Saturday, February 13, 2016

My detective work on a Triana flamenco joint

Everybody who ever visited Seville knows that Triana is the home of flamenco with its own flare. Living in Triana is pretty special. I love observing the life here. So here's what I found out about the Flamenco joint next door on the legendary Calle Pureza.

On the walls, there are big, almost life size, paintings of a flamenco dancer in her mature age. She's really stunning with her facial expressions that rattle the earth below you. I had no idea that they were pictures of a real dancer, actually a pretty famous one.

Her name is Manuela Carrasco (in the pic), and of course she's born in Triana. Here's her history on wikipedia, she for example performed on Carlos Saura's both flamenco films.

I saw her performance in the Bienal de Flamenco in 2014. Even more impressive than her dance was the anticipation and feeling in the Real Maestranza when she performed, she's really loved here. Check the review of that performance, it gives you a taste of that. I've seen her a few times in the joint too, having a drink, but I've never seen her dance there.

I found out about her identity once talking to the owner of the joint. It took me many times of going there before he warmed up a bit for a chat. Actually, I think he only wanted to talk to my friend, but hey, we got interesting stuff out!

He turns out to be Joaquín Amador, Manuela's husband and her long time guitar player. Apparently, they played and performed a lot together in their early days in the 1980's (an old clip of them performing). My friend and I were exited to hear that he's guitarist, but he was quick to say that he never plays in his own joint, somehow insinuating that it's way below he's class. So I had to dig out some early recordings of his playing on YouTube, and I found out that he's the brother of the famous flamenco singer called La Susi! See a clip from the old age of him playing with his sister La Susi.

So if the owner does not play in his own flamenco joint, who does? Well, once there with another friend listening to a young flamenco singer with a honey-smoky voice, like I call her, my friend noted the resemblance between the singer and the pictures on the walls. At that time, I didn't know that the pictures were of Manuela Carrasco, so I kinda passed her comment.

Later, though, I realised that my honey-smoky singer is the daughter of Manuela Carrasco and Joaquín Amador. Her name is Zamara Carrasco. She sings also with the group called La puro mando, but I think her voice works better in a small bar than on the big stage, where she seems to be forcing it a bit too much. This tv documentary of her is done already some years ago, but that's how l love to see her singing.

And - to finally to answer to the question: who plays the guitar? It's Zamara Carrasco's husband! He's pretty kick-ass too, I really like to listen to him, you can see him in this video. The only thing is that you never know when they play…. The joints opens close to the mid-night, he's working behind the bar and serving drinks, and you might end up waiting for an hour before anything happens. Or sometimes nothing happens... We actually almost never go there anymore, as something has changed and things don't seem to run in the same old manner anymore. But if you are nearby, it might be worth the visit!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Recommendations for strategic advice: Finland, how to claim back the top spot in PISA?

I'm seriously inspired by the new PISA report called  Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection to help Finland! Let's create better strategies and training programmes to claim back our top spot in the PISA study!

The data in this report dates back to 2012. Next round of PISA will be in 2018 (just missed the opportunity for 2015!), so we have enough time to rise.

In this post I focus on increasing the use of ICT outside of school for schoolwork in Finland. The damning evidence is the following (p. 60):
Finland and Japan are the two countries where students make the least use of computers outside of school for schoolwork. 

Namely, the new programme that I will detail below with policy recommendations and actions for teacher PD is inspired by the above quote and Figure 2.8 below. Take a careful look at the variables used and try to identify the key to the success!

It's the email, stupid! Now that the culprit has been identified, I offer Finns a few easy steps to re-claim their success!

The 1st key step to the top of PISA charts: enhanced use of e-mail
Progress could be made by investing more effort, time and resources in the use of email in schools. For example, new teacher training programmes could focus on highly competent use of e-mails in two areas:
  1. how to teach student to submit homework or other school work to teachers by email, and 
  2. how to teach students to use email to communicate with other students about school work. 
It's the school website, stupid!

The 2nd key step to the top of PISA charts: design of school websites
Courses for those designing school's website should include intense design and implementation of features to allow uploading and downloading material on school's website. Additional added value will come from features allowing browsing the material on school's website.

The recommendations to encourage such features on school's website should focus on diverting attention away from all cloud computing solutions (forget about or even digital learning environments (publishers?) or government sponsored educational portals, as they will not be featured in PISA study any time soon (data not available as the questionnaires for the PISA 2015 have not been released for public at the time submitting this article….).

Moreover, the area on the school website to feature announcements should also be designed and implemented with the utmost care! It is good to advice people responsible for such implementations to avoid any other "apps" or digital communication means for this (e.g. Vilma, Watsapp..).

It's the homework done on computers, stupid!

The 3rd key step to the top of PISA charts: homework done solely on computes Guidelines could be implemented to discourage teachers from accepting any homework done by students using any other digital devices than computers. Forget about smart phones, let's bring back the desktops for homework.

ps. this advice is given totally pro bono and has no connection to my everyday work!
ps 2. joke-joke-joke!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Neuroscience, education - neuromyths

Checking this years keynote speakers in various events and conferences, I've picked up on a trending topic of neuroscience. Hilary Leevers, for example from Wellcome Trust is on the topic in Online Educa Berlin, whereas ISLS as Professor Elsbeth Stern from ETH Zürich. Both European and women (for once!), it's great to see that keynotes are not any more dominated by grey males (no offence!).

Welcome Trust has interesting surveys (a survey of teachers and parents, really interesting stuff!) and reports (a literature review on the topic) available on the topic here:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) in Education

I spotted this workshop as part of the conference which is organised by the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK (!programme/c121s). The video of the session is available here.

Education RCTs: Past, present and future
What do we really know about why some children do better at school than others? What are the world's leading education researchers currently working on? In this session, academics from the US and UK will give presentations of their work and the narrative that drives it, before considering where future efforts should be applied.
Speakers include: Todd Rogers, Simon Burgess, Anna Vignoles, Sally Sadoff

As I don't know much about Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) in education, I googled the names to see the stuff they do. My colleague also said that they will most likely publish some video recordings of the sessions - mental note to my self, check back later!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CALL for papers - Conference Theme: Transforming Education in the Big Data Era

ICCE2015: The 23rd International Conference on Computers in Education
November 30 - December 4,2015
Hangzhou, China
Web page:
Conference Theme: Transforming Education in the Big Data Era

Paper Submission Due: May 12,2015
Notification of Acceptance: August 4,2015

Organized by Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education (APSCE)
Hosted by: Zhejiang University of Technology,
    Collaborative and Innovative Center for Educational Technology, China

ICCE 2015 is a premier annual international forum for researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and people in the industry in the Asia-Pacific region to connect with international research communities for the worldwide dissemination and sharing of ideas for research in the field of Computers in Education.

The conference program will comprise keynotes, invited talks, paper presentations and poster sessions, workshops, tutorials, interactive events and Doctoral Student Consortia. All the accepted papers in the main conference, workshops and Doctoral Student Consortium will be published in proceedings which will be indexed by Elsevier Bibliographic Databases (e.g., Scopus, Engineering
Village and others).

  • C1: Artificial Intelligence in Education/Intelligent Tutoring System (AIED/ITS)
  •     and Adaptive Learning (AL)
  • C2: Computer-supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) and Learning Sciences (LS)
  • C3: Advanced Learning Technologies, Open Educational Content, and
  •     Standards (ALS)
  • C4: Classroom, Ubiquitous and Mobile Technologies Enhanced Learning (CUMTEL)
  • C5: Digital Game and Digital Toy Enhanced Learning and Society (GTEL&S)
  • C6: ICCE Conference on Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL)
  • C7: Practice-driven Research, Teacher Professional Development and Policy of
  •     ICT in Education (PTP)

Paper categories and page limits:
  •     Full paper (8-10 pages)
  •     Short paper (5-6 pages)
  •     Poster paper (2-3 pages)

Conference Organization:
  •   Conference Chair:  Siu Cheung KONG, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
  •   International Program Committee (IPC) Coordination Chair:    Hiroaki Ogata, Kyushu University, Japan
  •   International Program Committee (IPC) Coordination Co-Chair:    Weiqin Chen, University of Bergen, Norway
  •   Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Chair:    Feiyue Qiu, Zhejiang University of Technology, China

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ICWL 2015 Call for Papers - Submission June 2

As other years before, I'm glad to be part of the Programme Committee for the International Conference on Web-based Learning! This year it will be organised by Hong Kong Web Society.  The call for papers below.

The 14th International Conference on Web-Based Learning
ICWL 2015
Guangzhou, China
5 - 8 November, 2015

ICWL is an annual international conference on web-based learning organised by Hong Kong Web Society. The first ICWL was held in Hong Kong in 2002. Since then, it has been held in Australia (2003), China (2004), Hong Kong (2005), Malaysia (2006), United Kingdom (2007), China (2008), Germany (2009), China (2010), Hong Kong (2011), Romania (2012), Taiwan (2013) and Estonia (2014).

ICWL 2015 will be the 14th ICWL conference and will be held in Guangzhou, China. The conference program will feature keynote addresses, workshops, panels, posters, demos and industry track, in addition to presentations of refereed papers that have been selected by the international program committee. A special attention will be paid on collaboration and exchange of knowledge between our local communities. We especially invite joint contributions from colleagues coming from different continents. We plan a special issue for collaborative papers expressing the spirit of ICWL, to be a truly international conference. In addition we will provide an Asian-Australian-European Research Exchange Forum for presentations from funded research projects.

Conference topics

Areas of interest include but are not limited to the following:

* Personalized and Adaptive Learning
* Computer Support for Intelligent Tutoring
* Intelligent Tools for Visual Learning
* Informal Learning on the Workplace
* Web-based Learning for Oriental Languages Learning
* Game-based Learning and Serious Games
* Personal Learning Environments (PLE)
* Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
* Computer Supported Collaborative Learning
* Web 2.0 and Social Learning Environments
* HTML5 Web-based Learning
* Virtual environments and 3D graphics for e-learning
* Intelligent Learner and Group Modelling
* Learning Analytics
* Human Factors and Affective Computing for Learning
* E-Learning Platforms and Tools
* Design, Model and Framework of e-Learning Systems
* Deployment, Organization and Management of Learning Objects
* Open educational resources (OER)
* E-Learning Metadata and Standards
* Semantic Web and Ontologies for E-Learning
* Mobile, Situated and Blended Learning
* Bring your own Device (BYOD)
* Cloud-based Learning
* Pedagogical Issues

Important deadlines

Abstract submission deadline: June 2, 2015
Full paper submission deadline: June 9, 2015
Notification of paper acceptance: July 14, 2015
Camera-ready papers and registration: August 10, 2015

Conference dates: 5 - 8 November, 2015

Paper Submission & Publication

Authors are invited to submit original papers reporting on research results or novel applications in technology-enhanced learning. Submissions will be handled through EasyChair

Papers for submission should be formatted according to the Springer LNCS Authors Guidelines and have maximum 10 pages. Since the review process will be double-blind, the submitted manuscript should not contain the authors’ names, affiliations, or any information that may disclose the authors’ identity. All papers should be submitted in PDF format.

All accepted papers presented at the conference will be published as a volume in Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS).

Conference Co-Chairs:
- Jun Zhang, Sun Yat-Sen University, China
- Balta Fernandez Manjon, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
- Rynson Lau, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Program Co-Chairs:
- Frederick Li, Durham University, United Kingdom
- Mart Laanpere, Tallinn University, Estonia
- Ralf Klamma, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Steering Committee Representative:
- Qing Li, HKWS

Organization Chair:
- Wenyin Liu, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Local Arrangement Chair:
- Xiaonan Chen, Sun Yat-Sen University, China

Workshop Co-Chairs:
- Zhiguo Gong, Macau University, Macau
- Yiwei Cao, IMC Information Multimedia Communication AG, Germany

Publication Chair:
- Jeff Tang, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Hong Kong

Publicity Chair:
- Elvira Popescu, University of Craiova, Romania

Finance Co-Chair:
- Howard Leung, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Web Master:
- Zhangjun Yan, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Conference Secretary:
- Christina Tai, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Program Committee to be announced

About Guangzhou

Guangzhou (also romanized as: Canton) is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in South China. Located on the Pearl River, about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and north-northeast of Macau, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port. One of the five National Central Cities, it holds sub-provincial administrative status. Guangzhou is the third largest Chinese city and the largest city in South Central China. As of the 2010 census, the city's administrative area had a population of 12.78 million. Some estimates place the population of the entire Pearl River Delta Mega City built up area as high as 40 million, with an area of about 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi). In 2012 Guangzhou was identified as a Beta+ World City by the global city index produced by the GaWC, the Globalization and
World Cities Research Network.

About Sun Yat-sen University

Sun Yat-sen University was founded in 1924 by Dr. Sun Yat-sen (also called Sun Zhongshan), a great democratic revolutionary leader of the 20th century. The University is located in Guangdong Province, an area neighboring Hong Kong and Macao, which is at the forefront of China's reform and opening up.

Being one of the leading universities in China, Sun Yat-sen University is a comprehensive multi-disciplinary university, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, technical sciences, medical sciences, pharmacology, and management sciences. It has about 82,384 students studying on four campuses in Guangzhou and Zhuhai. Benefiting from its location near Hong Kong and Macao and the regional advantage of
opening and economic development, the university has become an important base for training high-level talents, scientific research, providing services to society and inheriting cultural traditions. The University has also successfully built international cooperation and exchange relationships with many top universities in the world. According to the Times Higher Education World University Ranking for 2010-2011, Sun Yat-sen
University was ranked in the top 200 in the world. At present, Sun Yat-sen University covers a total area of 5.972 square kilometers and has 4 campuses: Guangzhou South Campus, Guangzhou North Campus, Guangzhou East Campus, and Zhuhai Campus.
ICWL is an annual international conference on web-based learning organised by Hong Kong Web Society....

Monday, December 01, 2014

ICALT 2015 - Call for papers open until January 20, 2015

This year again, I'm pleased to be part of the Program Committee of the 15th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT2015)! The conference will be held in Hualien, Taiwan from 6-9 July 2015.

The call for paper is out with a deadline of January 20th, 2015 for the submission of papers (Full Paper, Short Paper, Poster).

See more about the conference here.
Emerging technologies keep transforming not only the ways people learn but what they learn as well. Access to learning is nowadays moving beyond defined pathways and discrete courses. It rather integrates formal and informal learning experiences throughout life. Learning is structured around flexible curricula that accommodate needs of diverse student audiences, and offer access to courses, content, and resources through a variety of platforms, devices, and contexts. This change of the way people access learning poses quandaries for educational organisations, researchers, practitioners and policy makers, especially with regards to the development of advanced technologies that accommodate the needs of a new generation of learners; the choice of appropriate technologies; and the application of learning technologies in emerging learning contexts.