“Stronger in”: how many reasons do you need?

June 19, 2016

I have spent a few days now campaigning for Britain to remain in Europe, on the street and on doorsteps. Like nearly everyone, I have also heard the arguments rehearsed pretty much ad infinitem in the mainstream media and in some online backwaters too. I have listened to a lot of reasons – and here are a few of my own.

I voted in 1975 to remain in the EEC. At that point we had already seen a post-war economic miracle in mainland Europe, with wholesale rebuilding of infrastructure. This had brought Germany, France and Italy into positions of relative prosperity very swiftly. Meanwhile Britain was struggling with a three-day week, and what seemed like perpetual swings between hyper-inflation and stagnation. Since that time for the most part inflation has been low, and growth steady across this period. Coincidental? I doubt it.

It’s a pity we have not been able to share this bounty more equitably, but the EU has helped us to put funds where they are most needed, re-building deprived inner city areas in our industrial heartlands, and supporting our rural communities too. Looking back at the various UK governments of the last several decades, would you bet on them producing a fairer society than we have now, had they not been supported by the EU? Personally, I would not.

The ‘brexiteers’ are fond of reminding us that the EU is undemocratic. Yet we are represented directly in the European parliament, which passes the laws, and indirectly in the Commission, which drafts these laws. This isn’t worse than Westminster, where the government of the day is typically supported by fewer than 35% of the electorate, and where the civil service does most of the law-drafting. Let’s work on some better democratic systems by all means – and proportional representation would be a start – but can we please do that from within the EU rather than trying to cobble together something at speed after a ‘brexit’, against the background of a downward-spiralling economy? (That last point is contended, but most serious observers see it that way).

All of these things are important, but they pale into insignificance relative to the key reason for remaining in the EU.  These are to do with peace, justice and humanity. For over 40 years now we have worked closely with our neighbours to resolve conflict and poverty. We have raised standards for services to people with disabilities. We have developed regulatory powers to protect rare species and habitats. We are working together on climate change. We have supported minority languages, bringing the Welsh language to a point where its speakers could not have hoped to arrive back in the 1970s. To achieve these things, we have allowed free movement of labour, and this hasn’t been so terrible, has it? We have a stronger economy and a more diverse society as a result. Personally, I value that.

Significantly, it’s not just the economists that are warning us to say in. It’s also the unions in the public services, including health and social care, science, and education. These are people who have served the public for years, often against a background of severe cuts in funding. I choose to hear their collective voice.

Please vote with me to remain in the EU on June 23rd! Whether or not you intend to that, any polite and honest comments on my thoughts would be welcome.

#eureferendum #strongerin #EUref #VoteRemain

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The Big Question

April 15, 2013

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Well, I planted those spuds, and I hope it wasn’t too early in the year, given how cold the soil feels. We’ll see….

However, I still wasn’t really sure what my big question should be. My quandary is this. I have joined this course in order to try to reach an informed judgement about the potential for MOOCs in UK Higher Education. However, questions on this topic have a couple of disadvantages. Firstly, things can get circular when the theme of a MOOC is a MOOC – I generally prefer to test out ideas about teaching and learning in a separate context. Gardening, perhaps? But that wouldn’t work here, anyway. The other disadvantage is the near certainty of not reaching a definite conclusion. There is not much point in asking a question which doesn’t lend itself to being answered, given the resources, time and help available. However, on this occasion I think I will have to live with these disadvantages, and try to find ways to learn as much as I can, knowing that I will probably never get to where I want to be. I am also encouraged to see from Tom Franklin’s blog summary of questions that a few others have been rash enough to go down this route. So, MOOCs it is then. 

I could have gone for something like ‘MOOCs: Utopia or Dystopia?’. But this seems perhaps a bit too big, and with too many aspects – pedagogical ideas, business models, etc. So, with some reluctance I set aside the business side of things, and focus on the learner experience. Apparently, that is to be the focus of Futurelearn, so there is a precedent, perhaps. I was interested to hear what Diana Laurillard had to say about the 25:1 ratio in her opening webinar: that just happens to be about the size of an Open University tutor group, and also is a reasonably typical size for a group in a secondary classroom.  But MOOCs are sometimes on another scale altogether. So what happens then? Do people self-organise into smaller groups? Or does peer interaction go out of the window, with a result that people behave as though they were in a lecture room, or in a library.

So, my question is: ‘Can a MOOC give a great learning experience?’

 

 

 

Questions, questions….

April 12, 2013

I thought it would never happen, but I have finally joined a MOOC. This one is called #ocTEL (it may sound like a petrochemical company, but it actually stands for Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning) .

 Of course, we all arrive at these things with some ‘baggage’. In my case, it relates to the sure knowledge that all of my best learning (and teaching) experiences to data have happened in smallish groups. In other words at equal to , or less than, the 25:1 ratio suggested by Diana Laurillard in Webinar 0 (great numbering) as a norm for interactive learning. I think this applies irrespective of whether you are working online or in a classroom, by the way.

 However, I plan to be positive here. One good thing about #ocTEL is that it starts with a question; all learning starts with a question, so it’s great to make that explicit. Even better, the learner gets to make up his/her own question. You can’t fault that as a strategy for learner engagement. As someone who regularly guides groups of students in the task of formulating their own questions, it is a bit of a salutary experience for me: I am taking my own medicine, so to speak.

Therefore I have to ask myself what advice I would give myself. I would have to respond with some questions about the task itself, such as: What does an appropriate question look like? What would a good answer to that question look like? What do I need to find out before I answer that question? How long will it take me? Will anyone else care about the answer?

 There are a few more questions like these, but I won’t stretch your patience with these just now. I will go away and do some gardening while I think about them, I hope to emerge with a fully fledged question sometime around the time I have planted my last potato. Have a great weekend….

Meddyliau Terfynol

July 11, 2012

Ar ôl tua tair wythnos o flogio yn y Gymraeg, dyma fy meddyliau terfynol am y peth. Y pethau da ydy:

Bod â‘r gallu i ymarfer ysgrifennu yn eich amser eich hun, adref. (Mae’n bosib neud hon heb blog, wrth gwrs, efo help athro neu athrawes.)

Cael help gan lawer o bobl ar y we. Mae llai o bobl wedi cywiro fy nhestun, ac mae’n helpu llawer, a deud y gwir. Mae’n bwysig iawn cael cefnogaeth fel ‘na, yn arbennig ar ôl defnyddio offer awtomatig. Hefyd, mae’n grêt gwybod mae ‘na bobl sy’n darllen y peth. Fel ‘na, mae’r dasg yn dod yn fwy na waith ymarferol. Mae’r teimlad yn wahanol i ‘gwaith cartref’.

Defnyddio help awtomatig ar-lein: Cysill, Geiriaduron, a Google Translate. Nid yw offer yma yn gallu cymryd le o ymarfer ar ei ben ei hun, ond mae’n helpus iawn bod â‘r gallu i chwilio am air mewn gyfridiadur, siecio gramateg. Hefyd, mae gan Google Translate potensial fel ‘phrase book’ (gyda gofal, wrth gwrs). Dwi’n gwneud y cywiriad terfynol gyda Cysill.

Be ydy’r’ broblemau? Wel, y peth pwysicaf ydy siarad, a dydy ymarfer ysgrifennu ddim yn cymryd lle bod yn y dosbarth, neu ymarfer siarad efo pobl bod dydd. Dwi ddim isio bod person yn gallu ysgrifennu, heb allu siarad!

Mi faswn i’n licio deud bod blogio yn helpu llawer o ddysgwr o ieithoedd, ond dwi ddim yn siŵr. Weithiau, mae’n anodd iawn dysgu sgiliau gwahanol ar yr un pryd, a dydw i ddim yn meddwl bod ffordd yma yn addas ar gyfer dysgwyr heb hyder efo cyfrifiaduron. Wrth dysgu Cymraeg, dwi’n ffeindio ‘multi-tasking’ tipyn o sialens. Er enghraifft, unwaith ron i’n sgwennu ac anghofiais i gadw fy ngwaith, a chollais popeth. Dydy profiadau fel na ddim yn helpu efo morâl!

Beth bynnag, diolch yn fawr i bawb am eich sylwadau, ac eich help chi. Yfory, mi ‘na i ysgrifennu rhywbeth a’r blog Saesneg yn: http://blogs.rsc-wales.ac.uk/ . Hwyl am y tro!

 

Hwyl am a Tro! Diolch i Bawb!

July 9, 2012

Dyma bost sydyn iawn i ddeud ‘hwyl’ i bawb yn y dosbarth yn yr Ysgol Haf, yn arbennig I Bethan, y tiwtor. Athrawes ffantastig ydy hi (neu ‘rily grêt’ yng Nghaernarfon). Mae drwg gen i iawn fod yn absennol wythnos diwethaf; roedd gen i gyfarfodydd pwysig, ac roedd hi’n anodd bod yn y dosbarth. Gobeithio bydda i’n weld rhai ohonoch chi mewn un dosbarth neu arall y tymor nesaf.

Diolch hefyd i bawb sy wedi sgwennu sylwadau ar a blog yma, cywiro’r camgymeriadau, ac yn helpu fi efo fy Nghymraeg mewn llawr o ffyrdd.

Yfory, mi sgwenna i bost hwy, efo fy meddyliau gorffennol am a chwrs, ac am blogs fel cyfle dysgu Cymraeg ysgrifenedig.

 

Blogs Cymraeg

July 3, 2012

Ddoe yn y gwers roedd gan i’r cyfle i siarad i’r dosbarth am y blog yma (Diolch, Bethan!). Gobethio bydd mwy y dysgwyr yn ddarllen y blog, ac yn adael sylwadau. Hyd yn hyn, mae fy mhrofiad o sgwennu y peth yn reit dda.

Un peth bach a allai fod o ddiddordeb…. Ron i’n gwneud casgliad o’r blogs ac adnoddau Cymraeg yn mwaf diddorol I mi. Dyma’r linc i’r casgliad.  https://pinboard.in/u:paulbrichardson/t:cymraeg/

Post bach ydy hi bore ‘ma, achos dwi I fod I fynd i Wrecsam. Tan yfory!

 

Meddyliau a’r Diwedd yr Wythnos Cyntaf

June 30, 2012

Wel, mae dydd Sadwrn wedi cyrraedd, a dan ni’n yma eto, ar ol wythnos o gwersi annodd, ond rili gret (fel mae bobl o Gaernarfon yn deud).

Mae na llawer o ffyrddiau dysgu ieithau (fel phobeth). Er enghraifft, mae’n bosib dysgu’r patrymau fel parot, dysgu geirfa mewn rhestr, siarad efo pobl mewn bywyd bod dydd ac yn a dosbarth, gwrando ar a radio, ac ati. Wythnos yma, dw i wedi neud yr holl bethau hyn.

Mae ‘na un peth s’yn poeni fi ar hyn o bryd: treigladiadau. Neithiwr, ron i’n siarad am y peth efo fy merch.  Mae hi wedi bod yn dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ers bod yn yr ysgol gynradd. Dydy him ddim yn deall y rheolau yn iawn, ond mae hi’n dweud ‘just yn gwybod’ pan mae treiglad yn iawn. Dydwi ddim yn siwr am a ffordd orau – rhaid i mi feddwl am a peth, ac yn ofyn i’r athrawes.

Mi na i orffen gyda ychydig meddyliau bach am thechnoleg. Yn ystod y wythnos, dw i wedi bod yn gwirio gramadeg a threigladau gyda ‘Cysill Ar-Lein’. Ddoe roedd hi’n ‘all-lein’ (heddiw hefyd) – ella roedd na mwy o gamgymeiriadau yn a post yno. Dwi ddim yn siwr eto. Rwy’n defnyddio tri geiriaduron gwahanol: ‘Y Geiriadur Cyfoes’ gan H. Meurig Evans (llyfr); Geiriadur yr Academi (http://techiaith.bangor.ac.uk/GeiriadurAcademi/) (ar-lein); ac y Geiriadur Drindod Dewi Sant http://www.geiriadur.net/ ar-lein). Hefyd, dwi’n dechrau defnyddio Google Translate, yn arbennig ar gyfer cyfiethu ymadroddion.

Dwi’n gwybod mae’n ‘peryglus’ yn ddefnyddio’r technoleg yma. Dyna’r pam dwi’n hapus iawn bod na pobl sy’n cywiro camgymeriadau fy. Diolch yn fawr i chi gyd! Mae ffordd orau ddysgu…..

 

 

Ymarfer, ymarfer…

June 29, 2012

Yn ystod y gwers ddoe, mi ofynes I ffrind yn y dosbarth sut mae o’n dysgu adref, achos mae o’n gwybod llawr o bethau newydd o dydd I dydd. (Mae’n amlwg I fi bod o’n ddysgu yn gyflymach na fi. Mi ddaeth o fi bod gynno fo gwraig Cymraes, a mae nhw’n siarad Cymraeg efo’n gilydd bob noswaith. Ar ol y sgwrs bach yna, mi siariades I efo fy ngwraig, ac gobeithio fyddwn ni neud yr un peth, o leaif unwaith. Mi fydd fy merch I (pyntheg oed) yn helpu fi hefyd, efo geirfa.

Cam y cham, mae pethau yn gwella.

 

‘Salem’

June 28, 2012

Ddoe dan ni weld yn edrych a darlun enwog gan Curno Vosper. Y teitl o’r llun ydy ‘Salem’. Yn y llun, mae ‘na grŵp mewn capel y Bedyddwyr yn Llanbedr, ger Harlech. Mewn grwpiau, mi naethon ni edrych ar themâu gwahanol o’r llun: y bobol sy’n dangos yn a llun; y cefndir, a’r stori o’r calendr. Flynyddoedd yn ôl, roedd y perchennog, Arglwydd Leverhulme, yn rhoi calendr di-ddal i bobl sy wedi prynu saith pwys o sefon. Un o’r lluniau yn a chalendr oedd ‘Salem’, ac roedd y llun poblogaidd go wir, a mi naeth llawr o bobl torri fo allan, ac yn fframio fo ar y wal. Roedd llawr o bobl yn credu bod hi’n anlwcus taflu fo allan y tŷ.

Ar ôl cinio, mi aethon ni i’r canol y ddinas, weld copi o’r llun yn yr amgueddfa, a llawer o bethau arall, wrth gwrs. Y peth gorau i fi oedd gweld yr hen sosbannau, pedyll ffrio a pobeth yn y gegin. Ond roeddwn i’n cofio defnyddio amryw beth yno fy hunan. ‘Sdim ots, y peth pwysicaf ydy ddim yn teimlo hen, yn fy marn i…

 

Dydd Un

June 26, 2012

Wel, roedd ‘Dydd Un’ o’r Ysgol Haf yn braf. Mae athrawes yn ardderchog (fel arfer ym Mangor), roedd ‘na bobl ddiddorol fel myfyrwyr arall. Mae pobl yn ddosbarthiadau Cymraeg yn fendigedig, bob tro. Wedi cyfarfod rhywun sy’n nofio yn y môr pob dydd, dros y flynedd (yn Ynys Môn, dim St Tropez), a (rhywun arall) rheolwr yr orsaf radio. Hefyd pobol sy’n siarad Ffrangeg, Almaeneg, Sbaeneg, Daneg, Catalaneg, a llawer o iethiau arall. Dysgu iaith mewn grŵp ydy un o’r ffyrdd olau cysylltu efo pobl newydd, yn sydyn iawn.

Beth ddwi wedi dysgu? Patrymau efo’r ferf ‘cael’, geiriau handy iawn fel ‘ffon lon’ a ‘nodyn bodyn’, a llawer mwy, wrth gwrs. A gobeithio, mae bosib i mi ganu ‘Hen Wlad’….Wel deud y tecst, beth bynnag…

Doedd gen i ddiwrnod yng Nghaerdydd gyda ‘swydd dydd’ heddiw. Mwy o nodau o’r Ysgol Haf yfory.