Thesis Defence. Arnau Monterde: Emergence, evolution and effects of the 15M network movement (2011-2015): A technopolitical approximation

Thesis defence by Arnau Monterde entlitled The integration of the uses of digital technology in adult persons in their training activities at the university, in Barcelona at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. December 22, 2014.

Arnau Monterde: Emergence, evolution and effects of the 15M network movement (2011-2015): A technopolitical approximation


  • To investigate the 15M Spanish Indignados movement in the network society.
  • Systemic and multiscale approximation.
  • Situated and networked research: technopolitical practices, collaborative knowledge building, online/offline interaction.
  • Methodological combination: quantitative analysis (15M2014 survey); network analysis (Twitter, Facebook, hyperlinks); qualitative analysis (in depth interviews); participatory observation.

Emergence of the 15M

Emergence: the whole cannot be explained after the parts, but has to be approached differently.

The 15M begins its formation before the 15 May 2011: with the Sinde Law, the NoLesVotes movement, Democracia Real Ya, etc. The 15M is organized on the Internet between February and May 2011, after the prior technopolitical movements. It conquers the street after consolidating online. But why does the 15M bursts? The Arab Spring and the events at Tahrir Square are very important, being these factors multipied by what happens on social networking sites. The main factor, though, is lack of democracy (or lack of quality democracy), and not the economic crisis — which is a factor, but not as important as democracy or corruption.

Besides determinants, the form is also very important: the decentralization and distribution of the movement play a very important role, as emotions also do: both hope and indignation are very important parts of the movement.

Last, but not least, language will play also a role in the movement, mostly in first person, transversal, inclusive, affirmative, easy to own.


Indeed, technology will be crucial both for organization and communication, with many different tools and uses, including a meta-debate of what technologies and what for, about technological empowerment, autonomy, technological sovereignty. There is a synchronous multichannel communicative ecosystem. Networks will be new space of socialization and collective action.

On the other hand, media seem to be quite out of the debate, not even being able to capture and explain what is actually happening.

In the meanwhile, the movement evolves on a multilayer basis, where none of the participants will only participate in just a single platform/layer. There is, thus, no distinction between online and offline: layers overlap constantly and are chosen depending on the task to be done, on the level of engagement that it requires, the goals to be achieved at any given time, etc. And when layers synchronize, the movement begins to walk.

Evolution of the 15M

Most people think that the 15M has changed and evolved from its origins, but there is a consensus that the movement is still relevant in the public agenda. 84.5% of the participants (in the survey) still have an interest in the 15M and form a collective identity. Even more important, whatever the initiative linked to the 15M analyzed, the same communities and collective identities arise.

There is an open, transversal, systemic and dynamic identity of the 15M, which cannot be reduced neither to the aggregation of the individuals nor to the personaization of the connective action.


Evolution of multiple technologies, especially pads, videostreaming and Twitter.

Centrality of technologies for a political use.

Usages are multiple, but allowing the accumulation of learning to better use technology, especially to find out the most appropriate users.

Different networks: structural (for inner organization) vs. functional (for a specific purpose). Within the networks, there is a high functional specialization, always collaborating and not competing. With dynamics of continuity (where they are active) and discontinuity (when they remain in stand-by, but not dismantled). Sinchronization of netwokrs and a strong dialogue between structural and functional networks.

Temporal distributed leadership: networks take the lead depending on the initiative.

Multitudinous and networked self-organization, self-consciousness of the 15M, temporarily (synchronicity and latency).

Impact on politics

Institutions will not let the movement in, added to an institutional counterpart will help to give the impression that the movement is not reaching out or making an impact. But as time goes by, there are events that are difficult to explain without the 15M, such as the crisis of bipartidism, some political practices, the appearance of new political parties, etc.

For instance, network analysis shows how Podemos during the European Elections seems to be “adscribed” to the movement. In the case of the local elections, the integration of some parties is even higher, with dynamics of some parties very much like the 15M.

Other impacts: open voting lists, collaborative crowdfunding, transparency, open elaboration political programmes, local parties that partly come from the “plazas” and act alike, autonomy of the local parties without a central hierarchy, etc.

On the cons part, the frontier between parties and movements blur, there is a tension between the institutional and the movement tempos, etc.

The 15M will not create new parties, but will set the conditions upon which new parties will emerge.


  • Centrality of the interaction of the 15M with the technologies of network communication.
  • The evolution of the 15M after the uses of the networks, action and organization.
  • The 15M transforms the conditions of the electoral arena.
  • Technopolitial contribution to the study of th 15M and its evolution.


Joan Subirats: how to identify the phenomenon of technopolitics? Besides the techno- part, what happens with the -politics part? Is it “new politics”? Monterde: it is difficult to delimit what technopolitics is, because there neither is a beginning not an end to it: it just evolves. Notwithstanding, the analysis that the research of content, emotions, organizations, programmes and proposals, etc. clearly have a political weight. This includes the reasons for the different actors and platforms to participate in the movement and the events around it. But it is important to note that in technopolitics the most important aspect is the how, not the what. The movement is built after the practices. So, its the form that constitutes the 15M, not the content: the political programme is not put in the middle, although it of course exists.

Paolo Gerbaudo: differences and similarities between traditional (and new) parties and the movement? What are the organizational challenges and dilemmas? Marina Subirats: what happens with leadership? It was about distributed leadership, but Podemos is as traditional as any in terms of leadership. Monterde: the logics of the many new and old parties are very different, and in the field of political parties there are many factors that converge upon them to force a change. And it is very difficult — if not impossible — to make a simple statement about their relationships with the movement. There is not a single relationship of causality between the 15M and how it evolves into the parties: there are a lot of correlations, but not an identified causality. The issue of leadership is that our political culture strongly pressures towards identifying a unique leader, and this does not come from the movement, where leadership is very much different.

Joan Subirats: who is part of the movement? What is a collective identity? Can we define this? Monterde: What the research aims at answering is that there are many factors why people join, act, participate, leaves the movement, comes back to it, etc.

Joan Subirats: what it’s at stake in the debate of the 15M is representation. How is that solved by the evolution of the 15M? Monterde: quite often, it is active participation what decides membership and, in some terms, representation. You do something, you somewhat represent the movement. But it is true that this is a very difficult aspect of the movement and its relationship with representation, especially a shift towards institutional representation. Indeed, the most crucial aspect is not representation, but de-representation: how can we articulate measures and policies that work towards a de-representation (a de-institutionalization, a de-intermediation, etc.) of politics and civic action: direct democracy, participatory and deliberative democracy, etc.

Marina Subirats: what is the relationship with the Catalan Independentist movement? Monterde: part of the research heavily relies on the 15M2014 Survey, which is Spain-wide. The factor does appear in answers coming from Catalonia, but it is not relevant elsewhere. And even if the topic is dealt with during the camps, after the camps and during interviews, the issue disappears from the agenda of the 15M.

Marina Subirats: where is the ideology in the 15M movement? Did they read the “main authors”? Or did they pretend to begin from scratch? Monterde: 50% of the participants meet their very first political experience during the 15M, and many more describe the 15M more than an agora where to debate, a school where to learn politics.

PS: Congratulations doctor Monterde!

APROPIATIC (VII). Peter C. Mantell: the future of online education

Notes from the VI Encuentro académico: Apropiatic. Uso y apropiación de la tecnología para el aprendizaje, organized by UNIMINUTO, and held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Peter C. Mantell

Learning affords us to figure out what works all by ourselves.

Gamification is changing the market of education. Offers a potential strategy for improving engagement. Gamification is about:

  • Freedom to fail.
  • Rapid feedback.
  • Story telling.

m-Learning, or mobile learning provides more immediacy than regular e-learning, it provides an open gate to real time.

Smartly is an m-learning, gamification-inspired, learning service that provides educational video, with bite-sized chunks to be consumed on the go. Short lessons that take 5-10 minutes to complete, low bandwidth to consume, hand-crafted for mobile consumption.

We need a way to test the students without them noticing that they are being tested, with constant interactions with the content, with continuous feedback.

Apropiatic (2015)

APROPIATIC (VI). Ismael Peña-López: Unfolding educational institutions. Strategies and tools for networked learning

Notes from the VI Encuentro académico: Apropiatic. Uso y apropiación de la tecnología para el aprendizaje, organized by UNIMINUTO, and held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Ismael Peña-López
Unfolding educational institutions. Strategies and tools for networked learning


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Apropiatic (2015)

APROPIATIC (V). Larry Cooperman: Higher Education, Virtual Education, Open Education

Notes from the VI Encuentro académico: Apropiatic. Uso y apropiación de la tecnología para el aprendizaje, organized by UNIMINUTO, and held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Larry Cooperman
Higher Education, Virtual Education, Open Education

Martin Trow (Reflections on the transition fro elite to mass to universal access: forms and phases of higher education in modern societies since WWII, 2007) reflects on how attitudes before access and functions of higher education have changed as we move from bringing higher education to an elite (0-15% of the population), to the masses (15-50%) to providing it universally (>50%).

  • Attitudes before access move from being a privilege, to a right to some qualified ones to an obligation.
  • Functions of higher education move from being a preparation for the roles of the elites, to the transmission of skills and a preparation for some technical and economic functions, to adapting the whole population to a quick social and technological change.

Though, some problems arise: the university system cannot accommodate everyone aiming at accessing higher education. What the university can offer — content, experience, certification — usually comes with a trade-off with quality. And, thus, quality has decreased in the higher education system. More people gets in the system, the level of education remains stable (or decreases) and less (in relative terms) people graduates. There is a new iron triangle: access, cost and success.

But now we have the Internet. Now what? What should be done in higher education, given those problems and the fact that we now have the Internet?

A first answer was open courseware: digitize all the existing “knowledge” and make it available for free.

Now, MOOCs have brought yet another debate on the table, again related to access. But access to what? Is there an instructional path? Does even having an instructional path equal learning? Four aspects for the debate about MOOCs:

  • Do they scale?
  • How do we manage the huge amount of data that they generate?
  • Do they represent a different pedagogic approach?
  • Where are the learning outcomes?

Weaknesses of the MOOC model:

  • Traditional/handmade model of instructional design. Why are we still working individually in teaching and instructional design? MOOCs reproduce the lecture hall and reproduces it online: videos, quizzes… they are not much different — from a pedagogic point of view — from the traditional way. Not that it is wrong, but can we go a step further? For instance, we know that active learning is much better for the building of new knowledge.
  • Inability to produce relevant research. For instance, we do know that socialization plays an important role in learning, but most MOOCs do not take that into account. Many of them ignore the possibilities of study groups.
  • P2P virtual environments are based on social networks. Peers help each other to learn how to learn. How are MOOCs approaching this fact?

What about scale? Communities of experts, co-creation models, are very much related with communities of learning. Thus, learning environments should not be intimate.

About research, one has to begin to put the right questions, and then gather data to try to answer them. Like what is the best predictor of academic performance in the last year of undergrad education. Is it family income? Social class? How well they did in their admission test? Other factors?

In the future, one would like to see communities of experts that make up the curricula and then inform communities of learners. A community of learners should be supported at any time by a community of experts that can, in an informal environment, help them through their learning process: peer-based learning environments. We need open information, we need problems that need being solved in groups. There are digital platforms — or mixes of digital tools — that come very handy to create these P2P learning environments.

Combine technology, virtuality and openness, to be used by individuals, by classrooms, by institutions or by groups of peers. This is what is being done at UCI OpenChem.


Q: what elements should MOOCs have to (a) guarantee learning and to (b) reduce drop out rates? Cooperman: there has to be interaction among the peers. The key of learning is about facilitating communities of learning, P2P learning environments.

Apropiatic (2015)

APROPIATIC (IV). Larry Cooperman: Open education: what is it, why is it, for whom is it and how to begin

Notes from the VI Encuentro académico: Apropiatic. Uso y apropiación de la tecnología para el aprendizaje, organized by UNIMINUTO, and held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Larry Cooperman
Open education: what is it, why is it, for whom is it and how to begin

Activity: What is the topic more difficult to understand for my students at the introductory level of my teaching? Look for a resource that can help them understand the topic in an easy way and with no additional cost. Answers:

  • [my answer] In e-Government, ironically it is difficult to define the context and all the different approaches to the topic. So I invite them to follow some given hashtags (one of them the one belonging to the subject I am teaching) so that they get on with the community of practice that works in this field.
  • A video about the physics of power by Foucault.
  • Use of mindmapping tools to create conceptual networks.
  • See films and then comment them on a hangout.
  • Grammar assignments for free available on a website.

Most of the materials that we find online are copyrighted and cannot actually be used for education. The idea behind open education is to eliminate the frictions between copyright holders and users of educational materials. How to use materials without permission? With a license.

But open content is only a small fraction of what constitutes open education. Open education is about resources, tools and practices within a participatory open framework to improve access to education. Without sharing there is no education.

Why should open content be free (as in free beer)? Is it enough for open content to be free?

  • Free, but quality content.
  • Context matters.
  • Knowledge is a social construction, comes from dialogue, thus cannot be captured or enclosed.
  • It’s not about being free, but accessible. Again, social context matters: content is neither teaching nor learning.
  • Comprehensiveness or completion: content has to be enough to achieve a certain learning goal, not require extensions, enhancements or upgrades.

Whom is open education for?

  • For everyone.
  • As a support for any kind of learning.
  • [my own answer] For the educators, to enable communities of practice by sharing open education resources and practices.
  • To enable communities of learning, besides (or complementing) what happens in the educational system.

How do we proceed? Step 1, the simplest one, is to tell the world what anyone can do with your stuff: choose a license.

  • OER: 0, BY, BY-SA, BY-NC, BY-NC-SA.
  • Not OER: BY-ND, BY-NC-ND.

The 5Rs of Openness, by David Wiley:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content.
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video).
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language).
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

In an open education project, we should think about who benefits the project. Especificaly:

  • The students.
  • The community.
  • The society at large.
  • The promoting institution.

Strategies for open education:

  • Audience.
  • Institutional change.
  • Help people access formal education.
  • Etc.

Apropiatic (2015)

APROPIATIC (III). Emilio Alvarado Badillo: Education of the future: Projections into the future

Notes from the VI Encuentro académico: Apropiatic. Uso y apropiación de la tecnología para el aprendizaje, organized by UNIMINUTO, and held in Bogotá, Colombia, on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Emilio Alvarado Badillo
Education of the future: Projections into the future

Since 1975 information is growing at an exponential rate. Should education adapt to this increase in available information? Will there be a role for traditional institutions? How will learning be assessed?

There will be a change in what we learn and in the ways we do it.

Corporate universities will seriously compete with traditional educational centres, as will other informal learning environments — including autonomous learning, and social learning.

Apropiatic (2015)