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Futures for Learning

March 2004

Welcome to the first edition of "Futures for Learning". This newsletter aims to point you to some developments that are leading to emerging and future scenarios for learning. We are actively involved in such developments through policy studies and analysis, project management and the publishing of reports and newsletters.

Although technology has an important role to play in learning innovations, it needs to be used in an appropriate context. However, innovations also emerge as an outcome of research that looks at the process of learning and the context in which people learn in their own environments. Interest is emerging increasingly in the process of authentic learning and the role of informal and non-formal approaches to learning, is increasingly being seen as an important way for a person to start a learning journey.

It is also encouraging to observe that innovative approaches learning are increasingly being considered as part of social and economic regeneration in the renewal of regions and local communities. The role of social housing associations is also very important in this respect.

It is to this end, that we are increasingly taking a holistic approach to finding learning solutions but intertwining technology solutions as and when appropriate.

New Perspectives for Learning
The European Union continues to support research into education and training in the Sixth EU Framework Progamme (2003-2006). This is under Priority 7 - Citizens and Governance in the Knowledge Based Society. Previous research has covered education, inequalities and social exclusion issues as detailed a recent issue of the newsletter "New Perspectives for Learning" published by pjb Associates. Earlier editions of the newsletters have covered lifelong learning research issues, skills, mobility and education Issues, higher education research and improving schools research.

Recently completed European research includes research on "Engaging People in Active Citizenship", "Gender and Qualifications", "The education of Gypsy children within Europe".

Regeneration & Community-based learning
It is interesting to note that
in the United States - Microsoft, Verizon and Cisco are among 10 corporate partners of the Bring IT Home campaign, led by One Economy, a non-profit technology group. The initiative encourages broadband access by adding incentives into the national Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) programme. (More details) Tessa Jowell, the UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport, has announced that a new industry working group has been formed to produce a report on 'digital inclusion' - covering both digital television and the Internet. (More details) The Greater London Authority has produced a report on the impact on and use of the Internet by socially excluded groups in London. (More details)

Our newsclip service aims to keep up with such developments and we are keen to be more involved with economic and social regeneration projects that also consider the importance that learning plays in such developments. Contact Peter Bates.

m-learning Developments
We continue to monitor mobile learning developments and are beginning to see some interesting trends in how content is delivered to various mobile devices. The strategy that appears to be emerging is one of a mixed and multiple delivery. WAP may have nearly died, but methods like always-on GRPS that is now fairly widespread across Europe appears to be emerging in combination with "popping in" at Wi-Fi hot spots when they are available. An up-grade strategy is using 3G or UMTs. This all seems logical as GPRS offers access speeds of more than twice dial-up access and Wi-Fi and 3G developments certainly at least the equivalent of fast fixed broadband. Digital broadcasting content to handheld devices via satellite (in South Korea) and via digital terrestrial (in Europe) are two more emerging methods. Look at our Latest m-learning newsclips for more details of these trends.

The concept of “occasionally connected computing” was also featured in issue 3 of the MOBilearn newsletter. Where as the latest edition of the MOBilearn newsletter covers the development of the MOBilearn open access architecture.The MOBilearn newsletter is edited by pjb Associates on behalf of the Mobilearn Project. The project is not only addressing technical issues, but also has a strong emphasis on pedagogical issues as can be seen from Issue 2 of the newsletter. The MLEARN 2004 conference organised jointly by the m-learning and Mobilearn projects in July 2004 will cover many of the latest developments. In addition, there is also an opportunity to take part in a study of of people’s everyday learning activities and experiences.

t-learning developments
We are pleased that the
Learning and Skills Development Agency has recently published the study that we did for them on the potential using interactive TV for learning. This has resulted in the publication Interactive TV: A learning platform with potential. Further work in this area has resulted in a major global study into developments concerning the potential of using interactive for increasing learning opportunities in the home. This was funded by the European Commission. The full final report of this t-learning study is now available or you can read the key highlights.

Into 2004 we continue to monitor developments and highlight some interesting issues in our interactive and broadband TV newsclip service and broadband in the home newsclip service. Developments are still moving along very slowly, however, we still believe that there is potential for increasing learning opportunities in the home particularly when it is linked to social and economic regeneration.

In a UK context it is interesting to note that the BT Group has recently announced a so-called 2nd generation broadband strategy that does include video-on-demand. (More details) Is this the first stage towards personalised TV that could lead onto personalised learning via TV or a PC? In other parts of Europe high-speed broadband continues to be rolled out particularly in urban areas. One such latest development is in Copenhagen and across other parts of Denmark. (More details)

Other interesting developments include the Akimbo Service to be launched in the United States later this year and will feature more than 20,000 hours of video-on-demand content not previously available on TV.  Clearly, a big potential for making available video-based learning content. We have already identified ways that interactive components can be added to such a service. This is highlighted in one of our case studies about US-based Chaos Media Networks who are already offering learning-based interactive on-demand content amongst other types of content.

It was of great interest to receive to receive in early March this year a white paper on "Interactive TV and e-learning" by Donald Clark, CEO of the EPIC Group - a UK market leader in e-learning, blended learning and knowledge solutions. Frankly, the paper is very disappointing and does not, in any way, add understanding to the debate around the use of TV for learning purposes. It makes no reference to either of the detailed studies that we have done and takes a narrow perspective of developments around interactive and broadband TV. However, do feel free to get the report from EPIC and form your own opinion.

Games-based learning
We are starting to see signs that those involved in the video games industry are starting to show an interest games-based learning. This is very encouraging because until recently the games industry has tended to consider that any mention of learning would "pollute" their industry. We continue to monitor such developments through our newsclip service and our resources area. We are particularly interested to hear from anyone from the games industry or the learning business who is interested in co-operating in this area. Contact Peter Bates.

You might be interested to know about the The Education Arcade Games in Education Conference, Los Angeles 9-11 May 2004

This newsletter is published by pjb Associates,
52 St Andrews way, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB6 3DZ,
United Kingdom.

If you would like to contact us about any of these topics do email.

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pjb Associates

Last updated 30 April 2004