Archive for April, 2009

Bio-pedagogy and some small pieces in the Web

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Last week I went to the Interactive Technology in Education 2009 (ITK) – conference. It really is a remarkable event that has took place in Finland already for 20 years: in a country of 5 million people, more than 1500 education technology experts get together every year for three days to share. My first time in ITK was probably in 1995.

In the ITK 09 Antti Hautamäki launched the term “bio-pedagogy” (in Finnish; biologinen pedagogiikka). Bio-pedagogy is learning with straight manipulation of the human biology and cognitive enhancement with chemicals, artificial stimulation, genetics etc. All drugs and medication with an effect to our neural system and neurotransmitter is not “bio-pedagogy”.

Nootropics are nothing new. Taking nootropics is not bio-pedagogy. When it is organized and planned it becomes bio-pedagogy. When taking the smart drugs becomes the central strategy used for learning purposes we may call it pedagogy.

What about all other kind of “drugs” and stimulants? What about coffee and tea?

I drink coffee. Sometimes I even take painkillers and melatonin. Coffee I definitely drink to learn. Not to be more awake, but to talk with people (lets go for coffee), but also to have a break alone – to think, to slow-down. When I share and think and think and share I learn – slowly. Painkiller and melatonin I take to fix things (I know some sports and meditation would do the same job – sometimes I am just lazy).

The small pieces in the Web are difficult to boost. I can make my brain to work faster but does it have any effect on the small pieces in the Web? Yes, it may make me blog and twitter faster, but does these “fast rants” have any real impact to the intelligence of the Web? I doubt.

Like human learning, also changes to the intelligence of the Web require time. Ideas in the Web take time to mature, to become thoughtful. Here are some new small pieces to the Web to help it:

View more presentations from teemul.

These slides are from the Estonian e-learning conference, some weeks ago. A great even, too. there is also video from my talk. I also talk in it about the new Aalto University.

Last week I also made some comments about the Finnish Information Society for the Finnish National Broadcasting Company. The radio program is in Finnish.

It’s like children playing with melting water in a sunny spring day. They dig little channels to help the spring.

fi.wikiversity.org and the Finnish University reform

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Wiki fi.wikiversity.org and the Finnish University reform The Finnish Wikiversity – called in Finnish “Wikiopisto” – was just given its own domain under the http://www.wikiversity.org. The Finnish Wikiversity is now the tenth “official” Wikiversity in the world. You can now found us from here http://fi.wikiversity.org.

In Finland, having your “own university” feels right now so good. Why?

We are in a middle of a University reform, that is basically changing everything in our current higher education system. The website of the Finnish Ministry of Education writes about the reform:

The Finnish Universities Act is under reform. The draft law will further extend the autonomy of universities by giving them an independent legal personality, either as public corporations or as foundations under private law. At the same time, the universities’ management and decision-making system will be reformed.

The Government is planning to submit its proposal for a new Universities Act to Parliament in the spring of 2009. If passed, the new law will replace the Universities Act of 1997.

The network of universities and institutions for higher education is also changing. For example universities of Joensuu and Kuopio have formed the University of Eastern Finland whereas the Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and University of Art and Design have together founded Aalto University. This will increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Objectives and key impacts

The reform will facilitate operation in an international environment. Its purpose is for universities to be better able to:

  • react to changes in the operational environment
  • diversify their funding base
  • compete for international research funding
  • cooperate with foreign universities and research institutes
  • allocate resources to top-level research and their strategic focus areas
  • ensure the quality and effectiveness of their research and teaching
  • strengthen their role within the system of innovation

Wikiversity is not a research university – at least not today. Still from the objective and main key impacts of the Finnish University reform, I would like to point out a few things in which the Wikiversity has a huge potential to do very well. These are:

  • react to changes in the operational environment
  • diversify its funding base
  • cooperate with foreign universities and research institutes
  • ensure the quality and effectiveness of its “teaching” (or learning taking place in there)
  • strengthen its role in innovation

So, let’s have our “own University”. Please, start editing! icon smile fi.wikiversity.org and the Finnish University reform

And if you are interested in to know, I am not against the university reform. I am reformist.

I also think, that it is a great privilege to be part of the reform. It’s going to be interesting to see if we will succeed. We are serious and doing our best.

If we will fail, I think I can always do something else. Like write HTML. There is always place for quality HTML 2.0 – I am really good in it.

In a global scale, I see that Wikiversity can be a great change agent in online learning. It may – and should – have also some impact to the “old university” system. Well, this is already another story that was reported before.

Telegram from A. Aalto to Aalto U.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

telegram1 Telegram from A. Aalto to Aalto U.

We will soon be part of a new University in Finland, called Aalto University.

“Aalto University is created through a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.”

The name Aalto is making references to Alvar and Aino Aalto, a Finnish architect and designer couple. Actually, people keep on forgetting Aino in here, though she was definitely a better designers (maybe even a better architect) than her husband.

For many years I have had on my wall of my office a print of a telegram Alvar Aalto sent in 1958 for the Dean of MIT’s School of Humanities and Social Science, John Burchard.

The main point of the short message is that he is not willing to write about the philosophy of his architecture but rather think that his pieces of work are able to do the job better than any words. Finally, he is willing to make a strong and bold statement:

“… the enemy number one today is modern formalism, non traditional, where inhuman elements are dominating. True architecture, the real thing, is only where man stands in center.”

The telegram is available in the MIT’s online archives.

Now when building the new University we should listen carefully Alvar (and Aino) and their attitude. Maybe even learn something from them. My main points:

  • Should we do art, design and media or philosophy of art?
  • Should we put people in the center?

If you ask me, my opinion is that the right answer to the first questions is that we should do both. Answer to the second question? We should – always.