Tuning personal competencies to the Information Society

The Knowledge Society demands that we leapfrog ahead in our education systems, build a new digital literacy, and improve soft skills (creativity, innovation, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, among others) that could help all 21st century citizens become productive, effective knowledge workers. Educators, policymakers, business leaders, parents, and youth must identify and develop new sets of e-skills and e-competencies to help youth succeed, and build a capacity for success toward the 22nd century.

This is the framework in which the e-Competencies conference will take place on October 31, 2008. Taking place in Mexico DF and organized by FLACSO-México, University of Minnesota and University of Toronto, the purpose of the conference is to identify, project and discuss the e-skills and e-competencies required for success in the 21st and early 22nd centuries.

I am one of the speakers at that conference and I’m presenting a brief reflection — Tuning personal competencies to the Information Society — on how the Information Society is changing our landscape and how should we be adapting our own competences according that change. Here are the materials I will be using:

Slides in English
Slides in Spanish

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From Social Networks to Virtual Communities of Practice. Beyond e-Inclusion through Digital Literacy (II): the Case of the Catalan e-Justice Community

(Continuation from: From Social Networks to Virtual Communities of Practice. Beyond e-Inclusion through Digital Literacy (I): the Case of the Crafting Community)

In a seminar on Tuesday 21st October 2008 — ICTs, development and e-government 2.0: empowering the citizenry — I extended the case of the crafting community and compared it to several civil society actions closely related to e-government, mainly projects led by MySociety.org, but also others about political campaigning, or Health and Education.

Some of those examples came from existing communities, or ended up in the creation or communities that built around interests in common.

The Case of the Catalan e-Justice Community

Compartim [let’s share] is a grassroots-born initiative now led by the Justice Department of the Government of Catalonia (the Spanish region whose capital is Barcelona). It’s aim is to share knowledge, by promoting learning by practice sharing. It’s original promoters and target — now spread to the whole Department — were public servants working in the Justice system in Catalonia (professionals from different specialized branches directly dealing with the public: psychologists, lawyers, criminologists, mediators, trainers…) that needed and wanted to share questions and doubts, procedures, solutions… everything that could make their works easier and to provide a better service to the citizen.

The already existing (explicit, though informally though the hierarchies) community, went online and created a blog to keep the community informed, built several communities of practice at the Justice Portal where interaction would take place (the portal includes also “official” blogs closely related to the activity on the portal) and engaged in a richest exchange of knowledge which, at the moment, has produced several main outcomes:

  • an increase in the flow of information and knowledge within the Justice Department
  • a higher implication of the community members, both in quality (more implication) and in quantity (more people involved)
  • impact on the “real” lives and works of the community members
  • reaching consensus on key issues at the practical level (no hierarchies involved, no power stresses implied)
  • articulation of the real community, the one that exists “offline”

After the grassroots stage, now the Compartim Programme has been institutionalized — in a perfect shift from a push to pull strategy — and communities of practice are but a part of the institution’s strategic plan and training plan.

e-Justice: opening the Administration to the citizen

But, does the community of the Justice system ends with the public servants? Should it include the citizens?

Hence, the Compartim Programme goes open and is inviting the whole community and citizenry to debate about knowledge management in the framework of the Catalan Justice system in their III Jornada del programa Compartim [III Compartim Open Conference]. As in the case of the crafting community, what is important is the real community, made up of real people with real life goals. The Internet is enhancing the debate by:

The goal of the Conference is to reflect about the community itself with two workshops:

  1. Ideas to improve communities of practice.
  2. Using Internet tools for knowledge management.

The conference will take place on 4th December 2008, which means that the online preparation of the event will take place during the preceding 10 weeks of the meeting.

It is my opinion that this is a perfect public-private partnership to improve the Justice system specifically and e-Government and e-Administration in general. The difference being that the private counterpart is not, as usual, a firm, but each and every citizen acting in their own interest.

More information about the programme and the event (in Spanish or Catalan)

From Social Networks to Virtual Communities of Practice. Beyond e-Inclusion through Digital Literacy (I): the Case of the Crafting Community

In a conference on Friday 24th October 2008 — Accesibilidad e Inclusión Digital: el papel de la Alfabetización Digital — I used the crafting community as a flagship of a community or network enhanced and empowered to a higher level by the Internet at large and by Web 2.0 applications specifically.

Marc Botella kindly suggested that I made clear the reasons for choosing such a community, so to avoid falling into stereotypes about crafting in particular and women in general. I hadn’t even thought about this: the online crafting community is so rich that, only if you do not know it, could you be thinking on stereotypes. Though, just because not everybody knows it, I agree with Marc that some explanation might be due.

Main characteristics of the online crafting community:

  • Solid existing “real world” community.
  • Long tradition of learning by doing.
  • Long tradition of sharing among peers. It is a institutionless and hierarchyless community.
  • Shops, workshops and coffee shops are a meeting point rather than a place where to make businesses.
  • Broad range of socio-economic, education profiles and age (i.e. very far from the “bored housewife” topic).
  • Non-geek and usually low-tech profile. In any case, technology is definitely not a goal, or something you discuss, but a tool and something to forget about. But,
  • Intensive and broad use of a wide range of applications, most of them web 2.0 and/or cloud applications.
  • Expert use of rich media production, edition and diffusion tools: rich text, photography, audio, video…
  • Use of social networking sites and social networking tools in other sites to strengthen community links.
  • Use of social networking site not as an alternate world or community — in opposition to the offline world — but as an extension of the existing communities and networks.
  • Use of social networking sites to enlarge the community, and benefit from the low transaction costs of communicating through the Internet to build a critical mass of minority interests (the “long tail”), be it to buy and sell or just to exchange knowledge and practices.

Summing up: a very heterogeneous community that gathers around a common interest (crafting), and intensively uses technology to deal about this interest, proving a high and practical digital literacy level, which normally comes not from a technical background.

A second derivative is that digital literacy and virtual community building act as a driver against exclusion — because of the stress in networking — and for e-inclusion — because of the intensive use of ICTs.

NOTE: definitions and statements come from direct observation. An accurate research should be performed so to statistically validate their significance. Sincerest gratitude goes to Mercè Guillén who led me by the hand into the world of “e-crafting”.

(Continued: From Social Networks to Virtual Communities of Practice. Beyond e-Inclusion through Digital Literacy (II): the Case of the Catalan e-Justice Community)

Accessibility and Digital Inclusion: the role of Digital Literacy

Next 23 and 24 October 2008, Net.es 5, accesibilidad y nuevas tecnologías en la sociedad. El papel de la Sociedad Civil [Accessiblity and new techonologies in the society. The role of the Civil Society] will deal about human rights, digital citizenry, accessibility and disabilities, usability, e-inclusion and digital literacy.

Net.es 5

I will be sharing a round table with Rafael Casado Ortiz and David Cierco about accessibility, inclusion and digital literacy.

I will take a real from the real life to explain why and how digital literacy can enable or enhance inclusion — just inclusion, not digital inclusion —. The example, which I already used in my seminar at the Executive Master in e-Governance and made up with Mercè Guillén-Solà, is taking the crafting community as a paradigm of a network that existed off-line and used the Internet — and Web 2.0 applications specifically — to enable and enhance better and stronger links. Digital literacy comes, then, as help to leverage the existing network (and to avoid the danger of dropping out of it), but not as a substitute or a goal in itself.

Presentation

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Towards e-Government 2.0: Review of the IV Internet, Law and Politics Congress – Political Track

IDP, Revista de Internet, Derecho y Política has published a paper of mine entitled Towards e-Government 2.0: Review of the IV Internet, Law and Politics Congress – Political Track. The paper — original in English, despite the title of the review — is an overview and personal insights of what took place at the 4th Internet, Law and Politics Congress in June 2008.

Abstract

Review of the Political Track of the IV Internet, Law and Politics Congress, held in June 2008, organized by the Department of Law and Political Science, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. An overview of the latest work by researchers and professionals in the field of political dialogue between institutions and citizens on the Internet was presented, specifically that involving the new participation-rich environment of Web 2.0.

More info and Downloads

Announcement: UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the digital divide through education

I’m proud — really proud — to present this year’s edition of the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning International Seminar, Fighting the digital divide through education, in which I am part of the academic committee (i.e. I’ll be attending the Seminar).

UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Fifth International Seminar

UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar is going to held in Barcelona between the 12th and 14th of November, 2008, and is aimed to debate the different possible solutions to the digital divide problem, cataloguing and analyzing success stories where ICT have played an important role in the development of education, in spite of technological and social barriers.

The Seminar is primarily addressed to:
* Top management at universities: presidents, vice presidents, general managers and executive officers.
* Those responsible for the application of e-Learning in higher education institutions, in which these tools play an important role: officers in charge of the introduction and use of new technology, e-Learning directors, faculty deans, research centre directors, etc.

The programme looks really interesting for those interested in the intersection of Education, ICTs and the Digital Divide. Confirmed speakers are: Tim Unwin, Teemu Leinonen, Ivan Krstić, Linda G. Roberts, Sugata Mitra and Bakary Diallo and Begoña Gros.

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