Educating Ariadne, Part 2: Exploration and Submission

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Most HEIs have some form of centrally hosted Virtual Learning Environment through which much of the online learning is mediated. In such environments, the emphasis is on delivery of information, generally not where substantial amounts of original content are authored by students, though submissions may be uploaded through an interface. Many VLE systems have been designed as self-contained environments with a great deal of functionality, but are often monolithic and complex.

Further, their use often imposes other constraints: for instance, most working has to be carried out while online. Thus RAMBLE's brief was to investigate the use of blogs as a reflective authoring activity in an educational context through two strands of work:. The project recognised that there are existing patterns of activity that ought to be very amenable to blogging - such as the habit of Short Message Service SMS text messaging, which can be any place, any time.

Hence, in order to best realise working off site, the blogging was made mobile, i. Technical choices had to be made very quickly: after brief investigation, two kinds of PDA-based blogging clients were chosen, one using the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system and the other using Palm OS, which at the time were the two most popular platforms. Each device was also supplemented with a wireless infra-red foldaway keyboard, which was essential to support more than token input.

The content was subsequently submitted to a blog hosting service 'blog server' on the Web via synchronisation with a networked desktop PC. Most of the requirements were drawn from moblogging exercises undertaken by two groups of Oxford undergraduates Year 1 Chemistry, and Year 5 Medical Sciences. It is worth noting that they were given short and simple briefs - the first group was to give feedback on lecture courses, tutorials and practicals, while the other was to record their learning experiences while on a clinical rotation.

The blogs were authored over a period of a month or so, generally a couple of entries submitted each week. In addition, a project blog was maintained through the project period of about 6 months [ 13 ]. Particular attention was given to privacy. Most blogs, even personal diaries, are viewable by the public, but in the personal learning context, this is not always appropriate. These requirements made it really necessary to have control over the blog server in-house.

So access to the blogs was set up so that there was only one owner per blog and the only others who could read and respond to the blogs were their peers plus the blog project supervisor and RAMBLE project team. The requirements gathering proved unexpectedly rich and deserves closer attention, even though the project was primarily about tool development.

Considerable content was generated, covering learning processes, teaching style, academic provision, timetabling and many other aspects. Its extent can only be briefly covered by a few paragraphs, but it is hoped that the following, gathered from the Chemistry undergraduates, indicates the range and depth of what was recorded. Students expressed themselves very freely, showing few signs of reticence.

Their feedback was constructive, for example, commenting if the pace was too fast: one student recorded that a lecturer wrote so much that his hand ached and further there was little pause for explanation so that he could digest the concepts.

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This was evidently a disincentive to reading what had been written as in a later entry he noted that he had just come to realise that the notes were actually very thorough, covering most of what he needed for his tutorials. They also remarked on whether lecturers were enthusiastic or appeared uninterested, which affected their own motivation: one whose manner was 'ever-enthusiastic' meant 'i never get bored in his lectures even though usually i find the maths pretty hard.

Entries could be instructive and humorous: one student remarked on how practical books were very easy to follow and that a demonstrator was very helpful, especially in providing directions on where to find the dustpan and brush for broken glass! After a few weeks, some general changes were noted.

Students recorded when they felt they were making progress and gaining in confidence, attributing some of this to they way they were being taught.

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Either that or i'm getting used to it! Some of the reflections themselves changed in nature and would consider wider implications. For instance, one entry compared people's backgrounds in relation to the subject matter:. Observations were sometimes at several levels. For instance, in one entry a student makes an observation primarily about lecturing style, in which he feels the lecturer ought to take more time to interact with the audience than the blackboard, as he continues to write new notes on the board while explaining something that he had introduced previously without checking that everyone is following.

The student then reflects on the situation and sees the implications, seeing that this interaction would need extra time and ends up by suggesting the extension of the course by a lecture or two. These blogs were very elementary, with little use made of comments, though students did read other blogs. There is certainly potential for much richer use of the facilities, especially where the work is more oriented towards making use of online resources.

Yet, this was already a fairly complex operation involving several kinds of PDAs, desktop PCs, and servers, though the complexity was hidden as much as possible from the user, so that the moblogging itself became a fairly simple process. At the end of the exercises students were asked to fill in a survey to report back on the exercise. The initial technical barriers seemed to be overcome as can be seen in the feedback obtained, but not everyone takes to blogging, so alternatives may have to be provided. It is difficult to say to what extent mobility aids the reflection process with a relatively small sample and no control experiment blogging without PDAs.

However, when asked 'Where there any advantages to using the PDA to write your blogs? Whereas the blog hosting solution proved very satisfactory, the general immaturity of moblogging tools was disappointing. Few clients were available and most of these were limited to particular platforms, contained bugs, or lacked important functionality; few were released with open source licences. Setting up the devices and tools can be very fiddly, which raises the question of support from IT staff, who may not have any resources allocated for training in this area.

Current products are generally marketed at mobile phones, reflecting the growth in that market. However, the phone clients are typically designed for instant capture of events, rather than sustained reflection, with small screens that cannot hold much text and able to store very few entries in the cache. Altogether, this environment may offer convenience but also may be encouraging short attention spans as well as large phone bills. For a tutor who might consider offering guidance to a student blogger, there are a number of challenges and caveats.

The quality of the entries can vary considerably: some contributions were difficult to follow, being staccato in style and very lax in grammar, though usually not going quite as far as SMS 'textspeak' with all its abbreviations. Thus, basic guidelines may be needed on the use of the English language, perhaps assisted by some monitoring. Further, keeping a blog going for any lengthy period requires a lot of commitment and there is a risk of 'blog rot', in which blogs become neglected and fall into disuse.

So there needs to be a good reason to get started and it must be sustainable for at least some while. A common complaint is that blogs contain such a diversity of thoughts that it becomes difficult to find relevant points, though it may be argued that many aspects are interdependent and need the bigger picture, which a blog can provide.

There is always the danger of mental proliferation, resulting in blogs going off topic: the empty boxes in blogs don't provide explicit means to take an idea and focus on it and refine it further, so more effort is required by authors to keep contributions relevant, with the need for guidance and vigilance by tutors.

Many blog systems provide some means of structuring blogs, which can mitigate these disadvantages, notably the facility to group entries through categories. Categories may be from a controlled vocabulary, completely user-defined, or a mixture of both. Similarly, some systems support tags, which specify a property of an object, and can apply to a particular entry.

Where structuring elements are scarce, the choice can have a very important impact. Intersectionality and Demographic Data in Philanthropy: If philanthropy is serious about its mission, it has to get serious about intersectionality. Data is needed to unpack the layers of oppression and systemic inequities that keep us from making substantial progress. How are youth funders and activists approaching critical issues facing the world today? We would love to hear from you! The successful candidate will lead on the associated grant making, and act as the day to day point of contact for funding partners.

Location: London, United Kingdom. Deadline for application is 21 st October The director will be expected to bring innovative thought leadership and conceptualise the ways OSF can support the field as a grant-maker, be a catalyser of networks and a promoter of pioneering work. Deadline for applications is 31 st October They should have good analytical and communication skills, an understanding of social policy issues relevant to poverty and inequality, and a keen interest in promoting social justice.

The trust is looking for experience and skills in one or more of these areas: Disability and Race equality; Low pay and economic inequality; and Research especially quantitative analysis. Deadline for application is 25 th October This is a great opportunity to be involved in a new model of philanthropic funding for international development projects.

Location: London, United Kingdom and India.

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Deadline for application is 26 th October Candidates should also have well-established networks across the voluntary sector and a good understanding of the environment that small and local charities are operating in. Location: North East England region. Deadline for application is the 22 nd October The role requires specialised knowledge of advocacy and how independent non-profit organisations and community-based efforts and movements can bring about social change.

Deadline for Application is 26 th October The successful candidate will be part of the Excellence team; working on the operational side of the foundation with grants administration, numerous stakeholders and grantees. Location: Billund, Denmark. Deadline: Candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. In the current global context where prisons are becoming more widespread and preferred, the organisers of this conference argue in favour of the search for critical and alternative crime policies that do not focus on imprisonment. The conference will act as a platform to foster dialogue and discussion about alternatives to imprisonment.

The event will take place between 24 th and 25 th November in Ankara, Turkey. The conference organisers invite you to join the conversation about the role of philanthropy in important issues such as digitalisation, migration, impact measurement, globalisation, health crises, democracy, and sustainability.

LinkedUp: Linking Open Data for Education

The event will take place between 19 th and 20 th November in Basel, Switzerland. Bringing together expertise and networks from around the world, the Forum will give innovation a global stage. It will connect leading activists, academics, pro bono professionals and public interest law champions and provide them with opportunities to share the most effective techniques and skills of the legal profession — all in benefit of the public interest.

Participants will look at this from the perspective of European legislative and regulatory efforts surrounding the future of journalism at national and European levels, as well as what foundations have experimented with in Europe. The event will take place on 23 rd October in Brussels, Belgium. If you have any questions, contact info journalismfundersforum. December 9 th — 15 th EFC Research Forum Workshop: Developing Foundation Thinking for Future Data Policy: Open data involves complex issues that research organisations are trying to grapple with, in relation to ethics as well as issues of security, data management and others.

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Although an open data policy has been pursued by the European Commission in the field of research, the new GDPR will have an impact. For data to be truly open to the general public, issues of accessibility must be considered. This workshop aims to unpack these issues which face researchers and research-funders alike. The workshop will open with a keynote exploring the issues that open data entails, including understanding the consequences and limits of implementing an open data policy. A panel of researchers will then present how they are dealing with open data and the lessons they have learned.

As open data is a key policy in DG Research and the wider European Commission, participants will also look at Horizon Europe and the infrastructure being built on a European scale. The event will take place on 13 th December in Brussels, Belgium. A workshop on how to track down and expose organised crime and corruption across borders and databases. How do criminals think, how do they grow their influence and where do they hide their ill-gotten gains?

OCCRP Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project investigative journalists will share data, tools and skills to stop corrupt politicians from conducting business as usual. A practical experience where participants will receive datasets and will team up to investigate beyond frontiers. The event will take place between 7 th and 9 th November in Budapest, Hungary. November 25 th — 1 st December How to be a Successful Advocate: A Hands-On Workshop on Advocacy: Inspired by his work with dozens of organisations around the globe, including NGOs, donor organisations, media outlets and think tanks, Marius Dragomir has collected in the past 15 years a large database of advocacy tools and strategies, which is an invaluable body of knowledge for groups and organisations doing or planning to do advocacy work.

For those involved in the LinkedUp Project it is clear that the availability of open teaching and education-related data represents an unprecedented resource for students and teachers. It has the potential to introduce a paradigm shift in the way educational services are provided, substantially improve educational processes and lower the costs of providing Higher Education. Nonetheless, so far, the potential of using educational Web data has been vastly underexploited by the educational sector. Applications and services often only make use of very limited amounts of data and distributed datasets; nor do they provide users with an appropriate level of context and filtering for the vast amounts of heterogeneous content retrieved to make it possible for such information to be adequately exploited.

The LinkedUp Project hopes to engage with communities working in this area, and also with others who have yet to see the potential of open and linked data for educational purposes. Its aim is to encourage more activity in the open and linked data arena, in particular by educational institutions and organisations. One of the principal ways it intends to encourage engagement is through a series of open competitions designed to elicit Web data-driven applications for personalised, open and online university-level studies. The competitions are open to anyone, from researchers and students, to developers and businesses.

The second and third competitions will build upon their predecessor; leading from innovative prototypes and tools through to large-scale deployable systems. Participants are required to solve critical issues with respect to Web-scale data and information discovery and retrieval, interoperability and matchmaking, data quality assurance and performance.

ARIADNE: Initial Report on Good Practices

The challenge builds on a strong alliance of institutions with expertise in areas such as open Web data management, data integration and Web-based education. The first competition Veni ran from to 22 May to 27 June Extensive promotion was carried out using Twitter, blog posts and pan-European mailing lists. By the closing date 22 valid submissions had been received from 12 different countries four from the UK, three from France, three from Spain, three from the USA, 2 from the Netherlands and 1 each from Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and Nepal.

The abstracts are available from the LinkedUp Challenge Web site [ 19 ]. The majority of entries were from teams based at universities or from start-up companies, but there were also a few from independent consultants. Some entries were developed by large teams, for example one had 9 people listed as authors and others had authors spread across different countries and organisations, while other entries had sole authors. A number of the entries had looked at Massive Open Online Courses MOOCs and course data and offered cross-searching mechanisms while others had concentrated on discipline-specific data and offered new pedagogical approaches for learners to explore and understand subjects.

Two of the submissions focused on cultural heritage data and how museum data could be used in an educational context. The remaining submissions covered other educationally related areas including use of conference publications, reading lists, mobile learning and annotation. The submissions were judged using two different approaches. After entries were reviewed by the evaluation committee, led by the LinkedUp advisory board, a shortlist of eight was agreed on 16 August The shortlist consisted of:. The third place was awarded to We-Share, the second place was awarded to Globe-Town and the first place was awarded to Polimedia.

Further details of the awards ceremony are available from the LinkedUp blog [ 23 ]. Figure 2: The Veni Competition shortlist entrants receive their awards. The next competition, the Vidi competition, was launched by LinkedUp in early November and will run until 14 February As mentioned earlier, the LinkedUp Challenge is being assessed using a well-defined evaluation framework. During initial stages of the project, the project team carried out a thorough assessment of the technical landscape in the field of open educational Web data eg linked data, data mining, learning analytics, legal and privacy aspects.

Open and Linked Web Data

This information was fed into the initial design of the LinkedUp Challenge and helped to provide a detailed description of the requirements which had to be met by entrants. It is intended that these requirements will ensure the large-scale reusability and exploitation of the challenge results and positive impact on the educational sector within Europe.

The evaluation framework consists of predefined evaluation procedures and benchmarking criteria for the ranking of the participating projects during the LinkedUp competitions. The requirements include interdisciplinary coverage, integration of high-quality Web data, integration with local data, context and filtering, scalability and performance and multilingualism.

The evaluation framework consists of a transparent and distinct list of evaluation criteria that enable the review panel to measure, based on quantifiable criteria and qualitative assessment, the impact and appropriateness of large-scale Web information and data applications. The evaluation framework also helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual projects and submissions.

After each stage of the Challenge, the evaluation framework is being reviewed on its validity and as to possible improvements that could be made to achieve the most sustainable and practical evaluation instrument possible by the end of the project. It is envisaged that the LinkedUp evaluation framework will contribute to an overall evaluation framework for knowledge- and data-intensive applications in particular domains such as education. In order to implement the evaluation framework, an evaluation experts group has been established, composed of experts from within and outside the LinkedUp Project consortium, associated experts, external experts.

The evaluation panel began by analysing the evaluation framework itself evaluation criteria, benchmarks and methods to guarantee the reliability and validity of the selected measures and participated in the evaluation of the LinkedUp Challenge submissions.

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These use cases will provide the basis for the evaluation of the LinkedUp Challenge submissions in real-world scenarios involving a critical mass of users as well as data, where submitted applications will be deployed and evaluated according to the evaluation criteria defined in the challenge design. Four use cases were defined for the Veni competition:. These were large-scale scenarios and use cases that arose through consultation among LinkedUp Project members and associated partners.

For example:.

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The use cases present actual, real-life challenges that the related institutions are facing and addressing. Their aim is to provide challenge participants with inspiration and examples of the kinds of problems that submissions can address. For the second competition, Vidi, the LinkedUp team has developed slightly different use cases.

It is envisioned that solving problems for institutions, such as the BBC, will encourage participation and offer real kudos to participants. The team looking at use cases is also preparing and implementing an exit and sustainability strategy for the long-term exploitation of the project results. This approach hopes to ensure the persistence and long-term availability of the competition results and evaluation framework produced in LinkedUp. The exit and sustainability strategy will in particular also cover legal and privacy aspects which are of importance when exposing and using publicly available Web data.

In order to support the LinkedUp Challenge and to aid use of open and linked data in education more generally, the project is continuously selecting and cataloguing relevant datasets. This has been done through the creation and maintenance of a catalogue and repository of data relevant and useful to education scenarios. The goal of the LinkedUp Dataset Catalog or Linked Education Cloud [ 25 ] is to collect and make available, ideally in an easily usable form, all sorts of data sources of relevance to education.

The aim is not only to support participants of the LinkedUp Challenge in identifying and conjointly using Web data in their applications, but also to be a general, evolving resource for the community interested in Web data for education. During the project lifespan the technical team will enable and encourage content- and data-providers to contribute new material to the LinkedUp Dataset Catalog through a series of hands-on workshops and the promotion of community documentation on LinkedUp tools, workflows and lessons learned.

Figure 3: Open University data in the LinkedUp catalogue.