Nogbad’s Education

March 19, 2013

User created content


On Monday I was at a meeting to discuss the Virtual Campus. For an idea of what this is the Prisoner’s Education Trust website has a handy overview; in essence it is a way of delivering screen-based resources over a secure internet connection to learners in prison. The content is hosted on central servers rather than the current topography where individual prisons have their own education server and they manage content locally. They will still do this but can also access the VC and a broader range of material. There was a lot of geeky chat, and I can get as geeky as the next geek, but what I found most interesting is the way some content is being created.

While much of the stuff is provided by external agencies; Learn Direct, DWP, JC+ and the learning providers who deliver education in prison there is now a new strand. Content is being created by users. Who better to write units about some of the issues prisoners might face than other prisoners? Not exactly OERs but an interesting way to develop transferable skills and provide “fit for purpose” resources. I hope to see some of this content soon and I’ll see if any is available to the wider world.

March 16, 2013

Openness in education

Filed under: MOOC, OU — Tags: — nogbad @ 13:12

Openness in education

(Click to see full sized)

A brief glimpse inside my head – scary innit? I set myself a target of posting this today before I went to buy beer to enjoy with the big rugby game this afternoon so this is as much as you’ll be getting.

I’m fortunate in that I work for an organisation with “open” in its name. I’ve been involved in some of the projects mention in Martin’s paper and I’ve used OERs in my own practice for many years. In short I come to this with baggage; I have “previous” m’lud.

I think the node on the left is probably idealistic, the idea that anything is completely unbounded is a chimera but we have fewer limitations than traditional classroom-based transmission teaching.

I’ve put an icon next to trust/confidence because they seem to be the biggest hurdles to participation. Patrick McAndrew’s work, as cited by Martin, suggests that few users repurposed OpenLearn OERs because they were of such a high standard; “Big OERs”, but it is also daunting to take something of this quality and to then change it and make it available to an online audience. Participation in any online endeavour through forums, blogging, wikis, creating artifacts, etc is like getting naked in public  – I use that metaphor frequently when working with groups who will be using online tools – we have to feel confident before we expose our ideas online. I’m sure many others on the MOOC feel much the same just now and that, for some, posting “out in the world” will be a step they don’t feel comfortable taking.

Edited to add a title – d’oh!

March 11, 2013

So I’ve joined a MOOC #h817open

Filed under: MOOC, online, OU, Social Networking, Teaching and learning — Tags: — nogbad @ 12:15

I’ve signed up for the Open Education MOOC which is part of an OU postgrad course. The MOOC is embedded in H817 but this bit is open to the world. I’ve never MOOC’d before so this is all new but as soon as I opened the forum I saw a friendly name (a lovely lady who I often meet in pub car parks or Halfords) so it feels a little less daunting already. The MOOC starts on the 16th, for details of what it’s about you might start at Martin’s blog which has links including the place to register and get involved

If time and inclination allow I’ll blog about the MOOC here.

May 27, 2010

Like death?

Filed under: Offender learning, OU — nogbad @ 22:43

In Victorian times most people died at home, it was part of living and the cycle of life. We accepted death. Recently this has shifted and now most people die away from their home, death has become something which is often feared and misunderstood. Prisons are the same. Society locks people away and then knows only what the media decide we should be told. There is little narrative about the successes while the red tops will jump on the mistakes.

But we need to better understand what happens in prison because we, society, are the customers. We are the beneficiaries of the prison service in that part of its purpose is to protect us by keeping in custody those who might do us harm. It is also tasked with rehabilitating offenders so that when they are released they can be integrated into society and contribute. This costs us about 2.5% of GDP, the annual cost of re-offending is around £11 billion and each person in prison costs something in the order of £40k/annum. A 2% cut in re-offending, less 1% for fixed costs, would save £120m. A 5%  cut less 2.5% fixed costs would bring in £325m/annum. These data from Tom Schuller’s presentation at a conference today and they are from a paper commissioned by NIACE as part of their “Learning Through Life: Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning“. This specific paper is “Crime & Lifelong Learning. Thematic paper 5” and it’s well worth reading. In 2008 the National Audit Office were less than happy about the way money was being spent on prison education (“Meeting needs? The Offenders Learning and Skills Service” 2008) – the spend on offender education isn’t a new story but it’s also not a news story and that’s our fault.

It’s time we viewed prisons in a similar way to hospitals. We might not want to know what happens in every nook and cranny but we expect everyone who is admitted to be cared for during their stay, that our money is being used wisely and that as many people as possible come out better than they went in. We need to look past the sensationalised media reports and start questioning what is really happening and whether it is making a positive difference. We frequently see hospital managers and chief execs on TV talking about their successes so why not prison governors? We need to stop wilfully ignoring what is happening to so many of the damaged members of our society, we need to start engaging with the prison system.

May 8, 2009

What does education do?

Filed under: OU, Teaching and learning — Tags: — nogbad @ 20:42

HMP/YOI RochesterJust thought I’d tie up a hectic week and try to tease out some thoughts.

Tuesday was talking to prison staff at HMP/YOI Rochester (the original Borstal) and on Thursday I attended an OU degree ceremony in a prison. This was a very moving event. We recognised the achievements of a number of prisoners including one who had earned a degree.

Of the many thousands of people in prison in this country only a few hundred will never be released, the rest will eventually have to find a way of surviving in a world which has moved on. And this raises an important question. What is the value of education in this context?

The audit commission report last year stated that the cost of prison education is £110M each year. Only a very small proportion of this goes on higher education, the bulk is on lower level skills and training including basic numeracy and literacy. Yet there doesn’t appear to be any coherent research on the value of education on reoffending. The question then, put simply, is “Does education help to reduce reoffending?”. There are some high profile success stories -Bobby Cummines attributes his transformation from one of the most disruptive prisoners in the system to founding “Unlock” to his Open University studies on release from prison. Eric Allinson spent much of his life in prison and now writes for The Guardian – he’s a passionate advocate of education in prison and recently wrote about the difficulties offenders still face while studying in prison. His piece and others reflect what we believe to be the value of offender learning but can we quantify this value? The government’s education policy is predicated on the presumption that a better qualified workforce will lead to an improved economy, and has been for many years, but does this hold true for offenders?

I’m still thinking about a research degree and this is the kind of area that I’m finding increasingly interesting. More to follow?

July 4, 2008

Social networking video

Filed under: OU, Social Networking — Tags: — nogbad @ 12:28

This is developed from the presentation below. I’ve converted it to a video for use at a conference that I can’t attend – why should they escape just because I can’t be there?! 🙂

June 19, 2008

SociaLearn conference

Filed under: OU, Social Networking, Socialearn, Teaching and learning — nogbad @ 22:31

Back from the SociaLearn conference at Horwood House, Bucks. I’ve mentioned the conference in an earlier post but in case you missed it the public-facing blurb is available on the SociaLearn site and that also gives an overview of the project. Jo has also covered the initial premise on her blog posting (which has just popped up while I was writing this)

The whole event was fascinating and an opportunity to share space with some really imaginative, smart, intelligent, bright, awesomely clever and switched-on people. Jo mentioned the backchannel and I think that’s also the main thing which struck me.

We’d been invited to take laptops and PDAs and there is a (closed) Ning community for catching and discussing ideas. Some of us were also using Twitter and Purk to bash around and develop thoughts – a commentary on the event which was building and scaffolding understanding about how we might do things and where we might take them. And all those thoughts were captured for later analysis and development or restructuring and reassessment – and, to me, that’s part of what using web technologies to support learning should be about. Attending a presentation where I can quickly run a search on an author the presenter has mentioned, bookmark a couple of papers and, perhaps, speed-read a blog piece which outlines their work is my idea of how things should work. Seeing responses to a presentation as it’s happening, watching the shape of people’s ideas while they are sparking off each other, being an active participant rather than a passive observer – that’s all very powerful stuff and even if we can’t make every learning experience like that then we can certainly replicate parts of it by finding ways of introducing learners to these communities of practice.

That’s how I see SociaLearn “adding value”, it’s an opportunity to plug into these roving groups of people with common interests. It breaks away from the formality of tutor group-based conferences and allows students to find groups with which they feel comfortable. Maybe these groups are moving at a different pace or in a slightly different direction but groups can form, work together for a short period and then break up as a different subject group is coalescing. Web 2.0 SNS tools allow for these loose, informal, groupings and learning doesn’t occur in lumps of a given size (see Weller slide 10) and students are rarely working at the same pace and the current OU practice supports the 80% in the middle of the train but the 10% sprinting ahead and the 10% struggling along at the back tend to be alone. If we have a series of groups and students are shown how to move between groups or to straddle a few groups they can find what they need when they need it – peer-supported student-centered learning perhaps?

I need to spend more time structuring these ideas but I also have to write a profile for the PET web site, iron some shirts and clear out the fridge tonight so I’m going to post and revisit another day.

June 7, 2008

Reflections on the day

Filed under: LCC, OU, Social Networking, Teaching and learning — Tags: — nogbad @ 19:35
This is an abridged and extended version of a post on my other blog. I’m slightly changing it here as I think it also applies to the reason I keep this blog.

Today I was talking about “Social Networking” and I took some photos and uploaded them while we were at the venue to show the immediacy available in the digital age. The format of the conference was great and we had some quality keynote speakers.
First up was Seb Schmoller from ALT. He brought an XO laptop and that was the first time I’d physically held one so that was useful and his presentation set the scene for what we were doing – eLearning technologies in the wild and also in the OU.The poster sessions were hard work – the attendees were split into 11 groups, one per workshop, and moved round the posters while the workshop facilitators explained what the workshop was about. So we stood by the poster and burbled on to 11 different groups.

Then, after lunch and chance to catch up with friends, Denise Kirkpatrick – PVC Learning and Teaching at the OU gave a presentation about the OU’s VLE and eLearning projects (including SociaLearn).

Then the workshops. I did my stuff and then we looked at some social networking sites and we looked at how we might use some of these tools in learning and teaching. I prepared a Seesmic video before I left for the conference and I’ve just done another to “top and tail” the day. All the photos are now on Flickr.

Looking at what I took from my workshop I think the main messages are that there is a real hunger to understand these technologies and no real way for most people to know how to engage with them. While I’ve been writing this I’ve been and signed up for Tumblr to see what it might offer – how might a colleague get from reading Wikipedia to, perhaps, editing it to messing about with Firefox extensions to see whether hyperwords is a useful Firefox extension?
I think we need to find ways of making sure that we don’t leave people behind or, worse, alienate them by talking technobabble without offering a series of easy routes to access the tools. I think we’re already past the tipping point and another digital divide is opening between educators using these technologies and those becoming increasingly fearful of the technical changes which everyone else seems able to handle but them.

June 6, 2008

Slideshow for AL Conference

Filed under: Slideshow, Social Networking, Socialearn, Teaching and learning — Tags: — nogbad @ 7:59

NB Some slides difficult to understand because of the loss of animations. I’ll edit and re upload when time allows

June 3, 2008

(How) Social networks work

Filed under: LCC, Social Networking, Socialearn, Teaching and learning — Tags: — nogbad @ 19:59

Following on from my socialearn post I mailed Stavros about his installation piece and he replied, after reading that post, and pointing me towards Patrick Keiller and the movement of psychogeographers.

As an aide memoir I bunged that on Twitter which automatically updates my Facebook status.

I then got a message from Rob Spence, dare I say a friend though we’ve yet to meet, who had seen my FaceBook status and sent me a link to a book (on Amazon) which is a psychographic view of London.

Okay so it’s not a cure for the common cold but a small group of people (who have never met) exchanged information across the web. Someone else was able to help me “construct knowledge” by offering a contribution to a social commons. Regardless of the use of 21st C applications it harks back to the ethos of cooperation on which the Internet was founded and which Rheingold characterised as the glue which helped build The WELL and still puts at the heart of Smart Mobs.

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