Open Discovery Space

Back in the wake of 2011 when Education Minister of Wales asked a committee of educators to investigate the potential of digital technologies to improve learning, steps were underway to design a creative project that could champion the mantra of e-learning. Recently in the month of June, it was revealed that Wales is set to make education in the classroom more collaborative by installing an innovative e-learning hub, entitled The Hwb+ Portal. The project is still in the preliminary stages and on trial in schools, with pilots being implemented in order to evaluate feasibility, time, cost and adverse events of the programme. The pilot is attempting to avoid time and money on an inadequate designed project, whilst also spotting any problems that can be adjusted incrementally, to ensure the enforcement of the real portal is effective and efficient. The portal is designed to give teachers and student an online platform or community, in which they can share, exchange material and interact with one another. A report titled ‘Find it, Make it, Use it, Share it’, serves as the backbone of this collaborative learning initiative. The taskforce laid out a vision to allow teachers and students to be creators and active participants in the fast changing digital landscape that is quickly embedding itself into the education environment. The main feature of Hwb+ is that it is an online library that encapsulates teaching material with more than eighty thousand assets that schools can use for free over the web. Data is made free and accessible for all, in order to improve learning. Teachers can also engage with students and build a relationship, in particular those that teach optional subjects that may only have a limited class of students for an hour a day, will benefit from constructing relationships with students outside the hours of the class. Another feature of the portal is sharing, pupils can learn from each other by publishing their own materials online, where it can be discussed and rated by their peers. Resultantly, students can gain digital skills, and be able to engage in many facets of seamless learning, such as team building but also being able to work independently. Through the development of research skills, being able to methodologically collect and gather information from the portal then make calculative inferences from the sources, pupil study performance is enhanced. Further still, students can train their penmanship; by regularly writing and posting on the portal. Moreover, the digital hub combines multiple streams of virtual community mediums for the exchange of opinion and information. For example, wikis, blogs, discussion forums and surveys are just few of the content that can engage many young people and encourage them to express themselves. For teachers, the portal provides a series of programmes such as presentation software Prezi and 3D photo visualisation tools, which can alter the traditional classroom structure, by infusing a breath of creativity within the existing template.

The main challenge is to get teachers who are less technologically familiar to get on board with the scheme, and take the risk of reinventing their classroom plans that exist out of their comfort zone. Young people of this generation and the next will become digital natives, education must catch up with the changes in order to evolve and improve learning.

This advance is of importance to ODS, as it focuses on how e-learning materials can be used to revolutionise traditional education and classroom structures, in order to improve learning in Europe.

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  1. However if the insistence is still on learning without doing the whole issue is pointless.

    The issue in Wales is that there are no incentives to develop companies there as the infrastructure is useless and using the Welsh Language is so much of a disadvantage that it is fruitless ever cotemplating developing anything there that would employ sensibly-skilled technicians and apprentices in engineering.

    We tried before but it was all very well until the issue was dual languages and the inhrant total lack of engineering skills. Everyone wants to learn IT but this is an adjunct to everything else. The Country – Wales – through their potential intellectual younger generations are more inclined to take a chance at becoming a “television presenter” or study “media” than really get to grips with the real world of manufacturing ane exporting.

    All around the EU people are realising that it is the Economies that Export which survive not those that rely on IT and fiscal skills.

    We have so many countries ranging from the Federal Republic of Germany to Hungary and the Czech and Greece that have far superior skills with multiple European Languages that are wider than the Welsh and English that Wales suffers that frankly it is a lost cause. IT learning forget about it…go for proper working areas and exports.

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