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An early look at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's investments in education

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Catherine Cheney, Devex, Sept 18, 2016

I can't say I greet Zuckerberg's investments with enthusiasm. I personally feel they should fund education the way the rest of us do, by paying taxes and letting allocation be driven by social (and accountable) priorities. Their intent with CZI is to correct some of what they feel are government errors, focusing on graduation rates and introducing mastery learning into learning environments. Their funding "include BYJU’ s, an India-based company that helps students learn math and science on their own, and Andela, a Nigeria-based company that trains top tier tech talent from across the African continent and pairs them with companies in need of skilled developers." Looks like 'picking winners' to me - isn't that also something business thinks government shouldn't do? Via Ann Isabel Paraguay.

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Categorías: General

The Virtue Epistemologist

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Richard Marshall, 3:AM, Sept 18, 2016

Longish interview with the philosopher Ernest Sosa, well known for his work in epistemology (that is, the philosophy of knowledge). I don't really agree with him, but it's an interesting approach: "Knowledge in my view," he writes, "is a form of action. It involves endeavors to get it right, and more broadly it concerns aimings, which can be functional rather than intentional. Through our perceptual systems, we represent our surroundings, aiming to do so accurately, where the aiming is functional or teleological, rather than intentional. And the same goes for our functional beliefs. Through our judgments, however, we do intentionally, even consciously, attempt to get it right." There's an extended discussion of epistemology as it relates to archery: what do we aim for, how do we know, what counts as a 'good' shot?

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Categorías: General

What is Open Learning Analytics?

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Mohamed Amine Chatti, Mohamed Amine Chatti's ongoing research on Knowledge, Learning, Sept 18, 2016

This is a short post that could benefit from much more detail. After describing various aspects of open learning (open practice, open access, open standards, open participation, etc.) the author says "the concept of open learning analytics covers all the aspects of ” openness” outlined above. It refers to an ongoing analytics process that encompasses diversity at all four dimensions of the learning analytics reference model." All very good. But does the platform exist? It doesn't seem to. And the core question here is whether people care enough about learning analytics (I know I don't) to build such an open platform.

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Categorías: General

Choral Explanations and OER: A Summary of Thinking to Date

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Sept 18, 2016

I missed this when it came out in July but happily quality bubbles to the surface more than once. This is a terrific article from Michael Caulfield on the topic of 'choral explanations'. Here's the idea: creating a single and authoritative explanation of complex topics is difficult and expensive. It's also not necessary; people benefit from having a variety of different versions to choose from. Think Stack Exchange as compared to Wikipedia. So instead of thinking of a textbook as a single authoritative explanation of a concept, think of it as a backbone or skeleton from which to hang these individual contributions. This is a long read, so set aside some time. But make the time; the future of open online learning looks a lot more like this than it does the traditional text or encyclopedia.

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Categorías: General

Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Bruce Schneier, Lawfare, Sept 18, 2016

We need to be prepared for the day the basic internet infrastructure stops working. Because it will, sooner later - maybe for a minute, maybe for a month. How do we communicate with each other without domain name services? How to we engage in commerce without certification and security? "It feels," says Bruce Schneier, "like a nation's military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar." This has been going on for several months. Via Metafilter. Image: Buyvm.

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Categorías: General

Institutions And Openness

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


noreply@blogger.com (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Sept 18, 2016

People do not value education not because we have educational institutions. Rather, we have educational institutions because people value education. And educational institutions are only one of many ways people support their own education, because what people value is the education, not the institution. The people inside educational institutions often miss that point. We need policies that support education (or, more broadly construed, knowledge and learning). Because these are the things that are valued. And because people value education (and knowledge and learning), I believe they will value open access - indeed, that they have shown this to be the case - even though educational institutions do not. Institutional change, in this context, is about saving the institution. But if the institutions don't change, culture will find another way. It always has.

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Categorías: General

Learning Knowledge and Skills for Agriculture and Rural Livelihood

OLDaily - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 21:06


Anna Robinson-Pant, UNESCO, Sept 18, 2016

Food for thought. "Young people arrange their learning, livelihoods and social practices according to their needs, lifestyles, traditions and evolving environments. Future farmers learn from their parents and role models. Even with limited literacy skills, young people find ways to benefit from mobile phones to obtain information that they need. When it comes to knowledge and skills for agriculture and rural livelihoods, for many of these young people, schooling plays a relatively minor role. Rather it is valued as a means to pave the way for employment in the formal sector, and to develop their social status and image." 144 page PDF.

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Categorías: General

7 ideas para un compromiso por la educación. 2. Una laicidad ecuménica

Cuaderno de campo - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 13:04
Publicado en El Diario de la Educación
Ya sé que, para muchos lectores, la expresión que da título a este texto es, sin más, un oxímoron, una combinación imposible. No es extraño, pues, por un lado, son legión quienes creen que la laicidad tiene que excluir la religión, especialmente aquellos que se proclaman laicistas, mientras que el ecumenismo se identifica hoy con la idea de la restauración de la unidad de los cristianos, al menos entre ellos. Sin embargo, las palabras no son del último que las usa, ni de quien lo hace más alto. El origen de la palabra laicoestá en el griego λαϊκός (laikós), a su vez derivado de la raíz λαός (laós), que designa lo común,  que pertenece al pueblo, a todos, a diferencia de lo que pertenece a cualquier grupo diferenciado dentro del mismo; fue en la Edad Media cuando comenzó a utilizarse en contraposición a clérigo o clerical, para designar lo que no era tal, y sólo en la mucho después pasó a designar una política de más o menos estricta separación, sobre todo en referencia al Estado y a la escuela.A su vez, el adjetivo ecuménico viene marcado por el anhelo de restaurar la unidad entre las hoy separadas confesiones procedentes del tronco común cristiano (católicos, protestantes, anglicanos, ortodoxos y otras menores), sin alcanzar siquiera a las grandes religiones emparentadas como el judaísmo o el islam, por no hablar de otras, pero el sentido original del término también fue más amplio, el vocablo griego οἰκουμένη (oikoumenē), el mundo habitado, que los romanos retomaron para designar la totalidad de sus dominios; por eso la definición que da la RAE es, sencillamente, “universal, que se extiende a todo el orbe”. Si se asume esa ambivalencia, entre lo universal per se y la reunificación del cristianismo, quedan en medio, incluidas por tanto, las otras religiones, abrahámicas o no, y, al mismo título, la no religiosidad, es decir, al ateísmo y el agnosticismo en todas sus formas.Entendida como la afirmación de lo común, la laicidad no necesita excluir ni ignorar las religiones, sino tan solo discurrir en paralelo a ellas, que por obra de la historia no son comunes; no necesita, en particular, combatir la religión ni tratarla como sinónimo de sinrazón; puede ser una laicidad tolerante, abierta, respetuosa e incluso hospitalaria y colaborativa, es decir, ecuménica. La religión, por su parte, tampoco necesita tratar a los otros creyentes ni a los no creyentes como infieles o pecadores; bien al contrario, puede incluirlos en su vocación ecuménica, yendo más allá de las doctrinas diferenciadas a los elementos comunes de la moral; filósofos de origen tan distinto como A. Schaff o J.G. Caffarena confluyeron en la idea de un humanismo ecuménico.En España, por desgracia, está demasiado presente la implicación de la religión y la antirreligión en los conflictos sociales, sobre todo en la pasada guerra civil. Cada parte tiene su propio catálogo de agravios, pero ya va siendo hora de dejar atrás tanto los ataques anarcocomunistas a los templos como la bendición del alzamiento franquista por la jerarquía católica. Ya hemos tenido suficiente de eso como para que, cada vez que se discute sobre laicidad, religión, etc., se rememoren los viejos agravios, pues, como resumió Ruiz de Alarcón, el agravio busca siempre venganza.¿Es posible un compromiso? Me atrevo a decir que lo es, sin ningún género de dudas, y eso es lo que trato de resumir en la fórmula de la laicidad ecuménica. La escuela, no importa su titularidad ni su orientación, es en todo caso una institución que debe, en parte, servir a los intereses generales, sobre todo a la convivencia. No emplearé tiempo en justificar que esto significa laicidad, entendida como un énfasis en lo común. Por lo tanto, las creencias, incluidas las religiones y sus negaciones, deben quedar fuera del núcleo institucional, entendiendo por tal el currículum, la evaluación y el horario correspondiente. De no ser así, cada escuela confesional excluiría de derecho o de hecho a los alumnos de otras confesiones, incurriría cuando menos en un sesgo adoctrinador y no podría ser el microcosmos de la sociedad que, como institución pública, debe ser. En el caso español, esto requiere la revisión del Concordato con la Santa Sede (en cualquier caso, que un currículum nacional se vea determinado por un tratado internacional con un miniestado tan peculiar resulta algo estrafalario). Pero esto no quiere decir que la religión salga fuera de la escuela.El objetivo laicista de separar estrictamente escuela y religión deriva de la identificación de la primera con la enseñanza y de la segunda con el adoctrinamiento; y las dos ecuaciones son verdad, pero sólo parte de la verdad, pues la escuela es más que la enseñanza y el conocimiento de la religión no sirve solo al adoctrinamiento. Al propugnar el sacerdocio universal, la reforma protestante sentó las bases para la privatización de la religión y, a pesar de una primera proliferación de iglesias nacionales, identificadas con las monarquías de turno, para la separación entre la iglesia y el estado. El ideal educativo laicista, identificable con la école unique de la III República francesa, ha sido siempre la estricta evacuación de la religión de las instituciones públicas. Hay y ha habido otras versiones de la laicidad, como la resignada neutralidad norteamericana o el anticlericalismo de los regímenes comunistas, pero el laicismo español bebe sobre todo de la primera fuente (con aromas de la tercera). La idea pudo ser muy razonable en la Francia republicana hostigada por el legitimismo, pero el mundo actual es otro. Cuando escribo esto, Francia vive consternada por los atentados yihadistas de sus propios ciudadanos, mantiene el nivel de alerta máximo e interviene en la guerra contra DAESH en Siria. Se pueden discutir los detalles, pero parece claro que el proyecto de reducir la religión a una actividad privada ha fracasado.En el mundo actual, en el que la religión es el motivo proclamado del principal conflicto internacional, al menos para el bando que tiene la iniciativa, línea de fractura de numerosas contiendas civiles (Yugoslavia, Chechenia, Líbano, Somalia, Sudán, Nigeria…, sin olvidar Irlanda del Norte) y un poderoso elemento de movilización terrorista en Europa, Asia y África, parece difícil de justificar que la escuela se mantenga al margen. La respuesta más elemental es que las grandes religiones, en las dosis y las formas adecuadas, sean objeto de estudio en las aulas. No discutiré aquí cómo, en qué dosis, con qué estatus curricular, a qué edad, etc., básicamente porque queda más allá de mi competencia, pero sí diré que la enseñanza sobre las religiones ha de versar sobre los hechos religiosos, y que al decir tal no me refiero ni a sus blasones (eso queda para sus propias actividades educativas) ni a sus baldones (eso, si es relevante, queda para la historia y las ciencias sociales), sino a lo que ellas mismas dicen de sí y, de acuerdo con ello, hacen: creencias, ritos, tabúes... Esta es la base de la comprensión, la tolerancia y el respeto mutuos, a la vez que probablemente el mejor antídoto contra el adoctrinamiento excluyente.Por otra parte, la escuela es mucho más que la enseñanza. En particular, por más que esta idea pueda desagradar a muchos profesores poco seguros de su función, es la institución encargada parcialmente de la custodia de los menores. Esto hace que, además de la enseñanza propiamente dicha, albergue toda otra serie de actividades que combinan en distintas proporciones las funciones de cuidado y formación, incluidas muchas para las que simplemente aporta un recinto seguro y que son gestionadas por otras instituciones (p.e. municipales), por asociaciones (p.e. ONG), por las familias o por los propios alumnos. Aquí puede encajar perfectamente, en todas las instituciones escolares, la formación confesional: en el recinto escolar, al amparo de la escuela y cercana al horario escolar aunque, como ya he dicho, fuera de este horario, del currículum oficial y de la evaluación, y para los alumnos cuyas familias así lo elijan (o, a partir de cierta edad, si ellos mismos lo hacen). Anticipo decenas de objeciones laicistas y de protestas confesionalistas, pues para los militantes de ambos bandos esto sería rendirse al otro, pero, a reserva de ser afinada, me parece una buena base para un compromiso ampliamente mayoritario.¿Por qué iba una escuela pública-estatal a aceptar la formación religiosa? Primero porque, en las condiciones propuestas, es difícil imaginar qué se gana con no hacerlo, es decir, con forzar a alumnos y familias a obtenerla fuera. Segundo, porque, hablando de menores, albergar la formación religiosa en el mismo recinto escolar es reducir los riesgos, la polución atmosférica y el tiempo de traslado de alumnos y progenitores asociados a no hacerlo. Tercero, porque resulta difícil justificar que los centros puedan albergar cerámica, fútbol, taekwondo, manga o cualquier otra actividad extraescolar pero no la formación religiosa que muchas personas consideran irrenunciable. Cuarto, porque, cuando la religión se ha convertido en combustible para conflictos a menudo violentos y algunas religiones, o algunos de sus seguidores, apuestan por llevarlas a la política, traerlas al espacio escolar es ganar transparencia para todos y apertura para sus pupilos. Quinto, porque eso daría satisfacción suficiente al art. 27.2 de la Constitución Española: "Los poderes públicos garantizan el derecho que asiste a los padres para que sus hijos reciban la formación religiosa y moral que esté de acuerdo con sus propias convicciones".¿Por qué iba la escuela concertada o privada a aceptar separar la formación religiosa de la enseñanza reglada? Si no falta quien vocifera o incluso quien mata por motivos religiosos, no cabe esperar que todo el mundo esté de acuerdo, pero son muchos los centros de origen o de adscripción religiosa que ya respetan las distintas distintas y que apenas dan una formación religiosa de baja intensidad, y no son pocos los que se declaran laicos o aconfesionales. Una fe sincera difícilmente puede conjugarse con la imposición o con la exclusión activa del conocimiento de otras creencias. En todo caso, para las escuelas privadas y concertadas sería una mala estrategia guiarse por las solas opiniones de sus titulares, siendo mucho más prudente atender a las preferencias de su público, que en cada caso está formado por cientos de familias, y estas confluirán siempre más fácilmente en fórmulas que se muestren capaces de integrar distintas sensibilidades.
                                                 
Categorías: General

Thoughts on “Digital divide 4.0” – Part Four: How to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning?

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 12:23

With my three latest posts I have presented reflections on “Digital Divide 4.0” (regarding the concept, see the first post). These reflections have been inspired by recent experiences with fieldwork for our ongoing EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project and in particular with its key product the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my second post I discussed, how this concept reflects the initial difficulties of our project work in the construction sector training centre Bau-ABC.

In this post I shift the emphasis to another part of the German vocational education and training (VET) system – to vocational schools. This is partly triggered by a recent working meeting with a vocational school teacher, who wondered, why their school was not included into our project.  Indeed, for us in ITB and in the training centre Bau-ABC it is a key issue, how to bridge gaps between formal and informal learning when developing workplace-based learning. In my short answer I referred to the funding priorities that emphasised strongly the promotion of informal learning (and SMEs as target groups). In order to understand this it is useful to look back at the development of earlier policies to promote e-Learning or Technology-Enhanced Learning (on the one hand) and initiatives to promote professional development of teachers and trainers in VET (on the other hand). Yet, we need to ask, why the conceptual gap between parallel earlier policies and initiatives has remained. Moreover, we should reflect, how our work in the LL project could help to bridge the gaps.

Background: Earlier e-Learning as ‘alternative’ for institutionalised education and training

Looking back at the educational initiatives in 1980s and 1990s there was a gradual movement in efforts to create new opportunities for open learning. This was reflected in the terminology – ‘remote learning’, ‘distance learning’, ‘open distance learning (ODL)’, ‘blended learning’ – all these referred to different steps and measures to open access to education and learning. Suddenly, at the end of 1990s and at the brink of the ‘New Millennium’ there was a great hype on ‘eLearning‘. In the newer initiatives there was a clear tendency to push the institutionalised education (and the adult education movement) aside. Some protagonists tried to bring forward private providers and new ‘career spaces’ via commercial eLearning programs as the innovation leaders. This was reflected in the separate European funding opportunities for e-Learning of that time. However, concerning the projects on the uses of e-Learning by work organisations, I remember that they concluded that the take on eLearning provisions was low. Instead, wider European surveys – like the the ones of the project “ICT and SMEs” – provided valuable information on the ways that SMEs actually used to support (organisational) learning.

Shift of emphasis: Teachers and trainers in VET as ‘key actors for lifelong learning’

Whilst the above mentioned developments emerged from fringe areas in education and training policies, the next wave – the follow-up of the EU Lisbon Summit 2000 – was part of an overarching development of EU policies. In the field of education and training this took shape firstly in the European Commission strategy document Education and Training 2010 and the aim was to promote a digital learning culture to support global competitiveness of European economy. In the first phase this follow-up was promoted by European working groups and supported by commissioned follow-up studies. In particular the follow-up study for the Maastricht meeting in 2004 drew attention that the engagement of teachers and trainers (notably in vocational education and training (VET) was lagging behind regarding the promotion of digital learning culture.

This gave rise for the European Commission to introduce new initiatives to stimulate trans-national cooperation and European exchanges with different formats: the Eurotrainer surveys, the TTplus framework project, the network ‘Trainers in Europe’, the policy-makers’ Peer Learning seminars and the Europe-wide series of ‘regional’ consultation seminars for different stakeholder groups. Altogether these measures increased the European knowledge basis on VET teacher education and training of trainers across Europe. However, these activities did not provide a basis for common qualification frameworks – instead they recommended the continuation of such participative dialogue forums with emphasis on learning lessons from recent innovations.

Another shift of emphasis: Focus on digital media and mobile technologies to support informal learning

In the meantime the development of web technologies and the spread of mobile devices had given new impulses for technology-enhanced learning. This became manifest in the wider use of online learning platforms, e-portfolios and open educational resources (OER). Now, there was less talk of sidelining the educational establishments but promoting specific initiatives (the networks of open universities) or by joint services (for consortia of member universities). Parallel to this there was a need to explore, how new forms of online learning could be promoted in working life, in particular in such occupations that were characterised by SMEs (and not catered for by university-industry alliances). Partly, the newer policy priorities were looking for genuinely work- and organisation-based modes of (informal) learning, partly for ways to reduce training costs by promoting flexible learning alongside work.

The experience with Learning Layers: The role of trainers and facilitators as change agents

In my two previous posts I have discussed the issue ‘digital divide’ in its current forms (“Digital divide 4.0”) in general and in the light of our fieldwork in the Learning Layers project. Also, I have given insights, how we have made progress with our application partners in the construction sector training centre Bau-ABC and in the network for ecological construction work (NNB). In both cases we have not relied on stand-alone tools or self-learning of practitioners (with the help of online tutorials). With the Learning Toolbox we have managed to develop – in a co-design process with the users – an integrative toolset that meets several basic needs and is easy to expand by the users themselves. Also, we have trained the pioneering users in joint learning sessions to work as peer tutors and mentors in their own communites and networks. However, the wider use has always been dependent on the interest of new users (and anticipation of practical benefits for them). Here, the success factor is to introduce Learning Toolbox as one instrument to promote knowledge sharing, coordination of tasks and real-time communication – and in this way work-related and organisational learning.

Follow-up: What role for teachers and trainers in promoting digital agenda in vocational education?

In the light of the above we (the partners working with the construction pilot of the LL project) have good reasons to consider, what role could teachers in vocational schools play in the follow-up phase. In the German dual system there is a constant challenge to improve cooperation between the fundamental learning venues: enterprise (workplace and the intermediate training centre) and school. In this respect the Learning Toolbox will offer new prospects. Also, the new importance of European mobility schemes (training of apprentices from Spain, Greece etc. in Germany) and the integration schemes for refugees provide new challenges for teachers and trainers in VET. Here, we believe that the introduction of Learning Toolbox could help different parties work together. I will get back to these issues soon.

More blogs to come …

Who are the founding fathers of distance education?

Tony Bates - 18 Septiembre, 2016 - 05:42

Steve Wheeler’s interview: click on the image to see the video

Steve Wheeler interviewed three old guys, Michael Moore, Sir John Daniel and myself, at the EDEN conference in Budapest this summer, and has posted the video under the title of ‘Learn from three founding fathers of distance education‘.

While it’s very gracious of Steve to lump me in with Sir John and Michael, who have certainly been major movers and shakers in distance education, I don’t think any of us would claim to be a founding father. Although we are all very old, distance education existed long before any of us got involved in it.

So let’s play a little game: who do you think are the fathers (or mothers) of distance education?

I’ll start off by supplying my list and I will be asking Sir John and Michael to add theirs.

1. Isaac Pitman

Pitman as a younger man

An authority no less than Wikipedia states:

The first distance education course in the modern sense was provided by Sir Isaac Pitman in the 1840s, who taught a system of shorthand by mailing texts transcribed into shorthand on postcards and receiving transcriptions from his students in return for correction. The element of student feedback was a crucial innovation of Pitman’s system. This scheme was made possible by the introduction of uniform postage rates across England in 1840.

In fact, Wikipedia has a pretty good description of the history of distance education, and my second choice is also highlighted in the same Wikipedia entry.

2. The University of London External Program

I am a proud alumnus of the University of London, having done my doctorate in educational administration at the University of London Institute of Education (recently merged with University College London).

Wikipedia states:

The University of London was the first university to offer distance learning degrees, establishing its External Programme in 1828….the External Programme was chartered by Queen Victoria in 1858, making the University of London the first university to offer distance learning degrees to students……This program is now known as the University of London International Programme and includes Postgraduate, Undergraduate and Diploma degrees created by colleges such as the London School of Economics, Royal Holloway and Goldsmiths.

Unfortunately I have no knowledge of the individuals who originally created the University of London External Programme back in 1828. It’s a worthy research project for anyone interested in the history of distance education.

I was once (mid-1960s) a correspondence tutor for students taking undergraduate psychology courses in the External Programme. In those days, the university would publish a curriculum (a list of topics) and provide a reading list. Students could sit an exam when they felt they were ready. Students paid tutors such as myself to help them with their studies. I would find old exam papers for the course, and set questions for individual students, and they would send me their answers and I would mark them. Many students were in British Commonwealth countries and it could take weeks after students sent in their essays before my feedback eventually got back to them. Not surprisingly, in those days completion rates in the programme were very low.

The programme today is completely different,using a combination of study materials and online learning resources designed to foster active learning. There are even university-approved local tutors in many countries around the world. The program has more than 50,000 students enrolled.

Note though that teaching and examining in the original Extension Programme were disaggregated (those teaching it were different from those examining it), contract tutors separate from the main faculty were used, and students studied individually and took exams when ready. So many of the ‘new’ developments in distance education such as disaggregation, self-directed learning, and many of the elements of competency-based learning are in fact over 150 years old.

3. Chuck Wedemeyer

In the fall of 1969, I joined the first staff of the Open University, working in offices in an old Georgian building in Belgrave Square, central London. I knew nothing about distance education (I was hired as a researcher) and was advised to go to a talk being given by a slight, stooped American. His name was Chuck Wedemeyer and he was the first to develop a modern pedagogy that was unique to distance education. Here’s an extract from the Mildred and Charles A. Wedemeyer Award site. (I had the honour of sharing the award with Michael Moore in 1995.)

Charles Wedemeyer, W.H. Lighty Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is considered a father of modern distance education.

An enthusiastic instructor, in the early 1930’s Wedemeyer used the University of Wisconsin’s radio station to broadcast English lessons and expand access for those otherwise excluded from the education system. As a World War II naval instructor he created effective teaching methods for thousands of sailors deployed around the world.

As Director of the University of Wisconsin’s Correspondence Study Program (1954-1964) Wedemeyer and his graduate students initiated a number of research projects on learning theory and the sociology of independent learners. The work advanced a new discipline in the field of education by integrating adult, distance, open and independent learning with instructional systems design, and applications of instructional technology, organizational development, and evaluation.

In 1965, Wedemeyer predicted today’s e-Learning:

“…the extension student of the future will probably not ‘attend’ classes; rather, the opportunities and processes of learning will come to him. He will learn at home, at the office, on the job, in the factory, store, or salesroom, or on the farm.”

“…the teacher will reach students not only in his own state or region but nationally as well, since the media and methods employed by him in teaching will remove barriers of space and time in learning…”

Charles A. Wedemeyer, 1965/1966,
Brandenburg Memorial Essays

4. Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee

Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1976. Jennie Lee was Minister for the Arts in Wilson’s 1964-1970 Labour government. Between them they were responsible for creating the U.K. Open University.

It may seem odd to credit politicians for the development of distance education, but the Open University was first and foremost a political idea based on opening up higher education to all (it was after all a Socialist government that created it). It was initially hotly opposed by the Conservative Party (one of its senior shadow ministers called it ‘blithering nonsense’), although when Mrs. Thatcher came to power in 1970, she was less hostile and eventually supported it (it fitted nicely with her self-made philosophy – she had taken a University of London External Degree programme).

Harold Wilson had the vision (originally a ‘University of the Air’) and Jennie Lee had the political smarts to drive through all the legislation and planning and ensured that it would be created as a quality university that would strive for the highest standards of teaching and research.

Jennie Lee at the Open University

5. Sir Walter Perry

Left to right: Mary Wilson, Sam Crooks, Walter Perry, Harold Wilson: they are looking at the OU’s course texts

I could have included Sir Walter with Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee, but as the founding Vice-Chancellor of the U.K. Open University Walter Perry more than anyone really created the U.K. Open University as it came to be recognised. He never wavered from the vision, and was adamant about establishing the highest possible academic standards for OU courses and programs, but he was also the ultimate pragmatist, able to get things done and make it work.

He had to negotiate with sometimes hostile governments and uncomprehending civil servants (one top bureaucrat questioned the OU’s first budget, asking where the cost of lecture halls was). Perry also had to establish a practical and mutually beneficial relationship with the BBC, and persuade the traditional universities not only to support the OU but also to collaborate with it (the OU made heavy use of contracted faculty from the regular institutions to create its courses).

He also had to work with an unwieldy Senate that included every faculty member and all the regional staff tutors and counsellors. (A visiting American university President said to him after a particularly frustrating Senate meeting: ‘Walt, you have the perfect university: no students.’ Perry replied: ‘ Aye, and it would be a bloody site better if there were no faculty, either.’)

Perry’s ultimate achievement was to get distance education recognised as a high standard, cost-effective, and academically valid way of teaching and learning.

Over to you

That’s my list. There are many others I could have included from Jesus Christ for his Epistles to the Corinthians to J.C. Stobart, who first introduced educational radio broadcasting (accompanied by broadcast notes published with The Radio Times) at the BBC in 1924, or those who set up the University of South Africa in 1945.

Who would be on your list of founding fathers?

(Remember, the statement used by Steve Wheeler was ‘fathers of distance education’, not online learning. Should those who developed the first online courses and programs be considered separately?)

So please send in your nominations, with your rationale.

Thoughts on “Digital divide 4.0” – Part Three: Discussions on the use of Learning Toolbox at construction sites

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 17 Septiembre, 2016 - 18:11

With my two latest posts I have presented reflections on “Digital Divide 4.0” (regarding the concept, see the first post ). These reflections have been inspired by recent experiences with fieldwork for our ongoing EU-funded Learning Layers (LL) project and in particular with its key product the Learning Toolbox (LTB). In my previous post I discussed, how this concept reflects the initial difficulties of our project work in the construction sector training centre Bau-ABC – and how our collaboration helped the trainers to become innovation leaders with LTB. In this post I shift the emphasis to our other application partners – the network for ecological construction work (Netzwerk Nachhaltiges Bauen – NNB) and craft trade companies in building and construction.

Revisiting the Learning Toolbox Workshop with craft trade companies (8.9.2016)

One week ago  ITB organised a workshop on Learning Toolbox in which Thomas Isselhard from NNB presented, how he has started using the Toolbox and representatives of craft trade companies from Bremen region discussed, what benefits the Toolbox could bring to them. In my earlier blog post I have already reported of this event on the basis of my first impressions. Now I have had the chance to revisit this experience when editing the video material from the event. In particular I have been inspired by the way Thomas Isselhard has explained, how he has overcome his own doubts about ‘yet another tool’ and how he has been able to introduce the Toolbox as a joint instrument for coordinating the work and sharing information in real time.

Using the Toolbox to manage a construction site in Verden – challenges and possibilities

Looking again at the video material on Thomas Isselhard’s presentation it strikes me, how many points he makes on the transition phase: “Why should I start using the Toolbox and what could it bring to me/us in charge of construction sites?”. He starts with the simple things to be coordinated with the help of the Toolbox – lists of contractors and partners as well as the distribution of tasks between different parties. He gives insights into difficulties in coping with changing plans and versions of plans in the traditional way – with paper documents and communication via phone calls and e-mails. In this way we get an insight into the advantages of real-time communication, coordinated version management and notification of changes – all enabled via Learning Toolbox. (See below the edited short video on Thomas Isselhard’s presentation – in German but with subtitles in English):

Getting used to working with the Toolbox – starting with simple steps that make sense

In the other video Thomas Isselhard discusses with Werner Müller (ITB) and Gilbert Peffer (CIMNE), how to get other actors interested in using the Toolbox. Thomas emphasised how they started in their own organisation – by simple content tiles and by replicating the standard processes and the filing systems that they were used to (even using the same colours for same contents). In the network for ecological construction work he addressed the young professionals in the partner organisations to get them working as the pioneers for introducing the Toolbox. When starting a cooperation with a contractor on a construction site Thomas links the introduction of the Toolbox to the instruction to the task (uploading with a QR-code) In this context he explains, how the Toolbox can be used to follow the updates of the plans and to give feedback on the progress with the contractor’s work. Whilst the use of Toolbox has been introduced as a service provided by the planners (architects, construction site managers), the real benefit lies in the interactive use of all parties involved. (See below the edited short video on the discussion – in German but with subtitles in English):

Concluding remarks

I guess this is enough of this part of the workshop and on the videos on Thomas’ presentation and the immediate discussion. Whilst the previous post looked at a lengthy co-design, preparation and deployment process (in Bau-ABC), these samples give insights into a quick transition into active use. Also, it is interesting to see, how Thomas is able to demonstrate the smooth entry to using Toolbox and the benefits it can offer in the day-to-day cooperation in construction work. (This was taken up in the further discussion in the workshop but I need to have a fresh look at the video recordings before continuing my reporting on that part.) In the meantime I will discuss the role of vocational school teachers as potential users and promoters of the Learning Toolbox.

More blogs to come … 

 

A Design for Learning

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 16 Septiembre, 2016 - 17:54

A design for learning? Learning experiences for the post-digital world from Peter Bryant

“We learn through experience; the abstract can only take us so far” says Peter Bryant from London School of Economics in the blog entry accompanying this presentation.  “Whether it is environmental, tactile, mental, affective, emotional or physical, learning experiences are the context in which learning and knowledge come together. Learning experiences are the art and design component of curriculum development.”

Working Places and Learning Spaces (Part 2)

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 16 Septiembre, 2016 - 17:29

Below is part two of my series on Working Places and Learning Spaces. Meanwhile Angela Rees, Steve Wheeler and Colin Milligan have both produced their own photos and reflections on their learning spaces. Feel free to join in. You can find the original idea for the meme here.

With new technologies, many conversations take place today over the internet. And those technologies help us develop and curate Personal Learning Networks. Yet face to face conversations can be more animated informal and allow wider ranging conversations. It is notable that many people say the best learning at conferences and meetings take place in the coffee breaks and in the evenings.

Sometimes I contact people in advance to meet up for a chat. Other times such meetings happen by chance. Sometimes meetings are with friends I have met and worked with before, sometimes with more distant contacts. And sometimes they are with friends and family.

This picture is of me with Jose Luis Garcia, a professor from the Complutense University of Madrid. I have worked with him on projects in the past, he is my girlfriends father and a good friend. The working space was simply my living room in Valencia. We had dinner together and afterwards were talking. I told him I was interested in learning spaces and explained the background to the Institute of Education’s project which kicked off a wide ranging discussion which went on late into the night. He told me about his interest in the idea of ‘mobilities’ which he saw as similar to spaces.

I wrote a series of notes – on the back of an envelope. Technology often gets in the way of conversations like this –the only problem with hand written notes being my terrible handwriting.

Learning like this happens in informal spaces – bars, restaurants, coffee houses and so on. With one friend and colleague we have on a number of occasions organised walks. We walk and talk – stop at a bar and make notes and then walk and talk again. But more often such conversations are more serendipitous than planned.

The photo is a selfie. There was no-one else present to take the photo and I wanted both of us in that. The photo does not show much of the space we are in – and that is the point –it really does not matter as long as we are have a space in which we are both comfortable.

 

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