Encouraging student attendance

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Professor Tansy Jessop -At home everywhere and nowhere: the place of pedagogic research in higher education

Excellent lecture here from Tansy Jessop, Professor at Southampton Solent University. Makes important points about 'pedagogic research' being put into its own category and the 'own goal' of Boyer's Scholarship of Teaching of Learning.

Professor Tansy Jessop -At home everywhere and nowhere: the place of pedagogic research in higher education from Educational Development Unit on Vimeo.

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Checkout OneHE

I've put my profile up on OneHE a new organisation which describes itself as "a global network for educators who share a passion for learning and teaching in higher education". There already seem to be lot signed up. Membership privileges (from £3 per month) include access to small pots of funding and they are in the process of facilitating new 'global subject centres' which have their own areas on the site. OneHE is led by former senior staff from the Higher Education Academy and looks like it could be become a much-needed grassroots teaching and learning network for teachers from all disciplines.

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How to update the Ubuntu Touch operating system on a BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition when you can’t access the bootloader.

I recently made a what is probably best described as an ideological decision to purchase a Ubuntu Touch tablet. I’ve used Linux on my desktop for a while now and thought it was time to take the plunge with a tablet with an open source operating system. Ubuntu Touch has had a difficult development history. Canonical, who develop the Ubuntu desktop operating system withdrew support for the project and is is now maintained Ubports as a community project

This is not a review of the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Tablet, but it will be become quickly evident from this post that this most definitely a not suitable device for anyone who wants to buy a tablet, charge it up, downloads some apps then get into using it. In fact I’ve had the tablet a few weeks now and have only just managed to work out the basics of updating the OS.

Buying the tablet

As far as I know it is not possible to buy one in the UK so I purchased mine directly from the manufacturers in Spain-- Apparently they can be bought in store Spain, Portugal and Austria and Germany.

The initial problem.

Although I’ve only just got the tablet is arrived preloaded with the Canonical version of Ubuntu Touch. Although you can use it to browse the internet, it is not possible to update it or install new apps as Canonical no longer support the OS and Ubuntu Touch store is now closed. So the first post-purchase task is to get the latest version of Ubuntu Touch from Ubports.

The ‘official’ solution which didn’t work directly. You will get no help from BQ on this. However, I recommend trying this first anyway.

1. Download and install the Ubports-installer https://github.com/ubports/ubports-installer to your desktop computer (not your tablet). Versions are available for Linux, Windows and Apple OS’s.

2. Put the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition into ‘developer mode’. Settings> about> developer mode. If you haven’t set up a password or passcode you will need to do so.

3. Connect your BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition device to your desktop using a usb cable and follow the onscreen instructions.

4. It will tell you to put the device into bootloader mode by pressing the volume up button and the power button.

5. Then the ubports installer will install the ubports version.

However, however hard I tried I could get into the bootloader mode. Other online suggestions included holding the power button and volume down, holding multiple buttons etc. Whatever I tried I could not access the bootloader and the device just started up as normal. Resetting the device from the tablet settings did not help either.

A solution.

I eventually obtained a solution from this forum-- clearly I was not the only one having this problem. The solution is a little bitty so I’ve written it out here. I accept no responsibility for how you use these instructions, but they may help you. Basically your treat the Ubuntu device as if you were trying to install Ubuntu Touch on an Android device.

Hardware/ OS Like the user on the forum I used a laptop running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. No usb devices were plugged in.

Software

You need to down, extract and install the following

All linked from ubports website

1. Ubports installer (as above)

2. Download the appropriate ROM image for the device (frieza in my case). Extract this.

3. The Linux flash tool from https://spflashtool.com/download/SP_Flash_Tool_v5.1744_Linux.zip

What I did.

1. Ensure the BQ tablet is charged to at least 40%. Turn off any password or passcode setting on the tablet. In addition make sure the tablet is NOT in developer mode.

2. Turn the tablet power off. Do not plug into the tablet into your computer.

3. Extract, download and install the flash tool

4. Run the tool as ‘root’. I went into nautilus through the terminal sudo nautilus then click on the ‘flash_tool’ icon to run the program.

5. When the tool opens select the ‘Download’ tab.

6. In the part labelled ‘scatter-loading file’ go to the download of the image (Frieza) and find the scatter file. The scatter file is a text file and in my case is called MT813_Android_scatter.txt

7. VERY IMPORTANT- Change the ‘Download only’ option to ‘Firmware upgrade.’ Apparently the default setting can brick your device.

8. Press ‘Download’ (Button with the green down arrow at the top).

9. Plug your BQ tablet into your usb 2.0 port and the new firmware will install (hopefully). Apparently it does not play well with usb 3.0. If it does not work try again trying different usb ports and different cable if necessary. It took my about four attempts before it worked.

Now you have Canonical’s version of the Ubuntu Touch OS which is supposed to be what was on the tablet to start with. The only difference now is that you have bootloader.

Now you can follow the instructions above, namely:

1. Download and install the Ubports-installer to your desktop computer (not your tablet). Versions are available for Linux, Windows and Apple OS’s.

2. Put the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition into ‘developer mode’. Settings> about> developer mode. If you haven’t set up a password or passcode you will need to do so.

3. Connect your BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition device to your desktop using a usb cable and follow the onscreen instructions.

4. It will tell you to put the device into bootloader mode by pressing the volume up button and the power button.

5. Then the ubports installer will install the ubports version.

6. When completed you can go through setting up the device with your preferences. You will now have access to the OpenStore can start to download apps.

Links

(Also linked at https://docs.ubports.com/en/latest/userguide/install.html )

Ubports-installer https://github.com/ubports/ubports-installer

Frieza https://storage.googleapis.com/otas/2015/Tablets/Freezer%20FHD/Ubuntu/OTA_15/frieza-image-stable-8.zip

Linux Flash tool https://spflashtool.com/download/SP_Flash_Tool_v5.1744_Linux.zip

Forum post which led me to the solution https://forums.ubports.com/topic/1487/cannot-install-ubuntu-touch-on-bq-m10-ubuntu-edition/67

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Summer jobs are only summer jobs for the privileged: What the Fonz taught me about summer jobs

'The Fonz'. He could be wise, but his use of the gents' toilet as his private office probably wasn't. The Fonz: ABC Public Domain (Wikipedia)

It’s summertime, that time of year when university and college students work for a few weeks to pay off some debt or get some extra money. There’s something of an annual ritual in journalism to write summer pieces reminiscing about the awfulness of summer jobs – the boring, the repetitive, the gross and the dangerous. I did many of these jobs and have a 20 year old scar from where I nudged my hand against a working industrial pillar drill.

As a teenager we watched Happy Days as a family – the episodes were at least 10 years old when I watched them so I was probably about 15 when I saw the episode ‘Richie’s job.’ Richie, on summer leave from college gets a job loading up newspapers at the Milwaukee Journal. He is frustrated that his brilliance and potential is not being recognised and he tries to take charge and increase efficiency, annoying his temporary work colleague in the process and messing the whole operation. I’m a bit sketchy on the details of the plot, but eventually Fonzie comes onto the scene. Richie wants Fonzie to take his ‘side’, but instead passes on some important wisdom. He reminds Richie that his colleague does this job all year long. This job supports him and his family. He does not have the opportunity to return to college at the end of the summer.

When I had a temporary job I always remembered that I was working with people who did this job, year in, year out. Summer jobs are only summer jobs for the privileged – for most they are a way of earning a living.

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New visual learning website

My colleague Pauline Ridley has launched a new Visual Learning website.

As well as the content itself, the thing I like best about this website is that it extends the life of materials Pauline and others developed at the Learn Higher Centre of Excellence in Teaching (CETL) funded in the late 2000s. Sadly, many of the great resources developed by these centres have disappeared entirely  from the internet, or are archived on websites not updated since their funding ended. Pauline has done (and is doing) a great job to reinvigorate this important work.

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Who decides if I am a qualified teacher in UK Higher Education?

Disclaimer: This post outlines my personal thoughts on the issues discussed.

In October 2015 I wrote the post ‘Am I a qualified teacher in UK Higher Education?’. The focus of that post was on the inconsistencies of the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) categories of ‘qualified teachers’. Everything I wrote in that post is still applicable and the ‘percentage of qualified teachers’ (based on the HESA statistics) is used by universities to set internal targets and to benchmark themselves in the sector. Although not a metric in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) it was widely cited in university narratives concerning the quality of  teaching.

The more fundamental question however is who decides who is a qualified teacher in higher education? (I’ll avoid any distinction between ‘qualified’ and ‘recognised’ here). At one level the HESA categories are accepted by the sector simply because universities have to supply this data. However, anyone on the inside understands that not all the qualifying categories are created equal; in my view this entirely reasonable—after all why should someone who trained to teach 3-year olds in France (for example) be considered as much a qualified teacher in UK higher education as someone who has completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in HE? Eventually, the comparisons get more problematic; we estimate that it is about 30 hours work for an experienced teacher to put together an application for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), whereas the PGCert in Learning and Teaching in HE for our ‘inexperienced’ lecturers is 600 hours work (3 x 20 credits at Level 7), but both qualifications tick the ‘yes’ box on the HESA return. Although the FHEA (experienced teacher routes) are focused on higher education, is it a more appropriate qualification for teaching in HE than a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for teaching in a secondary school which is 600 hours work (if 60 credits at Level 7)? It is clear the secondary school teacher must have evidenced a greater understanding of teaching and how students learn than the experienced HE lecturer, albeit for a younger age group.

Part of the reason this discussion takes place is simply that there is no authority on the subject. University senior managers can (and do) make different judgements about what teaching qualifications a university lecturer ought to have. Some will insist on the HEA Fellowship and others will be satisfied at anything that ticks the HESA qualified box. The degree to which such requirements are enforced varies too.

In some respects ambiguity on the subject might be welcome. After all, why should the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE though the FHEA nomenclature will remain for the time being at least), have a monopoly on HE teaching qualifications? Why shouldn’t other agencies set up alternative schemes which have an official stamp of approval as HE teaching qualifications? Some professional bodies already require teachers to have professional certification in the teaching of their subject (can be recorded in HESA under 08: Accredited as a teacher of their subject by a professional UK body.)

In other areas of life qualification is straightforward. I have a full UK driving licence issued by the DVLA in Swansea following a practical examination. Nobody else is permitted to issue licences in the UK. I can’t set up my own vehicle licensing agency or look for an agency with lower fees or easier standards. I can’t self-declare than I am a qualified driver on the grounds I have experience of driving a car unlicensed, or that driving a go-kart at a karting centre is the equivalent of being a licensed driver. Should I wish to drive a lorry or a bus I’ll have to take further tests –I can’t make a case that driving a 40 tonne articulated lorry is basically the same as driving a family hatchback. If I am caught abusing the the privilege of my licence , e.g. through speeding or dangerous driving my license (and thereby my qualification) can be taken away. A similar fate would await me if I’m caught driving a bus or riding a motorbike as I don’t have any right to these vehicles.

In some professions a list of qualified practitioners is publicly available. For example I can go to the General Dental Council website and look up my dentist. I can see his GDC number, the job he is licensed to do (dentist), where he trained and when he qualified. If he is found negligent or unfit to practice dentistry at at any time in the future he will no longer be allowed to practice.

So where does this leave HE teaching qualifications? Will we continue in the current ambiguity of the HESA categories? Will we have a licensing system where there will be a definite judgements or who ‘is’ and ‘is not’ qualified? Will we end up with a system of rival organisations offering their own licensing and accreditation as has happened in boxing over the past 60 years? 

Irrespective of the way forward a number of issues remain:

1. Most universities (though not all) require new inexperienced teaching staff to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in HE. At some point in the distance future, we may reach a point where most teachers in HE have this qualification.

2. ‘Grandfathering’ of unqualified experienced staff. Not everyone will agree with me here, but in a sense the FHEA regularises staff who do not otherwise have a qualification. Some (probably not anyone who does a job like mine) might argue that those in post before a certain date should be automatically regularised in some way, but I think it is completely reasonable to expect all teaching in HE to undertake an HEA Fellowship. Could the HEA Fellowship for experienced staff eventually disappear as it ceases to be needed? Will it remain, but cease to be a ‘normal’ route in about 20 years time?

3. Good standing in HE Teaching-- at present there is no mechanism or requirement for demonstrating continued ‘good standing’ in HE Teaching. Similarly it is not possible to be stripped of an HEA Fellowship for misconduct, incompetence, criminal behaviour or other misdemeanours.

4. Does there need to be a sector wide agreement about who is and who is not qualified teacher? It might be argued that the HESA categories already do this, albeit in an inconsistent way. However, while HEA Fellows can be readily checked, there is no systematic way to check the validity of other things colleagues might claim to be teaching qualifications. These vary from the ‘a PhD in my subject makes me a qualified teacher’ argument to ‘I took a 2 day course in 1990 and wrote an essay about my lecturing’. Do we need to have ‘uncertain qualifications committees’ which rule on individual cases?

5. How can HE teaching qualifications be monitored and regulated to maintain standards in the longer term?

6. What is the exact nature of the relationship between teaching qualifications and student learning experience? What does it mean for a student to be taught by qualified as opposed to unqualified teachers? This question needs substantial treatment and I’ve just noticed this is just the second time in this post I’ve mentioned ‘students’!

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