Author Archives: Joe Wilson

Appearing on Radar – Some blockchain Strangelove around Qualifications and Certification⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

Follow these links and and you will quickly see what they have in common .

Digital certification , credentialing call them what you will - as blockchain technology matures it is becoming easier to create verifiable certificates to authenticate learning.

Add this backend to an #openbadge and things will really shift
You could have really tiny bits of learning authenticated in ways that the current system has always really struggled to certificate.

But for the mainstream, no more costly replacement paper certificates to take to interview .

If your university , college or awarding body uses one of these systems , then in a few clicks , they will be able to check your qualifications .

Good to see innovation arriving in this space.

#digifest alternative – Scottish Stakeholders Event Stirling⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

Well done Jisc for putting on a mini-event in Stirling,  as an alternative to the longer trip to Birmingham for Scottish Universities and Colleges.  Though it was another scary snowbound driving day - a final highland fling from the Beast from the East ( a wintry front hitting the UK currently) and that probably impacted the number of Universities and Colleges in attendance.

The proceedings included a number of the keynotes streamed live and an opportunity to ask some questions to Paul Feldman Jisc CEO on stage in Birmingham. 

The local agenda was a useful update on Jisc services and some brain storming around what services Universities and Colleges in Scotland will need in the future.

If you hunt down the #digifest jisc youtube channel you will find the rest of the sessions and the streaming sessions due tomorrow.  All the presentations are available here

Here are my notes / probably shaped by my own selective attention.

1. There is a new free to FE service being launched from Jisc procured through  Airbus Geospatial,  as a service  The new collection gives better and deeper access to mapping tools in the FE collection . The new collection includes as standard access to nautical maps. Can see some staff development needs emerging around new service. There is so much scope to bring maps with layers of other services into so many more areas of the curriculum. I can't find authoritative link for this.

2. Jisc is about to roll out a new set of learning and teaching resources aimed at supporting Health and Social Care courses in FE  across the UK . Fifty centres are already piloting the content and it is getting very positive feedback . This is Jisc's first foray into paid for content and service charges will be announced shortly . I am hoping we can get a preview of the materials soon.

3. Jisc is expanding the bibliographic knowledge base ( NBK) in expectation that every HE library will eventually be a member . ( begs question what about HE in FE ? )

4. Gratifying to spot in one of the beamed in sessions that Jisc is adopting and supporting the further roll out of Citizen Maths well done Jisc !

5. In Scotland - the Scottish Government has agreed that all relevant buildings should now be broadcasting wifi access to both Eduroam and Govroam - this is good news , I can't find an authoritative source for this - but it makes great sense. Providing seamless access for those in education and or working for Scottish government as we move between public buildings.  I'll ask if this has been implemented at City of Glasgow College.

6. Jisc has greatly expanded its network security training portfolio for Universities and Colleges. New services are available through the Cyber-security Portal   including a DDOS mitigation service . A new X-Ray network security service in about to arrive along with CISO Services (chief information security officer)  , an intrusion detection service and a cyber threat intelligence feed.

7. Jisc is now offering more services around cloud migration strategies for centres that are ready for this . Services are via Express Route , Amazon direct connect and a range of other services. It is simply more cost effective than having local server racks and rooms.

We discussed a range of other services , live projects and support from Jisc

Jisc Financial X-Ray for analysing a centres IT spend
Learning Analytics -  still on-boarding centres
Student Digital Experience Tracker  -  a useful tool for supporting learners
Staff Digital Capability Toolkit  - being piloted with one hundred centres across the UK currently
Kit Catalogue - a means of sharing real and virtual kit across institutions
Safe Share -   for managing the secure sharing of sensitive research data sets

Other useful shares from the day - 

In England, FE Colleges are to start paying an annual subscription charge on a  banded basis for Jisc services . SFC in agreement with Colleges Scotland are continuing to pay a national fee for Jisc services in Scotland.  But might be shape of things to come .

Some chat about sharing best practice around systems and support , in Scotland we have lots of agencies and gang huts but perhaps not enough cross sectoral work - one for HEIDS UCISA etc
Have to confess UCISA fees are more reasonable than I thought they once were.

Colleges and Universities in Scotland would like more access to the resources of The National Cybersecurity Centre   , specifically the webcheck, mailcheck and DNS checking tools.

Advantages and challenges around changing market for plagiarism software.
Some chat among College folk of benefits of staying of leaving the Copy Right Licencing Agency agreements currently in place.

And we duly gave Jisc lots of ideas for new services and projects

And home in time for parents evening.

#assessmenttomorrow An Overview⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

Last week,  I chaired the 12th  Assessment Tomorrow Conference . It was great to see a packed house and to see that e-assessment has moved from being the preserve of a specialist few to something that everyone is now trying to mainstream. I think we filled a very small room at the first conference.

 The slide above is from an excellent session from Prof Linda Creanor on the GCU approach to making digital assessment the default across the University.

We still have a way to go to make digital assessment accessible to all. We have a real opportunity in Scotland , if we can get all of the sectors that support learning to work together to make some strong progress in this area.

We still need to recognise that online assessment can take many forms and that it can be much more flexible than more traditional forms of assessment. In my opening I did some plugs for the Association of Learning Technology , Open Scotland and for new European standards for digital educators, significant in that they include a section on understanding digital assessment .

The link to all of the presentations arrived today and prompted me to share some of my notes, as the chair, there were some excellent insights over a very engaging day.

Here is quick summary of what we heard on day - it is my shorthand, so hope I am not short changing anyone .

Gill Stewart Director of Qualifications SQA
SQA has ambitious plans to move things on - but always concerned about access for all and the speed that the whole system can move at . This impacts the speed that SQA can move at.  But good to hear that SQA is finally working with Skills Development Scotland around the vocational landscape. Think there is still a way to go in both speeding up and making things much more transparent here. It has to happen fast or the Scottish system will be overtaken by vocational reforms that are now well underway in the rest of the UK . I hope things can move faster on all fronts. I know it is not SQA but all the baggage - that is educational establishment - that really slows things down here. But I'll come back to going at the pace of the slowest.

Liam Cahill Scottish Government
Working to make sure that changes in assessment,  principally in schools space are evidence based. The government has lots of ambition and some clear policy drivers - the government challenge is often to get 32 local authorities to move forward together. In Scotland government set policy but it is interpreted and delivered by 32 local authorities. 

But tellingly this presentation was all about schools , school teachers.
I think there should be a bit more thought here about colleges and work-based learning. We need government to think about life long learning and not in silos

Brian Clark  Education Scotland
It is easy to forget how useful GLOW could be in delivering lots of things - there remains a real opportunity for SQA and Colleges to work in and around GLOW -but it needs some better partnership working. In my narrow view not using GLOW should not be an option for any local authority or any teacher . It needs SQA and Education Scotland to work together on things like models of self evaluation and quality systems - and they both need to use GLOW to engage teachers.  That would make system work.

There is a huge irony that Education Scotland still not making GLOW the main means of engaging teachers ?

GLOW is good - go and have another look at it !

Robin McGregor North East College
A super college presentation , putting North East College on my radar as a centre for innovative learning practice . They have  created a supported model for learners around BYOD and a clear model for staff development that supports learning into a digital learning future. I am going to get in touch with Robin as we progress CityLearning4.0  . This was the week Glasgow schools announced biggest European partnership with Apple to add a new dimension. Heading towards ipads for all in Glasgow.  I love my ipad but see earlier postings I am not sure about this approach - I like laptops.
I'm still looking for an authoritative link to Glasgow story.

Dr Claire McKinley / School teachers perspective West Calder High School 
A good presentation on the use of SOLAR the current SQA online assessment system. Key message learners enjoy using on-line assessments and want more. I wonder how many centres are monitoring learner satisfaction and driving up the use of SOLAR . Learners want more online assessment - are your colleagues , your institutional policies and barrier to delivering this ?

Charlie Love Aberdeen City
The city is moving to chrome devices for all supported by Google Apps for Education and this is changing the learning and assessment landscape for all learners and teachers across the city.  Driving learning at all stages. Clearly huge synergies in this and developments at North East College

Philip John Scholar
Scholar continues to provide a range of learning and support across broad range of subjects and is well embedded across the school system , complete with diagnostic and formative subject assessments . Now about to do all the training for the new national school literacy and numeracy tests, the Scottish National Standardised Assessments , to give them their full title . The local support commissioned from Scholar and Twig Learning.  This should herald a new wave of understanding of models of e-assessment in primary and secondary schools.

Prof Linda Creanor  GCU
Making digital assessment the default is helping drive a broad range of digital practice across the university and so supporting digital learning in all of its forms. Yes, the  University still has big end of year exams but by switching all other assessments towards digital the staff are finally moving towards a changed culture.  Colleges and SQA should take note

Matt Wingfield - Digital Assess
A useful plug for free membership of the UK  E- Assessment Association - gosh was founding member more than 10 years ago with vision to get public and private partners to work together - still not seeing everyone pulling together. If you are interested in E-Assessment Membership is still free for ordinary members with institutional members picking up the running costs.

 Also a useful plug for ACJ Assessment of Comparative Judgement . I still don't understand why this approach is not embedded in national systems for learners and teachers around understanding
standards. There is an irrefutable evidence base that it works . Actually I do understand but I still can't go public . A version of this should live inside GLOW to help teachers and learners understand standards. Maybe someone in Education Scotland will eventually pick up on this.

Martyn Ware SQA Head of Assessment Futures
A grand finale - SQA as an engine of change - absolutely - I know Colleges are ready for a lot of this.
I think more than ready,  champing at the bit , and looking around for new models and other suppliers. Colleges are now settling down and ready to drive on in this space.

Know too from experience what SQA is wrestling with - but there is a real opportunity - if system can work together around the needs of the learner and the learner journey.

Martyn has all the right ideas but needs joined up thinking from both within SQA and from all the stakeholders, if we are to see real change. We need much more visible partnerships between Education Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council - with learners rather than their self interest at centre.

I just look at my own two school learners accessing a whole raft of excellent on-line learning and certificates and open badges from around the world - that is where Scottish education should be and not moving with the slowest . Our system should be moving with fastest and providing  inclusive solutions for the institutions not ready for wholly on-line assessment and not waiting for them to be ready.

Great too to meet some of my clients in private sector in audience, the event would have benefited from some more private supplier and or training provider input. To give us the full picture.  The private sector is pushing on with online learning and digital assessment in all of its forms.

Thanks to all  at    and the brains behind  it , Jeff and Martyn for a really excellent conference,  it was a pleasure as ever, to chair.

That’s #BETT18 #BETT2018 #BETTShow #Bettshow18⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

Joe Wilson cc Leon Cych @eyebeams

That the delegates , exhibitors and conference organisers never seem to be quite able to agree on a unifying hashtag probably sums up the UK's biggest Educational Technology gathering . There is at once something for everyone and always that feeling that the really interesting , paradigm shifting piece of the jigsaw is tantalisingly missing , perhaps it is a virtual piece or in some other augmented reality ( no shortage of augmented and virtual reality in the show)

This year for once the meeting app worked well but the wifi I'm told was abysmal as usual.

If there was a unifying theme among the polished rabble of  hawkers , vendors , sideshows and keynote speakers this year,  it's probably the theme of 'Industry 4.0 '  This sits well with our mission to transform learning at City of Glasgow College through Citylearning4.0

It is a great privilege to get to gatherings like this and with that I think comes an obligation to share! 
I wonder what those I spotted from Education Scotland and SQA thought of this year's show.

Day One 

The usual running order and , as is often the case at BETT,  a new Education and Skills Minister. They appear to be upgraded every two years , like phones , but rarely come with new features.  The change of guard often comes in a new year reshuffle which can make it a tough gig for the incoming minister . While Anne Milton set out the stall many folks knew that there was a more ambitious vision that had been prepared for her predecessor. I hope some of these ideas around digital literacy for all  arrive later in the year. It does present a more unifying vision than you find in other parts of UK . Also in this sphere it was  interesting that a new coding institute was announced not at BETT but at World Economic Forum in same week.

I had my usual schedule of meetings with those I think have the tools and ideas to move learning on . Here is a quick summary of what I was having a look at.

Unio by Harness 
Already used by growing number of schools across globe, I can see the attraction in schools space.
I think some of this capacity already in side GLOW for schools in Scotland.

Lucas Nuelle
When someone says 'these are the training systems used inside the German apprenticeship system', you need to have a look. Highly developed and finished training systems for most kinds of engineering . The sort of kit that many Colleges and Universities need for training learners for both the practical and theoretical elements of industrial learning. Yes, some of this can be virtualised now, but nothing beats setting up and working with real equipment.

From South Africa now a global player. A provider of digital text books along with a layer for note taking , additional support materials and assessment. Pushing into the school space. The College and University sector with virtual learning environments make assumptions around how digital texts are used in their own systems - interesting to see new models to encourage better embedding of digital texts coming from the school sector.

Magic Software Inc 
A super Indian company working out at the cutting edge and delivering content and learning solutions for publishers and large global corporations. A great example of the small world we now live in when it comes to accessing and harnessing innovation from anywhere in the world.

Techcamp / Invent Ed
Interesting to see this summer camp model emerging in England . Wasn't there to explore that. They have developed lots of simple robots , circuit boards and bots that they use as part of these technical summer schools and are now marketing these too. There are lots of robots and circuit boards about at BETT this year. At least you know these models have been tried and tested through the techcamps.

Frog Education
This was a select gathering of Scottish Schools folk to have a look at a simple way of comparing learners materials against national standards . Something you might think that primary and secondary schools would have at the heart of their learning infrastructure. I am sure we will be hearing more about this innovative system over next year.

An early evening meeting with the innovative team behind Intcas, who are well on the way to developing a system that will change the face of international student recruitment and worth tuning into. A superb system for verifying and tracking international learners, it will become invaluable to institutions, learners , their parents and sponsors - through the ingenious use of social media and the harnessing of big data.

Day Two 

Starts with a quick dip into a session on Education and Industry4.0 chaired ably as ever by Bob Harrison with input from the new College of High Speed Rail  . I think there is now a pretty standard slide deck doing the rounds on what Industry4.0  it is delivered well ,  but also some invaluable insights around how the new College will be using virtual and augmented reality in teaching and assessment.

We also hear how well funded all of this is . I think I would have preferred to hear that this was being delivered and funded by a set of pre-existing colleges. But all credit to new college for its vision. I think a trip to see it in action will be a must for many Colleges across the UK.

A layer ( this is becoming a recurrent theme) that helps teachers and learners make more effective use of video resources no matter what format they are in. The tool can be embedded into any VLE. Interesting and parallels with some other systems I am aware of . Also captures learners interaction with content for learner and for institutional analysis.

They have a house this year at BETT - maybe they are betting their house on another successful year in Education and learning ? .  As always a lot of good things happening, if anything it reminded me I am overdue a sit down with Andy Nagle and the team in Scotland - they have a big part to play in raising learner and teacher digital literacy . I'm glad to see less minecraft this year and a sharper focus on digital literacy for teachers and learners.

Canvas by Instructure
If you have spotted some of my postings over the last year - you know I am a Canvas fan. It is just so learner friendly and now adopted by both Stirling University and Glasgow School of Art . There will be some more conversations with Canvas over the next few months and I expect other Scottish Colleges will join in too.

Blended Learning Consortium
Grabbed some lunch with Peter from the BLC . Is it the best model ?  - I'm not sure - but it works for many Colleges across the UK and I know we are going to enjoy the benefits of becoming a member.

Google Education
I've used the link to the Scottish Google Educators Group. There is lots on the open web about Google for Education - there was one announcement around a paid for enterprise edition which I think some universities and training organisations will probably be interested in.

This was biggest gathering I've seen for a while of Scottish school learning technology folk at BETT for any offering, even free drink . The excitement was palpable and Google Apps for Education are excellent.  We will get all of this embedded in our own College's delivery. All learners really need to know their way around microsoft and google products. They should also be shown around a range of open source tools.

Fujitsu Education
A pleasant dinner with the team from Fujitsu and their partners Intel , Netapp and more,  who are driving out an ambitious learning programme supporting learners and teachers - we look forward to supporting the programmes roll out in Scotland.

Day Three 

Like to Be
Well any excuse to catch up with Steve Wheeler . But the system is worth a look - linking employers to school learners at every stage and doing the important bits that careers guidance still falls very short on. While English and Welsh systems are different I've promised them an introduction to Skills Development Scotland.

This I think is innovative,  a drone that you print using a 3-D printer , build and at same time  build and create a controller and comes with all the associated teaching and learning materials. A small inside version and a very large drone for flying outside. Looks great for engaging learners of all ages in STEM

A really nice team and a very welcome cup of tea . I liked what I saw but I do wonder how the authentic voices they use will fair in a world of increasing artificial intelligence and automated voices.

Ollie Bray
He is so innovative and fast moving he is not keeping his blog up to date - lunch and a quick chat around both the movement and inertia in Scottish Education.

London CLC and Education Development Trust
A quick chat about impact CLC and more broadly how the Education Development Trust has supported school transformation and teacher development in England . There is so much that could be learned here by Scottish system. See comment above about inertia.

Nisai Academy
A flying visit to say hello to Dhruv and team  - and disbelief that Scottish system is still using peripatetic teachers to visit learners who can't make it to school - when  the learner could be part of an online class with a teacher and classmates everyday - see inertia ;-)

Free for teachers still a superb tool grabbed a quick refresher course as I headed for the door

Northern Ireland Stand
I'll not rehash arguments I've made in previous years about why Scottish Education needs a stand at BETT . On one stand public education agencies and private companies that support learning in Northern Ireland

Surely one of these years SDS , SQA , SFC , Education Scotland and some of the upcoming learner companies in Scotland might get together ( maybe some Colleges)
Nice to be told I was doing a great job selling Scottish Education by my Northern Irish Colleagues as I ran for the airport.

Someone noted that Department for Education had a large stand - but it did not feature on the BETT Event map ! . The largest stand in the arena this year appeared to be that of CAPITA - shows how much money you can make 'delivering' services to the public education sector in UK.

That's it, quick shout out too to Tony Freedman, Charlie Love,  Lee Ballantyne , Malcolm Payton  and many others I met as I flew around the exhibition area to meetings and a wave to the  NoTosh team who were about too

You've got to move fast at BETT

Those of you that know me , know I've wandered around both the practical doing things landscape in  many sectors of education and the more reflective shaping and writing policy landscape too , this mainly around the vocational and assessment areas.

The former in Scotland at least can be easier .

If there is not a big sign saying don't do this then I think that gives anyone permission to innovate and experiment. It is a view that I wish more folks working in education and learning would take.  But , too many wait at the institutional or national policy bus stop before setting off in any direction. I think they are worried about setting off in the wrong direction. I think many are still waiting in some queue to seek permission to innovate.

I'll return to that metaphor.

Policy making sounds good , you can influence policy and that you may actually be able to change things. The  first part can be fun in the planning but often - the planning is killed off at the drafting stage as both other policy makers and the constituencies they serve, can be very cautious, conservative with a small c .  What about the unintended consequences ! Better to do nothing ! is too often the mantra.

'Sorry, we are too busy;  creating frameworks for educational content procurement , dealing with chronic under-funding , the impact of Brexit on education , figuring out what narrowing the attainment gap actually means, creating a new funding formula for , a new model for educational leadership  etc etc...

When you propose !

' Imagine we mandated that schools , colleges , universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public sector were obliged to share these . That could be useful for learners'

You don't get much notice from policy makers,  even direct approaches to successive education ministers don't make much headway, beyond polite and supportive acknowledgements,  though thankfully Open Scotland continues to attract both a grassroots following and a great deal of interest internationally - thanks in a very large part to my co-founder Lorna Campbell and support from ALT.

When  UNESCO,  say that schools , colleges , universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public should be obliged to share these. You get a bit more notice .  But policy for schools , colleges and universities is actually quite dispersed and in Scotland no one has a brief to look after open education - it is even actually quite hard to get anyone to respond to UNESCO officially from within the administration.

The systems that exist are designed to measure output performance and impact of  input measures are rare - in schools teaching and learning is inspected but it is patchy across the system. Open Education is a new area and no-one in government really knows what it means.

That is why #OER18 and the community around it is so important.

Now I am back in a College and following my mantra - I am just going to push things on.

At the moment we have all the usual learning tech tools ; a VLE, a plagiarism checker , a couple of e-portfolio systems , nationally ill defined competencies for staff and learners around digital capacities and lots of conflicting priorities.

Open educational resources are just part of open educational practice and perhaps a much bigger open and closed societal change,  there isn't a stop sign , so I will just push on . The vehicle I am going to use is called Citylearning4.0 I know lots of my network across the UK and Internationally will help us on our journey . I'll leverage the #oer community , ALT , JISC, the Wikimedia Foundation   and many other networks as we make the changes that will help learners across Glasgow and beyond.

And through Open Scotland we'll keep lobbying to get the national policy bus to head in a new open direction and most importantly we will get everyone on board.

If you are a newbee to #OER18 - start learning to be an open practitioner and carry the message back to your institution and to your national policy makers.

2017 – Phew ! Happy New Year 2018 !⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

2017 , What a quick year !

A chunk doing some international speaking, Valletta, Malta, Warsaw , Poland  , Ljubljana , Slovenia  with UNESCO  for open educational resource related policy forums.  Hoping great things will finally come out of the 2nd #OER World Congress.  Scotland could do so much more here. It's been great to be involved in this work with my co-conspirator +Lorna Campbell   around Open Scotland . This could be year when more institutions and above all policy makers in Scotland get on board. Bonus,  I had never been to Malta or Warsaw and Ljubljana is always worth revisiting.

It is always a pleasure too to work with the #oer18 conference crew and the #oer community globally, I've been on #oer bus since the first conference ( in fact part of sharing communities since last century) ,  and of course the Association for Learning Technology in the UK and my colleagues in JISC and those in and around #FELTAG.

Re-building the  Scottish international pages for Education Scotland and the British Council. Facilitating Indian, Uzbekistan  and other international visitors around the Scottish vocational landscape. Where it makes sense our vocational system sells well internationally.
I wear my British Council consultant badge with pride.

Coping with digital disruption; A road map for a global standards setting and awarding organisation. Systems, learning environments , repositories , new quality arrangements for centre approval to encourage and support digital learning .. all that jazz in a global environment with much less Ofqual etc regulation . The new landscape presents challenges to the public and private sectors. It was great to work with an organisation who operate globally and willing to challenge themselves and their centres to create a better offer for their learners. I look forward to seeing the new strategic plan come into fruition.

Facilitating an International Digital Learning Symposium - that was a pleasure, as was becoming an SCQF Reviewer and being in and out of Holyrood once again as a member of Goodison Group's Education Futures Forum.

Working with a UK based partner to change face of teacher training in Scotland - and being amazed and appalled  in equal measure by intransigence and self interest so obviously alive in the teacher training system in Scotland. I think there is probably more to run on this next year.

Ongoing work with innovative companies who want to shake up the virtual learning environment space , digital assessment space , social learning space and indeed all things digital learning.

On going work too , around UK vocational reform - mainly in England.

I can justify graded apprenticeships , I can see the positive impact of embedding a refreshed set of core skills including 'digital literacy ' rather than simply 'IT'  . I understand training accounts and why employers need a bigger say in what they access with their training levy. I can see large employers encouraging learners to take apprenticeships in areas where degrees in the past were the entry route - accountancy , law , financial services.  I can see too that all of this needs a lot more thought in Scotland. I hope the new overarching committee finally lines up the activities of SFC , SDS , Scottish Enterprise and HIE . I hoped that would happen last year . I still fear that whole Scottish system could be usurped by some of these changes

It has been a busy and rewarding year  - since my last report in April 2017 and I've probably missed some chunks out.

But now looking forward to #Bett2018 and driving forward CityLearning4.0 into the new year.

Creativity, Mindfulness , Resilience - I've got that in spades - but I would not have achieved all of this without the ongoing support of all the very capable folk who work in and around vocational education in Scotland, across the UK and beyond. You know who you are ! Thanks for the continued stream of interesting, challenging and rewarding bits or work.

Nor would I have kept this portfolio career going without the support of  my wife and family too - it's been tough sometimes to explain what an 'Educational Consultant' does, one day working from the home office - the next rushing to an airport along with the associated peaks and troughs in income that will be familiar to every consultant.

Thanks to you all for your continued support and all the very best to you and yours for 2018 !

For those looking for a change - there is a sea of opportunity out there -dive in and be the change you want to see in the system !

For goodness sake if you see something that you can fix - speak up and fix it !

In 2018 get your heads above the parapet and lead for the sake of learning and learners !

How is that for some mixed metaphors,  in these mixed up times !

#cogcdigisymp Some Quick Wins⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

CC Devon Poole 2nd Year Photography City of Glasgow College 

Yesterday, I was kindly invited to chair the afternoon discussion session at the City of Glasgow College's Digital Symposium. In the morning we bounced around the very familiar landscape of the gulf that still exists between the needs of the computing industry and the outputs from all parts of the education sector ( schools , colleges , universities ) . I am of course sorting that out in another blog post.

My solution would be to get Colleges to work more closely with industry but with staff development and a much greater cascading of skills with the resources going through the arteries that exist for staff development and the shaping of qualifications - rather than inventing new and I'll say it probably not very sustainable new models but I can hear a civil servant being satisfied and saying ' at least we got the money out of the door' and the disappearing footsteps of a politician moving on to the next big task having built a new service as a personal legacy.

It might seem faster to create shiny new organisations or new kinds of apprenticeship - but without deep engagement and some retooling and re-skilling of the existing organisations, agencies and staff - the money will run out before we have achieved the system level change that is required. My favourite anecdote comes from a primary teacher who loves all the coding stuff and the folk who come to the school, as it allows more time for marking and a cup of tea. The skills transfer that is happening is zero, perhaps this will be picked up soon.

While from College staff I heard that some of the links between vendor awards and SQA qualifications have drifted apart again and that staff need some focused formal re-training , a bit more than the half day taster sessions on new technologies that are currently on offer. We wondered out loud too who is training the vocational assessors in the University sector - graduate apprenticeships sound great but they do require quite a sharp change in University assessment processes. And apprenticeships are based on national standards not institutionally validated ones or interpreted ones, hope some external verification arrives with these.

Why are we still talking about giving appropriate recognition for all the teaching staff who do the Apple , Microsoft, Google and many more programmes in becoming a digital educator ? This probably has more impact on learners than many of the academic programmes on offer. And from conversations around the gathering still lots of digs at education leaders who can't cope with the technology -I  hope that an understanding of  the application of technology in learning features highly in any leadership programmes perhaps this is as important as learning and modelling your management style . There must be sensible bridges built here.

In the afternoon we had some great discussion around digital literacy and changing the delivery models  in schools , colleges , universities and work-based learning. That is bit I was chairing.

From that session I  promised I would list the things I said on the day. The things that as a College you could do now.

Here they are , in no particular order;

  1. Edx - We discussed the inability of our system to do more that mark multiple choice questions using artificial intelligence. I am not sure I like using AI in context of what in assessment jargon is automated MCQ.  There is a solution at hand but I've never found an organisation with the appetite to adopt it and use it in anger. Give it a sample of 100 essays and it then marks and grades them at a high degree of reliability.  ( I'd actually stop using essays as a means of assessment but that is another blog post) 
  2. Content creation - I've been plugging this for a while most teachers with a power point will be able to cope with  Most staff should of course have a reflective blog,  that would make using Lumen5 even more compelling. 
  3. If you have staff who are a bit more adventurous get everyone using you can create engaging learning materials and port them straight into your virtual learning environment. 
  4. If you want to see what AI can do at speed to build serviceable on line courses then catch a demo of Donald explains how it works on the website 
  5. Make sure your organisation has a Wikipedian You can find out how to do this here and get some advice  If you have a wikipedian they can register your College IP address and this means that you can use wikipedia and other tools properly in the classroom. It all about collaborative creation. It is much more than wikipedia - check out all the things that wikimedia can bring to you on Ewen McAndrew's blog.
  6. Learn how to harvest , harness , create and publish open educational resources from Scotland and the OER global community - there are just too many links to add here. But here is a local start to get staff creating. 
  7. Get ready for open text books  a raft of content about to arrive and the programme is looking for Scottish College partners. If you would like a workshop in your institution, you can email  One for all Colleges in Scotland would be good. 
  8. Have a look at the UNESCO action plan . Open Scotland and others will keep pushing for the adoption of  a policy change across Scottish Education - but look at the bits you could do now as a leader of learning , as a classroom practitioner , as a signatory to the Open Scotland Declaration.Get moving ! 
  9. Remember you don't have to be Edinburgh University to open up to learners - but have a good look at and embrace the way of working. Start learning too about open research and knowledge  and how to access it - it will enrich learning at all levels.
  10. Discover and use Learning Wheels and look out for the announcement on 10th of October  
  11. Don't reinvent the wheel check out things like and make it better 
  12. Give more love to your learning technologists and give them appropriate staff development and let them out to meet other learning technologists - it will help you move forward at all levels . Join and encourage relevant staff to work towards 
  13. Have a look at There is a competency framework that should be embedded in what we do with learners and in staff development and in how Colleges are inspected - schools too ! 
  14. Think passed where you are now - for some, perhaps the computing department the future should be in the cloud and virtual machines , for learners a domain of their own,  but  for the institution it might be looking towards 
  15. And finally a MOOC is about to start for the Vocational and Training sector to develop blended learning skills

Grateful to the creatives,  doing some great things in the main area of the conference, for capturing me in zany mode. I hope these links and reflections are useful.

Apologies too to all the great initiatives from Jisc and some of the other organisations I work for and with - it could have been a much longer and more technical list.

I am looking forward to seeing all the slides from the day.

If you understand learning needs to be creative and engaging for staff and learners I'm always ready to help you do better things in new ways.

Thanks to City of Glasgow College for hosting the International Symposium.

To See Ourselves as Others See Us⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

It's been a great week touring around and listening to domain experts from across Scotland with an international delegation,  looking at our technical and professional learning system.

It was a wee while in the planning,  but good things take time.  Great too to reflect on why they are interested in the Scottish technical and professional vocational system.

1. It makes sense,  ( not always the case when you are too close to it  and it is sometimes too easily dismissed by some around and within our own system) the work of SCQF , SQA , Education Scotland and SDS in making sure that there are clearly funded progression pathways through different vocations into work or onto further study. The Colleges make sure it is a collaborative effort to get this right.

2. The links between qualifications and national occupational standards and in the main the transparent way that these relate to each other. The strong links to industry that all the Colleges work to maintain.  We saw learners working with the latest equipment from tractors to TV studios with equipment often supplied by employers.

3. The unit based , competency based qualification structures  - based on notional 40 hours of study or in some cases short 10 hour SCQF credit and leveled courses that can lead to both academic and vocational progression make sense. The logic and structure of this appealed to our visitors  as well as the flexible and varied assessment methodologies that are in place. The evidence that it makes sense exemplified by the many deep international relationships in place across and beyond Europe between College and international partners. These competencies are embedded in the Scottish system and travel around the world.  I'd make one rule though ,  if it is  not an exportable qualification, let's not make it - we seem to be crowding our system with different types and titles of award.

4. Core skills - that we try to give learners a set of transferable skills - both in the workplace and through their College courses. That we are working hard to build in entrepreneurship into all of our programmes and giving learners as much direct business experience as we can. The philosophy of  a Curriculum for Excellence along with Developing Scotland's Young Workforce  and the efforts made in reaching into schools to show that progression to higher education is not the only path to professional and fulfilling careers struck a chord with our guests. The work of Young Enterprise Scotland in supporting creative thinking and of  Business Gateway Scotland in supporting those who want to start their own ventures -opened the eyes of our visitors.

5. Our College governance arrangements , funding arrangements and quality checks from Education Scotland , SQA , SFC,  SDS , national and regional plans and monitoring   - the externals thought it was a lot of auditing. I think some in system think the same.

6. The dedication of all the teaching staff to the success of their learners . I know on these outings we sometimes meet the handpicked rather than those having a tough week. But all the Colleges we visited had inspired learners and inspiring and supportive teaching staff who welcomed us into their classrooms and we just popped into classrooms along our tour.

7. That through the Princes Trust and others we reach out to the hard to reach and work hard to get young learners to take a full and active part in our society and our economy.

8. That private training providers , charities and employers all play a part in delivering the system as a whole. .

Thanks to all the Colleges and agencies that opened their doors and made significant inputs.  I am sure a range of opportunities will open up in this region. I've now got a lot of data and documents to gather together and sometimes the tougher job of explaining some parts of our system that still don't make sense.  Why for instance all HND learners cannot progress into 3rd year of any relevant degree programme and equally why there is not a seamless progression from an apprenticeship into HND or HNC with advanced standing and why schools are still not embedding a lot more vocational options.
Perhaps, too why learners persist in taking up places on University courses that often have no clear routes to employment. ( I can hear the poet in me rebelling - but we still don't have the mix right). 

They are thinking about redirecting greater resources to Colleges as they understand the economic impact this will have on their learners and their society as a whole. 'The next generation of technicians and entrepreneurs will spring from the workplace and from the College sector'  It is a good vision.

On reflection perhaps  we do not always value the contribution that this eminently exportable system makes to the Scottish economy as a whole.

And as a final footnote - three Colleges said they were the biggest at something - this does not always  impress better to explain the quality of the learning and teaching and present evidence of the  positive destinations of the learners and then perhaps add how big you are. Our guests were amused by this as they have a population of over 30 million and some gigantic institutions.  

Open Scotland Declaration – Still Garnering International Recognition #OER⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

It is great that this work coordinated and authored by my co-conspirator and co-founder of Open Scotland , Lorna Campbell of Edinburgh University,  continues to attract global recognition and attention.

I've been responding today,  to the Polish Government. I know too  that the work is currently forming the basis of policies in Morocco and beyond in the middle east as well as being the basis for many other global policy initiatives.

But I had to re-iterate today that the Open Scotland Declaration is a statement of intent to engage Scottish policy makers and institutions to support changes across  our system –but it is not,  as yet, reflected in any  government policy.

I know the Scottish Government is currently reviewing its own plans for the next five years - I hope that story changes soon.

Our progress best summarized here in Lorna's post 

In response to the enquiry around adopting Scotland's policy and giving some examples of open policy and practice in Scotland -  I responded 

  1.  is the Open Scotland Declaration,  it is a statement of ambition and demonstrates an approach towards having national policy in place.
  2.     Is the community blog from Open Scotland,  a grass roots organisation to promote greater openness. 
  3.   Is an example of a national initiative led by the Open University in Scotland  to encourage more open practices, this was funded in part as a  response to Open Scotland.
  4.  Is an institutional response to becoming more open from Edinburgh University and is in part as a direct response to Open Scotland. 
I know other work is underway at Glasgow Caledonian University and we are fortunate through ALT the Association of Learning Technology to have a strong network of innovators across Scotland and we can see the green shoots of open education appearing across the University and to some extent the Galleries , libraries and museums sector . It would be great to be able to say that the Government were endorsing this approach in Scotland and that schools , colleges , and the training sector were coming on board.