Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The rise and fall of life-wide learning for adults in England

an article by Alan Tuckett (University of Wolverhampton, UK) published in International Journal of Lifelong Education Volume 36 Issue 1-2 (2017)


This article analyses policy and practice in social and cultural education for adults in England in the post Second World War era, beginning with the flowering of municipal adult education and the expansion of university extra-mural provision.

It tracks the emerging policy focus on extending participation to under-represented groups, and on securing a rich breadth of curriculum (life-wide learning), which flowered in the 1990s. It maps, and deprecates the subsequent narrowing of public investment to an increasingly utilitarian focus on qualifications for labour market participation with the rise of Treasury (finance ministry) influence on adult learning policy from 2003.

Evidence of the wider benefits that derive from participation in learning is used to re-assert the case for publicly accessible lifelong, life-wide education for adults.

Wikipedia editing and information literacy: a case study

an article by Lydia Dawe and Ainslie Robinson (University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Australia) published in Information and Learning Science Volume 118 Issue 1/2 (2017)


This paper aims to evaluate the success of a Wikipedia editing assessment designed to improve the information literacy skills of a cohort of first-year undergraduate health sciences students.

In this action research case study (known hereafter as “the project” to differentiate this action research from the students’ own research), students researched, wrote and published Wikipedia articles on Australia-centric health topics. Students were given a pre- and post-test to assess levels of self-confidence in finding, evaluating and referencing information. Student work was also analysed in terms of article length and quantity and the type of information sources used.

Tests revealed that students’ self-confidence in their information literacy skills improved overall. Analysis of student work revealed that students wrote longer articles and incorporated more references than expected. References used were of appropriate quality relevant to the article despite minimal instructions.

There are few studies that investigate information literacy development through Wikipedia editing in Australian universities. This study shows that Wikipedia editing is an effective way to carry out student assessment prior to essay writing and an innovative platform to improve information literacy skills in undergraduate students.

Towards age-friendly work in Europe: a life-course perspective on work and ageing from EU Agencies

The EU’s population and workforce are ageing. This has implications for employment, working conditions, living standards and welfare.

A new report shows how information from four agencies, including Cedefop, can support policy-making that is both complementary and greater than the sum of its parts.

The report draws on the agencies’ expertise in each of their areas and covers the different challenges associated with the ageing workforce and considers innovative solutions.
  • Cedefop explores how vocational education and training can be used to support active ageing at work.
  • EU-OSHA presents policy examples of integrated approaches to occupational safety and health for an ageing workforce.
  • Eurofound examines working conditions for workers of all ages, related work sustainability outcomes and how the right policies can foster longer working lives.
  • EIGE provides a gender perspective on the issue of the ageing workforce and discusses the different challenges that men and women face.
Full report Towards Age-friendly Work in Europe(PDF 90pp)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

No more robot wars in London

a post by Torsten Bell published by Resolution Foundation on 2 May 2017

“The robots are coming to take our jobs”, the Evening Standard told Londoners in December 2016. In case that didn’t depress their readers enough, the article went on to spell out the coming doom: “The sheer pace of change in computational power and grinding efficiencies of automation will alter or eliminate many of our jobs, far faster than we anticipate.”

And then, to ensure the anxiety was sufficiently widespread, they reminded their middle-class readers that “many of the relatively fortunate in the professional class in London will face upheavals too”.

Anxiety about the impact of robots on the world of work has been a hot topic across Western countries for several years. You couldn’t move at Davos last year without seeing grown men (it’s always men) with their heads in their hands predicting the end of work. Bill Gates is so worried that he has called for a robots tax.

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Scale of pangolin slaughter revealed – millions hunted in central Africa alone

a article by Damian Carrington (Environment editor) for the Guardian published on 20 July 2017

A ground pangolin. Pangolins are one of the world’’s most endangered species, some estimate that over one million of them are killed every year for their scales, meat and blood.
A ground pangolin. Pangolins are one of the world’s most endangered species, some estimate that over one million of them are killed every year for their scales, meat and blood.
Photograph: Adrian Steirn/Barcroft Images

The true scale of the slaughter of pangolins in Africa has been revealed by new research showing that millions of the scaly mammals are being hunted and killed.

Pangolins were already known to be the world’s most trafficked wild mammal, with at least a million being traded in the last decade to supply the demand for its meat and scales in Asian markets. Populations of Asian pangolins have been decimated, leaving the creatures highly endangered and sharply shifting the focus of exploitation to Africa’s four species.

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I had thought to include this story in with the "frivolous" or "merely interesting" stories in my composite posts but this so incensed me that I though I would pass it on separately.

Capturing unmet needs

a post by Simone Vibert for DEMOS published on 21 June 2017

Demos has a long-standing interest in the social and financial impact of disability and health conditions. People living with serious health conditions can face a significant financial burden, a large part of which is the extra costs resulting from looking after one’s health or undergoing treatment. In new research released today,[1] Demos found that people with motor neurone disease (MND) incur average regular costs of £9,645 per year – this includes care costs, increased energy bills, travel in areas where public transport is inaccessible, and so on. They also incur one off costs (such as adapting their home or vehicle so it is wheelchair accessible) which typically amount to at least £2,175 over the course of the disease.

The scale of the extra costs we uncovered are staggering. However, our experience in assessing the financial impact of disability and health conditions has taught us that extra costs are only one side of the story. It is also vital to capture the hidden extent of unmet need: the things people go without in order to manage their finances.

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It is not a pretty story.

Ten more of the slightly quirky items from the world of published material

How to Be Civil in an Uncivil World
via 3 Quarks Daily: James Ryerson in the New York Times

Americans seem to be forever undergoing a “crisis” of civility. Year after year, we’re told that the norms dictating decent behaviour are eroding; that we’ve lost sight of the basic regard we owe our fellow participants in public life; that the contentiousness of our culture threatens to undermine our democracy.
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Benjamin Franklin and the sea
via OUP Blog by David E Curtis

Everyone knows about Benjamin Franklin. His revolutionary electrical experiments made him famous, and the image of the kite-flying inventor spouting aphorisms have kept him so for more than two centuries. His Autobiography could be considered a founding document of the idea of America, the story of a poor but bright young indentured servant who eventually became so famous he appeared before kings and on our money. Printer, journalist, community organizer, natural philosopher, satirist, diplomat – Franklin’s skill with language and his ability to shape it to personal, national, and scientific purposes are unparalleled in American history.
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Watch hypnotic egg-breaking machines for ten minutes
via Boing Boing by Andrea James
These three different egg-breaking and separating machines have slightly different tasks, but they are all equally hypnotic.
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The old oak: a year in the life of a tree – photo essay
The seasons change, but the tree remains: Christopher Thomond has been photographing a single, 200-year-old Lancashire oak throughout 2016
Oak tree in Greenmount November 2 2016
When Guardian photographer Chris Thomond volunteered to spend a year photographing a tree, he spent “a mad couple of weeks auditioning trees” – sending photos of them to his picture editors. “Many were an hour away from my home and we realised we needed something nearby. As I was driving along one day, 10 minutes from my house on the edge of Manchester, I saw a farmer repairing a fence and said, ‘You probably think I’m bonkers, but have you got any nice-looking trees?’ He was a bit wary but then he said, ‘I think I’ve got just the one. People are forever photographing it.’ It just went from there.”
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Maxime Causeret’s gorgeous animation shapes order from chaos
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Break out your headphones for this one. Maxime Causeret has created a beautiful animation for Max Cooper's instrumental track “Order from Chaos”. Seemingly random elements slowly coalesce into lifelike forms as the track moves from raindrops to increasingly complex sounds.
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The Life and Death of Schrodinger’s Cat, and What It Really Means
via Big Think by Scotty Hendricks
Article Image
Schrodinger’s cat is one of the most famous thought experiments in all of science. The source of countless jokes, t-shirts, and pseudo-intellectual conversations. The idea is this: if a cat is put into a box with an elaborate quantum booby trap then when we open the box the trap will either be activated and kill the cat or not be activated at all. Quantum Physics says the cat should be in “superposition” while we are not looking at it, just like the rest of the quantum system. Meaning the cat is both alive and dead at the same time until we look at at! Zombie cat!
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I know nothing about quantum physics but I do know a cute kitten picture when I see one.

Ballerina: the animated kids’ film that gets to the pointe of ballet
via the Guardian by Lyndsey Winship
Ballet XXL … the animated film Ballerina.
Ask any ballet dancer about the film Black Swan and you’ll immediately get a groan that falls somewhere between disdain and disgust. They’re tired of the myths about ballet being a world of competition and cruelty, of freakishly talented and freakishly driven dancers – never mind that there’s some truth in that.
Ballet both feeds on its myths – of it being exceptional and otherworldly – and is constantly trying to demolish them. And each new fiction adds another layer in the popular imagination, even an unassuming, entertaining children’s animation such as Ballerina, the French-Canadian film which follows orphan FĂ©licie on her quest to be a dancer.
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Here’s how hand-printed books get those marble-patterned pages
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Paper marbling is alive and well at Oberlin College’s Letterpress Studio. Alex Fox filmed his friend Jones Pitsker demonstrating a couple of techniques.
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I can do marbling but not like this. Mine is much more hit and miss – mostly miss.

Shame on you
via Arts & Letters Daily: by Firmin deBrabander in AEON
Unburdening ourselves online can feel radical and liberating. But is baring and sharing all as emancipatory as it seems?
There’s a well-known contradiction in the way many of us behave online, which is this: we know we’re being watched all the time, and pay lip service to the evils of surveillance by Google and the government. But the bounds of what’s considered too personal, revealing or banal to be uploaded to an app or shared with a circle of social media ‘followers’ seems to shrink by the day. When faced with an abundance of digital toys that offer magical levels of connectivity and convenience, many of us succumb to a ‘giddy sense that privacy is kind of stupid’, as the writer Gary Shteyngart wrote in The New Yorker in 2013.
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Will malfunction or incompetence start World War Three?
via Boing Boing by Andrea James

Eric Schlosser’s book and film Command and Control look at the terrifying prospects of nuclear friendly fire, where one of America’s nukes detonates on US soil. It also looks at what might happen if a false alarm gets relayed to a trigger-happy general or President. He starts this New Yorker piece with a terrifying story from June 3, 1980:
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