Tuesday, 26 May 2009

OER, bootstrapping a culture of change

Its always heartening to hear that you have a paper accepted, especially when its by an IEEE trans!

We are really proud of the progress we are making with the EdShare repository of educational resources, and its kid sib language learning repository called Faroes. This paper is looking at organisational learning rather than the nuts and bolts of repositories. It ties in nicely with previous work we have done on barriers and drivers for change. Apart from anything else, if we are going to continue to invest in technology enhanced learning, then we had better find a way from learning on the way about the processes and sharing lessons learnt - for good and for ill!

Big thanks are due to Hugh Davis who led the insights, corralled us into order, and got this paper off the stocks. Les Carr, aka repository man as ever injects shed loads of energy into our work, and Jessie Hey (now more of a lady of leisure) really had a whole load of experience to share. But (perhaps the secret of our success?) it really was a team effort.

I wrote a little bit about the context and the background of the paper in a previous post, you may want to take a look at that, and then probably best if I point you to the actual publication.

Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources
Davis, H., Carr, L., Hey, J., Howard, Y., Millard, D., Morris, D. and White, S. (2009) Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies . (In Press)

Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS

Another part of the work which I am doing here at Southampton is concerned with professional education of our students who study Computer Science and Information Technology in Education. As well as actually doing the teaching its important to find time to develop some well considered bases for the approach which we take.

The SIGCSE community is one where the underpinning values of this part of their studies is considered. This year I am taking part in a working group which will be hosted at the annual ITiCSE conference, this year to be hosted in Paris at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6, France).

The working group is being led by Ursula Fuller and Bob Klein from The University of Kent, and it is titled Multinational perspectives on the development and assessment of professional values in CS. You can download a pdf of the original proposal here

Its one of a series of working groups at this year's conference the plan is to meet and write in the days immediately prior to the conference. Our report to the conference is scheduled for 11-11.45 on Wednesday 8th July, so its all pretty intensive.

Southampton input is coming from me and my colleague Diana Fitch who actually works in our careers service. Diana works very closely with our school. I find her help invaluable, she contributes to some of the teaching we do, hosts and organises special events for our students, as well as all the rest of her portfolio.

The group's work in progress is being supported by a group wiki. With so many thinks going on at work, its important for me to have loads of links to the background information, and we've scheduled regular meetings between Diana and myself to keep us on track.

First task is getting a survey of students experiences and beliefs. But at the same time I need to get my head round the literature, not too extensive, but all the more reason to know it back to front.

Apparently the seminal paper was developed a few years ago,

It seems to me that there is quite a lot of related reading, and a publications which have emerged following the work through. Documents which we will also be looking include:
  • The Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula. Computing Curricula 2001: Computer Science, 2001.
  • UK QAA subject benchmarking statements for Computing (2007)
  • Professional statements from the BCS and IET - both of whom accredit our degrees here at Southampton.
  • Information Technology 2008: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree programs in Information Technology http://www.acm.org//education/curricula/IT2008%20Curriculum.pdf
Other more recent papers include

  • Fuller, Ursula and Keim, Bob. Should we assess our students' attitudes? Proceedings of the Seventh Baltic Sea Conference on Computing Education Research (Koli Calling 2007), Koli National Park, Finland, November 15-18, 2007, Raymond Lister and Simon, Eds, 2008.
  • Fuller, Ursula and Bob Keim, Assessing students' practice of professional values. Proceedings of the 13th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education, Madrid, Spain, 2008, pp 88-92.
while some of the original foundations are going to have us skurrying over to the University Library ( and I know they are there because I have taken them out before!) - basically looking back to the original work on educational objectives looking at just two of the three domains - congnitive (the one we always quote) and affective (the one which comes up less often). I guess in the area of professional values I am happy to concede that the psycho-motor domain is going to be less important.
  • Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H. and Krathwohl, D.R. 1956. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook 1 Cognitive Domain. Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, London.
  • Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S. and Masia, B.B. 1964.Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. Handbook 2 Affective domain. McKay, New York.

Our work
There is a survey to be done of students attitudes and experiences, and some data to collect from employers too ( Diana's contacts are going to be very valuable here)

Overall, apart from way in which a better understanding of this area can trickle into the curriculum, there are a few external reasons why this will be important.

We want the work we do in our professional modules to be really valuable to the students. Also it relates to current developments and focus areas of eSkills, the HEA-ICS Advisory Board ( and the rest of their community) plus perhaps the CPHC-LDG.

Friday, 22 May 2009

ALT-09 Manchester - why I will be there

The thing about conferences is that you get out of them what you put in. ALT-C 2009 is in Manchester this year, and I will be attending. We have an proposal for an exciting workshop on semantic technologies in the last stages of submission (details further down this post). I don't attend every year but I do think that ALT-C is a really interesting conference which reflects the whole range of activities fostered by the learning technologies communities across the UK. I found the Fringe events last year particularly rewarding, never mind the rest of the programme.

It's useful in many different ways. The various permutations of 'this what I did in my teaching' presentations serve to remind us of the breadth and wealth of different educational activities which are undertaken in classrooms across the world. Respect too the fact that many delegates are in relatively junior roles, without any significant budget, and the only way they are going to get a place at a conference is if the are actually presenting either a paper or poster. The best way to understand a tradition, I think, is to engage in a debate which discusses that tradition. Newcomers need to be welcomed and helped understand the existing discourse.

Admittedly ALT-C is UK centric, but it does attract a growing list of international delegates many of whom go on to be regulars. Plus there is no shame in it UK focus, since it soon becomes clear that there is much happening here which is world leading. The combined impact of educational drivers and supportive funding from bodies including the JISC, the Funding Councils, and the HEA mean that much work at the leading edge is taking place right here in our backyard - UK HE plc. Never mind additional input from a host of different institutional innovation grants, and even the odd bit of funding from the likes of the ESRC and EPSRC.

Now sufficiently established to have generated its own fringe F-ALT, the event in Manchester this year it titled "In dreams begins responsibility" - choice, evidence, and change" and promises to be the usual interesting and eclectic mix. You will find me at the fringe, catchup up with old chums, and (hopefully) running this rather interesting workshop of semantic technolgies in education. If this revision is accepted you can expect us to be putting out a call for participation, we are looking for expert discussants, and workshop attendees who feel they want to join in this important new development, so if semantic technolgies for education is in your sights, read on....

ALT-09 Semantic Technologies for Education

This is a slightly expanded version of the abstract which was constrained by the word limits of ALT

ALT workshop proposal
Semantic Technologies in Education – exploring the practitioners’ perspective
This workshop will collect and share insights into current understandings and future applications of semantic technologies in education.University education is embracing Web2.0 including social networks and the read/write-web. We are aware of predictions that the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) is imminent. Researchers are developing understandings of semantic technologies, and experimenters are utilising novel Semantic Web applications.
This workshop will :
  • augment the findings of a recent JISC survey on semantic technologies in education;
  • calibrate the findings against the experience and understandings of members of the ALT community;
  • use feedback to further develop the survey’s technology roadmap.
JISC commissioned an investigation into semantic technologies in learning and teaching (SemTech) due for completion early in 2009. The SemTech Project Website summarises information about semantic technologies in education and contains an analysis of the technologies and applications thus far identified.
Following a brief overview of our investigation of semantic technologies in education the workshop will consist of structured group discussions from selected perspectives (educational, technical and organisational).

We expect participants to come from a wide range of backgrounds with varying levels of prior knowledge and expertise, and will work carefully to make the activity as productive as possible for all participants irrespective of their different needs and expectations. The workshop structure will be fine-tuned to match the particular interests of participants, who will work in groups of eight using flip charts to produce a poster for a two-minute poster pitch. A second peer review group activity will comment on each poster. A plenary session will identify next steps

Each participant in the workshop will receive a copy of the SemTech report, plus detailed activity guidance notes which they can also take away and use in their own institution. Participants will use the workshop to:
  1. establish a base level of awareness of current developments in semantic technologies and the way in which they can be used in education
  2. establish a basic understanding of current range and use of semantic technologies in education, as identified by the SemTech study
  3. identify and share knowledge of semantic technologies in UK education.
  4. comment on and add to findings in the JISC report on Semantic Technologies in Education
  5. identify colleagues at other institutions who share their interest in semantic technologies in education
  6. discuss, plan and agree future collaborations to further their interest in semantic technologies in education
A summary record of the discussion will be available to participants after the event, and will be subsequently published electronically, via the SemTech wiki and a workshop blog-post

Basic Structure – total 90 minutes
1. Welcome and Overview of method (workshop team)Individual introduction plus explanation helping participants understand the role of their contribution. 10 minutes
2. Introductions - Tables amongst themselves Tables will each have been labelled with clear flag to encourage workable set formation (see activity 5 below) 5 minutes
3. Scoping of the proposed activities and tasks (Su White)
familiarising participants with the proposed structure of the workshop). 5 minutes
4. Findings thus far/Context Hugh Davis, Sheila MacNeill, Thanassis Tiropanis. 10 minutes
5. Small group activities (table groups of ~eight participants)
Overall Question: What is our understanding of the actual and potential role of semantic technologies in education? 15 minutes
Note: Guest discussants will be allocated to help lead table discussions. These additional contributors, beyond the workshop team, are not yet formally identified they will be identified/invited through a call for participation
Groups will each be tasked with producing a flipchart poster summarising their discussion/finding. After the discussion there will be a two minute poster pitch from each group
These contributions will reflect the expertise and interests of the participants and are likely to range across the spectrum of educationally led to technically led. Groups will be encouraged/directed to form around like interest areas exact size and number of groups will depend on number of participants and the range of interests, but groups will be table sets of ~eight. Max nine groups. Groups can choose to select one of the following focus areas from three predominant perspectives of educational, technical or organisational:
Exploratory: Identifying potential benefits accrued from the introduction of semantic technologies in their teaching/institution;
Application oriented: Identifying additional technologies and applications for the survey;
Technically Led: Discussing ways of augmenting or enhancing existing applications;
Socio-Technical: Identifying and discussing use cases (e.g. semantic technologies for distance education; the international student; the work place learner;
Organisation Challenges: Identifying and discussing barriers and drivers to greater use of semantic technologies in educational activities.
Groups produce flip-chart poster summarising
• Their perspective /discussion
• Any proposed next steps/action plan

6. Small Group Feedback via Poster Pitch
Two minutes per group - Groups to display FlipCharts on wall ready for peer review. 20 minutes
7. Comment/Feedback Round – Peer Review using post it notes for annotations (each group will be allocated another group’s poster to read/discuss and review). 10 minutes
8. Plenary feedback/discussion Next Steps and Action Plan (Su White) 15 minutes

Facilitating the workshop and ensuring success
An experienced educational developer who has run many events of this type on previous occasions is leading the session facilitation.

The workshop will be advertised to the wider learning and teaching community before the ALT-C2009 conference via a range of media including direct email, the ALT-C CrowdVine, Twitter, Blogs, the SemTech Blog and personal blogs of the workshop leaders. This advertising will also be used to identify any players who have emerged as active contributors since the publication of the SemTech report, or any players who are particularly keen to participate in this area.

It is proposed that the participants will work in small groups during the discussion phase using Flipcharts and pens to capture their contributions. During the annotation phase, they will use post-it notes to add comments and observations of the findings of the other groups. We will initially capture high quality photographic images of the flip charts (before and after annotation). It may be that this information is also reprocessed into alternative digital formats if that is considered to be particularly helpful/constructive.

Throughout the workshop a pair of colleagues will act as rapporteurs for the whole process, capturing the discussions and outputs for publication on the SemTech wiki (http://wiki.semtech.ecs.soton.ac.uk) and via an ALT-C09 blog posting.

Information will be captured as images of the outputs as well as notes of the discussions with extensive linking to referred information/resources.

ALT-C 2009: "In dreams begins responsibility" - choice, evidence, and change.
8-10 September 2009, Manchester, UK.