This looks like an interesting MOOC: "Connected Courses is a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web." I recognize more than a few of the people in the staff list. I like the way it is connecting syndicated blogs, in true connectivist style. The course starts today! Here's the pre-course orientation.
Something like a MOOC has reached the grade school level in Britain. The Stephen Perse Foundation school in Cambridge, an 'independent' (ie., private) school is placing its course materials on iTunes. "The school has been building digital support materials for each subject, including video, audio, written materials and links to online resources.... From the new school year, these materials developed for this fee-paying school are being made available free online for students in the UK or anywhere else in the world." Though as observers such as Martin Owen point out, these sorts of initiatives have been around for a long time - for example here. More here.
"The teacher," writes Dave Cormier, "in most traditions, is responsible for making those desires as explicit and as clear as possible. I teach. You learn. Learning is defined by what I wish to teach." The soltion to this, he suggests, is a contract. "Come to an agreement with people about what they want to work on, how much they want to work, who’ s responsible for what and what everyone expects." In philosophy there's a long literature of social contract theories (see, for example, Rawls) but they suffer from the presumption that these are actually negotiated, as opposed to simply imposed by the person in power. Cormier's contracts are the same sort of thing: the person in power sets the terms, and the person without power complies or fails.
This seems so intuitive, and my own experiences at camp were deeply influential on me. So I want to be more like Jackie Gerstein and say "promote the idea that school should be more like camp." And there's so much about camp I love. But.... but.... at camp, relationships are primary (says the chart) but at the camps I went to, relationships were sometimes abusive and occasionally violent. "Multigenerational learning and teaching", for me, sometimes means object lessons in the politics of power. I loved the outdoors, I loved nature - and yet I spent so much of my time in it alone and afraid, hurt, crying and an outcast. Camps are not the happy-go-lucky places described here; they can sometimes be more like Lord of the Flies (so, for that matter, can school). It's easy - far to easy - to idealize things. We should focus on the experiences we want to promote, and not misleading metaphors.
OK, what is a literacy, exactly? I ask because Kathy Schrock offers a whole list of literacies, ranging from financial literacy to digital literacy to civic literacy - and then proceeds to outline some. And that's where I begin to get uncomfortable, as it seems 'literacy' on this model is really just a collection of life lessons. The 'financial literacy' section, for example, is accompanied by a graphic depicting "needs vs wants" and includes things like "saving for a goal" and "what do banks do?" (I assume 'steal your money' is not the accepted answer here). But literacy is not a set of facts, nor even a set of skills, related to a domain or discipline. Put loosely, literacy is the ability to recognize,work with and create methods and processes of the domain. Yes, you need to understand (some of) the content, but it's far more important to be able to interrogate, manipulate and manage the elements of the domain, which includes far more than just content. A definition of literacy defined in terms of content alone may as well be interchanged with propaganda, for that's all it is. Literacy goes far beyond that.
One of the consequences of an outcomes-driven competency-based education system is that it creates the risk of running through the gamut of issues surrounding metadata that characterized the development of online learning resources. This appears to be the basis for the development of LMI in Britain - labour market information. Graham Attwell describes and links to the "LMI for all" API in this presentation. This is a better approach than simply defining XML schemas, as it creates access to data that can actually be used for applications. Maybe second time around we'll get more of this right "with the intention of optimising access to, and use of, core national data sources that can be used to support individuals make better decisions about learning and work." I'd love to see something like this for Canada.
I have often described the 'Downes Theory of Education' (which is not original to me, and which is too simple to be called a theory) as follows: "To teach is to model and demonstrate; to learn is to practice and reflect." So much writing focuses on the first pair of activities; the bulk of educational literature is focused on how to teach. My focus has generally been about how to learn, but even here I have tended to focus more on practice and less on reflection. But reflection should not be overlooked; 10,000 hours of practice may produce expertise, but 10,000 hours of unreflective practice produces nothing but sore shoulders. Harold Jarche begins this important conversation. I think it's necessary to expand on the idea. A lot.
I've never been a proponent of what is sometimes called 'community source' (but which is really a closed federation posturing as though it were some sort of open source). The way it worked was, "several institutions contract together to build software for a common need, with the intent of releasing that software as open source." Fair enough. And it did address the problem of bringing together the resources needed to create such software. But there's a second problem, says Michael Feldstein: "What is the best way to plan and execute software development projects in light of the high degree of uncertainty inherent in developing any software?" Community source is difficult to manage, and nowhere nearly sufficiently agile to respond to changing needs. See eg. the interesting comment from Josh Baron: " I certainly understand the desire on the part of institutional leaders to have control over key decisions and reduce the messiness, this was my first reaction when entering the Sakai community as well, but as soon as these leaders begin to take control they can end up ruining the 'secret sauce'." See also: Kuali for-profit.
After being DG EAC's Deputy Director-General responsible for EU policies and programmes in the field of education and training for the last three years, he will now also be responsible for EU policies in the field of culture, youth and sports, and for the Creative Europe programme.
Jisc offers over 400 colleges free access to a new collection of curriculum focused e-text books through e-books for FE.
E-books for FE will be benefiting UK further education providers by offering access to additional new suite of 162 e-text books. These books will supplement over 200 other e-text books previously acquired.
The new collection has been chosen using feedback from customers to ensure the new books are of the highest possible value to their users and focus in supporting the curriculum across a variety of subjects.
E-books for FE provides further education colleges in the UK with access to a collection of e-text books on a platform that offers functionality suitable for the needs of the community. The new collection will be available to colleges free of charge for another two years from 1 September 2014 until 31 August 2016.
Catherine John, FE licensing manager of Jisc Collections, says:
“We have been working closely with our FE members to ensure that we procure content that is relevant, titles selected are based around curricula, and also the most current editions. The platform offers learners the opportunity to access content at any time and from any location allowing them to carry out their work when it suits them with is key as part of a modern learning system.
“The previous top title in e-books for FE, BTEC Level 3 National Business Student Book 1, has been accessed in over 165,000 user sessions in a single year demonstrating the value students are gaining from the content.”
E-books for FE does not only save users time and money, but also supports distance learning. Neil Prior, head of e-learning at BCA tells us:
“We find e-text books to be a valuable resource that enables us to provide 24/7 access to the awarding bodies learning resources that accompany the qualifications. To do this in the traditional manner would be vastly expensive and difficult to facilitate. The feedback from students and staff is very positive. In fact we are actively increasing our premium e-book provision on the basis that it provided far better value for money.”
For those further education providers who do not currently have access to the content that is freely offered by e-books for FE, please subscribe by placing an order at the Jisc Collections website.
Data centre and IT infrastructure specialists Onyx Group have been awarded a place on the telecommunications framework, a service from Jisc, to supply IT connectivity solutions for the UK education and research sector.
This comes just weeks after being confirmed as official cloud computing suppliers to the UK public sector through the G-Cloud 5 framework.
As experts in the connectivity field, Onyx Group were one of the first providers of business-to-business broadband in the UK upon their inception back in 1994. Onyx already possess a rich portfolio of higher education clients such as Heriot Watt and Newcastle University and are looking to expand further into the market by making their services available via the framework.
As one of only 18 companies approved by the framework in the UK, Onyx Group will now be able to offer education bodies a range of connectivity solutions in a simplified and more cost-effective way. Procured on behalf of UK education and research, companies are now able to purchase a range of connectivity services from Onyx via the framework without having to go through the lengthy procurement process.
Neil Stephenson, chief executive at Onyx Group, stated:
“Being awarded a place on the framework is testament to the high quality service delivered by our team over the last two decades.
With our network ranked in the top 1% of connected networks worldwide and powering our robust wholly-owned national infrastructure, we are perfectly placed to provide education bodies with a resilient and secure solution."
The telecommunications framework agreement enables the purchase of transmission services including leased circuits, wide area ethernet and xDSL. Billed under managed transmission, the framework may be used by higher and further education purchasing consortia, specialist colleges and research council establishments in the UK.
“Onyx Group is committed to helping research and education bodies benefit from high speed, reliable internet connectivity and the framework makes it possible for us to offer these solutions in a faster and more cost-effective manner”
“Having passed the tough and rigorous assessment process carried out by Jisc, institutions can purchase services confident that they are working with the very best.”
Steve Kennett, head of operational services, Janet: a part of Jisc, said:
“the partnership between Onyx and Jisc will continue to support our vision for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. Working with trusted partners like Onyx ensures Jisc maintains value and quality for our sector”
They bring much expertise to the strategic leadership of Jisc and are welcome additions to the Jisc board. The expertise we have on, and oversight exercised by, the board is crucial to Jisc’s governance model and the determination of our strategic direction and priorities to sustain digital advantage for UK education and research.
David, since his appointment to the University of Greenwich in 2011, has been working to ensure quality and raise standards. He is widely published on computer mapping and geographic information systems and has almost 20 years of experience of working in the IT industry, experience he will bring to Jisc in his new role. He said:
"I am very pleased to be joining Jisc at this important stage in its evolution. Jisc member organisations have much to contribute to the development of technology and are avid users of new and existing tools and technologies. I hope that I can introduce some of my experiences from the academic and commercial worlds into Jisc's strategic activities."
Anne is an internationally respected thinker on data-intensive research and the future of data curation. She has been chief information officer at the University of Oxford since 2012, having joined the university in 2005 to set up the e-Research Centre.
She has previously worked with Jisc on Neurohub a project which supported neuroscientists to efficiently and effectively use existing e-infrastructure. She said:
"I am delighted to join the Jisc board. As a community, we have been fortunate to enjoy the benefits of Jisc for over 20 years and I looking forward to working with Jisc and the board through this time of transition. We are all facing challenges in higher education institutions as we embrace digital technologies making the services of Jisc of even greater importance."
“I am very much looking forward to working with Anne and David and welcome them to Jisc. Their roles will be key in overseeing the change and continuing development of Jisc to ensure it makes its crucial contribution to the UK higher education, further education and skills sectors efficiently and effectively.”
The Networking People (TNP) and Jisc are pleased to announce TNP’s appointment to the nationwide telecommunications framework, a service from Jisc.
This will bringing innovative high-capacity connectivity to further education (FE) and higher education (HE) institutions and research organisations across the UK. This provides these organisations flexibility with access to TNP’s range of innovative and cost-effective point-to-point wide-area network solutions.
The new framework began on 20 June and runs for four years until 19 June 2018. Split into two lots – namely, managed transmission services and dark fibre – it may be used by further and higher education purchasing consortia, specialist colleges and research council establishments in the UK. The framework enables the purchase of transmission services including leased circuits, dark fibre, wide-area Ethernet and xDSL.
“We’re committed to providing our community with the best value services to suit business needs,”
said Steve Kennett, head of operational services at Janet: a part of Jisc.
“Our framework makes it possible for the research and education community to save time and money when purchasing a range of transmission services. There’s no need for customers to go through the procurement process unless they wish to run a competition between suppliers that we have shortlisted and evaluated. Imagine the time that saves.”
Chris Wade, commercial director at TNP, said:
“This agreement further demonstrates TNP’s real commitment to the public sector and to education in particular. Users of the framework will be able to benefit directly from our experience in designing, building and supporting higher education based networks. In addition to cost effective leased line solutions, TNP offers the ability for customers to own their own infrastructure, reducing operating costs and leveraging existing investment with the option of using alternative technologies.
We allow much greater flexibility and long-term sustainability, which we know is sorely needed in the education sector. We’re thrilled to have received this recognition on a national scale, validating TNP as a major player within the UK education sector.”
The Wellcome Library and Jisc today announce nine partner institutions whose holdings will be digitised and added to the UK Medical Heritage Library, an online resource for the history of medicine and related sciences.
Approximately 15 million pages of printed books and pamphlets from all ten partners will be digitised over a period of two years and will be made freely available to researchers and the public under an open licence. By pooling their collections the partners will create a comprehensive online library. The content will be available on multiple platforms to broaden access, including the Internet Archive, the Wellcome Library and Jisc Historic Books.
The project's focus is on books and pamphlets from the 19th century that are on the subject of medicine or its related disciplines. This will include works relating to the medical sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness, as well as different kinds of medical practice, from phrenology to hydrotherapy.
Works on food and nutrition will also feature: around 1400 cookery books from the University of Leeds are among those lined up for digitisation. They, along with works from the other partner institutions, will be transported to the Wellcome Library in London where a team from the Internet Archive will undertake the digitisation work. The project will build on the success of the US-based Medical Heritage Library consortium, of which the Wellcome Library is a part, which has already digitised over 50 000 books and pamphlets.
Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, said:
"We are pleased that these nine institutions have chosen to add their valuable collections to the Medical Heritage Library. As well as our partners Jisc and Research Libraries UK, we will be working closely with our Academic Advisory Group to produce an online resource that is both a repository for a superb wealth of content and an effective research tool for a broad range of users."
Peter Findlay, digital portfolio manager, Jisc, said:
"We are delighted that the Wellcome Library team has been able to identify such valuable collections, which will be digitised to a high standard, freed from the confines of their original format and made openly available for teaching, learning and research. By working closely with the partner institutions to build the UK Medical Heritage Library, we are converting books into searchable data so that users can explore every aspect of 19th-century medicine and develop new insights into this period of unprecedented medical discovery."
The UK MHL initiative started in 2013 when the Wellcome Library embarked on a project with the Internet Archive to digitise their collection of 19th-century medical books. The project was extended earlier in 2014 with the support of Jisc and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It was co-designed with Research Libraries UK and is informed by an Academic Advisory Group to ensure that the best collections are included.
For the Wellcome Library this forms part of a larger ambition to digitise and make freely available over 50 million pages of historical medical books, archives, manuscripts and journals by 2020.
In the recent article “Simulating Learning Networks in a Higher Education Blogosphere – At Scale“, Fridolin Wild and Steinn Sigurdarson introduce into a simulation model built from the iCamp trial data and educational model assumption: they wanted to see what would happen, if trials are scaled up an order of magnitude. The simulation results are [...]
One year after we succesfully went through iCamp project’s last official review, we are wirting down a new post for wellcoming a new version of our Handbook. This is the time for its Spanish version, issued by Win-Win Consultores, with the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Turism under its “avanza2” [...]
The iCamp partner AGH – the University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland, has published recently a Polish version of the iCamp handbook on how to use social software in education. Please click here to get the electronic version.
Since the iCamp experience was very successful in making use of new media for cross-cultural collaboration iCamp competes for the MEDEA Awards, respecively in the European Collaboration Award.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
We now received the final review report where our external reviewers commend us on our excellent work and our valuable contribution to European research in Technology Enhanced Learning.
Here are some quotes from the report, which can also be downloaded:
… In the opinion of the reviewers the products and outcomes of the project are of considerable [...]