I have a new publication: “Analysing and Improving Embedded Markup of Learning Resources on the Web,” which Stefan Dietze and Davide Taibi have presented at the 2017 International World Wide Web Conference in Perth Australia. I played a minor role in the “analysing” part of this work, the heavy lifting was done by my co-authors. They analysed data from the Common Crawl to identify sites that were using LRMI terms in their schema.org markup. The analysis provides answers to important questions such as: who is using LRMI metadata and which terms are they using? How many resources have been marked up with LRMI metadata? Are the numbers of users growing? What mistakes are being made in implementing LRMI?
We also see how once a term is in schema.org it is interpreted in ways that may not have been anticipated by those who created it, with any implicit assumptions held within a community of practice being ignored. Thus terms that have a specific meaning within the learning, education and training field are construed in their more generic meaning. The result of this is that some LRMI terms are used for resources that we in LRMI did not have in mind when creating them. Consequently the presence of LRMI metadata on a web resource may not be a good indicator that a resource is intended for education–this is true of some properties more than others. To avoid this when making additions to schema.org (if you see it as a problem), the domain to which a term applies should be in the term name.
A second observation that seems important to me is the strong inverse relationship between sophisticated data structures and amount of usage. Yes, I’m talking about the AlignmentObject: potentially very expressive, but either it solves a problem no one has (which I don’t think is the case) or it is so complex that few people understand it well enough to use it. In general, properties with simple text/literal values get much more use than entity-valued properties.
The official reference is: Stefan Dietze, Davide Taibi, Ran Yu, Phil Barker, and Mathieu d’Aquin. 2017. Analysing and Improving Embedded Markup of Learning Resources on the Web. In Proceedings of the 26th International Conference on World Wide Web Companion (WWW ’17 Companion). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee, Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, 283-292. DOI: 10.1145/3041021.3054160
It is licensed CC:BY, but the ACM version seems to be behind a paywall, so here is a local post-publication copy (pdf).
Here’s the abstract.
Web-scale reuse and interoperability of learning resources have been major concerns for the technology-enhanced learning community. While work in this area traditionally focused on learning resource metadata, provided through learning resource repositories, the recent emergence of structured entity markup on the Web through standards such as RDFa and Microdata and initiatives such as schema.org, has provided new forms of entity-centric knowledge, which is so far under-investigated and hardly exploited. The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) provides a vocabulary for annotating learning resources through schema.org terms. Although recent studies have shown markup adoption by approximately 30% of all Web pages, understanding of the scope, distribution and quality of learning resources markup is limited. We provide the first public corpus of LRMI extracted from a representative Web crawl together with an analysis of LRMI adoption on the Web, with the goal to inform data consumers as well as future vocabulary refinements through a thorough understanding of the use as well as misuse of LRMI vocabulary terms. While errors and schema misuse are frequent, we also discuss a set of simple heuristics which significantly improve the accuracy of markup, a prerequisite for reusing learning resource metadata sourced from markup.
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I’ve been thinking on and off for the last few days about the fascinating discussions going on around Open Pedagogy. Maha Bali has curated a diverse and thought provoking series of posts on the topic here and has organized a hangout to discuss What is Open Pedagogy? later today. Other than commenting on a few blog posts here and there, I haven’t contributed much to this debate and it’s taken me a little while to figure out why.
To some extent this is bound up with a post I wrote last week What do you do? That post is an off the cuff reflection prompted by my first attempt to make a start on my CMALT portfolio, but it does relate, if only tangentially, to the question of open pedagogy too. I think one of the reasons that I’ve felt slightly distanced from the open pedagogy discussions is that to my mind pedagogy is intrinsically bound up with the theory and practice of teaching and although I’ve worked in Higher Education for years, I’ve rarely been involved in teaching and I have never considered myself to be a teacher or an academic. This is one of the issues I was trying to grapple with, all be it facetiously, in my What do you do? post. I’ve very rarely taught staff or students, though I do hope that people have learned things from me along the way. I do help to support teaching and learning, but even then, I’m several steps removed from the pedagogy and the teaching process. I don’t do teaching so I’ve always felt I don’t really do pedagogy either.
What I do consider myself to be is an education practitioner. I participate in the process and practice of education and hopefully, some way further down the line, this contributes to teaching and pedagogy. Perhaps more importantly for my own personal and professional identity, I see myself as an open practitioner. I try very hard to practice my profession in the open, I try to learn from other open practitioners, I try to listen and learn and engage, and I try to be guided by the principals of openness and inclusivity.
This is why I identified so strongly with the questions Josie asked in her blog post Waves not Ripples
“I’m suspicious of the current distinction between open pedagogy and open practice, and in particular, how little explanation is being given to the privileging or even just use of the term pedagogy over the term practice. Is the use of pedegogy being used as shorthand for educational practice? Is it being used to underline the importance of formal education, or the primacy of teaching? Why not open heutagogy? Is it being used as a form of interpellation, a signal to include and exclude specific groups within open education? What is wrong with ‘practice’? How do we benefit from continuing to insist on a break between theory and practice, or theory and politics? Is this distinction as harmful as the disavowal of the relationship between the personal and the political?”
Josie’s questions also called to mind the point Amber Thomas made in her wonderful blog post Perhaps I’m not one, which I linked to from my earlier post. Amber’s blog post is primarily a reflection on what makes a learning technologist, but she also includes this thought, which still resonates with me three years later.
“And another thing: I’m not an academic and I don’t teach. I consider myself to be a para-academic. (Like a paralegal, or a paramedic ). I have a particular skillset which has a place in universities. I’ve lost count of the number of sessions I’ve been in at elearning conferences over the year where the presenter asks “how many people in the room actually teach?”. Cue a few hands raised and the majority looking down at their feet, embarrassed, as if the 5/10/15 years experience in education counts for nowt. Universities are multi-professional places and learning technologists, in all their flavours, have a rightful place at the table. People like me shouldn’t have to pretend to be something we’re not.”
Like Amber, I’m not an academic and I don’t teach, so I’m not sure how much I can contribute to discussions about pedagogy. It’s not that I’m disinterested, far from it, it’s more that when people talk about pedagogy is often feels like they’re talking about something I don’t do, something I haven’t thought deeply enough about.
Of course that may simply be a massive misconception on my part, but there’s no denying that I tend to feel I have more to contribute to discussions about open practice, policy and politics than discussions about open pedagogy. Josie asks whether open pedagogy is being used as a signal to include and exclude specific groups within open education. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that I feel excluded, but I do feel slightly distanced.
I don’t know how to draw this post to a sensible conclusion, because I don’t really know if I have one, but I suspect I’ll continue thinking about these issues of identity, experience, inclusion and exclusivity for some time to come. And perhaps if I can joint the hangout later today I’ll find out whether there is anything I can contribute to the discussions about open pedagogy, and whether this feeling of distance is just a misconception on my part after all.
Recently I was being Pedantic about Podcasts. Trying to point out that the important thing about podcasts is the way they are distributed making it is be easy to listen as we wash the dishes or drive to work.
I posted about this before: EDUtalk: How to Listen.
Once you get this set up to be automatic it makes listen to podcasts as easy as listening to the radio.
I started way back, syncing podcasts to an iPod. One I got my first iPhone I used that, trying a few different apps before settling on Overcast.
A few weeks ago I deleted Overcast as I was running out of space to record a movie, planning to reinstall ASAP.
Last week as I went to do this, on a whim, I spent £3.99 on Castro 2 instead. It turns out that this app matches my listening habits better than overcast. I’d guess, from memory, it has less settings and options but that is not a bad thing.
I listen to podcasts mostly on my 45 minute commute home. I am interested in more podcasts than would fill that amount of time. Castro lets me subscribe to a bunch of podcasts and queue up (and download) only the episodes I want to hear. It does this in a very simple way.
- New episodes from the feeds I am subscribed to get listed in my inbox.
- From there you can quickly add then to your queue, at the end or at the top. At this point they get downloaded.
- You can set any feed to have its episodes automatically added to the queue.
- You can archive episodes, you don’t loose them but they get out of the inbox.
- You can queue episodes from your archive or the discovery tab. That means you can search or paste the url to a podcast into the discovery tab and see the episodes, you can add one to the queue without subscribing.
Once in the queue you can rearrange the episodes and they play in order. Each moves to the archive after it is played. Importantly for me, the next queued episode plays automatically.
Bonus, as you add an episode to the queue there is a nice wee animation as seen in the featured image of this post (my image is a gif, speed and quality are not reflections of the app.)
I keep being asked what I've been up to, or what I've been doing - here is a whistle stop tour of some of the highlights. Thanks too to all my connections and friends across FE/HE/Schools and Work-based learning in Scotland , UK and internationally for harnessing my enthusiasm for learning and keeping me busy by making full use of my breadth of experience, expertise and network.
If you follow this blog you'll see what I am up to or keep up with my linkedIn profile or follow me on twitter. Learning and development is an open activity ;-) and you can still make a living outside but alongside the institutional atriums'. I liked this post from an old friend Eylan Ezekiel on life of a freelancer. There are still too many closed minds around, too many folks chained to the iron rice bowl, and not prepared to think out of the box or challenge the established orthodoxies or speak to those who wield power but who often have little understanding of skills delivery in FE and or the development needs and motivations of those who work in vocational training. You can break the chains, keep smiling and make a positive contribution.
Recent substantive assignments - I can't list them all here ...particularly all the events I've talked at or chaired over the last 18 months.
Whitepapers and webinars for international VLE suppliers to support entry in UK educational and vocational marketplaces. Example
Evaluation of the Socio and Economic Impact of Massive Open On-line Courses with recommendation for future development models ( client global UK University with courses on Coursera, MitX , and Futurelearn) Enjoyed working for Edinburgh University.
Bid writing and partnership building for a public tender for national on-line testing system for schools (client global e-assessment provider in need of curriculum advice to tailor product for UK market)
Papers , Workshops and Advice developed and delivered for JISC for Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. This spanned - advice on creation processes to enable digitisation of the national occupational standards development process , advice the creation of trailblazer standards to ensure that they are open to on-line and blended delivery , guidelines to encourage the creation of assessment standards to encourage best use of digital technology in assessment delivery and quality assurance, suggestions on better use of data management and the on-line rather than paper certification of apprenticeships, this for the UK Vocational Reform Programme in England. ( client Jisc) I do think we are missing some tricks around how to make best use of the Employer Levy in Scotland and will keep trying to be heard.
Advice too on the adoption of suitable new standards for digital literacy for learning, life and work. Based around the excellent work of Helen Beetham and Jisc and in line with the new essential skills framework developed in Wales. ( For various clients )
Identification of suitable international consultants for design and delivery of range of international vocational learning projects for a range of clients including large UK based awarding bodies for assignments in Middle east , Africa , China and within Europe.(clients international consultancies and international awarding bodies)
Advice and support for organisations around the SCQF Credit and leveling and the sourcing of credit and leveling services. ( international awarding body)
Partnerships and introductions around content development , campus apps , the development of digital learning spaces and associated innovative thinking for relevant Colleges and training providers. ( range of providers and clients )
Workshops for senior management teams - trying to find routes ahead for service delivery and for staff development in an increasingly on-line and cloud based world of learning.( Colleges, training providers and in company sessions) I'd like to do more of these. There are far too few open practitioners in Scottish Further Education and it is a poor reflection of the innovation and great teaching practice that I know exists.
Enjoying the continued challenge as Board Member of Youthlink Scotland , ALT as Co-Chair in Scotland and Board Member at Glasgow's Kelvin College , supporting Open Scotland and any initiative encouraging the open sharing of learning materials and the development of teaching staff and learners' digital skills and looking forward to contributing to Scottish Government's Information Literacy Community of Practice. This year supported #oer17 and the UNESCO Global Consultation on #OER. I feed back where I can opportunities for the sector, to individual colleges and to organisations I have worked for in the sector.
It's been a fun 18 months and if you need to drive real change in your organisation along with your staff ( driven with them not at them) and or have an interesting project that is around collaborating and improving the lot of learners in Scotland, UK or internationally and you are positive and fun to work with - I'm always on the look out for my next gig.
When: 2 – 7 July 2017 and 23 – 27 July 2017
Where: South Uist
Language level: Beginner to Fluent
Brief: This Gaelic Enrichment Course is a career-long professional learning opportunity for teachers of GLE and GME. The course aims to support teachers use and develop their Gaelic language skills within a community setting. The course will be tailored to the specific needs of the teachers. It includes: conversational skills, grammar, resources for the classroom, workshops and field trips.
For more information, please contact: Ceòlas Uibhist, Taigh Gleus, Dalabrog, Uibhist a Deas HS8 5SS Tel: 01878 700154 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org