Category Archives: Education

Ofqual plagiarism guides for students, parents and teachers

Ofqual – the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator – has issued advice to students, parents and teachers on citing information sources appropriately to avoid plagiarism.

Produced in association with this series of guides is aimed at those in schools who are concerned about falling foul of plagiarism within coursework and assessments.

The advice for students – Using sources : a guide for students : find it, check it, credit it – refers them to the Internet Detective and the Internet for Image Searching as key tools for evaluating information online.

The guidance embraces the realities of the Internet age, recognising that students will use Google and Wikipedia, but encourages them to check their facts, be aware of bias and give credit where it is due.

It also refers to the Wikipedia selection for schools – a “free, hand-checked, non-commercial selection from Wikipedia, targeted around the UK National Curriculum” – a good example of how the academic world can engage with Web 2.0 sources.

While this advice is aimed at those in schools, University academics  concerned at the rise of a “cut and paste” culture will be grateful that this issue is being tackled and may reflect that this guidance would be of use to many undergraduates as well.

Intute features more subject specific Internet tutorials as part of the Virtual Training Suite.

Get Social Science research on your iPhone

The Social Science Research Network is a world wide collaborative of over 800 scholars that is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research.

To that end, they have just released a new app for the iPhone / iPod Touch allowing users to search and read the full text of over 250,000 papers.

They say

“iSSRN, our free iPhone App, was released recently. It provides instant access to the latest Social Science and Humanities research in the SSRN eLibrary from scholars around the world. iSSRN is available from Apple’s iTunes store.

iSSRN allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to search over 250,000 papers and read the full text of the papers directly on their device.”

The app is very easy to install and use, with the PDF versions of papers quite nicely presented and the multi-touch functionality enabling you to zoom in and out of key passages – although there is a limit to the amount of serious reading that you can do on a screen that small.

The SSRN includes a number of subject specific covering Economics, Management, Political Science, Law and other topics.  The networks encourage the early distribution of research results by reviewing and distributing submitted abstracts and by soliciting abstracts of research papers.

Intute features more Internet resources from the Social Sciences.

What you won’t be reading about the Primary Review

The final report from the Cambridge Primary Review has been published.

It claims to be the most comprehensive review of primary education in England for 40 years and with 14 authors, 24 chapters, 78 formal conclusions, 75 recommendations and over 600 pages, there’s a lot to take in.

The final report press release and briefing documents pick out some of the key findings and present them within three themes.

  • The condition of childhood today
  • The state of the society and world in which children are growing up
  • The focus and impact of government policy

Some of the specific areas outlined in the report include:

Standards – the overall “picture is neither as rosy nor as bleak as opposing camps tend to claim” – but the term has become overused, poorly defined and abused within political discourse.

Inequality – there is a “persistent ‘long tail’ of underachievement, in which Britain compares unfavourably with many other countries” – Government interventions such as Every Child Matters, the Children’s Plan and Narrowing the Gap are welcome but more is needed.

Curriculum – the report disputes some of the findings of the recent Rose review of the primary curriculum and proposes “a curriculum which is driven by … clearly-specified domains of knowledge, skill and enquiry, central to which are language, oracy and literacy”.

Assessment – the report is critical of assessment practices in primary education and recommends that “assessment for accountability should be uncoupled from assessment for learning” – specifically SATs should be replaced.

Pedagogy – it questions whether the emergence of a “state theory of learning” is useful and recommends that “the principle that it is not for government or government agencies to tell teachers how to teach, abandoned in 1997, should be reinstated”.

… there is much more to the report and the website includes interim reports on specific issues that have emerged over the last 2 years, details of the evidence gathering process and background on the report process – to enable you to get beyond the headlines that kids shouldn’t start school until they are six.

Intute features more Internet resources on the topic of Primary Education.

A brief history of whatever

The recent ALT-C conference in Manchester included a keynote presentation from Michael Wesch, the social anthropologist from Kansas State University who is perhaps most famous for his work on YouTube and his viral videos A Vision of Students Today and Web 2.0 the Machine is Us/ing Us.

The first half of the keynote looked at issues of identity / meaning and used the device of examining A Brief History of Whatever to introduce the concept of trying to get students beyond the MTV generation / narcissistic use of the word to dismiss a person or argument.

Wesch hopes that his use of Web 2.0 tools for a clear purpose can help change attitudes, so that they are more likely to say “let’s do whatever it takes, by whatever means necessary,” to come together.

Wesch seeks to take his students on a journey from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able.

By this he means:

  • Getting them finding, analysing, critiquing and questioning information
  • Participating by connecting and collaborating with each other
  • Converting them from consumers to creators of culture

Wesch expressed some concern about the emphasis on critical thinking, espousing the view that this fosters a mindset of looking for what is wrong with information. He wants to move beyond that to creative thinking where students can recognise what is right and wrong with information.

Thinking back to his time as a researcher living amongst communities in Papua New Guinea he recognised the limits of technology and said that it’s not the platform, but the purpose that is important in any deployment of new teaching methods.

The full keynote is available from the ALT-C Blip TV channel, with other speakers from this year and last year. Further online lectures from Wesch include An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube filmed last year.

Intute features more internet resources on Anthropology, Sociology and academic use of YouTube.

Don’t believe the hype?

Some of you may be familiar with the Gartner Hype Cycle that is a graphical representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies.

The latest incarnation recognised the rise of Twitter / microblogging and even spotted the emergence of behavioural economics as a subject.

However, Gartner also produces versions of the Hype Cycle relating to technological developments in specific sectors and Times Higher Education recently reported on the Hype Cycle for education (as outlined below).

The assertion that podcasting learning content was “obsolete before reaching the plateau” may come as a surprise to some – for example Oxford University recently celebrated their 1 millionth download from iTunes U.

A more nuanced reading of the report shows that radio style audio podcasts have morphed into more complex learning objects usually using video – which reflects the real life move from audio to video initiated by the explosion of YouTube.

While analysis of the hype around particular technologies may be useful for trend spotters, the actual deployment and use of technology is perhaps more important – a lesson from our work with the Virtual Training Suite is that students need help in the intelligent use of technology.

Otherwise the danger is that the conversation becomes one between people who like technology, talking to other people who like technology about how great technology is.

Intute features more academic Internet resources about podcasting, YouTube and Educational Technology.

ESDS International videos now on YouTube

Colleagues have alerted us that there is an ESDS International YouTube channel with videos from their last annual conference.

In includes videos on the World Bank Africa Development Indicators, labour market indicators and the Millennium Development Goals and cross-national attitudinal research.

Audio, video and slides from the conference are also available to download and you can find out more about ESDS International.

If you want to learn more about using Internet resources in these subjects, then why not try the new edition of the Internet for Social Research Methods tutorial from the Virtual Training Suite.

Intute also features more Internet resources on the issues of Statistics and Data, Development Economics and more educational YouTube channels.

Funding Higher Education – the student view

The National Union of Students has published a Blueprint for funding Higher Education that puts an end to top-up fees.

This come in the context of Higher Education institutions looking for more funds, perhaps by raising the current cap on tuition fees.

However, recent figures from HESA may suggest that such fees could be putting off students from lower income households going to University.

The Blueprint summary and full report offer detailed information on their scheme, which aims to provide more money to the sector, a mechanism to encourage contributions from businesses and a fairer payment system for low earners and part-time students.

Key proposals from the NUS include:

Progressive graduate contributions – not a simple graduate tax, but variable contributions over a maximum of 20 years, related to ability to pay as measured by earnings and with a threshold below which nothing is paid.

People’s Trust for Higher Education – where the contributions would be paid in and paid out, which would be built up over time and would mean less direct Government support being needed in the long term.

The report includes economic models provided by the Centre for Economics and Business Research alongside various case studies of what it would mean for different types of graduates.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on Higher Education funding.

CentrePiece : the education issue

A long-running research programme at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) has been assessing the effectiveness of the UK’s educational policies in raising standards.

A series of studies has evaluated efforts both to improve the quality of education overall and to tackle the `long tail’ of people without basic skills by giving better opportunities to low-achieving, `hard-to-reach’ children from poorer families.

The latest issue of CentrePiece, published this week, provides an overview of some of the most significant findings across a wide range of policies.

Key findings from this collection of studies include:

Academies have improved their GCSE performance after changing status – but so have comparable schools that did not become academies.

Raising the school leaving age – as the UK government is currently proposing to do – may increase regional mobility and improve the employment outcomes of the least educated segment of the population.

Higher ability pupils tend to be graded higher by tests than by the teachers – and lower achieving pupils better by the teachers than by the tests.

The effects of higher spending on educational attainment have been consistently positive across all areas tested at the end of primary education. Resource-based interventions seem to produce their best outcomes when targeted towards pupils and schools in real need.

Remedial programmes are not working for a significant proportion of children labelled as SEN. There is no net effect of being labelled as SEN on the performance of pupils with moderate difficulties.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the Economics of Education.

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World

The Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience (CLEX) – an independent body backed by leading bodies in UK higher and further education – has produced a final report on Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World.

It looks at issues such as:

  • the current use of such technologies in higher education
  • student expectations and competencies
  • skills, technical and pedagogical issues for staff
  • the drivers of change

The site also contains the report of a comparative international review covering the USA, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands.

The report has been discussed in The Guardian and the online community is having its say on Twitter.

Meanwhile from policy to practice – Web 2.0 tools are being actively used by academics and others within Higher Education – the video below shows how Twitter is being used to facilitate class discussion by UT Dallas Professor Dr. Monica Rankin – even when she can’t be there.

Do high-level reports such as the CLEX Inquiry help to support current practice in terms of teaching and learning innovations? Or are such mechanisms inherently behind the times for those making use of these tools already? Or is the Web 2.0 approach a gimmick that gets in the way of effective educational outcomes?

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the issues of Higher Education and Educational Technology.

Rose Primary Curriculum report

The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum headed up by Sir Jim Rose has produced a final report.

It recommends that the new primary curriculum should be reorganised into six areas of learning:

  • understanding English, communication and languages;
  • mathematical understanding;
  • understanding the arts;
  • historical, geographical and social understanding;
  • understanding physical development, health and wellbeing;
  • scientific and technological understanding

While early reports suggested that pupils would be taught about using Twitter and Wikipedia – the reality is that ICT will be embedded within the curriculum, with an emphasis on ICT use in all subjects, as well as teaching pupils about e-safety.

The overall emphasis is on slimming down the prescriptive nature of the current curriculum, with more cross-curricular studies aimed at making the most of  good quality subject teaching – as stated by Sir Jim Rose on the Today Programme this morning.

A public consultation on the recommended programmes of study and guidance will be led by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

Find out more about the review from the accompanying press release on the DCSF website, the Executive summary and recommendations of the report itself and explore examples of cross-curricular teaching at Teachers TV.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on Primary Education.