Archive for June, 2006

EU eLearning conference with wiki and blog aggregator

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

I am going to participate in the EU eLearning Conference 2006 in the beginning of July. It is a conference organized by the European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture with the Helsinki University of Technology’s Lifelong Learning Institute Dipoli. The conference themes are: (1) Digital literacy for all, (2) Research, Foresight and Innovation for learning and (3) Partnerships for lifelong learning.

EU conferences are not necessary the most mind-blowing events. I am not saying that they are not important – they are good at bridging the gap between research, practice, business and policy making – but for a researcher/designer they hardly ever give any new insights or wow-experiences.

This conference may become different. At least it is different in its online presence. There is a conference wiki and a conference blog aggregator.

You may think “big deal?”. But actually it is. My gut feeling is that majority of the participants of the EU conferences are not really in to wikis, blogs, RSS, open standards, open source, open content or any other new and important thing in the digital world. They are fluent in talking about “digital literacy” but are not necessary very “digitally literate” themselves. Even the Pope of e-learning may come over, and I am not sure how digitally literate he is.

One example of the level of digital literacy (yes, it includes reading and writing) in EU Governments is the web sites of the EU Presidencies. How come someone in a year 2006 is releasing a website without RSS-feeds from the site’s news section? Have a look of the Finland’s Presidency 2006 and Austria’s Presidency 2006 websites. No RSS – why?

In the context of the EU eLearning conference we may thank Dipoli and Teemu Arina (no, he did not order this post from me) for their wisdom:

(1) to open up the EU Learning conference for the online community, and

(2) for educating us – the conference participants – about social software.

Thank you!

Call for Papers: workshop on ICT tools in collaborative learning

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

There are not too many conferences or workshops that are focusing on design and development of tools for teaching and learning. There are even less encounters where the focus is on design of tools for collaborative learning.

It seems to be that in the ecosystem of educational technology the role of teachers, educators, researcher of learning and pupils/student is really considered to be the “stupid customers” and “end-users”: Don’t talk with them – they are strange people and may have some ideas what the tools should provide.

If you take a look of existing educational technology they are not really educational, at all. They are just some technology offered for learning purposes. Technology is hardly ever designed for learning in the first place. Examples:

  • Educational Radio and TV
  • Educational CD-ROMs
  • Office software
  • Groupware and extranet solutions that are called “Learning Management Systems” or “Virtual Learning Environments”
  • Blogs that are called “Personal Learning Environments” or “ePortfolios”
  • Mobile tools for learning

The (evolutionary) design made to the original technology to become “learning technology” has been very modest. Using existing tools is wise, but to move on with the development we need more innovative practice of using the tools in learning. The innovative practices will then slowly shape the tools to the right direction. Involving human and participatory design experts to the process may also speed up the “evolution”.

Well, now back to the topic. There is an interesting workshop – with a long title – coming up:

Information and Communication Technologies and Tools at the service of Collaborative Learning

Check the call for papers, and submit your paper.

The workshops is organized in conjunction with the International Conference on Collaborative Computing IEEE-CreateNet-ICST CollaborateCom 2006. There is one challenge: The conference and the workshop will take place in Jesusland.

UNESCO Young Digital Creators – Educator’s Kit

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Unesco YDC 2 books small UNESCO Young Digital Creators – Educator’s KitWe just got from printing house two packages of books and CD-ROMs on which we have been working on for a several months. I hope UNESCO headquarters also already received their 20 boxes. A well-designed physical object feels very good in your hands.

We also have an online version of the Kit – a full text PDF and the CD-ROM – which you are free to copy and use for educational and other non-commercial purposes. UNESCO is making a HTML-version of the book and I am also planning to publish some selected section of the book on this blog.

The UNESCO YDC Educator’s Kit is a book and a CD-ROM. The Kit is designed to help teachers and educators working in schools, youth clubs, community centres, and training institutes to generate and manage project-based learning activities with young people. The focus is on the creative use of information and communication technologies, global challenges of development, cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue.

The kit is based on the pilots implemented in the UNESCO’s Young Digital Creators program implemented with several partners, schools and youth clubs around the world. The book summarises the best practices from the pilots and the CD-ROM contains free and open source software to be used in creative projects. The Kit was made in collaboration between UNESCO and the Media Lab UIAH. The kit was published by UNESCO.

UNESCO is also working on to translate the book and the CD-ROM to French and Spanish, and maybe to Arabic, too. If you are interested in to sponsor translation and printing of the book into some other languages (e.g. Finnish, Swedish – hint!) please contact us.

The release event takes place at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Media Lab, 4th floor lobby on Wednesday 21st of June 2006 at 15-16. Our dean Philip Dean, the writers of the book Teemu Leinonen and Joanna Saad-Sulonen and the illustrator Anna Salmi will present the project. Strawberry juice and fruits are served. You are warmly welcome to join us!

Introduction section of the book

“Being creative and collaborative” is the motto of UNESCO’s Young Digital Creators (YDC). YDC is designed for young people of different cultures to collaboratively construct deeper understanding of each other’s cultural values and shared perspectives on global issues of our time. In YDC, the digital tools are used to carry out creative projects, to show them and to talk about them with people from different cultures. YDC is a programme that makes the Internet and the web work to the benefit of young creators around the globe.

This YDC Educator’s Kit is designed to help teachers and educators working in schools, youth clubs, community centres, and training institutes to generate and manage project-based learning activities with young people. The focus is on the creative use of information and communication technologies, global challenges of development, cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue.

The first part of the Kit explains some basic concepts of the initiative. It starts with a brief introduction on project-based learning, then discusses creative thinking and expression, as well as cultural diversity. The last section of the first part gives an introduction to online cooperation in creative projects with Internet and web learning environments.

The second part of the Kit introduces a detailed lesson plan with a number of learning activities that are expected to be implemented in sequence. The lesson plans are designed to help educators carry out a full project-based learning process with young people, starting from brainstorming and framing of the themes of the project to presenting the results of the project through exhibitions or concerts.

There are several ways to use the Kit. It is recommended that you begin with reading the first part and then start to implement your own project with young people by following the lesson plan of the second part. You may also use the lesson plan just as an example and design your own process and project. The implementation of the full lesson plan takes several months, so proper planning beforehand on what will be done with a certain timeline is crucial.