Igeneric Thoughts Archives: Education

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DfES e-Learning Strategy Published

March 15, 2018

Wired-GOV reports that the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) has published its keenly anticipated e-Learning Strategy for education providers across England.

Harnessing Technology: Transforming learning and children's services is available to download [as a PDF] from DfES and, despite the name, applies to colleges, universities and lifelong learning as well as to 'children'.

More once I've read it...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:47 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

HEFCE publishes their e-Learning Strategy

March 11, 2018

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has published their new e-Learning Strategy, developed jointly with JISC and the HE Academy.

This document probably provides hints as to some of the topics to be addressed in the more wide-reaching e-Learning Strategy from the Department for Education & Skills (DfES), presumably due any day now in order to get out before the election.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:44 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Culture Online receives more funding - and calls for proposals to spend it

March 3, 2018

Estelle Morris, Minister for the Arts at the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) today confirmed that Culture Online has been awarded a further £3,000,000 to spend on innovative interactive projects in 2018 and 2006.

Culture Online is now inviting project proposals from those with great new ideas...

Press Release from Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:00 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Making web sites accessible

December 17, 2004

In the UK, as elsewhere, it is a legal requirement that we take reasonable steps to make services accessible to those with a range of disabilities. Between them, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) and Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA) require that our web offerings meet at least a basic level of accessibility.

Given that, and JISC's ongoing support of the excellent TechDis service, it is disturbing to note recent figures from Headscape which suggest that only 43% of UK colleges and universities achieve the most basic level of web accessibility as defined by the Web Accessibility Initiative.

Thanks to Mike Heyworth at the CBA for drawing this to my attention.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 12:33 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (3)

European cultural project asks for thoughts on where we go next...

October 29, 2004

The European DigiCULT project is conducting an online consultation to build a roadmap for technological developments around a digital Cultural Heritage over the next 10 to 15 years.

Participate and help to shape where we go.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 12:43 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

DfES consults on personalised learning

October 14, 2004

The Department for Education & Skills (DfES) has launched a new pamphlet (PDF file) and website as part of their ongoing exploration of increasing choice within the education system in England.

Story from a Wired-GOV release.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:57 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Guardian on blogging in academia

September 23, 2004

Jim McClellan has a piece in today's Online, looking at some of the uses to which blogs are being put in academia.

It still seems to be driven by interested individuals, and I wonder if the time is right for some more official engagement with what's being done and what might be possible?

Notification from Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 10:42 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Piece on Creative Commons and BBC Creative Archive in Media Guardian

September 21, 2004

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing draws my attention to a piece in the Media Guardian [free registration required] in which Becky Hogge takes a look at the BBC's exciting Creative Archive project and talks to Stanford's Lawrence Lessig about the Creative Commons licence that is part of what makes it so paradigm-changing.

Thousands of hours of BBC footage, rights cleared so that you can view it it, share it, and reuse it yourself in a range of non-commercial ways. The first tranche of content should be available to view in the Autumn.

Article posted - eventually! - from a train whizzing up the East Coast mainline, courtesy of GNER's disappointingly flaky on-train Wi-fi network. Nice idea, but I'm not paying for it again until it works.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:32 | Make or Read Comments(1) | TrackBack (1)

How ubiquity shifts the goal posts

September 19, 2004

In an earlier post, I wondered about how ubiquity of access to computers in schools might change the way in which learners engage with technology and the resources that it places at their disposal.

In a similar vein, David Davies' Educational Technology blog mentions that the University of Warwick will be offering every student their own blog from the start of this session.

Can it change the learning experience? Can it enrich the lives of contributors and readers? Or will initial interest die down, ending up with the University running something for a hardcore few who are enthusiastic enough that they would have found Livejournal or TypePad all by themselves?

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:36 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Brewster Kahle's Bookmobile

September 16, 2004

Yesterday, I was in the Hague.

I was there to present a "Reality Check" on current efforts to digitise cultural content, as part of Strategies for a European Area of Digital Cultural Resources, organised under the Netherlands' Presidency of the European Union.

Other reality checks were from David Bearman and Brewster Kahle, and both had challenging and fascinating viewpoints to expound.

David, for example, was arguing that excessive standardisation or regulation of our online activities will only act to stifle creativity. He pointed to lessons from previous technologies, where it often took more than a decade for a real understanding of potential uses to emerge. He also pointed to evidence from real users of the Internet, and their apparent embracing of it as a facilitator of networking, of communication. They blog, they chat, they mail, and they share. How do we fit with that, rather than imposing our world view upon them and their interactions with our content?

Brewster talked about the ongoing efforts of the Internet Archive to preserve snapshots of the Internet, and to offer it up for search via the Wayback Machine.

He also discussed work that the Archive has been doing with their Bookmobile. This is the public face of an ongoing effort to digitise out-of-copyright books, and to make them available to people cheaply and conveniently. Brewster reckoned that it costs around $10 to digitise one of these books. Visitors to a Bookmobile (touring in the USA, India and Egypt at present) select the book they want, have it downloaded via satellite to the Bookmobile and printed out - there and then - in a process that Brewster reckons costs around $1 per book. The quality is remarkable, as is the convenience.

Imagine the potential. Every public domain book, available to anyone, readable online or downloadable in order to print and bind their very own copy.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:00 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

City Heritage guides now available

September 16, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum this week unveiled its City Heritage Guides.

Produced with funding from DCMS' Culture Online, the site offers in-depth access to information on ten English cities, as well as providing mechanisms for local groups and individuals to contribute their views.

News from a Wired-GOV release

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:01 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (5)

Opening up information

August 26, 2004

One of the issues often raised in the context of the Common Information Environment is that of allowing access to information and resources through multiple channels, and in ways suited to the user and their needs rather than to the providing organisation(s).

I was in Edinburgh earlier this week, and spent some time with SCRAN. Amongst a range of interesting activities with which they are engaged, they offer some examples of exactly what I mean.

Their content, largely the result of some £10,000,000 of public funding through the Millennium Commission, is available on their own web site. There, users can search for items and group them in different and interesting ways as ‘albums’. These albums can be disclosed to others so, for example, a class teacher could prepare albums of relevant material for their class.

The SCRAN database also exists as a Z39.50 target. This means that it’s available for searching alongside resources from related organisations, as demonstrated by HEIRNET’s HEIRPORT system.

Content from the SCRAN database is also offered up via services branded and delivered by a range of other agencies involved in heritage, tourism, and related areas.

Finally (for this post, anyway), the ability to search SCRAN’s database can be dropped into almost any web site, anywhere, thanks to a small snippet of code.

send detailsclear details

With their new web site coming, and a range of activities that seem wholly in line with the Igeneric vision, I look forward to seeing much more from this excellent resource, which really seems to have grasped the idea that the end user should not need to know that SCRAN - or their website - exists in order to make use of quality SCRAN-managed content.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Blogging in schools

August 20, 2004

Yesterday’s New York Times has an interesting piece on the use of weblogs in a US Second Grade class.

The piece discusses a few examples of use, and some of the pros and cons. According to the article, one school district in Cincinnati plans to require teachers to maintain blogs after they complete a course of training.

Is anyone aware of examples from British Primary schools?

Item picked up a few places, including Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 08:54 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

DfES Five Year Strategy - Personalised learning and choice

July 8, 2004

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has just published its five year strategy for children and learners.

As with other bits of current government thinking, choice, personalisation, and a focus on the learner rather than the institution features highly.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:03 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (3)

Report on using the built environment in education

July 1, 2004

Opening Doors: Learning in the Historic Built Environment reports on three years of research and consultation into the value of historic buildings and sites in education. It includes case studies of current successes and recommendations for the future.

The work was funded by The Attingham Trust, DfES, and a number of charitable foundations, and drawn to my attention by Mike Heyworth at the CBA.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

How might ubiquity of access change the picture?

June 23, 2004

Schools, as Ofsted states, are making great advances in the ways in which ICT is deployed as a tool to aid work across the whole curriculum.

However, the reality of current funding means that difficult choices usually need to be made between equipping a single ICT suite well or providing each classroom with anything more than a single machine (and, maybe, a digital whiteboard). Added to this - and an increasing problem - is the ongoing cost of replacing existing kit as it becomes obsolete.

If ICT is really to become bedded into the consciousness of pupils, and become a second-nature tool to which they turn when appropriate without a second thought, then it needs to become far more ubiquitous than it will ever be as the outcome of a whole-class timetabled trip to the ICT suite. Pupils and teachers need to be able to turn to ICT as a tool when the need/mood arises, exactly as they might cross the classroom to pick up a dictionary, encyclopedia, or box of counting bricks.

In most schools, we're a very long way from that. This means that ICT is not becoming as fully embedded as we might wish (and this isn't really anyone's fault; it's just frighteningly expensive). If the hardware isn't available, then the content isn't being discovered and utilised to its full potential, either.

A piece in August's (hardcopy) MacWorld, of all places, drew my attention to an article in the Edinburgh Evening News.

According to this, the four local authorities in and around the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, are looking to provide every child above Infant level with a laptop. Apparently, every child in a single year group should get a machine next year, with the programme extended to other year groups over the subsequent three years.


I hope there's going to be some serious evaluation of the impacts of this. As the article points out, evidence from the US State of Maine (where there's a similar programme) suggests significant increases in attainment.

It would also be interesting to specifically explore how the use of content changes. Take SCRAN, for example. An excellent resource, originally compiled with Millennium Fund money, and available to every school in Scotland thanks to funding from the Scottish Executive.

They're based in Edinburgh. Might a few nudges be enough to join things up?

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 22:16 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)

Museum site for children wins big award

June 22, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum’s child-friendly site, Show Me, has just been named as best Arts, Culture, and Heritage Project at the 2004 Charity Awards.

Congratulations to all involved.

Story from the 24 Hour Museum...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:17 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Promotion of media literacy

June 9, 2004

Ofcom, the UK Government's Office of Communications (and regulator for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services) has a new consultation out that's worth responding to.

The document, Ofcom's strategy and priorities for the promotion of media literacy, explores what needs to be done to turn those who receive broadcast media in the UK into informed decision makers as to the content, appropriateness, and subject of the material.

Perhaps understandably, there's an emphasis in the document upon media literacy as a protection tool; parents having the media literacy skills to decide that a programme is unsuitable for their children and prevent them from viewing it.

There's also a positive side, though, about media literacy as empowerment, as a driver for choice, as an incentiviser, which I'd have liked to see receive a higher profile.

One thing that the document suggests is likely to be important is consistent, reliable, and intelligible labelling of content, along the lines of BBFC classifications of films shown in cinemas, the violence ratings on computer games, etc. As the document highlights, a proliferation of these technology/medium/platform-specific labels is a huge potential problem given increasing convergence. Why should the game you play on your PC be rated differently to the e-Book you read on it, the music DVD you listen to on it, the Web site you visit on it, and the television programme you stream to it? Isn't it, to the user, just content? There is some joining up going on, at least within Government, and I'm hopeful that any resulting recommendation will make sense to things like Culture Online, Curriculum Online, and the BBC's online presence, rather than just to the radio and television programmes that are Ofcom's core area of responsibility. Here's hoping, anyway.

Igeneric gets a mention, too, on page 10. ;-)

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:54 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (3)

Education in museums and galleries

April 22, 2004

The Government has just announced an additional £7,000,000 to fund educational work in English museums and galleries.

This is great news, and I look forward to seeing some innovative projects developed on the back of this money.

From my perspective, though, the really good bit of the announcement is that the money is being jointly committed by the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - and that the relevant Secretaries of State were both involved in the announcement.

Joined up Government. Brilliant.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:42 | Make or Read Comments(0)

Feedback on the Unified e-Learning Strategy

April 7, 2004

The Department for Education & Skills (DfES) published a consultation document last July, seeking comments on their moves towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy across all levels of formal education in England (not Scotland, and I'm a bit hazy about whether or not Wales and Northern Ireland were in or out of scope... as is so often the case with things from 'UK' government departments).

Today, they released their analysis of the comments received (it's a Word document).

On the whole, the responses seem positive.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:13 | Make or Read Comments(0)

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