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Category Archives: technology

ICT and learning are a trending topic. There’s no need to make a deep search to find many conferences, meetings, workshops… In many occasions, technology and innovative practices in teaching and learning seems to come together. Obviously, one cannot generalize and reduce all initiatives to such a simplistic approach. However, at some point it is also interesting to forget a bit about technology and new media – despite all the enthusiasm and expectations, at the end we are talking about tools – and have a look to what’s the final goal. Certainly tools condition what we can actually do, and what’s more, how we think and what we can imagine. But, again, I insist what do we really want?

Are we encouraging techno enthusiasts with no autonomy if there’s a blackout?

Do we foster collaboration?

Are we promoting knowledge building?

Creativity?

Problem solving?

Active citizens, or to say it differently, “prosumers”?

Critical thinking?

All these can be achieved through technology. But without it as well. That’s why I consider that, now more than ever, is crucial to develop a critical approach towards what can we get by using new media in teaching and learning.

I don’t have the answer. Hopefully, the 3rd European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight will be a good meeting point to hear interesting points of view, as well as exchange doubts and impressions. The conference will be held in Barcelona, next February 1st, 2nd and 3rd 2012. For those interested in presenting a communication, the call for papers is open until September 30th, 2011.

Overview

Since March until mid-April, the Advisory Board (AB) of the Horizon Report: iberoamerican edition has been working collaboratively, first through a wiki and later in a face-to-face meeting in Puebla, México, to select and identify those technologies, challenges and trends with a greater potencial throughout next 5 years in iberoamerican Higher Education.

The 14th, 15th and 16th of April, Puebla became the scenario where took place the final vote of the emergent technologies. Collaborative Environments and Social Media are the ones considered to have a greater impact in less than a year. According to the results of the vote, Open Content and Mobiles will be adopted in a time horizon of 2-3 years. Finally, in a long term (5 years), Augmented Reality and Semanteic Web are forseen as the main promises for education.

After the meeting in Puebla, a report with the list of selected technologies, examples of use, as well as main challenges and trends of High Education in Iberoamerica will be written. The final document is expected to be presented in the Summer Conference of the New Media Consortium that will take place at the beginning of June 2010.

The Horizon Report Ib. follows the same methodology as main Horizon Report editions. The process is structured according to Delphi Technique. It’s a very oriented technique in which participants have to answer a set of questions in order to identify those emergent technologies with more impact on learning, teaching and creative inquiry. Through a two round votations, the general list of emergent technologies is reduced to 12, and later to a short list of 6 technologies.

The Horizon report: Iberoamerican edition is an initiative of the eLearn Center, UOC and The New Media Consortium.

Some impressions

  • Despite the technological approach of Horizon Reports, discussions in the iberoamerican edition tend to focus attention on issues related with pedagogy and methodology of use. Personally, I was happy to hear those reflections. Probably, it’s impossible to develop a pedagogy before adopting a technology. However, institutions (and nobody in general) can fall in the trend of adopting new technologies just because “they’re cool”.
  • Process is important. Something I’ve learn from the Horizon Report: Iberoamerican edition is that questions not only guide but can also determine answers. What do we ask and why? The way the vote was organized had an important effect on the final selection of technologies. Delphi technique is interesting, but at some point it would be important to be more flexible. The same questions and methods doesn’t work for everyone.
  • Too much diversity in a single report. Talking about Iberoamerica is the same as referring to a huge diversity impossible to include in “the same box”. Personally, I feel it’s very difficult to take a picture that captures the implementation of emerging technologies in Higher Education in Iberoamerica in a single report. Giving voice to all parts is certainly a challenge.
  • The notion of digital natives is starting to loose strength. Mark Bullen would be happy, finally young people are not seen as a group of geeks who create fear among older generations. Possibly they’re more used to technology, but it doesn’t mean they’re more efficient in searching for information, collaborating, filtering information… in one word, learning.
  • Technology, alone doesn’t change anything. On the contrary, it can easily generate new dependencies. I don’t want to mean we shouldn’t adopt technology. Currently is part of our lives, so it’s necessary to develop competencies and a digital literacy. However, I wonder if emphasis shouldn’t be put on critical thinking rather than on the tools we use.
  • Some of the selected technologies imply values and ways of being completely opposite to the logic of capitalism. The idea of promoting collaboration and content exchange (through open content) is really exciting and promising. However, a mainstream adoption requires something else than simple access to technology. Are we ready for this?
  • Despite the final product being a report, there are very interesting materials, opinions and exchanges in the wiki of the project. Of course it can take some time to read it, but… it’s the best way to acquire a deeper insight of the project.

The balance of the meeting in Puebla was positive. It is true that many things need more discussion and reflection, but in general participants of the Advisory Board left the room feeling they had learned something. It has also been a starting point for the creation of a community of experts, from Iberoamerica, focused on the educational applications of emerging technologies in Higher Education.

Let’s see what happens, but at least right now future looks promising.

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?