Use of the Internet in Britain.

7 November 2008

From George Siemens newsletter comes reference to the Oxford report on the use of the Internet in Britain.

His headline is that use of smart phones is doubling every two years.

I think mine might be that of people whose education stopped before FE/HE only 55% use the Internet (compared to 78% of those educated to FE level and 90% of those educated to HE level). And that of those who ‘stopped using the Internet’ 28% of men and 40% of women said it was because they had moved house. Maybe the uptake of smart phones will change this… but what will that uptake mean for learning?

Anyway plenty of stats to digest for research or teaching…

MUPPLE (Mashup and PLE)

14 October 2008

This report (Wild, Kalz and Palmer, 2008) on the proceedings of the first conference on Mashups and Personal Learning Environments (MUPPLE) is interesting to me for the underlying concepts.

While it is necessarily focused on the technological developments that have allowed mash ups to become part of users’ armoury, there is an interesting parallel (explicit in the title but maybe less so in the content) with learning. As more tools become available learners are able to combine them (mash them up) for their own purposes. Personalisation of the curriculum is another parallel and these all have interesting consequences for assessment and for learners perception of capability. If someone appropriates tools for their own use are they, de facto, demonstrating high levels of ICT capability?

Becta report into Web 2.0

6 October 2008

Becta have published a research report (Crook & Harrison, 2008) on use of Web 2.0 by learners, teachers, at home, in school etc. This statement in the summary caught my eye:

Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.

Where is the use of these tools in extrenal assessment? Come to that, where is the use of peer assessment in external assessment.

Also noticeable is the emergence of yet another Rogers’ adoption curve – with the earley adopters being the young ones etc… is this true? DO teachers really not use Web 2.0 tools? How does that square with the quote above? It is borne out in the research of Solheim (2007,  which cites OfCOM’s 2006 statistic of 40% of ‘adults’ having used social networking sites*, compared to 70% of 16-24 year olds and Comscore’s 2007 finding that over half (1.3 million) of Facebook’s new users in the previous year were 25 or older.

* OfCOM’2 2008 report tates that ‘only’ 21% have ‘set up a profile’ on such sites.

Comscore (2007), Facebook sees flood of new traffic [online] available at accessed 06/10/08

Crook, C and Harrison, C (2008)  Web 2.0 Technologies for Learning at Key Stages 3 and 4: Summary Report, Becta [online] available at accessed 06/10/08

Ofcom (2006), The communications market. [online] available at accessed 06/10/08

Ofcom (2008),The communications market report, [online] available at accessed 06/10/08

Solheim, H (2007) Digital Natives versus Higher Education: who is ready for whom, MSc dissertation, University of Southampton.

A three axis model

1 May 2008

Taking the ideas from the previous post and putting them into a diagram I get this

Some assessment uses ICT (or technology) – this is e-assessment (x axis).

Some assessment is designed to assess ICT capability (y axis).

Elliott’s Assessment 2.0 seems to be using ICT, not as e-assessment, but as a medium for allowing judgement to be made about the ICT capability (z axis).

Now of course, analysing any one particular assessment methodology one could locate it in this three-dimensional space. for example:

A traditional written paper would be on the y-axis. The NAA online assessment activities designed for KS3 would be in the space between all three axes (with perhaps a lower y- and z-values than x-value. Coursework would have an x-value of 0 but would have some components of y and z. Online assessments such as the driving test would be on the x-axis.

My questions here are “Where is the highest validity”? and “Where is the highest reliability?”. How does one use Elliott’s Assessment 2.0 to determine success in a certificated qualification?

Elliott (2008) Assessment 2.0

1 May 2008

Much as I dislike the nomenclature (Assessment 2.0), I found this paper by Bobby Elliott (and thanks to my colleague Bruce Nightingale and the ALT newsletter for bring the name to my attention) illuminating on many levels. Firstly here was someone making the links between theways in which technology is reportedly used by young people and the ways it could be used for technology. Secondly the author works for a government agency – the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Is this evidence of policymakers thoughts are changing to embrace the vicarious ways in which evidence of learning can be presented by technological opportunity?

My thoughts return though to the Macfarlane distinction between assessment of technology (eg the ICT curriculum) and assessment through technology (ie the methodology). This paper by Elliott seems to be moving a little away from the latter and perhaps towards the former. But perhaps, also, it is defining a third axis – assessment of technological capability through evidence presented through that technology. Maybe it is asking the question ‘What should be assessing?’ (ie the curriculum) rather than ‘How should we assess it’ (the methodology). But more than that it is saying can we assess the ‘what’ through the ‘how’.

The impressive list of tools that may be used for evidence presenting (and assessment) in Elliott’s paper also underlines my sceptcism of a one size fits all technological solution to assessment. And when I look down that list I am reminded of surveys presented by Terry Freedman (at a TDA conference in Nov 07) and others that show that young people’s use of tools is very diverse and very thinly spread. It is also very transient – MySpace here today gone tomorrow.

The very tool that Elliott uses to present his iPaper may well be a case in point. What if an awarding body decided Scribd was the thing to use. How long before it becomes the sliced bread superceded by the next best thing? How do we build in agility for assessment so that it does not become an exercise in rewarding the fashionable? (as opposed to the current system which rewards the old-fashionable).

PS Yes it’s been a long time… Higher Education management – ie my temporary role for 07/08 – and PhDs don’t easily mix… but I know that is also my excuse… and I’m sticking to it…

Two reports on usage of media/online tools

13 September 2007

This week’s eLearning Resources and News from George Siemens draws attention to two recent reports.

Firstly from Deloitte a report on ‘media democracy in the US‘. (PDF)

71% of 13-24s read content created by others, with 56% claiming to be creators of online content.

Secondly, and more enlightening, a report from the US National School Boards’  Association (CREATING & CONNECTING//Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking ) looks at the use of online tools by teens. It has a section on the educational uses of social netowrking – 59% report they use such channels for learning purposes.

It identifies 31% of teens as being non-conformists. Those who break rules (or maybe conventions) on access and safety. These non-conformists lead the way in creation, sharing and networking online.

Also interesting were the stats that show almost universal expectations across board districts that students should use online sources for learning, while at the same banning networking and communication tools in school. And also an very low percentage of teens reporting having met someone face-to-face having first met them through the Internet (but maybe they just aren’t saying). Still a very interesting picture of the educational dimensions of social networking.

Heppell on ICT, creativity and the need for systemic change

22 July 2007

In a discussion in the Naace online community (1), Stephen Heppell comments on the ever-changing nature of tools and the permanence of ICT as a force for creativity. His comments resonate with the ‘practice’ side of my model in the previous post and how it can be counter to the theory/system side.

Heppell reflects on young people’s changing usage of tools – MySpace is so yesterday, Facebook today, something else tomorrow. Further, he points out that young people never e-mail now. My step daughter added a different lens to this – they do e-mail but only when communicating with adults or when they are passing on links, files etc.

Some selected quotes from Heppell’s comments are posted here (reproduced from the posting to the Naace mailing list by permission of Stephen Heppell, they should not be reproduced without citing this context)

“Most efforts that I can remember to establish standards in educational ICT have failed. And that is no loss. They hold everything back … The whole world of ICT is so organic and changes so rapidly – one minute MySpace is cool, the next it’s where your grandad goes. Just as adults get their blackberries finally emailing to each other, so children have stopped emailing altogether (“it’s what your dad does..”). And so on.”

And then, on the need for systems and policy to match students’ ambitions:

“Systems are never ambitious for children. Children are, so are their teachers, parents and others are too, but without a shared vision of just how good all this can be, it all founders into a generation of coasting kids delivering on dull targets. If you word search the “Higher Standards, Better Schools For All” white paper for example you will find the word “creativity” is entirely absent, as indeed is the word “ingenuity”.

“[I , and others,] constantly see, and are delighted by, just how ambitious children can be for their learning – especially where it is mixed age, project based, over a decent length of time, shared and not capped in any way. We need to lock that ambition into policy.”

On students a leaders of learning

“Last week I was in a school working with a group of young secondary children who were busy designing a CPD workshop to bring their teachers up to speed with the cool things they might do on Facebook, with why poking isn’t rude any more, with Bebo and myArtSpace and YouTube Comments and so on. They were very sanguine about what their teachers needed to know and were in turn interested as to the ideas their teachers might have about using these new places and spaces in learning. There is a rich irony in imagining that down the corridor their teachers might have been busy parsing a policy document to plan the ICT curriculum for those same children!”

On the need for assessment ot be relevant to this debate:

“I think if Hollywood can measure satisfaction as people leave the rough cut of a movie (and then fund the re-shoot of an ending as with Pride and Prejudice in the US version) then we can measure creative esteem, ingenuity, delight, satisfaction and so on. All or any would be more helpful measures than cohort aggregate exam passes.”

On his related projects:

“Have a look at or indeed at if you want to see where I imagine all this will be going. The learnometer project is already under way.”

(1) Naace is the association for the advancement of ICT in education. Its community has a private mailing list from which these comments are drawn (they should not be reproduced without citing this context)