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Two Blockchain Keynotes in Two Weeks

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KMi Director, Prof. John Domingue, was invited to give two keynote talks during May 2018 featuring the blockchain research that he is leading at the Open University.

The first talk, “Experiments with Blockchains. The Open University and the emergence of new higher education models” was given at second Conference by the Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning (3CL,2018).  This was held in Malta during 17-18 May 2018, and the conference theme this year was ‘Blockchain, Credentials & Connected Learning’.  The 3CL Conference brought together practitioners, academics, consultants and industry specialists for engagement with thought leaders on the blockchain and connected learning.

His talk directly followed the conference opening was which given by the Maltese Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo and covered some of the work which the KMi blockchain team have been carrying out in the least year including how blockchains can be used for peer accreditation, proactive job and course searching and disintermediating universities.

The event attracted educational and blockchain enthusiasts from a wider variety of places many of whom are actively investigating this new technology in a wide variety of scenarios. For example, Marloes Pomp serves as the Programme Officer for blockchain projects within the Dutch Government and responsible for the international strategy of the Dutch Blockchain Coalition. She described how blockchains are being trailed in self driving vehicles. Alex Grech outlined how Malta are developing blockchain educational pilots at national scale. Finally, Natalie Smolenski described how the work at the MIT Media Lab spinout, Learning Machine, is using blockchain accreditation to support self-sovereign identity: giving learners complete control over their learning related digital presence.

Following his talk John has been invited to give a talk to the EU Commission on how the OU’s work could support a new EU framework for digitally signed qualifications.

The second, “Using Blockchains to Open Higher Education” took place on 27th May at the Lile2018 Conference: Learning & Education with Web Data, in Amsterdam. LILE2018 provides an interdisciplinary forum to discuss approaches making use of Web Data for teaching, learning and education. The conference is co-located with WebSci’18, the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science, 27-30 May. At that event, Sir Tim Berners gave the Turing Lecture which was broadcast live on  FaceBook Live.

John’s talk entitled “Using Blockchains to Open Higher Education” illustrated how he believes blockchains are a technology which can open up higher education and empower learners and teachers. He highlighted how we have been using blockchains to manage micro-accreditation and to outline initiatives at the Open University to setup national and international blockchain networks and how blockchains could herald the emergence of Uber-style universities.

The LILE2018 papers are published online as part of the WebSci18 Companion Proceedings.

Related Links:

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- November 18, 2018

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- November 17, 2018

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The Open University is the UK’s largest university, a world leader in flexible part-time education combining a mission to widen access to higher education with research excellence, transforming lives through education. Our research underpins the teaching we deliver to some 200,000 students as the UK’s largest university. Nearly three quarters (72%) of Open University research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Uniquely we operate within the four nations of the UK, with nation offices in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh as well as regional offices in England and our head office in Milton Keynes.

All of our roles play a key part in our students’ journey. We have a range of exciting opportunities for ambitious academics and researchers, as well as top class teaching and professional services roles. We offer a dynamic, inter-disciplinary research culture where academics and researchers can work creatively.

Research Assistant/Associate/Fellow for Mainstreaming Learning Analytics

Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
£30,395 to £44,559, Ref: 15336
Temporary contract until March 2021
Based in Milton Keynes
Application closing date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 – 17:00.

The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) is a distinct research unit within the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the Open University. KMi is looking for a Research Assistant, a Research Associate or a Research Fellow to work on the IoC project – how we can adapt, deploy and mainstream our learning analytics tool across a number of educational establishments nationally.

The IoC data analytics work will build on the experience of the OU Analyse project (http://analyse.kmi.open.ac.uk) which aims to increase the student retention rate at the Open University and at the same time to improve the quality of education. Internet technologies enable universities to offer their students educational resources online and, at the same time to collect information about the use of these resources. By analysing students’ interactions with the virtual learning environment, it is possible to identify those who might be at risk of failing the course and offer them well-targeted additional support.

For more information about the post visit: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/employment/vacancies/research-assistantassociatefellow-mainstreaming-learning-analytics-15336

Research Assistant/Associate/Fellow for Blockchain Learning Verification

Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
£30,395 to £44,559, Ref: 15335
Temporary contract until December 2021
Based in Milton Keynes
Application closing date: Thursday 29 November, 2018 – 17:00.

The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) is a distinct research unit within the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the Open University. KMi is looking for a Research Assistant, a Research Associate or a Research Fellow to work on the IoC project – how blockchains can be used to store student accreditation and lifelong learning records in order to enhance employability.

The IoC blockchain learning verification work will build on the work of the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University (KMi) who have built up an active research and development group focusing on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Members of KMi are working on the use of blockchains to create a trustable, decentralized repository for educational certification, ePortfolios and datasets with privacy concerns or which could be subject to tampering. We are also working on connecting blockchains with Linked Data. More information on our work can be found at: http://blockchain.open.ac.uk/

For more information about the post visit: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/employment/vacancies/research-assistantassociatefellow-blockchain-learning-verification-15335

Lecturer in Computing and Communications

Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
£32,548 – £38,833, Ref: 15087
Based in Milton Keynes
Application closing date: Monday 12 November, 2018 – 12:00.

You will be a member of the Open University team, comprising academics and technology specialists in data science, cyber security, learning analytics and distributed ledger technologies, who are leading the “University Learners” theme of the Institute of Coding (https://instituteofcoding.open.ac.uk/).  The Institute is a hugely exciting new national venture to try to address the digital skills gap: equipping learners of all disciplines to fulfil their potential in the digital economy and meet employment needs. You will be a key part of the development and of the OU’s contributions to this initiative.

You will be a major contributor to the design and trial of a world-class infrastructure to support the teaching at a distance of a variety of Computing subjects, including data science, programming, cyber security and robotics. The infrastructure will allow the easy creation and update of virtual environments with the necessary software for each module, integrate with the teaching materials and learning analytics on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and allow students to work synchronously with peers and tutors in an online programming lab.

You will work with academic colleagues, and with the teams in IT and the STEM Faculty that maintain the IT and VLE infrastructure, developed the award-winning OpenSTEM Labs (https://ounews.co/science-mct/openstem-labs-wins-outstanding-digital-innovation-of-the-year-award/) and the OU’s learning analytics platform.

You will have a passion for technology-enhanced teaching of Computing and Communications and for developing any necessary technology, in addition to having expertise in a particular Computing and Communications subject.

For more information about the post visit: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/employment/vacancies/lecturer-computing-and-communications-15087