New Generation Learning Conference, Dalarna University 2012

February 28, 2012

The NGL Conference came to an end on Thursday with some final presentations and a closing debate.

Rosamund Sutherland and Ton de Jon were the main presenters on the day. One subject that Rosamund Sutherland and many others took up was that of the digital tools that are used during instruction and the importance of using them in the correct way.

“Developing these in a professional manner is key… Many teachers don’t actually know how they should use the tools,” stated Rosamund Sutherland.

Lots to gain from using digital equipment

That there is a lot to gain from using digital equipment is clear to Rosamund. In her main subject area, mathematics, digital equipment is not used as much as it is in many other subjects.

“It has a great potential that is not being made best use of in England.”

Commercialisation

There were many positive thoughts about online learning at the NGL Conference. However, there was also an element of criticism. In the final discussion, the commercial aspect of digitalised learning was brought up and the risk of companies developing software that is not even necessary and that costs upon purchase and then as a result of future support services.

Andrew Casson, Director of Education and Research at Dalarna University, stated that staff must be educated so that they are able to identify what is required and consequently avoid making the mistake of purchasing unnecessary software.

Terry Andersson felt that the purchase of commercial products was a natural development.

“Previously, we have invested a great deal of money in, for example, libraries. This is a natural process. It’s business, and it will continue to be business,” he stated.

I was interviewed by Alastair Creeland on my paper on the use of learning platforms. You can hear it at http://audioboo.fm/boos/679211-ngl-2012-albin-wallace

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8th ICE CONFERENCE 2012

January 25, 2012

I have been fortunate to be invited to speak at the  8th International Conference on Eduction CONFERENCE 2012 on Samos Island Greece, July 05-07, 2012

The Conference will build on the success of the previous ICE 2010 and ICE 2011 Conferences, which were held in Samos.

8th ICE SAMOS 2012 aims to facilitate the discussion on the problems of education internationally providing a forum for scientific debate and constructive interaction in a multi cultural social environment. The conference provides a platform for scientists and teachers and researchers to present their work; to exchange knowledge, ideas and experience and to identify and discuss the challenges and solutions to existing problems worldwide known in education.

Ph.D candidates are explicitly invited to present and discuss their research ideas and work in progress.

A bridge between the East and the West for centuries, Samos is located in the heart of Aegean Sea, where you’ll find a harmonious blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture along with fascinating beaches and sea.

The 7th ICE Conference was a great success proving it is still the must attend Conference of the year in this field.

I am looking forward to meeting some of you in Samos in July at what promises to be a most stimulating and enjoyable event!


Next Generation Learning Conference 2012

November 14, 2011

I was pleased to be invited to speak at the “Next Generation Learning Conference ” in Falun, Sweden in 2012.

The conference is being hosted by Dalarna University in collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and is a Nordic conference on the implications for learning and education of the digital revolution. The conference is aimed at development and research projects on NGL in both educational and professional settings.

Next Generation Learning Conference include, but is not limited to, the following topics:

  • Mobility and learning
  • Self-paced learning and open educational resources
  • Information-tools and knowledge processes
  • New knowledge processes within the working life
  • Web-based higher education
  • Collaborative learning
  • Learning environments and the modern school

You can read more detailed descriptions of each topic on their respective page at http://www.du.se/en/NGL/Next-Generation-Learning-Conference-2012/



ELSE Conference in Bucharest, Romania

October 13, 2011

I have had my paper on an analysis of national patterns of learning platform use by students in schools and academies accepted for the  8th International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education, Bucharest Romania,  April, 26th – 27th, 2012. Conference details are at http://elseconference.eu/. I hope to see some of you there.


An analysis of national patterns of learning platform use in schools

June 22, 2011

The United Church Schools Trust and the United Learning Trust comprise a national group of 12 independent schools and 17 academies across a wide range of geographic and demographic areas of England. In 2008, the decision to implement a learning platform (also known as a Virtual Learning Environment or VLE) across the group was made. Although a fully supported technical solution was provided along with a sustained programme of continuous professional development, the decision as to how the learning platform was to be used was owned by each individual school and academy according to its own priorities.

The learning platform chosen was itslearning©, developed in Bergen University College in Norway and now adopted across a wide range of educational establishments. As a cloud-based product, itslearning offered a number of attractive potential benefits
including:

1. Ease of use

2. Speed of implementation

3. Enhanced collaboration

4. Continuity of curriculum anywhere and anytime

5. Minimal initial investment

6. Scalability

7. Reduction of operating costs

8. Reduction of hosting costs

Now that the learning platform is embedded in many of the schools and academies with consistent, sustained usage in areas of excellence, it was decided to undertake research into how the learning platform was being used and what strategic and implementation lessons could be learned so far. A survey was consequently undertaken of 1000 students into how they used the
learning platform and what their perceptions were about it as a vehicle for teaching and learning. The survey was based on the most commonly used features of the learning platform and was conducted online using the built-in survey
tools of itslearning.

The following descriptor preceded the survey:

To help us improve itslearning in UCST schools and ULT academies, we are asking you to fill in a survey.

We are looking at ways in which itslearning can help with students’ education and to see if there is anything we can learn from the way that you use it.

We would like you to do a short survey which will not take up too much of your time. You will not need to give your
name and no-one will be able to identify you from your answers.

We would like you to do this survey so we can look at what students themselves think and do. You do not have to do it, but we hope that you will help us in this way. However, we understand if you would prefer not to take part. It is totally your choice.

The following is a list of questions that were
asked using the survey:

1.         Which school or academy do you attend?

2.         Are you a boy or a girl?

3.         Which year are you in?

4.         How often do you use itslearning?

5.         Where do you use itslearning?

6.         When do you prefer to use itslearning?

7.         Which subjects do you use it in?

8.         What do you use itslearning for?

9.         What do your teachers use itslearning for?

10.       Have you ever used itslearning on your phone?

11.       Would you like to be able to change the colour and design of itslearning?

12.       How much does itslearning help with your learning?

13.       How much do you enjoy using itslearning?

14.       How easy is itslearning to use?

15.       Do the people who look after you at home have access to itslearning?

16.       What do you like best about itslearning?

17.       For which subjects do you find itslearning most useful?

18        What things in itslearning could be made better?

Tha data analysis will take place over the summer of 2011-2012 and will be available to inform our future direction at that time. A copy of the report will also be posted here.


Action research for teachers measuring the impact of ICT

May 5, 2011

This paper is based on the guidelines available from the Becta site (www.becta.org.uk). It provides an extremely useful tool for people about to undertake Action Research. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a basic framework for reflection on classroom practice, most especially to enable study of the impact of ICT on teaching and learning. The guidelines are intended to support teachers at the planning stages of action research in the classroom. Using a structured format can enable research outcomes and findings to be shared, and can provide a research basis for subsequent planned change.

What do I need to consider to undertake action research?
Action research follows a cyclical process, and only the first cycle can be planned in advance. Thereafter, the next action research cycles depend on the evaluation phase at the end of previous cycles. Action research is often collaborative, involving planning with a colleague or colleagues. Action researchers may have a `critical friend’ or research facilitator working with them. Below is a suggested structure to help you plan and organise your research.
Keep a research journal
It is a good idea to keep a research journal, in which you can accumulate information about the progress of your work. Your journal should contain contextual information, field notes, ideas, dates, and any seemingly minor details which you feel are best recorded. They may well turn out to be important, and it is often hard to recall these things after time has elapsed.
Plan your research
Before you undertake your research, consider the following structure for planning the various stages of your research.
Title
Title of the research project.
Outline
Outline of the study in 100 words.
Timeline
Clarify the start and completion dates for the study and specify milestones in the research. Meeting times and dates can also be recorded. The timeline may well be altered as the research progresses, with the archived timelines acting as part
of your research journal data.
Contacts list
Ensure that contact details of everyone involved in the study are accessible to all. Each person on the contact list, including administrators, should have a paper copy of this document, and one person should have responsibility for updating it regularly. A `Who has Responsibility’ section can help to ensure that everyone is aware of their own role and those of other colleagues.

Research and learning
Specify how the research links into the curriculum and record some of the pre- conditions of the study. This stage of the planning records information about the `value added’ expected of the ICT employed in the research. Include a brief
description of the nature of the activity to be undertaken by teachers and learners, its intended outcomes and any anticipated difficulties.

Field notes record sheet
Standardise the recording of contextual events as the study progresses. Completed sheets can become part of the research journal and provide a basis for discussion at meetings.
Establish the purpose of the research
Key questions to ask are:
1. What is the principal aim of the research?
2. What do you envisage as the potential benefits of the research? – for teaching and learning, – for individual pupils, –
3. for your own professional development, – for the school?
4. How might the research contribute to our general understanding about the process of teaching and learning?
Formulate questions for your proposed research
It is a good idea to summarise your proposed research as a question or a short set of questions. Your research question or questions should be well focused, for example to reflect a particular issue which has arisen as part of teaching and
learning in your classroom. You might wish to research the effects of change using new hardware, software, or classroom management. Whatever the topic, formulate it as one or more questions requiring answers.
Specify the background to the project
Provide an understanding of the cultural context of the study school(s) and partner organisations. Include any conditions which you consider may affect the outcomes of change. Background information can cover:
1. the whole-school context – type of school – number of pupils on roll – number of staff – ICT provision – other relevant information.
2. the classroom context – physical characteristics of the classroom (including ICT provision) – class profile, including:
– age range – number – strengths – pupils on SEN register – other relevant information – classroom support.
3. the personal context – How did you become involved in the research project? – Why is this research important to you at this point in your career?
4. other factors.
Ethics
Have you obtained consent to undertake research? Record the response of your discussion of the research with the headteacher, senior management, governors, other colleagues and pupils.
Can you ensure that confidentiality is protected, if required? How?
Some ethical rules for school-based research:
1. Ensure that the research you propose is viable, that adequate research design has been established, and that appropriate data-collection techniques are chosen.
2. Explain as clearly as possible the aims, objectives, and methods of the research to everyone involved.
3. If using confidential documents, ensure that anonymity is maintained by eliminating any kind of material or information that could lead others to identify the subject or subjects. Pupils’ identities should not be revealed in web material published as a result of the research.
4. Ensure that you have permission from all involved before publication of any or part of the research.
5. You should be aware of the possible uses of the research findings.
6. Research should not ultimately disadvantage any group of pupils.
7. Data should be stored securely and destroyed within 18 months of the end of the study.
8. If there is joint or collaborative research, all researchers must adhere to the same set of ethical principles.
(Adapted from Hitchcock, G and Hughes, D 1989. Research and the Teacher . London: Routledge. p 201)

Setting up the research: some decisions
Before undertaking research, decide on the method of data collection, and why.
1. What data will you collect?
2. Who will you collect data from?
3. In what form will data be collected?
4. How will recording of data take place? Consider the suitability (or otherwise) of a range of research methods.
For example:
• qualitative data – case study – interview – questionnaire – documentary evidence – observation journal
• quantitative data – What will be measured? – How will data be collected? * analysis – How will data be analysed? –
At what points will analysis be undertaken?

Running the study
This checklist can help to ensure that the study is well organised before you pilot or run the research. Have you:
• obtained consent for the study?
• booked computers / ICT / computer suite?
• checked that electrical / ICT equipment is in working order?
• obtained supplies of consumables (for example, tapes)?
• checked that you are familiar with any software or hardware?
• checked that you can obtain technical support if necessary?
• produced and tested your data-collection instruments?
• kept a record of the contextual conditions existing before the study?
• checked that your study is integrated into the school’s planning?
• checked that your pupils understand your aims for the research?
• checked your own and your pupils’ aims for their learning?
• organised classroom support if necessary?
• checked that everyone involved has a timetable for the study?
• checked that everyone involved has contact details for one another?
• ensured that there is a clear storage and retrieval system for data collected?
• built time for analysis, reflection and discussion into the research timetable?
• organised a definite start and end point for data collection?
• decided who will write up the study?
• decided who will read and comment on drafts of findings?
• found a way to disseminate your findings?
• started a research journal which must be continually updated?
• set up a way to record questions which arise during the study?

Reporting your findings
The structure, content, word length and style of presentation of your findings will depend on your intended audience. For example, papers for journals or articles for magazines will be presented in a different format from book chapters or a research report. It is important to look carefully at existing publications of the kind you are trying to write, to gauge such features as the style, length, and format for your writing. The following structure outlines the presentation of a research study and its findings. The abstract may well be the last section to be written. Material for sections 2 to 6 and 10 to 12 can be collected throughout the study. For information on good practice in educational research writing see:
http://www.bera.ac.uk/writing.html

General

structure for a research report
1. Abstract
2. Background / introduction / context for the research
3. Review of relevant literature
4. Research methods
5. Findings
6. Analysis
7. Discussion
8. Conclusions
9. Summary and new directions
10. References
11. Glossary
12. Appendix

Finding the relevant literature
What existing work, including articles on research methods, relates to, or informs your study?
Compile an annotated biography of books, book chapters, articles and papers, with quotations, including page numbers.
Compile an annotated list of relevant web addresses with dates. Links provided here can help you to find relevant work:
• BUBL http://bubl.ac.uk/link/ contains a thorough list of links to journals and research for specific subjects.
• Educati on-line http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/ has a directory of papers and research.
• Educational Action Research http://www.triangle.co.uk/ a publication on action research.
• PINAKES http://www.hw.ac.uk/libWWW/irn/pinakes/pinakes.html a portal to subject-specific academic research directories.
• Social Sciences Information Gateway http://www.sosig.ac.uk/education/ .
• Teachernet http://www.teachernet.gov.uk – the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) portal for teacher information.
• T for T: Action Research by Teachers for Teachers http://194.83.41.143/TforT/ .
• TTA: Teacher Training Agency Research pages http://www.canteach.gov.uk/research/ .
• UK Higher Education & Research Libraries http://www.ex.ac.uk/library/uklibs.html .

Other sources of information
• Becta Becta Research Area http://www.becta.org.uk/research contains information on Becta’s research activities,
• Teacher Resource Exchange http://contribute.bit10.net/ teachers can submit their ideas for ICT use, and develop ideas to become full resources for use in classrooms.
• Teachers Online Project http://top.ngfl.gov.uk/ a discussion forum, where teachers can exchange views and join in collaborative projects. There is a monthly newsletter on ICT in education.
• Virtual Teacher Centre (VTC) http://vtc.ngfl.gov.uk/ links to ICT in practice across the curriculum, as well as news and updates for teachers.


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