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Was kann/soll/ist Präsenz-Universität heute?

Markusmind personal blog of Markus Diemann - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 08:10

Ich durfte den Tag der Lehre an der Zeppelin-Universität Friedrichshafen mit einer Keynote zur Frage: Was kann/soll/ist Präsenz-Universität heute? eröffnen.

Wie immer habe ich dazu ein Manuskript verfasst, das ich hier teile und mich über Kommentare freue.

Auch die Slides gibt es hier drunter, sowie einen Audio-Mitschnitt.

Viel Spaß beim Hören und Lesen.

Learning design – the long haul of institutional change

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 15:48

The latest in the seminars that I’m coordinating at the Open University was held recently. I was delighted that this one was presented by my colleague Rebecca Galley, talking about 10 Years of Learning Design at the OU. I was part of this project, building on the excellent work of Grainne Conole. Learning Design is a good example of how you implement institutional change in higher education. The project developed tools, worked with ‘friendly’ course teams, became integrated into the formal course approval process, developed standard workshop and support, refined practice, and then adapted to particular needs, eg using LD to focus on retention.

It is not easy, but we now have a uniform design process across the university, and are one of the world leaders in this approach. It has allowed us to then match analytics against designs, and to develop a common language and representation.

Rebecca talks through the approach, the successes and tensions and possible directions. What this whole project highlights for me is that change in higher education is possible (contrary to the “things haven’t changed in 100 years” trope), but it requires patience and sensitivity. Had we said 10 years ago “everyone is doing learning design now” the project would have met with resistance (it met with enough anyway, I have the scars to attest to this). That’s the price for working with academics and not robots. But by getting people on board, working to solve real problems, talking in their language (not management speak) and being able to demonstrate benefits the OU is now in an excellent place with Learning Design (which is not to say it can’t be a lot better).

Anyway, here is Rebecca’s account:




Daten, Medien und Informationen Welche Kompetenzarten braucht die digitale Gesellschaft?

Markusmind personal blog of Markus Diemann - Fri, 18/01/2019 - 14:23

Für einen Vortrag bin ich gebeten worden, über ein aktuelles Thema der Mediendidaktik zu sprechen. Mein Ausgangspunkt waren Debatten um die Zukunft von Arbeit (Beispiel Folie 2) und die daraus gezogenen Schlussfolgerungen für die Bildung (Folien 3-4). Dies leitete über zu meiner Frage, ob dies (d.h. die Forderung nach neuen Kompetenzen, Skills, Qualifikationen etc.) ein neues Thema sei? (Folie 5).

Ich denke nein und plädiere für einen Blick zurück in die Geschichte der Bildungspolitik und Pädagogik. Hier finden sich so illustrere Konzepte wie Medienkompetenz (Folie 7) bzw. Digital Literacy (Folie 8), die beide trotz (oder gerade wegen) tiefgreifender Medienwechsel populär geblieben sind.

So ganz ausfüllend sind sie dann doch nicht, denn wir haben es heute mit völlig neuen Phänomenen wie Hate Speech oder Plattformkapitalismus zu tun. Der Umgang mit Daten wird als neue Königsdisziplin verkauft (Folie 9), was angesichts des aktuellen Massen-Datenklau auch belegt werden kann. Schaut man sich die Versuche, Data Literacy zu bestimmen näher an, werden Lücken offenbar, wie die fehlende Bedeutung der IT-Infrastruktur.

Wie auch immer man zu Data Literacy stehen mag, es ergeben sich Konsequenzen für die Mediendidaktik. Ziemlich wichtig ist, dass wir klare Begriffe brauchen (Folie 11). Es wird so viel durcheinander geworfen – egal ob absichtlich oder nicht – in der Debatte, dass man sich fragen muss, wovon reden wir eigentlich. Ich halte es für essentiell Begriffe wie Bildung, Lernen, Medien, digital und analog sauber zu trennen und einheitlich zu verwenden.

Damit lässt sich eine Grundlage legen, um über Pädagogik zu diskutieren (Folie 12). Ich spreche dabei von adaptiver Vermittlung und unterscheide verschiedene Wissensarten, Medien und pädagogische Praktiken. Manche Kombinationen wie „Faktenwissen und E-Learning“ sind gut etabliert, während wir beim gesellschaftlichen Wissen und Digitalisierung noch ganz am Anfang stehen.


The criteria for a Vice Chancellor

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Mon, 14/01/2019 - 10:51

The OU is seeking a new Vice Chancellor, with our acting one Mary Kellett, having done an admirable job in halting the chaos, and beginning the healing process following the disastrous previous regime. The UCU has put together a very good list of criteria they would want to see in a future VC. These are all very reasonable, and I would support all of them, particularly including the type of criteria which are important but don’t often get listed in formal job descriptions and headhunting procedures, including:

  • Wholeheartedly support the OU’s mission statement
  • See the university first and foremost as a public institution for learning, research and the development of critical knowledge
  • Love our students and consider Higher Education a fundamental right for all

Their list got me thinking about what we want in Vice Chancellors in general. While some of their criteria are OU specific, many are applicable across the sector. I would add only one criteria to their list, which I feel gets at something fundamental about the difference between higher education and other sectors. My overriding desirable quality from a VC is an educational equivalent of the hippocratic oath: First, do no harm.

This is not as trivial as it sounds. The recruitment of VCs is often undertaken by professional recruitment agencies, who work across sectors. The language of technology start-up has permeated (or if you prefer, contaminated) much of this world: disruption, revolution, challenge, digital, innovative, are all the types of words one sees in the CVs of successful applicants. I get it – saying “I’m just going to tweak a few things, be good at formal occasions and let you lot get on with what you’re good at” is not a very dynamic sales pitch for a 400K salary.

But universities and tech start-ups operate to different timescales and require different approaches. Unless you are being called in to save a university from imminent collapse, the kind of high pressure institutional transformation and ‘reorg’ so beloved of tech companies is disruptive (in the actual, original sense) to the functioning of a university. Universities operate over long time frames, have often been around for 100s of years (or in our case 50), and their very function is based on their longevity and adherence to core principles rather than rapid changes and then obsolescence. Think of it as different frequencies. HEIs operate like a low frequency sound, such as a bass drum, whereas tech startups are high frequency, like a whistle. Over the same time period, there will be waves in both, but far more in the high frequency one. So think of change in startups is the red line, and that in HEIs the blue line in this diagram:

The point is that both are required within a band or within society. Universities shouldn’t try to be tech start-ups anymore than tech start-ups make effective universities. While it is indeed worrying that a number of HEIs in the UK are facing possible bankruptcy, the fact that this makes a headline is telling in itself. In contrast “Three tech startups may face bankruptcy” would be greeted by a shrug – after all approximately 90% of startups fail. The management required in this context is very different – here you need to produce rapid products, get through to next year and then hopefully get bought by Google. This is an entirely different context to dealing with steering your 100 year old institution through the current educational climate, while pondering its route over the next 100 years.

Rather than prioritising dynamic, (often ego-driven) change programmes, HEIs need people who understand the low frequency, longue durée approach to management. And that starts with: first, do no harm.

Innovating Pedagogy 2019

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Thu, 10/01/2019 - 11:49

As you may know, a group of academics in the Institute of Educational Technology at the OU, produce an annual report looking at innovations in teaching and learning. Led by Rebecca Ferguson and Mike Sharples, we collaborate with a different educational research unit each time, and this year it was the Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology (SLATE), University of Bergen, Norway. We skipped the 2018 one and nudged it into 2019, so here is the new report. It proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not had a profound influence on education in their current form. These are:

  • Playful Learning
  • Learning with Robots
  • Decolonising Learning
  • Drone-based Learning
  • Learning through Wonder
  • Action Learning
  • Virtual Studios
  • Place-based Learning
  • Making Thinking Visible
  • Roots of Empathy

I didn’t have much to do with the report this year, but in early rounds I was keen for ‘decolonising learning’ to be included, but I didn’t feel qualified (as a white, European male) to write it, so I am grateful that made the cut. One thing I’ve noticed as we’ve continued with this series is that it has become less technology focused – sure ‘drone based learning’ may catch the eye (and we were surprised how much of this was going on), but a lot of the innovations are very, well, human. It has also gained enough of an identity that it is not an uncritical view of these approaches, so has less of the breathless admiration you find in similar reports (mentioning no names). Anyway, it’s always a useful read, so I hope you enjoy it.

The 1000th Ed Techie post!

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Wed, 02/01/2019 - 15:54

This is the 1000th post on the Ed Techie blog. It took me over twelve years to get here, so I don’t think I’ll qualify as prolific. Steady, that’s the word. When I started, we still called them weblogs, Queen Victoria sniffed that they would never last, and they were put online by Cockney chimney sweeps, so let us now be all smug that it’s still here. I’ve blogged about blogging many times (it’s a blogger’s favourite subject), but it’s fitting on this auspicious occasion to reflect on what I’ve learnt, or come to believe, about blogging and its role in ed tech. So while we crack open the champagne, here are some thoughts:

Blogging highlights the process, not the output – one of my early blogging chums was Tony Hirst here at the OU. He has commented that blogging reveals an ongoing process of research, but that much of our formal systems (promotion, REF, research funding) are focused on outputs. That’s not to say outputs aren’t important, but the longitudinal picture that a blog gives you allows for a better representation of developing ideas.

Blogging is ideally suited to academia – related to the above, blogging is complementary to traditional academic processes, but it also adds something that was hitherto absent. It is complementary in that you can use it to promote outputs, amplify keynotes, conduct research, build your network of peers, etc. It adds something in that it allows for an informality, additional material, thoughts, queries and smaller pieces of research that previously had no outlet beyond discussions with peers. It acts like the fine grained sand that fills all the gaps between the bigger pebbles.

Discoverability has changed – in order to find blog content, you used to have to work at it through things like blog rolls, links etc. When the publication filter was removed through the advent of the web browser, it was entirely predictable that along with the new release and useful, funny, informative content would come hateful stuff. But back in the early days of blogging it required an active effort to seek this out & so its impact on wider society was limited. What social media did was to transform discovery into a passive rather than an active process. This opened up a whole new audience for racist, misogynistic, conspiracy theory sites. And this passive presentation helped to normalise these views. If they’re presented regularly and alongside reputable news sources then for a number of people who lack the critical abilities to see through them and the networks to contradict them, they begin to take on legitimacy. While we could predict the publication of vile content we couldn’t as easily predict the power of social media algorithms & bots to convert that content into the mainstream for many people.

It has real impact – for both good and bad. In purely academic terms it can boost your paper’s citations, get you keynote invites, be the route to a research collaboration – ie. all the proper academic things your Vice Chancellor cares about. I have also seen its power in helping academics who may be alone in their own institution connect with others, and develop a powerful, global reputation (of which their own institution is often blissfully unaware). But, blogging is also a favoured tool of the Alt-right, nazis, misogynists, climate change deniers and flat-earthers, and has empowered these movements.

But let’s end on a positive note – many of the people I met through blogging have gone on to become real friends, some of them have even stayed at my house. The conversations I have had through blogging have been invigorating, exciting and nearly always polite. It’s still the place I turn to when I need to work things out. As my daughter (cruelly) commented “I wrote a blog post about that” is one of my most over-used phrases. Long may it be so.

Tell me lies about ed tech

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Sun, 23/12/2018 - 21:58

In school one of my favourite poems was by Adrian Mitchell, entitled ‘To Whom it May Concern’, it centred around the refrain ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam‘. It came to mind this week, when I read Audrey Watters’ post The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology. So here, for a bit of fun, and in appreciation of all the work Audrey has done over the years, is a remix of Mitchell’s poem for ed tech. Don’t tell me it doesn’t scan, I did it in 10 minutes, okay?

I was run over by AI one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So suck up all my data
Tell me lies about Edtech.
Heard Alexa screaming with pain,
Couldn’t find my iphone so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with bitcoin
Suck up all my data
Tell me lies about Edtech.
Every time I shut my eyes all I see is VR games.
Made a blockchain and I entered all the names
So coat my Google glasses with butter
Fill my ears with bitcoin
Suck up all my data
Tell me lies about EdTech.
I smell something burning, hope it’s just my mindfullness
They’re only selling guns and safety vests
So stuff my nose with grit
Coat my Google glasses with butter
Fill my ears with bitcoin
Suck up all my data
Tell me lies about Edtech.
Where were you at the time of the MOOCs?
Down by the library reading e-books
So chain my tongue with analytics
Stuff my nose with grit
Coat my Google glasses with butter
Fill my ears with bitcoin
Suck up all my data
Tell me lies about Edtech.
You put your algorithms in, you put your ethics out,
You take the human teacher and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with Facebook
Chain my tongue with analytics
Stuff my nose with grit
Coat my Google glasses with butter
Fill my ears with bitcoin
Suck up all my data
Tell me lies about Edtech.

Here is the powerful original:

The benefits of a writing retreat

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Thu, 20/12/2018 - 18:55

I’ve been in a cottage in Cornwall for the past two weeks on a writing retreat, turning my 25 Years of Ed Tech series into a book. First of all, I need to acknowledge the privilege of this – many jobs do not have the type of work that allows this, and in education many people don’t have the time or money to do so, or home life makes two weeks away impossible. I am lucky to have this opportunity, and I appreciate it greatly.

With that accepted, I want to set out how beneficial such a retreat is. I am returning with approximately 46,000 words written. I started with about 20,000 from the blog post series, so I haven’t written all that 46K from scratch, but it means the bulk of the book is written now. I need to do a few more chapters and it’ll need a good tidy up and revision, but those can be done in smaller chunks.

What the solid two week chunk has given me is focused time on this alone. The weather here has been pretty awful with Storm Deirdre hitting, which means I’ve been holed up, only braving the elements to walk the dog 3 times a day. This in itself is worthwhile, but there are added benefits to being away from home. Firstly, I told lots of colleagues I was going away, and this in itself puts pressure on me to deliver. I can’t come back from a writing retreat having spent the much vaunted break playing solitaire. Also, by coming away from home many smaller distractions disappear, and a new routine is established around writing alone. The change in location makes this easier to develop, just as you quickly create a holiday routine.

I also struggle to say no to things, so usually when I’m on study leave I end up attending online meetings. These may not be that long but they break up the routine and the concentration on just the writing. Having told everyone I was going away made saying no easier, and also not responding to emails. Similarly, allocating a very specific period of time meant that people are more willing to indulge it, like a holiday, rather than an ongoing vagueness. It also helped me to know that I had this definite period coming up so beforehand I could focus on other things without feeling it was distracting from writing.

So, while it seems a luxury, if you can manage it, then a writing retreat is really a very effective way of working. If I had been trying to fit this writing in normal time it would have taken months. Clear delineation of tasks is so rare in normal working life, with multiple tasks, priorities and demands. But it is so refreshing when you have it.

Inaugural lecture klaxon!

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Wed, 19/12/2018 - 17:06

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Open University and as part of the celebrations they have organised a series of inaugural lectures. I am honoured to be one of those selected to give one of these, on the 19th Feb, 18.00-19.00 GMT. If people want to attend in person (and after all, what better way to spend a Tuesday evening) there is an Eventbrite page (only sign up there if you’re definitely coming to the face to face event, no need to register for online). They’ll provide a live stream link nearer the time also and it will be on the OU Facebook live page.

It’s actually about 15 years since I became a Prof, but at the time there was an inaugural backlog so I never got invited to give one. I like to think, that like a particularly smelly cheese, I have matured in that time, so it will be a better talk now than it would have been then.

Given the nature of the OU anniversary I’m going to talk about aspects of open education, and explore the idea of what an Open University founded today would look like. Anyway, I hope some of you can make it in person or, more likely, online for some inaugural lecture LOLs.

Annual books and charts time!

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Tue, 18/12/2018 - 21:56

As I’ve done over the past few years, (2017, 2016, 2015) I’m rounding up my reading for the year with some lists and pointless graphs. I’ve managed exactly 52 books so far (may squeeze in another before year’s end), the full list is at the end, and not counting work related books. This year I read a lot of crime, which worries me a bit. I used to challenge myself with books, but I have a concern that I’m doing this less now, and crime novels are kind of comforting and escapist, with their neat resolutions. I don’t want to disparage them as a genre, after all, I read them. But my concern is that either because I’m getting old, or because of the shit storm the world is right now, I’m not quite as adventurous in my taste as I was. As if to demonstrate this, here is the first graph, with breakdown by genre:

I read many more women writers than men this year, partly because I find women to be better crime writers but also because when I wasn’t reading crime, the books that I felt had the most to say were usually by women.

In terms of format, I was all in for audio books this year. I had a spate of reading physical books in the middle of the year. Interestingly, in comparison with a few years ago, I read no kindle books this year.

I re-read a few classics this year, so I’ll exclude them from my top ten as it’s probably not fair. So although most of these weren’t published this year, here are my favourite reads from 2018:

  • Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  • Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
  • Just Kids – Patti Smith
  • Mythos – Stephen Fry
  • The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Wise Children – Angela Carter
  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • Circe – Madeline Millar

Of these, if I was to pick one, I’d go for Circe. Madeline Millar’s fictional take on the life of the witch in the Odyssey had a lot to say about the portrayal of women in myth, how they deal with powerful men children, as well as being beautifully written and a lot of fun too. Mind you, on another day, it’d probably be Wise Children.

If you’re interested here is the full list:
1. White Silence – Jodi Taylor
2. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
3. Cosmos – Carl Sagan
4. Wire in the Blood – Val McDermid
5. The Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
6. Prisoners of Geography – Tim Marshall
7. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
8. Fatherland – Robert Harris
9. Pompeii – Mary Beard
10. The Last Testament – Val McDermid
11. October – China Mieville
12. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
13. Jamaica Inn – Daphne Du Maurier
14. The Muse – Jessie Burton
15. Out of Bounds – Val McDermid
16. A Brief History of seven killings – Marlon James
17. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
18. Belonging – Simon Schama
19. London – Peter Ackroyd
20. Enemies of the System – Brian Aldiss
21. Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
22. The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
23. Even Dogs in the Wild – Ian Rankin
24. Mysogynation – Laura Bates
25. Doughnut economics – Kate Raworth
26. The Welsh Girl – Peter Ho Davies
27. 1984 – George Orwell
28. just kids – Patti Smith
29. Bring up the bodies – Hilary Mantel
30. Deep country – Neil Ansell
31. Otter country – Miriam Darlington
32. Raven Black – Ann Cleaves
33. Zombies, a cultural history – Roger Luckhurst
34. Murder Underground – Mavis Doriel Hay
35. Mythos – Stephen Fry
36. Death comes to Pemberley – PD James
37. The Germans and Europe – Peter Millar
38. Splinter the Silence – Val McDermid
39. Silent Voices – Anne Cleeves
40. Bulletcatchers daughter – Rod Duncan
41. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
42. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
43. The clocks – Agatha Christie
44. Wise children – Angela Carter
45. Snap – Belinda Bauer
46. The house at sea’s end – Elly Griffiths
47. Circe – Madeline Millar
48. Crow trap – Ann Cleaves
49. Babylon berlin – Volker Kutscher
50. Faceless killers – Henning Mankel
51. The relentless tide – Denzil Meyrick
52. The Gustav Sonata – Rose Tremain

Films of the year

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Mon, 17/12/2018 - 20:53

I must confess that after a good start, my film-going waned somewhat, so at the time of writing I haven’t seen Suspiria, Widows or Overlord, all of which I like the look of. But hey, it’s not like I’m a Guardian film critic. So, in no particular order here are 10 films this year that I feel merit special attention:

  • Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig’s coming of age tale was by turns cool, funny, insightful and touching. Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird is the kind of realistic character that once you see them portrayed, you feel every other teen representation to be fake. I would’ve given this beautifully crafted film all the Oscars.
  • Black Panther – first of all, Black Panther is just straight up good fun and a very effective superhero movie. It has to work at that level first. There’s a moment when T’Challa emerges to take the role of king, and he looks up at all the tribes assembled on the cliff and it’s full of rich colour and a sense of African heritage that makes the absence of this in nearly all mainstream cinema painfully apparent. More than any other film this year, Black Panther was also a cultural moment, and it bore that burden with such ease and relish.
  • You were never really here – Lynne Ramsey’s tale of troubled war vet, Joe is a characteristically bleak offering. Phoenix in the central role is quietly menacing, and broken. It always stays above the traditional revenge fare, through the captivating central performance and relentless authenticity.
  • The Florida Project – Sean Baker’s lo-fi movie about 6 year old Moonee and her mum living in a motel on the edges of Disneyland was laden with social messages in 2018. But it was also delightful, moving and caring. Life on the edges of society is still a rich life.
  • Blackkklansman – I loved Spike Lee’s film about detective Ron Stallworth who infiltrates the Klan. It is laugh out loud funny, on the edge of your seat tense, and start a riot anger inducing. It brings together all of Lee’s best film making qualities and is damn near perfect.
  • Mandy – some things are made for each other. Panos Cosmatos’s deranged, psychedelic horror with it’s trippy scenes and soaked palette could only have been led by the wild eyed Cage in full wild-eyed Cage mode. This film is bonkers and the type of movie that 15 year old me would have loved.
  • Sorry to Bother You – if I had to pick one movie of the year, it would probably be Boots Riley’s pitch perfect comedy on race and capitalism in America. It has so many great scenes, so many themes and perfectly executed lines that it feels like three great movies in one amazing one.
  • A Quiet Place – the simple premise of John Krasinski’s post apocalyptic horror was that sound = death. This was surprisingly effective at creating scenes of incredible tension. When someone in the cinema coughed, I nearly had a heart attack, which is a sign of the absorption you have in the film.
  • Coco – Pixar’s latest offering was a bold, brightly coloured take on the Mexican day of the dead. As well as having all the trademark Pixar humour and tunes, it also dealt with issues of borders, family and belonging so deftly that you hardly realised you’d just seen one of the most political films of the year.
  • Leave No Trace – I enjoyed the unsentimental nature of Debra Granik’s film about survivalist father Will & his 13 yr old daughter Tom. It is a film full of tenderness as father and daughter try to establish lives that are meaningful for them, without histrionics.

Honourable mentions also to Lean on Pete, Hereditary and Infinity War. Films this year that I liked more than most other people include Tomb Raider, Ghost Stories and Terminal. Those I liked less than most others include 3 Billboards, Shape of Water, Ant Man & the Wasp. The real turkeys of the year for me were The Predator and Tag, the latter in particular was a special kind of offensively awful, and I’m still angry about it.

Neuer Artikel: Bildung und Netz

Markusmind personal blog of Markus Diemann - Mon, 17/12/2018 - 11:03

In der aktuellen Ausgabe des Forum Wissenschaft mit dem Schwerpunkt „Emanzipation statt Kompetenzen. Bildungsbegriffe(e) in der Diskussion“ ist auch mein Artikel „Bildung und Netz“ abgedruckt.

Wie immer freue ich mich über Anregungen und Kommentare:


Bildung, Kompetenz, Daten – Keynote beim 13. Netzwerktag E-Learning an der Goethe-Universität

Markusmind personal blog of Markus Diemann - Sat, 15/12/2018 - 08:01

Die Einladung war Anlass und Herausforderungen, für mich Ordnung in das diskursive Dickicht aus Digitalisierung, Bildung und Kompetenz zu schlagen. Dazu griff ich auf die Idee der Assemblage aus dem post-strukturalistischen Spektrum zurück und analysierte damit „Medienkompetenz“, „Digital Literacy“ und „Data Literacy“. Es ging mir um die Genealogie (wie kam z.B. die Assemblage „Medienkompetenz“ zustande?) und die innere Semantik.

Das ist alles noch Work in Progress und ich denke laut. Wer mitdenken möchte, kann gerne hier im Dokument kommentieren.




Cashback – My blogging year

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Fri, 14/12/2018 - 17:44

2018 feels like the year that my blogging had been the apprenticeship for, with the OU crisis at the fore. My most popular post by some way was this one posted the day our VC resigned. It followed on from a semi-viral Twitter rant and subsequent post a couple of weeks earlier. Prior to this life had not been good at the OU, and like anyone sensible who worked there, I began to cast around for opportunities elsewhere. It wasn’t a healthy place to be. But through these posts, and Twitter a new sense of camaraderie emerged with colleagues, students, associate lecturers and wider community. Having a well read blog meant that I could contribute to this, and during the peak crisis many people contacted me privately saying thankyou for giving voice to their frustrations, as they felt a sense of powerlessness.

Since the change, I have decided to cast my lot in with the remainers (no, a different set of remainers. But them too), despite many of my colleagues leaving. After the role in the crisis, I felt a sense of responsibility, and so I have also taken to trying to use this blog to amplify good work and talks at the OU. This is partly to counteract the narrative that became reinforced over the past 12 months that the OU needs to ‘get digital’ and become a 21st century university, which completely ignored all the work we were doing in this area.

My most enjoyable blogging action was the 25 Years of Ed Tech series, which I started on a whim in order to tie in with ALT-C’s 25th anniversary. I wasn’t sure I’d see it through, but it was a lot of fun, and received positive responses. I’m currently in a cottage on a very windswept Cornish coast attempting to turn this series into a book.

My most commented upon post was nothing to do with ed tech, but rather when I wrote about losing my dog, Bruno. I don’t often do purely personal posts, but I was inspired by Amy Collier’s heartfelt piece of writing on the loss of her dog, Sam. I found both the writing of this piece, and the kind comments helpful in dealing with it.

What these three posts (or series of posts) highlight for me once again is the value of a blog as a central identity. I could have used other media for each of them, but by having the blog it combines to a more powerful effect. For instance, I could have written about the OU for a formal outlet, such as the Times Higher (and indeed, after I posted it, much was picked up by the THES and I was asked to contribute to a couple of pieces). But I would have been behold to an editor who would decide whether to run it, and would want to shape the article. I could have proposed my blog series to a book publisher, but it was only by working through it online and getting feedback that I came to see what shape it could take. I could have posted about my dog on FB (and I did link to my post from there), but that has a limited scope of readers.

The blog was the ideal place for starting, sharing and developing all of these aspects. All those years of writing crap blog posts about VLEs and web 2.0 finally paid off this year. It’s almost as if it was worth it. As Partridge would say – cashback!

AI in education – reality, uses, risks & ethics

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Thu, 06/12/2018 - 15:12

Following on from previous talks in the seminar series I’m convening at the Open University, my colleague Wayne Holmes gave the last one on artificial intelligence. I found AI perhaps the most thorny of technologies in educational technology. Firstly, how much of it is hype? Secondly, what can it do usefully and realistically in education? And thirdly, perhaps most significantly, what are the potential negatives?

These three questions are at the core of ed tech in 2018, and nowhere are they more prevalent than in AI. So, I was particularly grateful for someone who knows what they’re talking about to guide us through these. On the first of these, Wayne pointed out the prevalence of AI that is already in so much of everyday life. It’s not a future technology he argues, but over the past decade has arrived, from Siri to games, but we often don’t think of these as AI. He highlights the distinction between ‘general AI’ and narrow AI – the former is being human like across tasks and is a long way off, whereas the latter is targeted at a specific function and is prevalent. I think this distinction is important for discerning hype and reality.

Wayne gave a good overview of existing AI systems that are currently in use in education, from intelligent tutoring systems to chat bots. He ended by addressing the risks, including embedded racism in ‘intelligent’ law enforcement tools and Facebook’s move into personalised learning. The role of ethics in AI is now essential, and he highlights the intersection of education, big data and algorithms, each of which has their own set of ethical considerations, and also a particular set when we combine them. It is this kind of analysis that is missing from so much of computing education, tech start up coverage and and ed tech discussion.

Anyway, his excellent presentation is below:

Bildung und Digitalisierung – eine grobe Annäherung

Markusmind personal blog of Markus Diemann - Tue, 04/12/2018 - 08:51

Im Rahmen der Abschlussveranstaltung der Arbeitsstelle für die Weiterbildung der Weiterbildenden (AWW) durfte ich letzte Woche an einer Podiumsdiskussion mit Jürgen Handke zu Thema Pro und Contra Digitalisierung der Bildung teilnehmen. Als Input habe ich einige grundlegende Überlegungen zu Bildung und Digitalisierung vorbereitet.

Ich habe drei Kategorien gewählt, um Unterschiede/Gemeinsamkeiten zu diskutieren:

  1. Prozess: Bildung ist ein Zweck für und an sich und dient der Entwicklung des Menschen zu einer autonomen, reflektierten und souveränen Persönlichkeit. Es ist ein Prozess, der prinzipiell offen ist sowie unbestimmt und unbestimmbar. Damit ist die Hoffnung verknüpft, dass mehr gebildete Menschen die Gesellschaft auch humaner und gerechter machen. Darum gibt es auch Bildungseinrichtungen. Digitalisierung ist dagegen ein von Wirtschaft, Technologie und Politik gesteuerter Prozess, dessen Ende offen ist. Man orientiert sich an der Versionierungslogik der Software-Entwicklung. Nur wenige geben den Takt vor (Silicon Valley, China) und legen fest, was gut für Milliarden von Menschen ist. Die Entwicklung ist sehr lukrativ, darum werden die inneren Prozesse (z.B. Algorithmen) auch sehr geschützt und stellen eine Black Box dar. Die Digitalisierung gilt als unbestimmt („Wir stehen erst am Anfang“), aber bestimmbar (siehe dazu z.B. die Strategie der Bundesregierung für Künstliche Intelligenz).
  2. Diskurs: Über Bildung wird von Wirtschaft und Politik sehr defizitorientiert und fordernd gesprochen („die Schulen/Hochschulen müssen dringend reformiert werden, damit wir den Anschluss nicht verpassen“). Darum beschließt man die Grundgesetzänderung für den #digiPakt Schule und legt Strategien für die Bildung in der digitalen Welt fest. Es gibt einige Leuchttürme (von denen einer auch bei der Abschlussveranstaltung war), die aufzeigen, welche neuen Möglichkeiten sich durch Digitalisierung ergeben. Das gibt es aber schon seit Jahren und in der Breite hat sich wenig geändert. Das liegt daran, dass Hochschulen durch Reformen wie Bologna überfordert sind und es vergessen haben, ihre Werte und Ziele neu zu formulieren (siehe dazu auch meinen Vortrag zur Zukunft der Hochschule). Über Digitalisierung wird fast ausschließlich im Modus des Futurs gesprochen. Es wird eine Zukunft imaginiert, in der Wohlstand und Frieden die Gesellschaft bestimmen. Dazu braucht es Schlüsseltechnologien, aktuell Blockchain, da sich damit die Probleme der „alten Welt“ wunderbar lösen lassen. Man benutzt dabei beim Sprechen auch gerne Metaphern der Revolution bzw. des Untergangs, wenn mal wieder von der Gefahren des Internets oder der Smartphones gewarnt wird.
  3. Projekt: Bildung als Projekt zeichnet sich durch Wert wie Autonomie und Emanzipation aus und ist verbunden mit den Vorstellungen einer demokratischen Gesellschaft. Bildung hilft uns in einer komplexen und kontingenten Welt zurecht zu finden. Dafür braucht es Freiheit bzw. eine Befreiung von religiösen, politischen oder wirtschaftlichen Fesseln, um die Welt, wie sie ist zu erkunden und einen Platz darin zu finden. Bei dem Projekt Digitalisierung spricht man von einem grundlegenden Wandel bzw. einer Transformation. Dabei werden analoge Werte und Darstellungsformen in digitale Formate umgewandelt. Es kommt dabei zu einer Reduktion, wie etwa beim Audio-Format mp3. Wir haben es auch mit einer steigenden Abhängigkeit von digitaler Infrastruktur zu tun, die von wenigen mächtigen, aber politisch unkontrollierten Konzernen bestimmt wird. In Frage gestellt werden auch Vorstellungen über den Menschen (z.B. Freiheit), wenn etwa Algorithmen über Kreditvergabe entscheiden.



It’s all about me

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Fri, 30/11/2018 - 16:05

(This is a picture of a fish. I don’t know why it’s here either)

Like many of you, I get asked to do bits of ‘scholarship on the side” – webinars, interviews, podcasts etc. These seem to have come in a burst recently, after not much in the preceding six months. Some of them are parts of interesting series, so partly because you may find these interesting, and also as a means of collecting them for my own purposes, here is a list of recent ‘other stuff’:

Open Education: What Now? – This was a webinar for part of European Distance Learning Week, along with Catherine Cronin. Although we didn’t have time to plan it, the presentations from Catherine and I complemented each other very well as we explored aspects of open scholarships and some of the tensions it now faces.

Edutechnicalities podcast – created by Rolin Mo. Part of a really excellent series he’s created, and he also developed a nice matrix on digital scholarship activity on the back of this.

Openness in Education – interview with Suzan Koseoglu & Aras Bozkurt in eLearn Magazine

Identifying Categories of Open Educational Resource Users – the IJOER took a chapter I’d written with OER Hub colleagues and republished it (because it was CC licensed) and reformatted it to make it more interactive. I think this is a nice example of what can happen with openly licensed articles.

25 Years of Ed Tech talk – I gave a talk based on my 25 Years series at a recent OpenTEL day at the OU. It was my first go at putting this into a presentation, so a bit rough around the edges. The video covers the whole day, so you can skip mine and go onto more interesting ones.

Gettin’ Air Podcast – Terry Greene hosts a great radio/podcast series. The one he did with me was a lot of fun, he surprised me by calling up old blog posts and we riffed off these, which made a nice change from the usual project promotion stuff.

Aspects of open – fieldcasting

The EdTechie Martin Weller's Personal Blog - Wed, 28/11/2018 - 12:02

As part of the OU’s 50th anniversary next year I’m going to be giving a lecture on aspects of open education. As well as the obvious, I think there are means of opening up education that get overlooked or forgotten in the new interpretations.

An example of such is virtual, or remote field trips and laboratory work. At the OU we have an assortment of such approaches, including the OpenStem labs, a virtual microscope, and fieldcasts. This latter activity is the focus of this post. We have always conducted residential schools, but these are increasingly costly and difficult for students to attend, and there can be issues around accessibility. So the team of Philip Wheeler, Julia Cooke and Kadmiel Maseyk. As they state, their challenge was “How do we convey the interest, excitement and challenges of finding things out in the field when students are miles away?”.

Virtual field trips is one answer, for example we have developed a Virtual Skiddaw app. Another approach is a solution that involved broadcasting live from aa field trip with academics, and splitting this across different segments. The students at home could then devise hypotheses and interact with the academics on site, engaging in real time discovery. Philip puts it like this “We separated the key pedagogic element of fieldwork (essentially learning alongside students in an inherently variable/uncertain environment) from the actual physical act of being outside. Retaining the former was important, the latter less so.”

The technology set-up wasn’t without issues, and it took someone with the expertise of Trevor Collins to pull all the bits together. But the tech is at a stage where we can do this, at high quality (rather than just one person on their iPhone), without needing to call in the BBC and break the bank. That makes it a much more viable option for a range of courses. With about 80 students in each session, the feedback was almost universally positive, students found it interesting, fun, valuable to their studies and felt like they were genuinely involved.

As well as being a neat, practical, beneficial application of technology, the reason I like this approach is that it reminds us that ‘open education’ is not always about licences. These field trips weren’t ‘open’ in the sense that anyone could join them (they were available to registered students on the course). But they are definitely about opening up the experience of field trips, and more significantly the engagement with scientific process. I think sometimes these very real and powerful applications of what openness in education means get overlooked in the more content focused, silicon valley flavoured interpretations.

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