We are living a new digital disorder. Most categories have become useless: sciences/humanities, public/private, professional/amateur, producer/consumer, work/leisure, local/cosmopolitan, expert/”ignorant”.
New ways of organizing knowledge, new frames of actuation. New ways of thinking about culture as a lab for experimentation.
New actors: there has been a revolution on who can create or who can decide what is on the cultural agenda. Culture has become a read/write culture.
New ways of culture and new actors necessarily leads to new formats: barcamps, unconferences, hackatons, living labs… all of them happening in the open and where drafts are no more something to be hidden until it is finished, but something that is quickly released.
Other issues: replicability, new mediators, new ways of participation, the raising of the local factor, etc.
Labs become mainstream in social innovation: places where exhibition and creation happen at the same time. There is a constant dialogue between the creator and the visitor, that can be informed through exhibitions and end up participating in the ongoing projects. Labs: infrastructures + communities + methodologies. Communities are build around creation, the creation of prototypes following a methodology and with the help of some given infrastructures.
Open questions: how resources are distributed, the sustainability of cultural initiatives and spaces, how is people to be paid (if they have to), can citizen empowerment end up dismantling public services.
Public infrastructures have to build public goods, have to contribute to the public domain. Public infrastructures have to be a support, but also have to accept criticism, as cultural creation in based on conflict.
It should be possible that institutions and cultural creation can cooperate, be analysed critically, agree, partner strategically, etc.
In many senses, cultural creation has been a mirage that happened in a cultural desert and that has ended in the cultural desert that it was. Despite this, people in cities (like Seville, in the case of Zemos98) have started to self-organize around cultural creation.
A community around a project is crucial, not only for creation, but for (1) being able to distribute what is being created and let it be known and (2) in order to be able to pay the artist/creator for their work.
What are the limits of thinking by creating? Doubtlessly, research has to be open, shared.
One of the risks of cultural creation is the self-imposed need to reinvent oneself continuously. This leads to short-term thinking and not deepening into the issues that are being researched. We should reflect about the life of projects and let them last as long as they require. Maybe it is not a bad idea to, while keeping the idea of the lab (thinking by doing) also sometimes separating both scenarios: the creative part from the reflective or thinking part.
Civic centres or social centres have traditionally had a very important role in community building, in reflecting about what is happening in the territory, how to improve it or how to fix what is broken.
At the end of the XXth century there is a redefinition of the social centre, moving from the “okupa”, punk, underground aesthetics to a more up-to-date discourse around the new actors and profiles of the community. This new discourse is then based in community building based on public infrastructures, in self-organization and self-management.
The Spanish Indignados or 15M movement heavily relied on these self-organized and self-managed spaces and communities and, reciprocally, these spaces and communities gained a lot of momentum thanks to social movements.
There is a big difficulty, though, in how to integrate different subjectivities. We like to think on the citizen management centres as bio-unions, as new kind of unions, unions of living projects.
It is important that criticism, cultural creation goes from the margins (of society) to its core, trying that the discourse becomes mainstream or reaches the mainstream agenda. Working on creating cultural conflict but also working on reaching citizen consensus. This consensus means that the civic centre has to speak many “languages”, many cultural registries so that no-one is excluded.
The civic centre also contributes to entrepreneurship by creating cooperatives, so that the centre is sustainable and its community can also have a worthy job.
Creation of the Fundación de los Comunes, which gathers several civic initiatives such as El Patio Maravillas, La Pantera Rossa, la Universidad Nómada, l’Ateneu Candela, X.net, Traficantes de Sueños, La Invisible, La Tabacalera de Lavapiés or La Hormiga Atómica.
Q: is there any relationship between civic centres and traditional labour unions? Is there a possibility for a new kind of union? Spuiglia: there have been several initiatives of nomad unions, flexible unions, etc. The problem is that, still, these are organizations that have different languages and the meeting points are still difficult to reach.
Q: if the commons or public goods are no more provided by the state, what do we need the state for? Freire: public goods and the commons are different things, sometimes even opposed. Indeed, the commons belong to the private sphere, that is, not the public sphere. García: we should both try to recover a policy for the commons and recover what the state provided as public goods and services.
Open Parliament: the Senate in the Net (2012)
(crossposted from Debates sobre tendencias de la Sociedad de la Información y el Conocimiento).
With the goal to
analyse and propose a debate on the nature and depth of this new framework of social relationships, the challenges it entails, for example, from the point of view of social inclusion, or opportunities from the perspective of health systems, social participation and education a series of conferences has been planned in Seville (Spain): [sic]*: Conference series on trends in the Information and Knowledge Society
The conferences are made up by six debates, and I am taking part in two of them:
1. Introductory session. 18 april 2012.
- Topics: information society, network society and technological revolution, how ICTs have penetrated into European, Spanish and Andalousian societies, and what are or what should be the public policies in this area.
- Participants: Eva Piñar, General Director of Technological and Information Society services at the Andalousian government; Ramón Compañó, programme coordinator at IPTS-JCR; Josep Lladós, director of the PhD on Information and Knowledge Society at UOC.
2. Progressing towards the Information Society. 2 may 2012.
- Topics: present of the implementation of ICT at different levels: infrastructure, knowledge economy, legal framework, content and services. And delving into the economic dimension of the information society: business, resources, innovation, etc..
- Participants: Ismael Peña-López, professor a the School of Law and Political Science at UOC; Marc Bogdanowic, leader of the Information Society Unit at IPTS-JCR.
3. Technological prospective. 16 may 2012.
- Topics: what will be the future technologies, usage standards, protocols, etc..
- Participants: César Córcoles, professor at the School of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunication at UOC; a TBC representative from IPTS.
4. ICT and Education. 6 june 2012.
- Topics: aspects of the relationship between training and ICT, how educational technology is already helping to change the way it delivers training, how can ICT help in shaping tomorrow’s education.
- Participants: Magí Almirall, director of the Office of Learning Technologies at UOC; Yves Punie, senior scientist at the Information Society Unit at IPTS-JCR.
5. ICT for Health. 20 june 2012.
6. ICT and citizen participation. 4 july 2012.
- Topics: how ICT have changed the relationship between citizens and the government, what are the new forms of participation based on the use of ICT, Transparency, e-government, etc.
- Participants: Ismael Peña-López, professor a the School of Law and Political Science at UOC; Gianluca Misuraca, researcher at the IPTS-JCR.
The [sic]*: Conference series on trends in the Information and Knowledge Society is organized by the General directorate of Technological and Information Society services of the Andalousian Government, the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the European Commission, and the office in Seville of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC).
I want to thank Eva Piñar and Alfredo Charques both for the initiative to organize the conference — when reflecting on what kind of Information Society we want is so necessary — and, of course, for inviting me to take part in it.
José Antonio Millán
Digital prostheses in education: opportunity or consumerism?
There are, literally, hundreds of conferences around the world in the field of education, and hundreds of ways to use Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, as a quick search can tell. Almost everything can be used in a classroom. But, why should we?
Thoreau says, in Walden,
our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. So, can we really do now more things we previously could with our new pretty toys? Or are they just distractions?
Teachers tend to suffer from the “shiny penny syndrome”, that is, their attention (and efforts) gets caught by the latest technology or device. It is only natural, but it sometimes falls into technocentrism or technoeuphoria.
Educators should definitely have a critical approach to technologies and just say no to the fast and mindless adoption of the newest technology. That is not being a Luddite, but just do a rational use of technology.
Of course there are pros on the use of ICTs in education:
- Immediate access to huge amounts of information.
- Enhancement of creativity.
- Share and build knowledge collectively.
We have to try not to think on shiny devices and go back to the source instead. Understanding the code, made by people, by real humans, is getting back in touch with what humans intended with the technology they created.
III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (2012)
On January 12, 2012, I spoke at a research seminar on how to benefit from the use of social media to enhance research, both in the stage of being aware of the advancement of one’s discipline, and in the stage of diffusing one’s own research production.
The seminar had three different parts.
During the first part, I provided an introduction to social media, where I mainly explained the main ways that information can be shared (and, thus, also monitored): RSS feeds, widgets and open APIs. Put short, RSS feeds share preset bits of information (e.g. an article, a list of articles, etc.), widgets share preset bits of information plus a preset way of presenting it (a list of last tweets you can embed on a website, a like button, etc.) and open APIs allow an external user to ask a database for customized collections of data (e.g. put on a map the last tweets on a given subject).
During the second part — the core of the seminar — I went through an imaginary typical research process, from the moment one has an idea that wants to explore until the research is over and a research output can be presented. I draw two parallel timelines where I complemented the traditional way of doing research (on the right in the presentation) and how this could be enhanced with social media (on the left in the presentation). I stressed the idea that social media is a complement and never a substitute of the traditional ways of doing research. That is, tweeting about a topic or writing on an academic blog should not stop anyone from attending conferences or writing academic papers.
The last part of the seminar was a debate about the pros and cons of using social media to do research.
There are four points I would like to highlight from that debate and that were directly or indirectly asked to me during our talk.
- What is the basic, fundamental tool: RSS feeds. Period. It is for me very important to be aware of the fact that, with the help of RSS feeds, you don’t have to look for information, but information will get to you. And this is a significant leap in reaching higher stages of efficiency and efficacy in managing information.
- If you are a knowledge worker and you are not present in the information landscape, you are not. Having a personal/research group/research project website is not an option, but a must.
- Where to start from? It depends. Begin with a part of your research. If you are in the stage of gathering information, set up a monitoring/listening strategy: identify your actors and subscribe to their blogs, twitter accounts, slideshare accounts, etc. If you are in the stage of diffusing your research production, set up a diffusion strategy, upload your papers and slides, comment on others’ websites (pointing back to yours, etc.). Managing efficiently your bibliography (i.e. with a bibliographic manager) is also a way to begin managing your own information/knowledge.
- Think digital, be digital. e-Research is not about adding a digital layer, and, thus, adding an extra amount of work, but about changing your working paradigm, about levering all the work you are already doing on digital support.
Following you can find and download the slides I used. You can also download a book chapter where I explain in detail the building of a Personal Research Portal. There is a collection I maintain, The Personal Research Portal: related works which gathers everything I have written or said about this topic.
Peña-López, I. (2009). “The personal research portal
”. In Hatzipanagos, S. & Warburton, S. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies
, Chapter XXVI, 400-414. Hershey: IGI Global.
Notes from the research seminar The influence of the Internet on voting behaviour: tracking ERC’s massive vote loss in the 2010 Catalan Elections, organized by Joan Balcells and Ana Sofía Cardenal, Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 1 December 2011.
Joan Balcells, Ana Sofía Cardenal
The influence of the Internet on voting behaviour: tracking ERC’s massive vote loss in the 2010 Catalan Elections
(A former version of this seminar was presented as a communication at the 6th ECPR General Conference as The Internet’s Double Edge: Increasing Mobilisation and Fragmentation in the Catalan Pro-Independence Movement .)
Data from the Catalan elections in 2006 and 2010 show that there was an important shift of voters from the main Catalan political parties towards (a) other minor/new parties, (b) Convergència i Unió (CiU, the right wing nationalist party) and (b) abstention, with minor shifts from major parties towards other major parties (e.g. PSC towards PP).
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, the main Catalan left-wing nationalist pro-independence party) is the one that loses more voters, losing them in benefit of many other parties: other nationalist parties, other left-wing parties, ERC spin-offs, and abstention.
What is the role of the Internet in this vote drain? General hypotheses:
- Normalization hypothesis: the Internet is yet another communication media, where big parties have more resources and, thus, benefit more from the Internet.
- Equalization hypothesis: the Internet is a different communication media and, thus, provides new opportunities to those who know how to manage the Internet to reach out.
Web analytics (Alexa) show that small parties did have lots of visits on their websites. Indeed, Solidaritat Catalana (one of ERC’s spin-offs) had more visits than ERC, and ERC had more than CiU. In many cases within small parties, only the website would provide full information about their policy proposals, implying that people would often visit the website to get what was behind a simple message (unlike major parties, whose messages were given fully by traditional media).
- Exposure to political information online will reduce the likelihood of voting again for ERC.
- Greater exposure to political information online will have no effect on probability of abstaining.
- Greater exposure to political information online will increase the likelihood of voting for small and fringe parties, while offline exposure to political information will increase the probability of voting for large parties (equalization vs. normalization).
Dependent variable: vote 2010. Independent variables: media environment (online and offline exposure), acceptance/resistance of new political messages (political interest and party identification), controls (support for independence, age).
It does not seem that exposure to political information online reduced the likelihood of voting again for ERC, while greater exposure to political information online didn’t seem to have an effect on the probability of abstaining.
On the other hand, online exposure significantly increased the odds of voting for Solidaritat Catalana, as did identifying oneself with ERC and stating support for independence. That is, former self-identified ERC-voters with high online exposure were more likely to vote for Solidaritat Catalana. Indeed, the more the online exposure, the higher the likelihood of vote drain from ERC to Solidaritat Catalana. Thus, the Internet will be playing an equalizer role.
- Online exposure plays no role in the probability of voting again for ERC.
- Being exposed to online political information has no significant effect on the probability of abstaining.
- Being exposed to offline political information does not increase the probability of voting for CiU.
- Being exposed to online political information increases the probability of voting for Solidaritat Catalana.
Edem Adubra, Chief of the Section for Teacher Policy and Development, UNESCO Paris, France
Enhancing the status and professionalism of teachers in the digital age: UNESCO’s perspective
Teachers are a priority in the framework of Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation. At a global level, the role of teachers has been mentioned in major conferences and reports related to EFA and MDGs. And this role has increasingly been mentioned in parallel with the important role of technology in education, both as key players of the development of education.
UNESCO has five main functions:
- Laboratory of ideas, including foresight on the future of education.
- Standard-setter, helping to set educational policies.
- Clearing house.
- Capacity-builder in UNESCO’s fields of competence.
- Catalyst for international cooperations.
UNESCO’s Teacher Education programme provides training and management, advice on policies and quality assurance, information on gender and ICTs, etc. including a Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel that was issued jointly with ILO.
In the field of capacity development, UNESCO works in the intersection of ICTs and teacher education, assisting with the development and adaptation of online tools and resources, with a focus on open educational resources (OERs) and guidelines for the effective use of ICT in teacher education, including how to adapt curricula, methodologies and syllabuses.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is also an important part in capacity development for teachers.
UNESCO usually partners too with the private sector to be able to carry on specific projects: Microsoft, Intel, Varkey GEMS Foundation, Nokia, etc. We need to bring the expertise of those who are working in the field to know what is working and what is not, so that UNESCO’s policies and actions are guided by research and real experience.
Emma Kiselyova: what can be done to increase the adoption and impact of the recommendations, resources and outcomes in general of conferences and committees related to education? Adubra: Curricula and teachers’ practices are very difficult to change overnight. We have to have a clear and smooth implementation plan, and this is what is lacking. And most of the research on these topics remains closed within the “ivory towers” of academic publishing, with serious flaws concerning outreach and with an arguable lack of effectiveness.
Q: how can we avoid the “westernization” of teaching all over the world? how can we embed in international policies the way of thinking that is not from Western countries? Can ICT be used outside of Western educational context? Adubra: surely governments have a crucial role in “transposing” international recommendations to the context of their own populations. And the responsibility of education is to tame technologies so that they do not destroy, but help in the building of a society.
Arthur Preston: what strategies can we put up in practice to fight the digital divide in education? Adubra: basic infrastructures are a prior stage that has to be addressed. Education and ICT in Education cannot be treated as an isolated matter, but within a bigger framework.
Q: how do we use technology for assessment? Adubra: we promote participatory teaching, collaborative learning, but our assessment (especially State-level ones) still is based on pencil and paper, writing essays, etc. Maybe, instead of trying to organize new assessment strategies yet again at the State-level, what we should focus is on teacher training on new assessment methodologies, and afterwards see how we make them compatible or comparable one to another.
UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning VIII International Seminar: Teacher Training: Reconsidering Teachers' Roles (2011)