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Minutes of Transnational Project Meeting 3

Monday 12th September 2016, 12.15-17.15 and Tuesday 13th September 2016, 9.00-12.15.

Present
Mike Joy (chair), Meurig Beynon, Ilkka Jormanainen, Markku Tukiainen, Tapani Toivonen, Meurig Beynon, Nicolas Pope, Elizabeth Hudnott, Piet Kommers, Hamish Macleod, Peter Tomcsanyi, Michal Winczer


MSJ led the meeting with a review of key administrative documents. The Risk register was reviewed, and the topic of the final conference, scheduled to be held at Warwick in July 2017 was raised. Managing the budget for this was seen as challenging, since the subject of 'making construals' was not widely known and the full budget could only be claimed if 100 UK participants and 50 non-UK participants attended. MSJ reported that the Interim Review for the project had been submitted and payment of the next installment of the grant was imminent.

WMB reported the outcome of two funding applications that had been made over the summer: one to the University of Warwick Widening Participation Fund, the other (headed by Antony Harfield) to the Google EU Code Club. Neither had been successful, and this raised some concern about the visibility and sustainability of making construals.

The form of the archive of CONSTRUIT! projects was discussed: though this was quite well-populated, there as concern about how easy it was for people outside the project team to discover projects. A brief discussion of issues surrounding OERs ensued, prompted by observations by Laura Campbell at an ALT-C session a few days prior to C3, who had remarked on the difficulty of guaranteeing the survival of OER repositories as technologies change. Hamish Macleod alluded to work by Kelly Terrell at Edinburgh on discoverability of OERs. A further concern, motivated by considering issues raised by the CAS Community about the scale and complexity of their archive of OERs, and the projects that Jonathan Foss and WMB had developed after the UK CAS National conference in July 2016, was that there was little point in adding to large existing repositories without there being some clear added value.

MSJ briefly reviewed the budgetary arrangements for the project, and highlighted the importance of well-managed internal budgets in the financial model. Peter Tomcsanyi observed that it was critical that Comenius received payment before the December C7 meeting. Planning for this meeting was identified as a complex issue because of changes to the accommodation policy at Warwick that were introduced in December 2015 and the fact that the likely dates overlapped in conflicting directions with exam periods for UEF and Comenius students. (This problem was eventually resolved by running a 7 day meeting comprising two overlapping 5 day events.)

Several partners raised concerns about the possibility of there being a large body of unspent funds, as proposed long-term visits to Warwick from UEF and Edumotiva (C17 and C18) had not gone ahead as planned, and there had been a significant shortfall in the number of HE student attendees at C5 and C6. The long delay in payment of the first installment of the grant was the most significant factor in this context. Warwick undertook to investigate the status of the budget and approach the British Council with a proposal to deploy unspent funds. As one way of addressing this issue, the possibility of using the funds to bring student participants from UEF and Comenius to the final conference was mooted.

The meeting reviewed the status of the various activities and reports that had been scheduled for Year 2 with reference to the Progress Report and the Interim Review. The fact that the C17 and C18 visits had not gone ahead was the most significant discrepancy between the plan and the reality.

The project team looked ahead, especially to the C7 (Warwick), C16 (Athens) and C4 (conference at Warwick) activities. WMB reported on ideas for the conference developed in discussion with SBR. The booking for the conference had yet to be confirmed: SBR was considering an alternative venue to the Warwick conference. The nature and publication of the proceedings were discussed. We proposed to hold a workshop in association with the conference, and the possibility of a PhD consortim was considered.

The Slovakian students who attended C6 had expressed an interest in organising an event between January and June 2017 but it was unclear how funding for this could be arranged. Dimitris Alimisis proposed that C16 be held at a time that overlapped the Athens Science Festival (for which the time had yet to be fixed). This idea was approved in principle.

The official project website at construit.org was discussed. The importance of ensuring that there were appropriate links to the official website was stressed. There were concerns about way in which the presentation of the environment for making construals depending critically on the size and resolution of screens etc and the possibility of embedding the environment in an iFrame was raised. MSJ raised the issue of how the environment could best be presented as a deliverable. The need for the project deliverables to be available for at least 5 years was being addressed through the use of GitHub to record the MCE as comprising the interpreter, construals and a wiki.

The status of the Dissemination Table was discussed. Edumotiva had been the main contributors, and any other events had been added by Warwick. The last entry as of the date of the meeting was for the Athens Science Festival; there was much to update. WMB reviewed the publications and workshop activities that were past and in prospect at conferences that included PPIG, ALT-C, ICL, iTAG 2016, Edurobotics and Koli Calling. Rene Alimisi asked about the copyright status of publications that were available on the Warwick repository. HM asked about the traceability of the evolving MCE and the potential obsolescence of the associated evaluation; this is not a major problem for the MCE as there is backward compatibility to a high degree and all previous versions are maintained on GitHub.

RA mentioned Open Education Europa (https://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en) and Scientix (http://www.scientix.eu/) as places where suitably developed construals might be advertised.

The plans for the conference were further discussed at this point. The dates had been fixed, and an Easy Chair account was to be set up. There were plans to hold workshops suitable for schooteachers in association with presentation sessions and labs with practical activities. A number of possible dissemination and promotion models were reviewed.

Attracting teachers to attend the conference workshops was recognised as challenging. EH highlighted the importance of meeting teachers' expressed needs -- such as the grid on the canvas requested by Pola Misthou. This triggered a broader discussion about the overall orientation of CONSTRUIT!. PK raised the question of the proportion of effort by ourselves and by teachers, and related this to the distinction between an online course that was dialogic in character and one that wa curriculum-led. Markku Tukiainen wondered whether the teacher community was the 'right target' for recruiting interest. Whilst PT recognised the importance of supplying documentary material for teachers to accompany construals, he pointed out that this is not the aim of the project. DA countered the suggestion that teachers were not well-motivated to engage with the project, stressing the level of engagement by dedicated teachers in Athens and their appreciation that the project was not intended to provided cookbooks for teachers. WMB endorsed his view, noting that collaboration and blending of construals (as trialled at C14) is the 'nub of the application to OERs'. At the same time, the focus on schools had been chosen as it was necessary to specify a particular target group in the proposal, but the clear intention behind the project was to address a wide range of target groups. This was reflected in the different kinds of applications of construals that were represented in the archive.