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Category Archives: innovation

Somehow it managed to take quite some time to write this post. However if, after so long, I’m still interested in writing about the activities organized by the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona Lab (CCCB Lab) and Citilab, concretely its project named Expolab, about cultural institutions and 2.0 practices, it’s a sign I’ve found many interesting ideas and reflections in them.

Using same title for talking about two activities isn’t very precise. In short, I can say that I’m referring to 2 activities: a talk about museums 2.0 and a workshop about practices 2.0 in cultural institutions. Although the 2.0  atribute was the leit motiv of the sessions, there was a big difference in the understanding of this concept.

The talk “Cultural institutions 2.0?” consisted of a round table discussion where representatives of several museums and cultural institutions explained and reflected about projects involving web 2.0 tools, lead by their institutions.  My personal impression is that, despite there are some interesting projects that really make an effort to give users a voice and promote participation, mostly web 2.0 tools are merely used as another channel of communication to attract more visitors, or simply strengthen the links with the existing visitors. The institution has the control and users are only allowed to participate in very specific ways.

The choice of technology in and of itself seems to explain and justify why these institutions identify themselves with the 2.0 label. Other usual 2.0 qualities such as transparency policies rewarding users for their contribution weren’t seen as relevant.

On the other hand, the workshop consisted in developing an understanding of the meanings underlying 2.0 practices, in other words 2.0 philosophy. The key aspect was the approach. Technology was a secondary element to take into account.

The purpose of the workshop was to share and put in practice new approaches towards creation, colaboration and continuity of the activities started in centers of creation and cultural divulgation. Communication with the public is important, but participation is an strategy that forces us to think carefully about interaction styles, shared creation, collaboration and broadcasting.

The workshop was conducted under a participatory design approach. Groups were made according to participants’ interests. After this, each group developed a project and built a 3D model (amazing how people enjoyed using plasticine – me included ;). Time was very limited, but was still time for quick  peer to peer revisions,  as well as a public presentation of each group’s projects. During the afternoon session, groups were asked to think about specific questions related to their project definition.

Obviously, the intention of the workshop was to generate questions and to open spaces for reflecting about 2.0 practices and participation, rather than offer answers. Maybe this is the reason why I’ve taken so much time for writing about it. Certainly I’ll need to read, think and learn more before I can stop thinking in participatory approaches (this means there will be more posts about this 😉

The idea that the school isn’t the only place where we learn isn’t new. In fact, in many of seminars I’ve attended lately, one of key ideas was the need of rethinking school and the type of learnings that students are supposed to achieve there.

Among critical voices towards how is organized formal education, the notion of informal learning seems to be something to pay attention to, or at least to give it a more carefull look. Briefly, informal learning can be defined as:

Informal learning is never organised, has no set objective in terms of learning outcomes and is never intentional from the learner’s standpoint. Often it is referred to as learning by experience or just as experience.

We are constantly learning, even if, at first, we don’t value the amount of time and effort invested in a certain activity, that’s to say, even all that learning remains invisible. Sadly, so many times it seems necessary to have a certification coming from a renowed center or institution in order to get some recognition. Now, some institutions, teachers and researchers are starting to question the validity of formal education as the only channel to manage learning, specially the one required in Knowledge Society.

At this point, the project headed by Cristóbal Cobo, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales en México (FLACSO-México), and John Moravec editor of http://www.educationfutures.com is proposed as an initiative to identify and recognize the value of all this informal learning that is kept invisible.

Invisible Learning is collaborative book (in English and Spanish) and an online repository of bold ideas for designing cultures of sustainable innovation.

In case you want to take part in this project, just have a look at www.invisiblelearning.com.

Last Friday, I attended to the “Innovation days” organized by the Innovation office of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. During the morning, there were several innovation projects’ presentations. They were grouped in four categories: Tecnologic Resources Development, Educational Use of ITC, Educational Metodology and Processes and Institutional Quality.

As the session was organized in corners, presentations happened simultaneously. Here, I must confess that, mainly, I attended to the projects selected for they Educational Use of ITC.  In short, I would summarize the main topics in: content organization, communication (development of an annotation tool), image (hipervideo and machinima) and simulation.

In the afternoon, Laurence Johnson presented the Horizon Project. Seven Ways Technology isUnfolding, Everything We Look. Again, main points of his presentation can be summarize in 3D visualization, use of games in education (concretely: serious games), development of new interfaces which are no longer seen as technology due to its intuitive and friendly use, user content creation, collective intelligence, ubiquitous networks (people can connect wherever they are) and cloud computing. He also notted that internet is becoming a third place, that’s to say, people is using the net as place to socialize.

Of course, this a very short summary, but as further information about technologic trends in education can be found in the on line Horizon Project, I prefer to just make the link and note down some of my impressions after the talk.

First of all, oks we are living in each time more tecno-society , or whatever you prefer calling it, but…what happens when there aren’t the condition to use all that online applications that are changing the way we learn, work, socialize? What happens for those who don’t have fast broadband or just can’t pay it? There’s no alternative to avoid “that phenomena” called “digital divide”?

Second question is quite related to the first one… are these trends really global? As far as there are many different contexts, it’s a bit strange that everywhere can be applied same trends (even in some cases, to guarantee a general access to technologic developments can be quite far in time speaking terms).

Finally, technological developments can’t be understood aside cultural/social aspects. What I mean is that for the normalization of a new technology is necessary some social measures/attitudes that ensure the future of that technology. For instance, nowadays, collaboration and mash up seem to be keywords of web 2.0 phenomena. However, strict copyright laws can difficult the work of those who “mash up” content. May be, strict laws won’t stop individual acts, but certainly they will, at least, make the generation of mashed up content much lesser than if it was completely allowed.

Thus, how are technologic developments affecting the social sphere? What kind of societies are arising as a consequence of the introduction of these tools?