Monday, 19 February 2018

Part 1: creating voice-activated #ID #learning #Alexa #smartclass #elearning

In this first post on the topic, I share how I installed Alexa, using a basic smarthome skill (Philips Hue) and some features that increase or limit Alexa’s search returns (e.g. playing Spanish podcasts via free radio).

Testing the Amazon Echo Dot
The last couple of weeks I have been enthusiastically using the Amazon Echo Dot (which answers to Alexa). I am trying to setup a voice operated learning hub (well, as much as possible in a relatively cheap and simple way). With each step, I will keep you updated and share what works, what did not work, and which unexpected hurdles needed to be solved. In following episodes I want to use some coding options for additional Alexa skills, combine the Echo dot with an Arduino board as well as a Raspberry Pi to see what can be done with relatively cheap computer boards, and of course in relation to IFTTT and for specific voice operated IFTTT.

Why? Because with all the Fab Labs emerging (you can locate your nearest fablab using this map), I wanted to see how much of that could be built at my home (as I will be mostly home based for the next couple of months), so I might as well work on making my home into a fab lab or at least a smart learning hub.  The Echo dot has been used in classrooms using its basic functionality, but also for some special ed purposes for communication skill practice for children withautism.

I bought my Alexa with last year’s frequent flyer miles (made it much cheaper), but you can also buy it from Amazon for 40 $  or Amazon UK for 49 £. This does mean I got the German version of the Alexa, but as I can read and understand German, that was something I could start with. Once it was installed, I could switch to English. I also got two Philips Hue light bulbs, as they would enable me to test out the smart home part of the Alexa. By using this simple Alexa in combination with existing objects (things) that react to an impulse coming either from a mobile, voice or other object, it becomes easier to feel what the Internet of Things (IoT) is really like.
With a new online course in the back of my mind (working title of the course 'instructional and learning design examples, with added academic background information'), I want to explore a more meaningful application of this Amazon Echo Bot learning hub setup.

Installing Alexa
This is super simple, and only requires an internet connection and a mobile. The mobile app (either Android  or iTunes store ) is used to control Alexa and possible other devices, e.g. the Philips Hue, Nest thermostat….

As Alexa is voice-activated, it depends on specific language. In the Amazon Echo dot I bought, it was either English (you can choose American or British English) or German. My German is not that active, so I have installed my Alexa for British English use, also because I want to install specific skills on it. Skills are conversational applications that allow you to ‘ask’ Alexa something specific and then – hopefully – get a meaningful answer in return, so a skill connects to end users via the conversational Amazon Echo platform. Reddit features anice list of skills here once you have decided to add a skill, go to the Alexa app and add it to your skills.

The name Amazon Echo Dot says it: this device is a home device that will want you to buy more from Amazon. It uses Amazon prime to play music (paid service, I don’t use it, so will share other free options soon), and you can buy a list of options from Amazon, which is why I immediately deselect the buying option in the Amazon device, I do not want to order something buy mistake or simply because some of my Flemish sounds like “Alexa, buy a supersonic airplane from Amazon”…. And it does happen that Alexa thinks I am asking her something, as she has returned uninvited answers during regular conversations at the dinner table. There is some commotion on Alexa spying, if interested you can read upon these here.

Basic Alexa features
Alexa can be used for some basic options:
  • Ask a question (answer found via Bing browser)
  • Ask what the weather is like (still some limitations on regions, but if you add your own town in an English voice it can give you the weather there… my town is called Aalter, it took a while before I could get the weather forecast for that particular very Flemish town.
  • Ask a silly question (Alexa sing a song, do the dishes…)
  • Play music (mostly paid service, but free, easy option below)
  • Make a to do list (“Alexa, add write blogpost to my to do list” afterwards ask “Alexa what is my to do list”)
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Set a timer (“Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes”).
In case you are not a native English speaker
If you are not a native English speaker, it is good to use Google translate, type in your word or the words you are looking for, then push the speaker button to hear how it is pronounced. After that you can choose either to perfect your English-speaking voice, or you can say 'Alexa', and type in 'search google for X' into google translate and push the audio button again to have the English version of what you are looking for. I confess, it takes a bit of practising to get a fluent mix of both actions (speaking and pushing button on time).
First steps in a smart home/learning hub
First I bought two Philips Hue lights and one Hue bridge  to get the lights to work on voice-command. That works well with the skill of Philips Hue, which you need to install to get Alexa working with it. The Philips Hue lights need to be installed with one ‘Hue Bridge’ per 50 light bulbs. This means you need to have an internet connected bridge to manipulate the Hue lights either through Alexa or through the Hue mobile app. You need to install the lights and turn on the lights first in order to be able to control them from a distance. With the Hue mobile app you can group the lights together per room, making it easier to tell Alexa which lights to turn on or off (btw you can also operate them from any location, so you can trick your partner in turning off the lights unexpectedly…. Well…. If they do not mind that joke…).

The process is simple and indicative of how the Alexa Echo Dot works:
  • Address Alexa by saying her name out loud,
  • Speak specific command (a command is a coded speech operand that triggers Alexa to do something specific): e.g. “Alexa, turn on lights living room” or “play Singing in the Rain’ by Gene Kelly
  • And then wait for Alexa to return an answer, or in this case play that specific song.
Learning podcasts, using radio feature
Alexa is linked to Amazon, so some features simply do not work for free (no free music, as Alexa’s options are Amazon prime or Spotify pro) and the search option is linked to Bing, which does not always return useful answers. But if you like music, you can find it without having to resort to any skill by using the command “Alexa play TuniIn [followed by the name of your preferred TuneIn radio station].
e.g. “Alexa, play TuneIn Learn Spanish - SpanishPod101.com” which triggers the latest podcast of this radio station.
You can find a list of radio stations here: https://tunein.com/

Next post on this topic will be on installing a skill that you customize using Amazon Web Services and Amazon Developer services (but with the help of 'the people who know'). 

Friday, 16 February 2018

Open Textbooks through REBUS community #opened



Great open textbook opportunity! Ever contemplated writing and sharing an open textbook? This might be the moment/community you were waiting for. The Rebus community offers an organized (actively learning) option to create, review, add, to open textbook initiatives… and - in the end - get them published. So open access, open writing, open collaboration … all the way and with an international perspective as well, in addition to being open minded about using multiple languages. 
 
Driven by a huge goal: “building a universal library of free Open Textbooks in every subject, in every language”, I have the feeling this is something to volunteer for, even if it is simply to gain more knowledge on the subject itself. They gather librarians, educators, researchers... to start or help with getting projects realised. I am very tempted (which book first?!).

How does the Rebus community achieve this goal? By supporting initiatives to write, organise and publish open textbooks on specific subject matter, and in as many languages as possible. As it is a non-profit organisation, those willing to put an effort into creating an open textbook, will not be paid… but like in Wikipedia, every contributor adds to a greater good: available open textbooks.
Every open textbook is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license, where the copyright remains with the author(s), and readers have access to the content without any kind of payment. 

Forum-driven, but with social extensions and network
Their main medium to create these textbooks is a forum. Forums have been trialed, tested over decades and they work if they are actively moderated. In this case, it is a dynamic and focused forum moderation.
They partner up with institutions and organizations dedicated to Open Textbooks, including: The Open Textbook Network, BCcampus, eCampus Ontario and OpenOregon (University of Arizona, University of Washington, University of British Columbia, Cleveland State University, University of Saskatchewan, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Brigham Young University, University of Hawaii, University of Maryland, and Plymouth State University).
More practical FAQ’s can be found here: https://about.rebus.community/faq/

Some practical first findings

  • The collaboration can take place on multiple levels: copy edit/proofread/illustrate (etc.).
  • The forum is well organized, and clearly aims at promoting collaboration based on social interaction.
  • They have monthly, online office hours/meetings: video meetings offering advise or sharing knowledge (one definitely worth watching is the “open textbook: internationalperspectives” video with guest speakers from South-Africa, Haiti, Chile, Australia and USA), all of the videos can be seen here, e.g. how to adapt open textbooks, as well as planning options (e.g. who is willing to work on what).
  • Although the community relies heavily on a forum, there is a clear and well-designed social media integration, both for projects, posts as for social purposes (e.g. following).

The Rebus community describes itself as
The Rebus Community is a non-profit organization developing a new, collaborative process for publishing open textbooks, and associated content. Rebus is building tools and resources to support open textbook publishing, and to bring together a community of faculty, librarians, students and others working with open textbooks around the world.
We want to make it easy for the community to contribute to the creation of open textbooks (their own, or others’), and support the creation of new, high-quality open textbooks, available for free to anyone, in standard formats (web, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and print).

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Workshops worth attending: #storytelling, #citizenship and #mobile learning

Great workshops and seminars are open for registration, and gladly listing three that caught my attention: two in Europe (Germany and France), one in Maryland, USA.

Beyond Storytelling 2018: Re-Authoring Futures
When: 8 – 9 June 2018
Where: Hamburg, Germany
Cost to attend: 1000 EUR.
Early bird: 790 EUR (28 February)
Program: http://www.beyondstorytelling.com/program/ (Keynotes from: Joe Lambert (Chief listener and convener), Chené Swart (Consultant and trainer), Sohail Inayatullah (UNESCO)
Description (from organisation)
Futures are unknown and cannot be known. Yet, individually and collectively, we need an image and an idea how the future will look like to inform and guide our decisions and actions in the here and now.
At the same time, we are tempted, as individuals, organizations and communities to project what we know into the future. All too often, these imagined futures are constrained by what we think is possible or impossible to do.
True change and innovation rests on our ability to re-imagine and re-author the futures we want to live into – to open new perspectives and new ways of thinking and doing.
At BEYOND STORYTELLING 2018 we want to explore the potential of narrative approaches and working with stories to support organizations, individuals and communities in exploring their futures anew.

UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2018
When: 26 – 30 March 2018
Where: UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France.
Cost: registration mandatory. No cost to attend, but travel and stay at your own expense.
Description:
Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education conference. Mobile Learning Week 2018 is being organized in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for ICT.
The 2018 event will be organized under the theme “Skills for a connected world”. Participants will exchange knowledge about the ways governments and other stakeholders can define and achieve the skills-related targets specified by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4).
The conference, consisting of four related sub-events, will facilitate actions to:
Defining and mainstreaming digital skills;
Innovating skills provision for jobs in the digital economy;
Closing inequalities and gender divides; and
Mapping and anticipating changing skill needs
The sub-themes and sub-events of the conference are explained in detail in the concept note. Overall, Mobile Learning Week 2018 will provide a platform to share exemplary practices in mobile learning, with a specific focus on blending ‘non-digital’ education approaches and mobile learning applications in order to reduce inequality, spur innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and bridge formal and non-formal systems.
Programme
Workshops - Monday 26 March
The Workshops will facilitate demonstrations of innovative policies, research, projects, and mobile learning solutions. Workshop presenters will be selected from wide range of international organizations, NGOs, governmental agencies, and academic institutions that are implementing digital skills development programmes. Sixteen workshops will be conducted.
Symposium – Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 March
The Symposium forms the core of Mobile Learning Week and will feature opening and closing remarks from UNESCO, ITU and other partner organizations, keynote speeches, highlevel plenary addresses, and over 60 breakout sessions.
Policy Forum – Thursday 29 March (invitation only)
The Policy Forum will offer a platform to discuss the different pathways that governments are using to support the development of the digital skills required in the digital economy.
Download the Policy Forum agenda.
Strategy Labs - Friday 30 March 
Strategy Labs will be hosted by UNESCO and ITU partner organizations to help guide the conceptualization and refinement of projects for defining frameworks, assessing digital skills across groups and across time, and anticipating the changing needs for digital skills.

Seminar: Citizenship in the American and Global Polity: An Interdisciplinary Seminar for College and University Faculty
When: 15 – 20 July 2018
Where: Aspen Wye River campus in Queenstown, Maryland, USA
Registration: 1 March 2018 at the latest

Cost:
Full participant = $2,975
Accompanying spouse/guest = $2,100 (shared room, all meals)
All costs include lodging, meals, group events, and materials. Airfare and transportation to and from the closest airport is not included; early flight booking is strongly recommended.
Description: 
Part of the Wey Academic Programs. The Wye Faculty Seminar is one of the premier faculty development programs. The seminar seeks to address what we believe is a central need of faculty members—to exchange ideas with colleagues from other disciplines and other institutions committed to liberal education, and to probe ideas and values that are foundational to liberal learning in a free society.

Modeled in the tradition of the Aspen Institute Executive Seminars, the Wye Faculty Seminar combines three essential goals:
to gather a diverse group of thoughtful individuals in intellectually rigorous discussions;
to explore great literature stretching from ancient to contemporary time; and
to translate ideas into action suitable to the challenges of our age.

Outcomes and Impact
Past participants have emphasized the following outcomes and impact of their participation in the Wye Faculty Seminar:
Personal and professional refreshment;
Deeper and broader knowledge of interdisciplinary approaches to classroom discussions;
Exposure to diverse academic and personal perspectives.
An example of past curriculum can be found here.

The Wye Faculty Seminar is offered to selected faculty members who have the honor of being nominated by their presidents and deans for their distinctive contributions to the quality of liberal education.
The Wye Faculty Seminar combines vigorous intellectual exchange with time to read, reflect, exercise, and socialize on the beautiful Aspen Wye River campus in Queenstown, Maryland. The seminar is supported jointly by AAC&U and the Aspen Institute.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Top 10 open access papers from 2017 @nidl_dcu #research #onlinelearning #open

The National Institute for Digital Learning in Dublin (NIDL), Ireland has listed what they see as the top 10 open access articles worth reading in 2017 here (with a small abstract for each). All the top reads are featured in open access journals with high quality criteria. The paper by Perkins and Lowenthal is of interest, as they ranked open access journals. I have the impression open access is (luckily!) still on the rise. Unfortunately, open access papers are rarely seen as a valuable career move for early to experienced researchers.The NIDL launched the top papers one by one through twitter @NIDL_DCU .

Last year one of my co-authored papers with Aras Bozkurt (who was also a top author in the 2017 papers!) and Nilgün Ozdamar Keskin entitled Research Trends in Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Theses and Dissertations: Surfing the Tsunami Wave was part of the top 10 reads for 2016 (which we only found out just now *blush*). For those wanting to read the full list of 2016 articles, feel free to find them listed here.

These are the 10 publications that NIDL has considered for the 2017 list, although it needs to be stressed that there are many other journal articles worthy of consideration and further evaluation depending on your specific interests:

No. 1: Blended Learning Citation Patterns And Publication Networks Across Seven Worldwide Regions

Authors: Kristian Spring & Charles Graham Journal: Australasian Journal of Educational Technology

No. 2 Review and Content Analysis of International Review of Research in Open and Distance/Distributed Learning (2000–2015)

Authors: Olaf Zawacki-Richte, Uthman Alturki & Ahmed Aldraiweesh
Journal: International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

No. 3 Trends and Patterns in Massive Open Online Courses: Review and Content Analysis of Research on MOOCs (2008-2015)

Authors: Aras Bozkurt, Ela Akgün-Özbek, & Olaf Zawacki-Richter
Journal: International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

No. 4 Theories and Frameworks for Online Education: Seeking an Integrated Model

Author: Anthony G Picciano
Journal: Online Learning Journal 

No. 5 A Critical Review of the Use of Wenger’s Community of Practice (CoP) Theoretical Framework in Online and Blended Learning Research, 2000-2014

Authors: Sedef Uzuner Smith, Suzanne Hayes & Peter Shea
Journal: Online Learning Journal

No. 6 Refining Success and Dropout in Massive Open Online Courses Based on the Intention–behavior Gap

Authors: Maartje A. Henderikx, Karel Kreijns & Marco Kalz
Journal: Distance Education

No. 7 Special Report on the Role of Open Educational Resources in Supporting the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education Challenges and Opportunities

Author: Rory McGreal
Journal: International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

No. 8 A National Study of Online Learning Leaders in US Higher Education

 Author: Eric Fredericksen
Journal: Online Learning Journal

No. 9 Bot-teachers in Hybrid Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): A post-Humanist Experience

Authors: Aras Bozkurt, Whitney Kilgore & Matt Crosslin
Journal: Australasian Journal of Educational Technology

No. 10 Gamifying Education: What is Known, What is Believed and What Remains Uncertain: A Critical Review

Authors: Christo Dichev and Darina Dicheva
Journal: International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education

    Great reads, each one of them.

    Monday, 15 January 2018

    In search for #AI for critical thinking in #education #criticalthinking #language

    Who knows of Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives being developed to support critical thinking in education, or based on data text analysis and cognitive language use? Please drop me a line (or message). To give you an idea of what proceeded this question, I am providing some AI background, including my thoughts. A good read is the paper by Yeomans, Stewart, Mavon, Kindel, Tingley and Reich investigating "the civic mission of MOOCs: engagement across political differencess in online forums", which adds to the idea of using AI as a way to stimulate debate across opposing viewpoints, thus enhancing critical thinking (for those willing). 

    AI to help human thinking processes
    AI is rapidly expanding its reach: you have initiatives of meaningful curated content generated by AI into elearning (e.g. Wildfire http://www.wildfirelearning.co.uk/ ), you have legal research analysed and organised by AI (e.g. http://www.rossintelligence.com/ ), you have multiple AI molding social media interactions based on factors such as friends, exchanging ideas, similar content (sometimes opinions) shared… basically, industry is looking at AI as a means to refocus on less-repetitive parts of their business or profit goals (https://insidebigdata.com/2017/01/29/amplifying-human-potential-towards-purposeful-artificial-intelligence-a-perspective-for-cios/ ).

    But, I am wondering whether there is research projects taking into account AI using text analysis but including cognitive language use to enhance critical thinking (for instance: if you have echo chambers, why not use AI to pick up frequently used arguments from ‘the other side’ to generate more in-depth arguments for either side. Or for those looking to become dominating world leaders (devils advocate here): creating something which goes beyond fake news: using arguments that feel right but actually are built using persuasive language construction to trigger a feeling of ‘that is right’ and parallels what a person thinks is morally correct (I said it was a devils advocate example :D )

    AI in education
    With all the talk on the new citizens needing to be ‘creative’ mindset above anything else, the creativity does not seem to emerge yet in AI, the focus is still more on rehashing what is already there, but with more focus on the norm by using AI in education (I could be wrong, feel free to provide arguments on why creativity is indeed boosted by AI in education).
    A couple of examples where AI is used to boost learning, but along the lines of existing norms, nevertheless of interest.
    Deep Knowledge Training. One of the interesting strands of AI in education research is Deep Knowledge Training (a good read is the 2015 paper by Piech, Bassen, Huang, Ganguli, Sahami, Guibas and Sohl-Dickstein https://web.stanford.edu/~cpiech/bio/papers/deepKnowledgeTracing.pdf ) this allows a machine to model the knowledge of a student as they interact with coursework. It can be used to extrapolate student performance for instance. This seems to be good, but you know that this is based on ‘what we expect of students’, which is not necessarily what could be good for humanity or social thinking.
    Assessing future scores. Another example is the algorithm built by Google and Stanford which relates to a students learning ability (well more specifically how a student would answer questions) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3380374/The-end-exams-Algorithm-predict-students-answer-questions-explain-questions-wrong.html . Here as well, the learning seems to parallel taking exams… which does not seem to promote creative thinking.
    IBM Watson for education (https://www.ibm.com/watson/education ). Starts from the idea of personalised learning (and passion, so I really love that starting point), but when I looked at the videos, the definition of personalised learning seemed to be limited to personal interests (in educator video), which limits the concept of personalised learning. And though it is good to provide skill-level content, if the content base you pull it from is standard…. The standards will again be the norm, which does not necessarily result in creative ideas or insights.

    AI based on language data
    One example I found using AI in relation to natural language processing is NexLP (https://www.nexlp.com/ ) (quoting from their page: “leveraging the latest advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP), Cognitive Analytics, and Machine LearningStory Engine turns disparate, unstructured data - including email communications, business chat messages, contracts and legal documents - into meaningful insight that can be used to act, as well as combined with structured data to create a truly comprehensive view of the entire data universe.) and the people behind NexLP state that they use cognitive analysis to add more context to the actual text analysis”.
    But when looking at it, it seems more of an enhanced interactive dashboard at first glance. This means it feels more like a quantifiable AI implementation than a qualitive one. One of the solutions to filter meaningful content is wikification (where you link entities https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entity_linking ) which seems to be an effective way to add context to text analytics technology (https://www.nexlp.com/blog/2017/12/26/nlp-technology-architecture )

    Past fake news or beyond critical thinking
    The term fake news is now a given in many politician’s speech, both in its originally intended definition, as well as in popular debate where it functions as a way to ridicule and diminish the truth or value of an argument by an opposing person. But maybe we can turn this around. Create algorithms that can be used to enhance our debating skills, our critical thinking by generating arguments that are most frequently used by groups gently opposing our views. I mention gently opposing, as persuasive arguments are rarely harsh, completely opposing arguments.
    I see this as a possible way to tear down the echo chambers created by filter bubbles, and build bridges. Or at least get a conversation started.  

    Feel free to share your thoughts or link to examples.

    Picture from http://cdn.nanalyze.com/uploads/2017/08/mckinsey.jpg 

    Wednesday, 10 January 2018

    Free OpenCon online Conference 25 January focus #K12 and #OER highlights #education #online

    The best way to start the year is by promoting Openness either in education, development or academic work. Yes, it is all happening in January, so join or read up, which ever you prefer. Or simply keep informed with the @Open_Con twitter account.

    OpenCon18 online on 25 January 2018

    Athabasca University is organising a virtual, free K-12 Open Educational Resources Teacher conference on:
    Date: January 25, 2018
    Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. MST (Mountain Standard Time = UTC -7)
    Theme: “Building the K-12 OER Teacher Network
    Hashtag: #K-12OC2018

    Open Education Resource (OER) novice and champions are invited. 
    As a satellite offering of the OpenCon17 held in Berlin, the OpenCon18 will mark a first for educators, within Alberta and beyond. Presentations will range from OER fundamentals to the current K-12 OER landscape. Schedule:

    10:00 – 10:25 MST Understanding the Commons for K-12 Serena Henderson
    10:25 – 10:30  5 min Break
    10:30 – 10:55 Go Open: From the Ground Up Kristina Ishmael Peters & Heather Callihan
    10:55 – 11:00 5 min Break
    11:00 – 11:25 Simple Curation: Using Online Tools to Collect, Organize, and Share OER Resources Stephanie Slaton
    11:25 – 11:30 5 min Break
    11:30 -11:55 Opening Up 1-12 Education in Alberta Frank McCallum & Lise Pethybridge
    11:55 – Noon 5 min Break
    12:00 – 12:25 The Multiply K-12 OER Media Project Connie Blomgren
    12:25 – 12:30 5 min Break
    12: 30 – 12:55 Sharing K-12 Resources Across Canada: Silos, Gardens, or Open Range? Randy Labonte
    1:45 – 2:00 Building the K-12 OER Teacher Network – Next steps? Facilitated by Connie Blomgren

    Ending our virtual offering will be a unique dialogue – the “Berlin Remix”. A panel discussion has been organized so that the OpenCon18 K-12 Athabasca discussants (and attendees – asked upon registration) to view in advance a 20 minute video clip. This recording was part of the Berlin OpenCon17 conference where an international panel explored the broad topic of Inclusive Education and how OER responds to diversity and inclusion needs within education.

    For our panel, the discussants will address this Berlin discussion and will “remix” two questions of OER curriculum creation. Within an OER curricular resource, how can educators consider: Who is missing? and Whose knowledge is reliable?

    OER holds opportunity for rethinking how resources are accessed and used by K-12 educators. Come and join the “Berlin Remix” Panel Discussion - and one, some or all of the offerings! We hope to nurture a K-12 OER teacher network – and this virtual conference marks the first step of this journey.

    Note: registration is suggested but not required. The K-12 OC will be recorded and archived on the BOLT Multi-author Blog.

    OpenCon17 highlights
    On November 11-13, the fourth annual OpenCon meeting in Berlin, Germany was held. OpenCon 2017 included a diverse set of panels, regional workshops, project presentations, unconference sessions, and a very first OpenCon Do-a-Thon
    These activities are highlighted on a webpage here, so feel free to spend some time exploring and sharing them. You can also find notes to all sessions here, and a full Youtube playlist from 2017 here.

    More on the Do-a-Thon
    The OpenCon Do-a-Thon was organised in November 2017 and deserves a bit of extra attention: building off the concept of a hackathon, a do-a-thon is a work-sprint where people from different skill sets work together and collaborate on different challenges and projects. For OpenCon 2017’s do-a-thon, the focus was on building projects and solutions that seek to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. 
    More information on the Do-a-Thon can be found here: http://doathon.opencon2017.org/  and to give you an idea of what they did, I am pasting some of the information here (feel free to look at the links, and see what the participants came up with):

    1. Anyone can propose a problem to work on.

    Is there a big question or challenge you want to tackle in Open Research and Education? Here's a chance to share it with the community and work together on designing a solution. Participants can submit challenges the day of the do-a-thon, but we'd love if folks could submit big questions they want to tackle in advance, too. Find out more about how to submit a challenge here.

    2. Anyone can propose a project for others to collaborate on and contribute to.

    Have a project idea you want to put into action? Or an existing project that needs development or support? The do-a-thon is a great opportunity to receive support and contributions from collaborators around the world. Learn more about how to propose and lead a project here.

    3. Anyone can contribute their skills and ideas to existing challenges and projects.

    Participate from wherever you are by contributing to one or more of the do-a-thon projects and challenges submitted. We expect that most of the action will take place on November 13th, but feel free to get in touch with project leads and see how you can help out beforehand! You can explore the growing list of projects and challenges we're working on here.

    Wednesday, 13 December 2017

    Report on Innovative #Pedagogy #EdTech #elearning #data @IETatOU

    The new 48-page Innovative Pedagogy report from my colleagues at IET at the Open University, UK is published in collaboration with the Learning In a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). And as always it is of interest for everybody looking for a quick overview of interesting innovative educational technologies, including practical examples and linked references (with the great PhD-researcher Tina Papathoma @aktinaki on the front cover).
    The report was written by Rebecca Ferguson, Sarit Barzilai, Dani Ben-Zvi, Clark A Chinn,
    Christothea Herodotou, Yotam Hod, Yael Kali, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Haggai Kupermintz,
    Patrick McAndrew, Bart Rienties, Ornit Sagy, Eileen Scanlon, Mike Sharples, Martin Weller,
    Denise Whitelock.

    The 5 previous reports with themes can be found here.

    This report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. A remarkable move is the insistance of looking at the learning from the learners' perspective, including emotions, self-direction in terms of learning analytics, values and communities.
    1. Spaced learning: admittedly not that new, but functional and effective for more behaviorist content (including test preparation), includes 3 spaced learning resources.
    2. Citizen science: I am totally in favor of more of these projects, as citizen science can benefit from all for all citizens. The three resources mentioned (which you can experience as much as you like are: Galaxy Zoo (yes! observing and adding star galaxies!), iSpot (identifying plants and animals!), nQuire-it (which lets you decide what you want to explore - android mobiles)
    3. Open textbooks: in relation to OER, with links on the benefits of open pedagogy, for example a wonderful chapter by DeRosa and Robison entitles from OER to Open Pedagogy: harnessing the power of open.
    4. Navigating post-truth societies (think critical thinking in action): with a focus on epistemic education and ways to stimulate epistemic growth. Including the very useful guide for web literacy for student-fact-finders.
    5. Intergroup empathy (nice!): or understanding the perspectives of others. This connects with the post-truth society topic. A remarkable initiative is 'the enemy is here' (it is a mixed Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experience where you meet persons at different sides of a war conflict and you get to 'engage' with them and their believes which comes down to the shared humanity on both sides (small critique: mostly male protagonists it seems, but okay that can improved in later versions). And a science game called to-be-education.
    6. Immersive learning: or intensifying learning by experiencing new situations.
    7. Student-led analytics: refering to the University of Michigan and their toolkit for students to direct their learning based on data, the Academic Reporting Tool.
    8. Big data inquiry (thinking with big data):  wcith a nice link to Ocean Tracks.
    9. Learning with internal values: more along the line of using students' interests to stimulate their learning. 
    10. Humanistic knowledge building communities: helpint learners to develop knowledge (now that is a lifelong mission :)

    Monday, 11 December 2017

    Free report on #digital competences of educators #EUpolicy #education @EU_ScienceHub

    This 95 page report on Digital Competences of Educators was brought to my attention by the fabulous Yannis Angelis, who is also a great twitter networker (@YannisAngelis). This recently published report offers a European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators and is written by Christine Redecker and Yves Puni.

    This is a really strong framework (really good read) and it does touch all the competences a contemporary educator should have (and already has in many occasions). I think this framework can easily be tailored for practical use inside educational institutions. Another thought that crossed my mind: look at the competencies and than try to come up with any profession that includes all of these competencies as well... not easy, as it implies communication skills, technological skills, social skills and pedagogical skills.... and all in an increasingly complex world of learners. So what I hope is that this report will see the start of a reappreasal of the educator in the whole of society... I mean, you got to love the teachers!

    The tagline of the report is: the European Framework for the Digital Competence of (DigCompEdu) responds to the growing awareness among many European Member States that educators need a set
    of digital competences specific to their profession in order to be able to seize the potential of
    digital technologies for enhancing and innovating education.

    Content of the report
    The report focuses on 22 competences, organised in 6 areas:
    Area 1: Professional engagement, using digital technologies for communication, collaboration
    and professional development.
    Area 2: Digital Resources sourcing, creating and sharing digital resources.
    Area 3: Teaching and Learning Managing and orchestrating the use of digital technologies
    in teaching and learning.
    Area 4: Assessment using digital technologies and strategies to enhance assessment.
    Area 5: Empowering learners using digital technologies to enhance inclusion,
    personalisation and learners’ active engagement.
    Area 6: Facilitating learners’ digital competence, enabling learners to creatively and responsibly use digital technologies for information, communication, content creation, wellbeing and problem-solving.

    For each of these competences more information is given, including a description of what the authors define the competence to be, and how to achieve it.

    Nice side note: self-regulated learning is part of the competences of an educator. I really like the addition of this aspect to the teaching and learning competence.

    Take into account competence levels of the educators
    Another nice point of attention used in this report is the levels given to the competences in relation to the digital experience of the educator: in the first two stages of DigCompEdu, Newcomer (A1) and Explorer (A2), educators assimilate new information and develop basic digital practices; at the following two stages, Integrator (B1) and Expert (B2), educators apply, further expand and reflect
    on their digital practices; at the highest stages, Leader (C1) and Pioneer (C2), educators pass on their knowledge, critique existing practice and develop new practices.
    The labels for each competence level were selected to capture the particular focus of digital technology use typical for the competence stage. the descriptors also relate to an educator’s
    relative strengths and roles within a professional community. And within the report a clear proficiency progression by area is also provided (page 31). Adding examples to make this theoretical framework a practical document (e.g. finding digital resources and what this entails for all 6 competency levels). A lot of work is put into making this theoretical framework accessible for practical implementation, an aspect I really appreciate and like a lot.



    background of publication
    This publication is a Science for Policy report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, which you can follow @EU_ScienceHub. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process, but it also offers great insight into what policy makers find of interest, and where they think educators will benefit from in order to ensure digitally competent education.


    Abstract from the report
    As educators face rapidly changing demands, they require an increasingly broader and more sophisticated set of competences than before. In particular, the ubiquity of digital devices and the duty to help students become digitally competent requires educators to develop their own digital competence. On an international and national level a number of frameworks, self-assessment tools and training programmes have been developed to describe the facets of digital competence for educators and to help them assess their competence, identify their training needs and offer targeted training. Based on the analysis and comparison of these instruments, this report presents a common European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu). DigCompEdu is a scientifically sound background framework which helps to guide policy and can be directly adapted to implementing regional and national tools and training programmes. In addition, it provides a common language and approach that will help the dialogue and exchange of best practices across borders.
    The DigCompEdu framework is directed towards educators at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher and adult education, including general and vocational education and training, special needs education, and non-formal learning contexts. It aims to provide a general reference frame for developers of Digital Competence models, i.e. Member States, regional governments, relevant national and regional agencies, educational organisations themselves, and public or private professional training providers.