these , learners to access these and  employers and institutions to use these - can be used to verify exam results, project work , e-portfolios . Candidate can submit their certification and the work that they have completed - can see lots of applications for this.
Potentially useful links to Bologna process and E-Certification E-pass work.

Donald Clark Plan B at ALTC2010

Donald Clark opens ALTC 2010 Conference in Nottingham.



Founder of Epic an early on-line educational publisher which he sold on for a modest fortune now has an excellent blog at http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/ always controversial.


Don’t Lecture Me ! - Why we need to move away from the lecture theatre - a rabble rousing opening address.

I’ve heard some of this many times over the years and have experienced lots of awful teachers, lectures and conference presentations over the years. Donald does an entertaining spin through the challenges of getting individuals and institutions to move away from the lecture theatre. I agree with many of the challenges he identifies – but think we still have to find a way to move pedagogy on – and not least the  the pedagogues who like giving lectures when they can .. even in schools.  So not an easy challenge.

Hardly anyone who teaches in a University believes in any scientific methodology of teaching and learning or even tries to apply any of it. Collection of anecdotes rather than a data driven empirical approach and if any theories are used then they are half-baked. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs gets a doing it only survives because it is easy to put on a power point. Teachers always focus on what they are going to teach they hardly stop and think about how they are going to teach it.

Great use of teaching clip from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-S54bbX6eA

The Crazy English Movement fills stadiums with 25,000 in China
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/crazy-english-how-chinas-language-teachers-became-big-celebrities-1777545.html

Recommends  "The Media Equation " – book http://www.amazon.com/Media-Equation-Television-Information-Publication/dp/1575860538 some good ideas on applying new technologies to learning.

Teachers ask pseudo rhetorical questions and don’t really challenge learners. Lecturing grew from preaching in the middle ages and it has never really moved on. Was associated with reading and then instruction – but still a meaningless monologue.

Isaac Newton – was brilliant but no-one turned up to his lectures as no-one could understand them and his delivery was very poor – he often delivered them to empty rooms . Why put brilliant research scientists who can’t teach in front of undergraduates? Problem is not just people it is about methodology Richard Feynman teaching physics through lectures is almost an impossible task has to be through active learning.

Even the new recordings of lectures in YouTube are mostly rubbish – but it is still better to see a first class lecture on video than a mediocre one in the flesh. Russell Group Universities attendance drops to just around 50% among first years over a year.

Institutions should be looking at learning success rates and looking at how they can use technology to time shift Youtube.edu http://www.youtube.com/edu look at Lewins Lectures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Lewin_Lectures_on_Physics , i-tunes u , MIT , Open Learn OU Don’t pad out cognitive overload - hardly anyone knows how to use text, images, sound etc in learning - there is lots more we could be doing to improve learning.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve – keep coming back to this

Carol Twigg – Pew Research – move to active learning approach and redesign your courses around learning http://www.thencat.org/  actually a lot of potential in this work for curriculum for excellence in schools.

People need to be able to study at a distance in a much more enlightened way and universities need to share resources in much more creative ways – most medical faculties still have art /publications departments drawing and digitizing representations of the human body in a massively inefficient ways. When capital expenditure cuts come at least it will stop lots of monument building that has been going on campuses around the country.– most university buildings run at under 50% capacity which is scandal.

The Open University model is the way ahead.

And now 63 minutes later I've forgotten half of it

Friday, September 03, 2010

Assessment Futures , New Ventures and ALT-C

I'm on my way down to the Association of Learning Technology Conference on Monday.  It is probably the best place for ideas and theory sharing across the UK Learning Technology community . I've been engaged with ALT since mid 1990's . But this post is not an advert for ALT it is to set up discussions with colleagues at the conference and beyond . The post will be picked up by the excellent Crowd Vine tool that is being used.

So if you are at ALT-C here is flavour of things we are up to and areas of my immediate interest at the conference.

As you would expect from National Awarding and Accreditation Body there is quite a lot of work going on around looking at different models of assessment.   By the current nature of our system this is largely work we are doing in  Further and Higher Education , Community and Workbased learning spaces - but a quick flavour of some of the themes that are emerging
  • 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. 

Always interested in anything out there that can inform our work in these areas - and welcome input from ALT Colleagues and broader blogosphere.