The paradox of Sharism, or how a cool idea will pay my mortgage

The key motivator of Social Media and the core spirit of Web 2.0 is a mind switch called Sharism. Sharism suggests a re-orientation of personal values. [...] And it’s okay to seek financial rewards. But you will in every case get something just as substantial: Happiness.

This is Isaac Mao in the essay Sharism: A Mind Revolution that he wrote for Joi Ito’s book Freesouls. While I like the music — I actually hum it myself every now an then — I find the lyrics hard to sing.

Don’t get me wrong: there are almost 2,000 of pieces of work that I am already sharing in this website, ranging from the simplest blog post to the latest version of a learning material, and including slides for presentations, articles, book chapters and so. Everything is (at this very moment) under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license, which has not stopped third parties from asking for permission to create derivative works, which has always been granted too.

The reasons for behaving like that are the ones that Isaac Mao is depicting in his essay, and many more, including both my own philosophy regarding the nature of the outputs derived from public funding or the ethos of scientists and their role in society. But this behaviour, while fostered by ideologies, is actually been made possible because my time is already paid: partly by tax payers, partly by students enrolled in my (public) university (tax payers too, after all).

When I wake up in the morning, my mortgage is already being paid. With that in mind, I have plenty of room for putting ideologies into practice.

Isaac Mao speaks about the positive results of Sharism:

  • You get comments and feedback in general that enrich your work.
  • You get access to all the other stuff being shared.
  • Anything you share can be forwarded, circulated and republished, which implies you get recognition and (namely) social status.
  • What you do, if shared, has a meaning not only for you, but for the whole of society.
  • But you will in every case get something just as substantial: Happiness.

This works 100% for me. As a scholar, a (mostly) publicly-funded scholar, this works 100%, especially the happiness part. I mean it. Since I began to blog in 2003, I only got benefits from sharing. Sometimes even in cash.

But.

I’ve done my homework (see below). I’ve read what I ought to. And still can’t I see how Sharism — or, closely related, a hacker ethic — can be applicable to the whole economy the way Mao’s portraying. Yes, we’ve got (some) examples in the free software community and (much less) examples in the open/free culture movement. But still, in a global economy where money comes from capturing the added value of an output (where “capturing” is a very broad term for a very complex set of practices, most of them related to restrained access to that output), Sharism will have hard times when it comes to paying a mortgage, which is paid in actual legal tender.

Web 2.0, the power of sharing

My university is inviting Isaac Mao to the V Meeting of associate institutions and businesses. The second part of the event is an open round table which I am chairing and that will be participated by Isaac Mao himself, Ricardo Galli, founder of the “Spanish Digg” (Menéame), and Alfons Sort, CEO of Adobe Systems Ibérica.

I will definitely bring all my questions on the table with the goal in mind to see whether we can shed some light on the many open topics that, in my opinion, Sharism still has to clarify.

Recommended readings

I previously said that I had done my homework. What follows is a brief collection of readings which I find very relevant for our discussion here. Enjoy.

Mao, I. (2008). “Sharism: A Mind Revolution”. In Ito, J.,
Freesouls, 115-118. Tokyo: Freesouls.cc.
Raymond, E. S. (1999). The Cathedral & the Bazaar. (revised edition: original edition 1999). Sebastopol: O’Reilly.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Lessig, L. (2004). Free Culture. New York: The Penguin Press.
Levy, S. (1984). Hackers. Heroes of the computer revolution. Champaign: Project Gutenberg.
Himanen, P. (2003). L’ètica hacker i l’esperit de l’era de la informació. Barcelona: Editorial UOC.
Berners-Lee, T. (2000). Weaving the Web. New York: HarperCollins.
Hafner, K. & Lyon, M. (1996). Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet. New York: Touchstone.

Pekka Himanen: The Hacker Ethic: The Way Forward after the Current Global Economic Crisis

Notes from Pekka Himanen’s conference The Hacker Ethic: The Way Forward after the Current Global Economic Crisis held at the Open University of Catalonia/Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Barcelona (Spain), on November 2nd, 2009.

Manuel Castells: Introduction

The hacker ethic is the cultural factor that emerges from the Network Society. If the Network Society is a new social paradigm, the hacker ethic is the culture that results from all the changes that conform the Network Society.

Pekka Himanen: The Hacker Ethic: The Way Forward after the Current Global Economic Crisis

An emphasis to be made is that the hacker ethic is not only about computer scientists, or about geeks and nerds, but it is a wider cultural transformation in the sense of the number and kind of people that might fit the definition. The hacker ethic can effectively be taken out of the technological sphere.

So, in context, if this is a Network Society and this is its culture, what is the role of hacker ethic in today’s economy and today’s crisis? Beyond economic development we need a broader sense of development. And it is likely that this new ethic can be part of the solution, of this broader sense of development.

Fundamental challenges nowadays:

  • Clean: Climate change, being radical innovation the way to go forward;
  • Care: Welfare society 2.0, as inequality increases and more people are unattended;
  • Culture: Multicultural life, how to cope with the increasing cultural crossroads that globalization is creating.

How can innovation turn challenges into opportunities? How can hacker ethic help in creating innovation-based solutions? Hackers can help to discover cleaner energy sources, biohackers will eventually help in creating a healthier society (being DNA the open source of life), cultural hackers can help in creating new and more meanings in multicultural life.

The problem is that the world economic, innovation and scientific centres are not evenly distributed across the world, but mainly concentrated in the US, Europe and some Asian countries. Why are these so much concentrated?

Innovation centre dynamics, or what do you need to have an innovation centre:

  • Culture of creativity: hacker ethic
  • Community of enrichment, where failing is accepted, where entrepreneurship is fostered, where ideas are economically supported (funded)
  • Creative people

Face-to-face communication — added to virtual communication and knowledge exchange — is what creates this climate or environment of innovation. This is what we find in Silicon Valley around Stanford University, or in other innovation centres around the world.

Increasingly, creative, innovative, knowledge intensive jobs are any more at the edges of the economic system, but at their sheer centre. Thus, it is important to know how to enable and foster the creation of such centres, as they are likely to be the solutions — or the solutions providers — for the crisis and for future development.

Ancient Athens went through an important era of huge investments that concentrated a lot of creative activities driven by Plato, Socrates, Pericles, etc. The Agora and surrounding buildings was an infrastructure for communication and interaction that brought together people from different backgrounds. Just like Silicon Valley and Stanford University.

Hacker’s ethic: creativity, that relies on a community of enrichment, that relies on mutual confidence. In this three layer structure, you both (a) feel like part of a big, powerful community and (b) are actually acknowledged as a person (not as a number). And it is a self-feeding logic.

Debate

Ismael Peña-López: how do you change mindsets? how do you transform a short-run profit system into a meritocratic, hacker system? Himanen: the most important thing to do is to change education. On the other hand, there are plenty of good examples of applied hacker ethic; there are also good ideas that get funding for addressing the more urgent challenges, and maybe what’s changed is that, instead of having a project, or a business plan, is having a mission.
Castells: it is not about being good or bad, but clever or stupid. All major innovations come from communities and just rarely from individuals or even small teams. All major advances are based on smart collaboration.

Enric Senabre: What’s the acceptance of the hacker in public opinion? Himanen: hackers are not computer criminals; and hackers are not computer nerds. It is about a real ethos. It’s an informational work ethic, a creative ethic.
Castells: The good thing about the term “hacker ethic” is that it challenges many prejudices and ex-ante thoughts at the same time.

Daniel López: How to move forward the concept of “hacker”? What about “craftmanship”? Himanen: Of course, hacker has something to do with craftmanship. But the term hacker is also a self-adopted term by hackers themselves, which makes it special.

Q: Do you consider yourself a hacker, or feel like one? Himanen: yes, it is all about passion, a creative passion, and the way of doing things almost obsessively, though a pleasant obsession.

Q: Is hacker ethic spreading? Is there more people becoming hackers? Himanen: There is some evidence that in two years there’ll be work shortage, as many people will retire. And people will be able to chose their works and do it on a mission-basis or on an environment-basis, more than just wage or other similar conditions.

Ricard Ruiz de Querol: Is the actual crisis a financial crisis? If so, what’s the feeling like in hackers environments about it? Himanen: hacker ethic is a neutral term, it just describes the relationship with work. And it is independent from social values. Notwithstanding, it is difficult that lack of specific social values (e.g. a better world) is compatible with hacker ethic. What, then, would your creativity serve?

Anna Soliguer: How can hacker ethic inspire social movements? Himanen: In some sense, Obama followed a hacker ethic. The thing is how to link participation in social movements with leadership.

Q: Is there any particular reason why hacker ethic is stronger in welfare states (e.g. in Scandinavia)? Are people from the Pirate Bay hackers? Do they pursue a better world? Himanen: Finland, for instance, is a place where, in general, there is this creative environment that is so strongly needed for hacker ethic to emerge (e.g. it took Linus Torvalds 8 years to finish his Masters’ thesis and nobody made an issue about it). On the other hand, if you have some basic needs covered (by a welfare state) you’re not that urged to make profit out of your ideas or personal time.
Castells: most hackers come originally from the US, where not welfare but the idea of freedom is what predominates. The idea being that you can have different economic systems that lead to hackerism, but what is necessary is the aim to create and a system that allows this creation. On the contrary, continental Europe, traditionally the craddle of the welfare state, has not a huge community of hackers.

Ismael Peña-López: Reality has change so much from the origins of the hacker ethic in the late 60s and the early 70s. Will the hacker ethic fade out and disappear? What, then, will happen with the Network Society? Himanen: political involvement is only partly true. People where not that involved in politics but in social rights movements, and, on the other hand, people still are involved, though in different ways: people are not interested in political hierarchies, but other ways of engagement. Indeed, people are increasingly engaged, though in newer ways.
Castells: hacker ethic is not a cause of the Network Society, but a consequence. Hence, the whole world is entirely inside the Network Society and there is no way back. On the other hand, the creativeness of the hacker ethic had to cut through the system during the late 60s and early 70s, to fight against bureaucracies. Nowadays, on the contrary, it is the corporate world who is adopting hacker ethics (e.g. Google), and most big companies are increasingly relying on the passion to create, even Microsoft is doing this. If we forget about the label “hacker”, we will find plenty of examples of “creativity” and “innovation”, which is at the core of hacker ethic.

Begoña Gros: at our schools, we are promoting neither creativity nor passion. What’s it like in Finland? Himanen: curiosity is fostered in Finland. When you’re passionate about one thing, you begin putting questions about that, and this is something that the Finnish educational system is comfortable with. On the other hand, you’re invited to find what you want to do in life, to find a meaning, before going on (e.g. to the job market). The good thing about Linus Torvalds is not only his talent, but the ability to develop things, to help things become important not only for you but for others. This means, notwithstanding, that we have to go on encouraging creativity and innovation at school, so to make a hacker ethic possible amongst students.

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fifth International Seminar (VI). Linda Roberts: Curriki

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the Digital Divide through Education.

Curriki
Linda Roberts, Curriki

The way we make progress, is doing things: the power of taking risks, and not being satisfied with small successes.

A change of paradigm: the Participation Age. This is why global connectivity, global access, the global network come so important.

The Mission: eliminate the Education Divide. Content is abundant, but it’s embedded into expensive devices (i.e. textbooks). How to make it available?

The Internet is a great World equalizer and the Open Source community has proven to be the hallmark of the “Participation Age”.

We’re shifting from a linear knowledge space (the classroom, the library) towards a random knowledge space (the Internet). Clayton M. ChristensenDisrupting Class: how to benefit from the innovation that this disruption represents.

Open Education

How open is open? can you build courses and curricula collaboratively? Can you trust the community?

If the materials are as open as open education (should be), then even an improvement in the economic model of delivering education also can come to existence, shifting 1/3 of the budget from learning materials towards teaching and teachers and guidance, which is what is scarce: time.

Strategy

Build a portal, a community of educators, a repository of open educational resources, and a global community.

Find, contribute, connect, and at a global level, with materials and whole courses in several languages.

Personalization is also made possible by creating personal collections of resources.

Q & A

Paul West: Is Curriki going to be around in, say, 3 years? Is anybody going to use it? A: Hope yes, because the world is going to be global in essence.

Susan Metros: How to take the content out of these collections, rebuild it and make it available worldwide? Could it be a business strategy that made the project sustainable? A: The problem (or positive thing) is that the people that create the materials they do it for their own reasons and a business plan is not in their equations. So, how to get support from the community without bothering them in things they’re not interested in? Providing evidence should suffice to raise funds, but maybe alternate models had to be approached. The matter is that, even in the open community, a business plan (not for profit, but a business plan anyway) has to be kept in mind.

Tim Unwin: what about the commoditization of Education, where you have to pay as an investment in yourself? How does this philosophy cope with the open paradigm? A: We should be able to make come the pieces together, and every time we do something we should be able to both generate value and show we do. It’s not enough to know you’re making an impact, but it has to be grounded on evidence. And the community can play an important role in this, as diffusers, as prescriptors. And, indeed, evidence needs to be collected and analysed: research should back all decisions, developments, etc.

Mara Hancock: How do people discover things like Curriki? How to promote not findability but discoverybility? A: To intentionally bring in relevant and active people that already are players in their own field. Also, know the language the community is already using, and know what the community is looking for.

Susan Metros: How can things made been easy? I want everything one click away.

Tim Unwin: I don’t want anything, I want what’s best. Amazon’s suggestion system is just this.

Ismael Peña-López: Leveraging the power of an existing community should boost findability, ease of use, discoverybility, filtering…

Julià Minguillón: the community can also help to build a reputation system that can nurture a (future) semantic web.

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the Digital Divide through Education (2008)

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fifth International Seminar (II). Teemu Leinonen: Wikiversity

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the Digital Divide through Education.

Wikiversity
Teemu Leinonen, Media Lab – University of Art and Design Helsinki

Any true understanding is dialogic in nature (Bakhtin).

UNESCO’s Young Digital Creators: UNESCO Young Digital Creators (YDC) Educator’s Kit.

Evolution of learning technologies

Is it learning with technology or learning from technology?

The best way to predict the future is to invent it, Alan Kay, 1971.

An evolution of instructional technology:

  • The media center as a separate artifact, segregated from the gallery, meeting room and seminar room.
  • The web becomes more and more the desktop, the meeting and collaborating place.
  • Pervasiveness of mobile phones brings on the possibility of mobile learning, that has to cohabit with e-learning as we knew it.
  • Affordability of multimedia devices that can record, create or edit sound, audio, etc. enrich e-learning experiences with rich media created by the user. This leads us to projects as the mobile audio encyclopaedia.
  • Then to augmented reality with mobile phones like Shedlight.
Wikiversity

Course: Composing free and open online educational resources: a course planned (and paid by) Finnish students, but followed by +60 more people around the world. And now it can be (and it actually is) replicated elsewhere, at any time.

The syllabus, the assignments… everything took place on the Wikiversity page of the course.

Wiki platforms allow the collaborative creation of very simple — though effective — learning objects.

Three metaphors of learning
  • Knowledge acquisition: you read a book, you learn. But access to courseware is not an issue when it is abundant. Learning is an individual cognitive process. Memorizing.
  • Participation: learning is a socio-cultural process. Acting.
  • Knowledge creation: learning is a socio-cultural process with an intention to produce artefacts. Cultivating.

In Wikipedia all three metaphors take place. But where’s the place for educators? What and how are they doing?

Grundtvig’s Folkenhøjskole: the university is more than four walls, it is a social dialogue. Freire: non-institutional education. Ollman: the University as an institution that is educating and nurturing acting people, but that has built a chasm between it and the society. Hakkarainen: Progressive Inquiry [reminds me of Participatory Action Research].

Q & A

Paul West: how to maintain, validate wikis? Does it leave room for the teacher? How digitally literate do they have to be? A: Le Mill makes it easier for the teacher to create content.

Q: is it really possible to have cultural diversity in wikis/wikipedias? A: Actually, the different structures themselves of the several wikipedias do demonstrate that even at the core, cultural differences shape the container itself, not only the content.

Tim Unwin: Are artefacts content? are we focussing too much on artefacts rather than content? A: Of course the artefact is but a tool. But the process of creating, even creating the artefact, does provide too some valuable knowledge, as it forces reflecting about the process itself.

Susan Metros: How can teachers assess the materials that students are creating, specially in collaborative ways? A: It is important to keep groups really small so that tracking can be easily done.

Julià Minguillón: the pervasiveness of English as lingua franca, won’t crowd out other smaller languages? Should this small languages speakers be encouraged to create content? A: ICTs enable small languages to survive, but translating content in other languages is not the strategy: it has to be genuine created content.

Sugata Mitra: what is learning? when students “play” with computers, is that learning? A: It might be learning, but after the n repetition, is just repetition. Besides, learning and education might not be the same thing,

Ismael Peña-López: If the whole process is available, and everyone can join, how can we assess the learning of the student? how can we help them find whether they learned or not? A: Some of them might not be interested in a “formal” assessment, but just find the process was interesting. We could be talking about evaluation and feedback instead of assessment. Tim Unwin: peer assessment is a very effective — and even efficient — assessment method.

Linda Roberts: What’s next? A: Free Open Content should gain power. And a community will gather around the creation, sharing and use of these materials, enhanced by collaborative tools to engage one with each other.

Brian Lamb: How to evaluate collaborative work? A: The evaluation should also be like a dynamic dialogue. Of course, it requires time (and money).

Enric Senabre: How to create a local Wikiversity? A: Content has to be created, prove that “people will come”, and then the Foundation will create the local Wikiversity site.

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the Digital Divide through Education (2008)

Open EdTech Summit (IV). Conclusions

Fourth and last session at the Open EdTech Summit. Conclusions, in the shape of “plus” and “idealistic” ideas, are presented.

Personalization of the Learning Process

  • Two kinds of personalization: what is taught, and how is it taught.
  • Concerns about converging processes (e.g. Bologna), acreditation and control frameworks, etc.
  • Build new models instead of change current ones, by trying to make obsolete the latter. Find spaces of subversion.
  • One space for subversion is assessment, trying to make ends meet with freedom of choice.
  • Extreme importance of capacity building, letting the student to localize their own decisions.
  • Automated personalization as suggestions, not as compulsory roads to follow, and led by the teacher, not by the technology.
  • Microcredits as the smallest unbundled parts of a larger course, so they can be “rebundled” into other courses according to needs and competences to be acquired.
  • Opennes a requisite for tailoring and personalization, enabling cost reduction, remixing itself, etc.
  • Collaboration is enhanced (if not just enabled) by openness, but personalization can play havoc on social activities: beware.

Learning Content Development and Delivery

  • Content as infrastructure, thus OER has to go beyond content and enter into meaning creation.
  • Content is not static: it has a source but evolves multi-directionally.
  • New roles shaped by the new landscape: teachers and institutions become guides, enablers, capacity builders.
  • Cultural shift: from the notion of controlling knowledge towards an open environment.
  • Superiority of open content for reuse and reproduction, but as it is not static, the concept of preservation is at stake and needs redefinition.
  • OERs should provide context-sensitive output formats: open distribution.
  • Open quality assurance: not only open content creators, but also curators.
  • Rethink copyright and fair use.

Future Technologies at the Service of Learning

  • We need open, interoperable tools and services, no more corporate driven, pre-packaged, specific tools.
  • The World is an LMS: knowledge is anywhere and we have to know how to find and retrieve it.
  • Access is a right: free broadband (or really affordable), free content.
  • Technology has to enhance the joy of learning (not make it a nightmare).
  • The success of FLOSS communities should be replicated in OER.
  • New assessment models that capture the personalization of learning. The community might be able to accredit the learner.
  • Content will come to the learner in a personalized way.
  • Usability: make the interface invisible.
  • Help (and give credit to) the process of the teachers’ using technology and acquiring digital capabilities.
  • Education has to radically change according to the disruption that the Internet represents.

Learning: Everyone, Everywhere and Anytime

  • uLearning: ubiquitous learning as the new model.
  • Long life learning requires adaptability of the system.
  • Knowledge does not go out of date, just becomes more complex.
  • Connections more important than the nodes.
  • Self organized learning, through mash-up curricula, user generated content, communities of practice and learners, within personal learning environments.
  • Ubiquitous and persistent classrooms for continuous (and informal) learning.
  • Universal recognition of levels and certificates.
  • Accrediting institutions internationally.
  • Context and progress aware of digital scaffolding.
  • Recognition of prior and experiential learning.
  • Limit the cultural imperialism of technology and learning design: one size does not fit all
  • Free access for all
  • Encourage respect and understanding through learning.
If you cannot see the video, please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=1289">http://ictlogy.net/?p=1289</a>

Open Ed Tech (2008)

Open EdTech Summit (II). Brainwriting and Brainstorming: Personalization of the Learning Process

Teamwork at the Open EdTech Summit. First part is a brainwriting exercise where a personal reflection time should produce a list of ideas. Then, a brainstorming exercise with the rest of the group where ideas are put in common. This group is about Personalization of the Learning Process. Other groups are Learning Content Development and Delivery, Future Technologies at the Service of Learning, Learning: Everyone, Everywhere and Anytime.

Team 1 – PLP (Personalization of the Learning Process). Contents of this area: individual methods of learning, personal learning speed. student personal learning experience, interaction between learning processes and technology.

Brainwriting

How far can we go with personalization in a credential-driven education system?
  • As far as we push the learning process away from teaching, shifting responsibility to the student, the process can be as personalized as at the individual level.
  • Goal setting and assessment has to be homogeneous in a higher degree (with slight changes according to personal needs), education has not.
  • ICTs lower the transaction costs of individual/personal mentorship
  • ICTs lower the costs of content diffusion (open educational resources in digital format)
How far can we go in automatically adapting the student’s personal learning experience, based on the system’s assessment of their knowledge/understanding?
  • Syllabuses can be highly dynamic, though they require some human and technological effort
  • Again, assessment should take place at the final stage, evaluating the “output” of the educational process. The process itself… should it be assessed (per se, not in terms of evaluating its performance to achieve educational goals)?
Will it be possible in the very next future that each student rules completely her/his learning process?
  • The student should be able to rule their learning process
  • More effort — and resources — should be put on the how and the what for, not the what
  • The focus should be goal setting, designing “default” paths according to more common profiles, and guidance
How far technologies will help us in adapting the personal rhythm of learning to the academic demands of the universities?
  • Should universities have academic demands at all? Shouldn’t universities be the ones to adapt their rhythms to personal learning demands?
  • If focus is not put in the process but in goal setting, guidance and assessment — not in teaching — then technology could help to bind people together while keeping the ends quite loose.
Is it possible to offer university contents completely adapted to a specific (individual) learning process?
  • It absolutely is: we don’t have to make scarce something abundant (e.g. tight syllabuses)
  • The goal is not filtering, but capaciting people to filter

Brainstorming

Larry Johnson: how do you guide someone through their random process so that they become an e.g. “engineer”?

Jutta Treviranus: Personalization can be understood as personalization of access, not necessarily (or not only) personalization of the content. It’s critical to identify what constitutes an “engineer”.

David Wiley: a credential is shortcut for the employer to identify competences, a bundle of competences. Can be unbundle these competences? Course selection, sequencing, etc. can be hence adapted.

Llorenç Valverde: still a tight curriculum in Spain even after the Bolonia process. Is there room for a freedom of choice?

Lev Gonick: how to create space for subversion? how to bring the student autonomy? not big changes: where are the cracks of the system?

Jutta Treviranus: optimising learning, making it challenging to the student.

Vijay Kukmar: we can go very far in personalization. Microcredits, e-portfolios… are already existing tools that can be drivers of change. Not thinking about disciplines, but transferable skills and learning how to learn.

Jutta Treviranus: how you best learn? personalization is not about the system itself, but the engagement.

Ismael Peña-López: now what’s scarce is not knowledge (that’s why we had to produce and put together the scarce knowledge in classrooms and universities), but mentoning: no more focus on knowledge, but on mentoring.

Claudio Dondi: It’s easy to identify what the core competences are in a specific discipline/degree/etc. Thus, competences should be certified competences, more than learnings. Move the assessment from knowledge only to know-how.

Llorenç Valverde: how to certify competences without assessing content?

David Wiley: what happens with social interaction (amongst students) if personalization goes to the limit of individualization? Personalization should not let aside social activities. How to find the balance between helping in the decision-taking and taking the decision for the students.

Elena Barberà: personalization of what? goals? processes? technologies? We have to identify where are we learning, where are the connections between the person and knowledge, and adapt the use of the tools to this: learning needs evidence, documentation.

Francesc Santanach: personalization will be crucial in the future where heterogeneous students will meet in the same classroom. Globalization and digital technologies foster this heterogeneity. It is more important to recommend, not force anyone into any path.

Larry Johnson: there is a deep lack of definition about what is personalization, how to… There is not such a defined niche for personalization, and technology will not make it out of the blue.

Jutta Treviranus: personalization and technology not only from a pedagogical approach, but also in other aspects just like (physical) access.

Vijay Kumar: the difference between information and education; and between education and formal education (certification, etc.); and between education and learning. Should we focus in how learners customize their learning experience and forget about education?

Lev Gonick: how do institutions avoid the irrelevance of “bad” learning practices?

Llorenç Valverde: personalization has not to be contaminated by the commoditization that came with the industrial revolution. But we can avoid the pret-à-porter one-size-fits-all of education and go into personalized tailoring.

Lev Gonick: we have to set up theories that create new frameworks that e.g. allow the human genome project to emerge.Without that theory, educational institutions will be marginalized from their own system.

David Wiley: theory has to be backed up with real data.

Jutta Treviranus: and we need a framework to gather all theories.

Claudio Dondi: there is a problem when trying to put under the same system training (professional training) and education. The higher education system is not actually coherent with the rest of the socio-economic system. Thus, something should be done at the system level: the problem might not (only) be at the praxis level, but at a more systemic one.

Vijay Kumar: what is the atomic unit of personalization: is adaptation or is it individualization? The currency between the academic system and the socioeconomic system is the degree. Is the problem this currency? the different interests at either side of the currency exchange?

Larry Johnson: the very most importance of competences as the real currency, not certification.

David Wiley: competences permit tying the content, to experience, to certification…

Lev Gonick: we created a personalization at the technological level, but not at the educational process level.

Claudio Dondi: Difference of personalization between how and what.

Larry Johnson: there has to be a mentor-like connection in personalization. The system is educational, not technological.

David Wiley: personalization of the mediation, personalization of the feedback you give, personalization of the hint, etc.

Lev Gonick: how to use the technology to personalize to achieve higher success, to prepare the student for success?

Vijay Kumar: metacognition, where I know how to access problems and where to look for help or solutions. Seeking information, validating information, etc.

David Wiley: prior knowledge is a basic, stable difference between students.

Ismael Peña-López: not only identifying how to access problems, not only assessing one’s assets or prior knowledge, but be able to identify and assess your own context, culture, environment… your localization. These three issues — the cognitive process, prior knowledge and context — might be three main drivers of personalization.

Claudio Dondi: the difference between prior knowledge and the capacity of learning.

Vijay Kukmar: how to shift from content-centered processes towards learning-to-learn processes?

Elena Barberà: we are looking forward more autonomous learners, to enable them to take responsible and adequate decisions at the correct time. Autonomous thinking might be one of the big answers to the whole debate.

David Wiley: personalization as Amazon. Amazon only asks you to buy books, no conscientious or rational or meditated choice required: just buy. And the system can tell the tastes and needs and suggestions.

Jutta Treviranus: what are the limits of personalization? don’t we have to let the system open? We cannot allow ourselves to reinforce individual biases.

Person is all alone, big distance to cover, all learning is contextual, take the route to the future… by walking, the first step is down, it’s lonely on the mountain top, breathing is learning, room for serendipity.

Open Ed Tech (2008)


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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. During 2014 I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.