Notes from the Perspectives on International Education Seminar: Mobile Learning, organized by the Fundació Jaume Bofill and held in Barcelona, Spain, on September 23rd, 2014. More notes on this event: moblearnfjb.
How to incorporate mobile devices in learning in Catalonia?
Chair: Valtencir Mendes, Fundació Jaume Bofill
Mobile learning: an approximation from the Catalan context
Mercè Gisbert, Universitat Rovira i Virgili
+70% of households in Catalonia have a computer with Internet access at home, almost all of them with broadband connectivity.
Mobile phone ownership is almost 100% of the population.
So, we can state that, in most cases, connection to the Internet and mobile connection to the Internet is “not an issue” — there are exceptions, of course, especially when it comes to the quality of mobile connectivity.
Thus, there’s a real opportunity to use mobile phones for both accessing information and communicating in matters related with education and learning.
If physical spaces define or determine learning, can we rethink our learning spaces to adapt them to new ways of learning enhanced by mobile technologies?
On the other hand, new generations do use technology pervasively. But, do digital learners (digital natives, etc.) exist as such? Are they digitally skilled? Is the same thing being digitally literate and being digitally skilled? New generations are sure digitally literate, but being skilled requires specific training that most did not have (yet).
Mobile learning necessarily leads us to the debate of open content and open learning.
We need new rules of the game: online reputation, bullying, violence, sexting, lack of privacy, etc.
Education in the 21st century
David Atchoarena, ICT in Education, UNESCO
Today’s learners live in a knowledge-based and globally interconnected society, largely driven by digital technologies. To acquire 21st century skills, students should be empowered especially as self-directed learners.
There are unique benefits of mobile technologies for learning:
- Facilitate personalized learning: active learning; use of ICT to socialize and informally learn; life-long learning.
- Provide immediate feedback and assessment: more feedback; formative assessment; valuable information to parents and teachers; provide (technology enhanced) guidance to learners in unprecedented ways.
- Enable anytime, anywhere learning: new times and places where learning had been inappropriate or impossible; constant access to information and communications; hybrid models.
- Situated learning: most meaningful learning usually happens outside the classroom; geo-tagging, image recognition; bring real experiences into the classroom; connect teaching with one’s own lives.
What to do?
- Create or update policies related to mobile learning. And not only mobile specifically, but ICT-enhanced learning in general.
- Train teachers to advance learning through mobile technologies.
- Provide support and training to teachers through mobile technologies.
- Create suitable content.
- Ensure gender equality for “mobile students”: men and women feel different about technology, and this can cause differences in adoption.
- Guarantee connectivity.
- Strategies to provide equal access for all.
- Promote the safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies.
- Raise awareness of mobile learning through advocacy, leadership and dialogue.
Joaquín Gairín: There is quite a broad agreement on mobile learning, learning and ICTs, etc. The problem is that we do not do anything about that because there are many reluctances and resistances against change. Unless we identify and address these reluctances, there will not be any advancement on mobile learning.
Nati Cabrera: most of these resistances have been identified, including their source. One of the main reasons for not advancing is that there is not a state deal to design and coordinate long-term educational strategies.
Mercè Gisbert: we should not forget that learning —not teaching— is a collective responsibility, and not only the school’s. Unless we become aware of that, there is no way that we can change the whole framework.
Jordi Musons: we have to move out of our comfort zones, and help others to.
Pilar Soro: we need to add other “technologies” in the classroom, like arts, or corporal expression. It is the mix of different technologies that will make a change.
Ismael Peña-López: we keep on talking about mobile learning when we are meaning mobile teaching, or mobile-enabled education system. We should definitely move from an education system towards an learning platform, and, thus, from mobile teaching to ubiquitous learning. It is then that we will find out that the problem is not (or the main problem is not) technology, or even skills, but the system itself. E.g. the problem with mobile assessment, or flexibility, is not whether Moodle renders well on a mobile phone, but whether and how the facilitator will be there for the learning during a Saturday evening.
Miquel Àngel Prats: it is not about mobiles, but about resistance to change. And we have to be aware that it is not only about teachers, but also about the boards of directors of the schools and families. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to be empathetic and understand how other actors feel about these changes. On the other hand, we need evidence of successful cases that can be used as examples to follow.
Evaristo González: we have to be patient and help others in their transition into new practices. And practice is the word. We have to speak from practice, from experience. And one has to be bold and daring.
Antoni M. Romero: this is an old story, the story of the computer in the classroom, digital whiteboards, etc. We have to go beyond that, beyond a specific technology. We have to go beyond technology. We have to face global change. And face it by piloting, assessing and scaling.
Eduard Vallory: it’s systemic change or nothing. If we do not change the whole system, it will be impossible to replace just a piece of it. And part of this system relates to non-cognitive skills, which now come to the front row in importance.
Jordi Vivancos: we have been dealing with learning about technology (e.g. learning to code), or learning from technology (e.g. digital handbooks), but the challenge is on learning with technology. And the context is the change in the concept of information and knowledge: what is now information and what is now knowledge, what are their natures. And the thing is that information now is abundant and ubiquitous. Thus, we need to reflect on the notion of information and knowledge before we go on talking about education.
Mercè Gisbert: we should leverage the potential of ICTs in education to provide data and evidence themselves on their own performance. Learning analytics, as a concept, is an interesting one to explore.
Amy Woodgate, University of Edinburgh, UK
6 courses (wave 1) + 8 courses (wave 2) + more (circa 30 a year). Broad subject areas. Fully online, free to take, OER licensed with CC.
MOOCs implicitly aimed at capacity building for the faculty, to know what it’s out there, to exchange knowledge, to see “what is out there”.
- Small amount of direct income to reinvest into MOOC development.
- Capacity building on online learning
- Knowledge exchange
- development of new online delivery methods
- Research outputs; strengthened the University’s development areas.
- Lots of fun.
- Get to new audiences.
- Respond to an external need.
- Widen participation.
- Showcasing Edinburgh’s strengths.
- Pedagogical innovation.
Usage of the MOOC:
What have we learned
- MOOCs themselves have no business models: you have to attach one to them, if you want to.
- Best things are built and grown together.
- Academic staff need multi-dimensional support.
- Digital literacies should never be assumed.
- The power of fun should never be underestimated.
Trine Sand, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Why join a MOOC platform?
- Better education.
- Sharing knowledge.
- International recruitment.
- Continuing education.
- Platform to highlight UCPH research.
How to get started? Have a keen ambassador to lead the project.
- Steering committee: faculty-based decision-making.
- Coursera unit: platform and production experts, pilot project and assessment of the pilot project.
- University Education Services: political context and overall UCPH strategies.
A MOOC is a perfect tool for going international.
Profile: 268,868 learners; 40% full time employed; 60% with BA or MA degree; North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
MOOCs have the potential to facilitate changes, to reflect on what we are doing.
Rahul Choudaha, World Education Services, USA
Cautions on predictions and choices. What will happen with MOOCs? Embrace or avoid?
Georgia Tech, Udacity and AT&T issued an Online Master of Science in Computer Science that blended a degree with a MOOC. It was the regular degree, online, and at 10% its cost.
Strategy renders choices about what not to do as important as choices about what to do.
Q: evolution or revolution? Woodgate: more an evolution than a revolution [IMHO she’s talking about xMOOCs and definitely not about cMOOCs.
Q: what is the cost of the MOOC? Sand: it has a cost, but it is an investment, not an expenditure. But yes, a good amount of money is involved, especially if you take into account the cost of the lots of time that people put into the course.
Q: how do you manage admissions? Woodgate: we distinguished students from learners. Learners just freely access (and follow) the MOOC for the sake of it. If you want credit, and you will pursue assessment, then you’re a student, and you will have to go through the usual admissions process. Sand: both models, MOOC and regular degrees, are not mixed. They both have their own processes, channels, platforms, etc.
Q: how do you know the person that took the test is the one that they say they are? Woodgate: the certificate at the end is just a statement of a completion of a course, not a “real” certificate. We sacrificed the obtention of a “real” certificate in benefit of other aspects: easing access, promoting engagement and exchange, etc.
26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)
Adam Krcal, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Why a need for developing a quality framework?
- Massive expansino of higher education.
- Greater diversity in terms of study programmes.
- Broader spread of institutions’ social missions.
- Different types of provision to meet the needs of new student populations: distant learning programmes, changing labour patterns, re-skilling needs…
- Decentralization process in Higher Education: greater and broader autonomy.
- Chang in internal structure of Higher Education systems: more diversified, bigger institutions, budget constraints.
What is "quality" in higher education? How can we monitor it? How can we assure it?
Three main purposes of a quality framework: acountability, transparency and improvement.
Patricia Mangeol, OECD/IMHE, France
There is an increase of students in Higher Education in the OECD, which also implies upward or downward social mobility in relationship with their parents —usually upward mobility is greater than downward mobility, though the latter is existent all across the OECD.
People coming out of higher education have more/better skills in terms of literacy than those with lower levels of education. But the performance in different education levels varies quite a lot across the OECD. E.g. in the US the gap between the top and the bottom is huge. On the other hand, the top level of performance is different between countries. E.g. in Japan +30% of their higher education graduates score highest in literacy, while in Spain only less of 10% do.
Individuals with Higher Education are more employed and earn more —of course, as an aggregate.
More education is related with stating being in good health, having a say in government, volunteering at least once a month, or reporting that one can trust others. Education has strong social returns.
Is the investment in education worth? Yes, but the return of the investment —as measured in net present value— varies between the private and the public net returns. Normally, private returns are higher than public returns. But, in any case, both public and private returns are positive and generally not small.
What happened with the crisis?
In general, it impacted negatively (with more unemployment) the lowest levels of education, not that much in secondary educatino and very very much less for highly educated people.
The crisis did not only impact people putting them out of their jobs, but also the public expenditure on education. In general, though, most countries kept on spending (as a % of the GDP) on education institutions despite the fall of GDP [comment: this indicator is misleading, as some countries did cut on education expenditure, but as their GDPs dropped, the ratio still looks as they did increase the expenditure on education].
26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)
Technology disrupted education in general, but most especially distance education, which embraced ICTs to enhance interaction, delivering content, etc.
On the other hand, campus-based universities began to extend their action by using e-learning, virtual campuses, etc. thus creating blended learning.
The pervasive and increasingly intensive usage of ICTs of the new generations of students is creating a new type of student that learns from home —distance learner— or from anywhere —mobile learner—, somehow forcing universities to bring together distance education and traditional education. Thus, blended learning is becoming the norm.
Chripa Schneller, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Germany
“Impact of Distance Education on Adult Learning“ project.
71% of higher education organizations already provide some kind of distance education, plus a 9% of organizations that are 100% distance education universities. Distance education is not a marginal activity, and it has been adopted for many reasons, many of them related with pedagogical purposes like providing better methodologies, leveraging the potential of technology, etc.
Distance education is mainly provided at the masters level (56%) or in single courses (26%), and just rarely at the bachelors level (12%).
- Why do institutions deliver distance education?
- To provide more flexible learning opportunities (83%).
- Demand from (potential) students (43%).
- To attract adult learners (40%).
- To experiment with innovative pedagogy (34%).
- To reduce costs (11%).
Barriers to online teaching and learning:
- Additional effort
- Lack of acceptance by academic staff.
- More discipline to succeed (students).
Joran van Aart, StudyPortals, Netherlands
What is the profile of online learners?
Employment: 50% full time, 19% part time, 31% none. Main reason: combine with job or family.
Completed & current degree level: 35% have a bachelors degree and 64% are studing a/another bachelor degree.
Age is higher than on-campus universities. Only 7-8% are younger than 24y.o.
Should you join the online exodus?
- Higher Education student numbers expected to grow fast.
- People are looking for flexible, lifelong learning.
- Distance Education offers flexible learning an can facilitate HE growth.
- Many DE programmes provided by "traditional" campus-based universities.
- University leadeship across Euopre believes DE will grow significantly.
Ismael Peña-López: will this online exodus be led by universities… or other actors? Carl Holmberg: It is very likely that this online exodus will also be populated by new actors. Their success or level of competition will depend on the conditions of the market: whether other actors have a supply that fills the demand, what is the price policy (e.g. free public education), etc.
26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)
Sander Schroevers, Hogeschool Van Amsterdam, Netherlands
Globalisation is what students will find once they graduate: we have to provide the students with a suitable tool-box.
For a virtual mobility project some steps must be taken: manage the expectations of the partners, select communication technologies, put up a team of international lecturers, choice the subject of work, agree on how and what to assess and qualify, etc.
Virtual mobility programmes offer an incredible opportunity for developing informal learning.
Ulrik Bisgaard, Business Academy Aarhus, Denmark
Use social media that students already use for communication, exchange of information.
Offer support online to students, including online access to learning materials.
Why so few teachers use this technology to support and foster virtual mobility?
If we add business cases and virtual learning we can come up with virtual work placements where students can virtually (online) collaborate with remote (even foreign) businesses. Common tools like Facebook or Dropbox are very useful in this virtual work placements.
Virtual mobility is more about coaching than teaching: facilitating.
Finding leaders, motivated people that can start such a project and make it happen. Perseverance.
Technical support is crucial even if the technology used is sometimes a simple or common one.
26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)
e-Supervision: enhancing the international debate.
E-supervision – a new approach to supervision of international doctoral candidates? Opportunities and challenges.
- Digital identity and visibility.
- International network.
- Open access.
- Peer to peer supervision.
- Co-creation of knowledge.
- Recognition and accreditation.
- Quality assurance.
- Change in mindset.
What to use? The problem is not readiness, but capacity building on tools, protocols, procedures.
There already are (offline) practices to engage in a community, but at the very local (department) level. How to scale that? How to open these (closed) practices out to the world?
Virtual campuses and the digitization of universities are good starting points for e-supervision.
Communities are for sure a good strategy. But it is not that easy to build a community and, especially, to facilitate it.
Reluctance to share research
Reluctance of some students to be online
A shared blogs to engage with other students and help them
Incentives have an impact on quality.
Openness may have an impact on recognition of ownership of the results/ideas.
How much of the content you are producingwas actually created by you… and what portion by the extended commumity? What is your marginal contribution?
– happens everytime, e.g. at lunch
– at least online there’s a trace of who said what
It is not more important who provided a piece of information, but the outcome of the whole group.
We should redefine publishing
Some guidelines of what is research in the XXIst century would help.
26th Annual EAIE Conference (2014)