Thursday, March 21, 2013

Open Review to enhance qualtiy of e-learning

I have a honor to serve in the Editorial Board of INNOQUAL, the International Journal for Innovation and Quality in Learning. Why I'm specially interested in this journal is that it is an open access and open peer-reviewed journal!

So now you can also contribute a review, how cool is that? The INNOQUAL inaugural journal will be published in April 2013 and you are encouraged to openly comment on our discussion papers, which are candidates for the issue.

Read the short guidelines here:

About the International Journal for Innovation and Quality and in Learning
It provides an international perspective on the theory and practice of innovation and quality in the field of learning at all educational levels and in all training contexts. It focuses on the relation between innovation and quality in education. INNOQUAL seeks contributions which discuss how technology can contribute to innovate and enhance the quality of learning.

eTwinning and citizenship: Panel discussion

The annual eTwinning conference took place in Lisbon last week. This event gathers together around 500 new and already established eTwinners to celebrate the success of last years' project collaboration, to network and to learn new ideas in workshops.

During the last day, I moderated a panel discussion on eTwinning and how it links with citizenship and school collaboration in general, and on the impact of eTwinning. You can find a blog post about the panel at the conference blog:
Untitled  Untitled

I also co-moderated two PD workshop on Online groups with Irene Pateraki who runs one of the most successful eTwinning Group and with Brian Holmes who had studied eTwinning Online Events for his PhD . I will post a link to the presentations shortly.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Network visualisations of LLP project organisations

This visualisation allows you to see how a number of European organisations (about one thousand) are connected to each other through the involvement in the LLP programmes between 2006-2009.

Below you can explore the data. The first image is a static image and it shows how the institutions are clustered. We can see that there is lots of small clusters and one major one.

 LLP projects and networks connecting organisations

In the live image below, you should be able to zoom into the image and explore the clusters (note, you need a mouse for that!).

Once the report becomes public, I will share more about it.  In case it does not work, here is the link to ManyEyes:

Friday, March 08, 2013

The future of learning: Get on with it by Sugata Mitra

Hands down, Sugata Mitra is the most inspiring person in education today, as he was yesterday and will be in the future. I have no doubt about it. Period.

I've had a pleasure to see his talks twice, the first time in spring 2008 and the last time in winter 2010. At both times, it also happened that we had some time to talk together. Those talks have been so formative to me.

To give an example, the first time I met him it was in a shady hotel bar in Romania. He was the keynote speaker of the event, and when my colleague introduced us, I had no idea who this small, round-faced Indian man was. I had not looked at the programme, I had not heard the buzz and anyway, I was not expecting too much.

With a couple of moments he had my full attention, he was telling me that he was a physicist  - we were in an education conference! And that he considered kids self-organising themselves around a computer when learning like electrons self-organise around atom's nucleus. I loved the idea! And the next day, I loved his talk! I still have a recording of it somewhere. Some years later, so it goes, self-organising appeared as a central theme of my doctoral thesis!

Enjoy the talk!
Ps. I found another posting that I wrote about him in 2008 at FlossePosse with the recording.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The use of atlas vs. google maps - discussion

You might have heard this type of argumentation before:
"the state of the ICT use in school is so outdated. My kids still need to use an atlas in school to find the Sahara desert, whereas at home they just use google maps". 

Yesterday, while listening to a panel discussion at the event called "Filling the gaps: e-Skills & Education for Digital Jobs - Launch of a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs", this argument, once again, was used to blame, among other things, the skills shortage in IT industry.

I find myself getting slightly annoyed when people use this type of argumentation. For one thing, I find, they usually are people who make these blanket statements about the state of the ICT use in schools only based on what happens in their own kids' schools. But that's besides my main point which is that both using an atlas and google maps to find out where the Sahara desert is are valuable information seeking skills. Those skills are not excluding one another. Learning various information seeking strategies is valuable per se and should be a skill thought at school.

Second, to bring it back to the e-Skills discussion, if the kid never learns how to use an index such as the one found in paper-based atlas, she might not be in the best place to design or invent that next fancy search algorithm that will beat PageRank by Page and Brin. Until PageRank, most of the search engines on the web were mere indices. Knowing how they work, and knowing how academic citations work, a new algorithm was invented that changed lots of things for the web. 

Third, about two decades into e-learning (or what ever term you would like to use), it's disappointing to hear that people/general audience still understand the use of ICT in education as doing the same old stuff, e.g. using a map, but just by using a digital tool instead of an analogue one. By now, we know that with such e-learning, kids do write more, more often and more efficiently. Which is nice too.

But that's not anything that transforms education. That's nothing that is harnessing the power of the web and ICTs for something that you could not do with analogue means so easily. Think of authentic opportunities to learn about new countries, culture and languages through ICT-enabled school collaboration. The new ways that you can discover big data available on the web thanks to information visualisation and other cool tools. Think of opportunities to discover space and follow up Mars exploration...I wish those were the inspiring examples that people talked about in these rare occasions that the use of ICTs in education is discussed in such panels.