Mailing Number 37 - 21 June 2004
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Learning styles inventories: not to be trusted. The UK's Learning and Skills Development Agency has finally published the two hopefully influential reports on learning styles which I referred to in Fortnightly Mailing 34, by Frank Coffield, David Moseley, Elaine Hall, and Kathryn Ecclestone. The first is shorter than the second and covers the ground in a slightly more accessible way, with a more practical focus. Both are highly critical of the way in which learning styles inventories are in widespread use, often with next to no evidence as to their validity.
Here are the LSDA's rather similar summaries of each report, and links to rather similar looking download pages on the LSDA web site.
Should we be using learning styles?: What research has to say to practice. Learning style instruments are widely used. But are they reliable and valid? Do they have an impact on pedagogy? This report examines 13 models of learning style and concludes that it matters fundamentally which model is chosen. Positive recommendations are made for students, teachers and trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors.
Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning : A systematic and critical review. This report critically reviews the literature on learning styles and examines in detail 13 of the most influential models. The report concludes that it matters fundamentally which instrument is chosen. The implications for teaching and learning in post-16 learning are serious and should be of concern to learners, teachers and trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors.
Keeping up to date with news about the BBC's Creative Archive. Rafat Ali, a frighteningly prolific professional journalist, works full time producing Paid Content, a daily email briefing, which won the 2003 NetMedia European Online Journalism Award. Rafat maintains this regularly updated page of news about BBCi. Rafat's current fear is that the copyright difficulties are causing the BBC's lawyers to narrow the scope of the Creative Archive.
UKeU: Parliamentary Select Committee gets stuck in, as HEFCE finally pulls the plug. The failure of UK eUniversities Worldwide Ltd (UKeU) will come under the scrutiny of the House of Commons Education Select Committee later this month, according to the BBC, with the Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, Dr Ian Gibson, accusing UKeU as a "shameful waste" of public money. Meanwhile the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) announced on 18 June the final wind-down of UKeU, and the transfer of its eChina programme to the University of Cambridge. The UKeU's e-learning Research Centre will remain a partnership between the Universities of Manchester and Southampton and the Higher Education Academy. To no one's surprise the attempt to sell the UKeU's e-learning platform appears to have failed. See June 18 HEFCE press statement.
Multikulti: information, advice, guidance and learning materials in community languages. The Multikulti web site aims to support citizenship through the delivery of culturally appropriate and accurately translated information in the following areas of welfare law - debt, employment, health, housing, immigration and welfare benefits. This site describes itself as being at the cutting edge of multilingual technology, with content in Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Gujariti, Somali, Spanish, Turkish. The underlying platform is MKDoc, developed by the Sheffield-based company webarchitects.
Open source metadata tagging tool. Version 3 of the UK Government's Curriculum Online Tagging Tool has been released. The tool which works on Windows, Linux, MacOS, and Solaris, is designed to make the process of creating and outputting metadata for learning materials as easy and intuitive as possible, with metadata records produced in XML format. There are full details (including a download area) on the Curriculum Online web site. For readers who are can tolerate the slightly "Sheffield Trade Mission" tone of this Mailing, note that the tool was produced by Sheffield-based companies Futurate and Knowledge Integration with whom I've recently been working on writing two new e-learning related British Standards.
Learning Design. Sandy Britain, who wrote, with Oleg Liber, the influential Framework for the Pedagogical Evaluation of eLearning Environments [650 kB DOC], has just finished a JISC-funded report: A Review of Learning Design: Concept, Specifications and Tools [180 kB DOC]. Definitely worth reading if you want to clarify your own thinking on the differences between the general concept of learning design and the about-to-become-prominent Learning Design Specification which has been published by the IMS Global Consortium.
Directory of Open Access Journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) contains links to several hundred open access academic journals world wide. Here, for example, are those placed in the education category. Note also that Reed Elsevier is reported by the Guardian to have decided to allow authors of journal articles to put copies of their work on their institutional web site for free access, which some see as a major (others a rather small!) step towards making academic knowledge freely available over the web.
BbMatters. Cathy Ellis decided to produce the monthly newsletter BbMatters, which describes its aims as To be at the cutting edge of e-learning and to provide a dynamic platform for Blackboard users working in Further Education and To share experiences of using Blackboard and to showcase innovation and best practice. Cathy was astonished at its rapid international uptake, with getting on for 1000 subscribers within the first few months. A strong group of people is now responsible for the wide range of themes covered by the newsletter.
Tube maps. Harry Beck's 1933 map of the London Underground System had a subsequent huge influence on transport maps worldwide.
Figure. Picture by Ken Garland of Harry Beck and the 1933 London Underground Map
Transport for London's animated history of the London Underground's maps [252 kB Flash Movie] is an excellent example of the non-gratuitous use of Flash on a web site. Transport for London also maintains a wide range of different versions of the tube map.
Ducks have regional accents....... with Cornish ducks having a "chilled out" rural quack and London ducks a wide-boy shouting quack, according to this report in The Register on research from Middlesex University.
Getting drunk at a web-design guru's expense. Thanks to Julia Duggleby for this link to a Jakob Nielsen drinking game.
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