What is social inclusion today?

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #159, December 2016


Amartya Sen revolutionized the concept of human development by presenting his capability approach. From his point of view, it is not enough to have physical access to resources, but, in addition, one must be able to put them to the benefit of oneself. This step from objective choice to subjective choice has been completed in recent years with a third stage of development: effective choice. According to that, it is not enough to have resources, or to want or know how to use them, but, moreover, it is necessary that one is allowed to do so. Indeed, it is the strengthening of democratic institutions what has recently been at the center of debates around human development and, by extension, social inclusion.

In a digital world, in the Information and Knowledge Society, it is easy to establish comparisons between these three stages of development with the three digital divides that have been identified since the term made its fortune in the mid-1990s.

  • The first digital divide is one that refers to access (or lack thereof) to technological infrastructures. A gap that, although persisting, will soon be residual as economies achieve certain income thresholds.
  • The second digital divide refers to skills, the so-called digital literacy. A gap that schools, libraries and telecentres have been tackling as a priority for some years.
  • The third digital divide, which adds up to (and does not replace) the former two, refers to the strategic use of ICTs to improve one’s life. We speak of online education, e-health or technopolitics, to mention only three cases where this gap is already more than patent.

This third gap, opened relatively recently, is quickly widening with the increasing presence in our lives of teleassistance, online training or political participation through social networks and spaces of deliberation, etc.

Therefore, social inclusion, and by extension the active exercise of citizenship, will increasingly depend on that third level e-inclusion, which enables a development based on full objective, subjective and effective choices.

It is likely that there will be no democracy, health or education without the active participation of citizens in these aspects.

Available data tell us that while the first digital divide is getting smaller and smaller, the second (skills) is increasingly important (especially in relative and qualitative terms: there are no more people, but they do see themselves as more digital illiterates) and, consequently, it contributes to enlarge the third one, that in many cases ends up with a flat rejection to everything that has to do with digital technology.

The so-called digital refuseniks are a group generally neglected when it comes to addressing social inclusion policies, with the probable outcome that they will be the great excluded of a society that, today, is building heavily on digital participation.

In an age of participation, engagement, co-building, it is to expect that there will be no greater active exercise of citizenship without greater and better use of the Internet; and there will be no greater and better use of the Internet if the problem of effective use of the Net is not addressed beyond physical access to infrastructures and beyond digital literacy.

As it has been stated above, there are three areas — health, learning and democracy — that are today the three most important areas (besides economic, often determined by the three previous ones) where social inclusion will be determined especially by the respective degree of e-inclusion of a given person… or an institution.

The recent achievements that have come from social innovation, open innovation and open social innovation are virtually inexplicable without that desire for an emancipated citizenship enabled by ICTs.

Selected readings

Digital divide
Van Deursen, A. & van Dijk, J. (2013). “The digital divide shifts to differences in usage”. In New Media & Society, 16 (3), 507-526. London: SAGE Publications.
Political participation
Cantijoch, M. (2014). La desigualdad digital, ¿una nueva fuente de desigualdad política?. ZOOM Político/2014/23. Madrid: Fundación Alternativas.
Peña-López, I. (2015b). “Política, tecnopolítica y desarrollo digital”. In Cristianisme i Justícia (Ed.), ¿Qué nos jugamos? Reflexiones para un año electoral, 12-14. Colección Virtual nº10. Barcelona: Cristianisme i Justícia.
Robles Morales, J.M., Molina Molina, Ó. & De Marco, S. (2012). “Participación política digital y brecha digital política en España. Un estudio de las desigualdades digitales”. In Arbor. Ciencia, Pensamiento y Cultura, 188 (756), 795-810. Berkeley: Berkeley Electronic Press.
Tarbal, A. (2015). “TIC y salud, un binomio saludable para todos”. In Roca, G. (Coord.), Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital, Capítulo 1, 21-37. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.
Peña-López, I. (2010). “From laptops to competences: bridging the digital divide in higher education”. In Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC), Monograph: Framing the Digital Divide in Higher Education, 7 (1). Barcelona: UOC.
Peña-López, I. (2015a). “El doble filo de la tecnología: una oportunidad de inclusión y un peligro de exclusión”. In Roca, G. (Coord.), Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital, Capítulo 9, 123-133. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2016) “What is social inclusion today?” In ICTlogy, #159, December 2016. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4494

Book chapter. Networked learning: strategies and tools to open and disrupt educational institutions

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #159, December 2016


Portada del libro Pedagogía Red

Professors Begoña Gros and Cristóbal Suárez have edited a new book that has just been released, Pedagogía red. Una educación para tiempos de internet (Networked pedagogy. An education for the Internet age).

I have been invited to write a chapter for the book on how can we learn in networks or as networks. The easiest way to answer the question would have been to come up with a list of tools… which would have been outdated the day after the book saw the light. Instead, I focused on how “educational institutions” (understood in a very broad way: the textbook, the teacher, the classroom, the library, evaluation, etc.) could be opened, unfolded so that their momentum gathered along the years could be disrupted and actors and tasks profoundly changed.

Besides thanking both Begoña Gros and Cristóbal Suárez for their invitation, I also very heartily have to thank Toni Aguilar, as he was the first one to force me to think in this terms when he invited me to do the talk ICT and education:: evolution of education, revolution in learning, which I have repeatedly given after that — and finally became a book chapter, as now can be seen. Gràcies Toni!

The book is in Spanish, the chapter is called ¿Con qué aprender en red? Estrategias y herramientas para la abertura y disrupción de las instituciones educativas (Networked learning: strategies and tools to open and disrupt educational institutions) and here goes the abstract and the bibliography I used.


Cuando se habla de qué herramientas utilizar para aprender en red, es fácil acabar utilizando la herramienta por la herramienta. A pesar de que nos repetimos a nosotros mismos cual mantra que las herramientas son solamente instrumentos para conseguir unos fines – en este caso de aprendizaje – nos ocurre una y otra vez que ponemos las herramientas en el lugar de los fines.

Ello ocurre incluso en los casos donde nos dotamos de categorizaciones o de verdaderas ontologías para asignar cada herramienta al cajón del que solamente saldrá cuando tengamos claro su papel instrumental.

En este capítulo vamos a evitar caer en la tentación prescindiendo, por completo, de una caja de herramientas. O de una lista. O de una categorización. Todo un reto para lo que, a primera vista, debería ser un despliegue de estrategias y herramientas para el aprendizaje en red.

En su lugar, nos centraremos en tejer la red de aprendizaje. Y lo haremos desmontando, desplegando, abriendo las instituciones que, hasta hoy, siguen protagonizado (y con mucho éxito, no querríamos perder esto de vista) la enseñanza. Y el aprendizaje, a menudo confinado a esas instituciones.

Más que en las herramientas, pues, queremos poner bajo el foco la disrupción que las instituciones educativas están sufriendo y que, en parte, viene de la mano de determinadas estrategias y herramientas. Y es analizando las disrupciones que se están dando en el papel de 10 instituciones educativas que hemos seleccionando que veremos cómo actúan determinadas estrategias y herramientas.


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Baumgartner, P. (2005). “How to choose a Content Management Tool according to a Learning Model”. In elearningeuropa.info, 17 May 2005. Brussels: European Commission.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Blaschke, L.M. (2012). “Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning”. In International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13 (1). Edmonton: Athabasca University.
Castañeda, L. & Adell, J. (2013). “La anatomía de los PLEs”. In Castañeda, L. & Adell, J. (Eds.), Entornos Personales de Aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red, Capítulo 1, 11-27. Alcoy: Marfil.
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Chen, L. & Chen, T. (2012). “Use of Twitter for formative evaluation: Reflections on trainer and trainees’ experiences”. In British Journal of Educational Technology, 43 (2). London: Wiley-Blackwell.
D’Antoni, S. (Ed.) (2008). Open Educational Resources: the Way Forward. Paris: UNESCO.
D’Antoni, S. & Savage, C. (Eds.) (2009). Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace. Paris: UNESCO.
de Haro, J.J. (2011). “Mapas conceptuales sobre microblogging educativo”. In de Haro, J.J., Educativa. Blog sobre calidad e innovación en educación secundaria, Domingo 3 de abril de 2011. [online]: Juan José de haro.
Domínguez Figaredo, D. & Gil Jaurena, I. (2011). Acreditación de aprendizajes en escenarios formativos abiertos: Aproximación conceptual al modelo de los ‘badges’. XII Congreso Internacional de Teoría de la Educación, 20-22 octubre 2011. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.
Ebner, M., Lienhardt, C., Rohs, M. & Meyer, I. (2010). “Microblogs in Higher Education – A chance to facilitate informal and process-oriented learning?”. In Computers & Education, 55 (1), 92–100. London: Elsevier.
Hase, S. & Kenyon, C. (2000). “From Andragogy to Heutagogy”. In ultiBASE In-Site, December 2000. Melbourne: RMIT.
Hollands, F.M. & Tirthali, D. (2014). MOOCs: Expectations and Reality. New York: Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education Teachers College, Columbia University.
Huang, W.D. & Nakazawa, K. (2010). “An empirical analysis on how learners interact in wiki in a graduate level online course”. In Interactive Learning Environments, 18 (3), 233-244. London: Routledge.
Junco, R., Heiberger, G. & Loken, E. (2010). “The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades”. In Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27 (2), 119–132. Boston: Blackwell.
Junco, R., Elavsky, C.M. & Heiberger, G. (2012). “Putting twitter to the test: Assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement and success”. In British Journal of Educational Technology, Articles in Press. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
Levine, A., Lamb, B., Groom, J. & Minguillón, J. (2012). Analyzing and supporting interaction in complex scenarios: the case of DS106. Open Education Conference, October 16th, 2012. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.
Meishar-Tal, H., Kurtz, G. & Pieterse, E. (2012). “Facebook Groups as LMS: A Case Study”. In International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13 (4). Edmonton: Athabasca University.
Peña-López, I., Córcoles Briongos, C. & Casado Martínez, C. (2006). “El Profesor 2.0: docencia e investigación desde la Red”. In UOC Papers, (3). Barcelona: UOC.
Peña-López, I. (2007). “The personal research portal: web 2.0 driven individual commitment with open access for development”. In Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 3 (1), 35-48. Amsterdam: KM4Dev Community.
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2011). “Herramientas 2.0 para el desarrollo de competencias profesionalizadoras”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), Las TIC al servicio de la docencia del Derecho en el marco del EEES, 89-102. Actas de la II Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 6 de junio de 2011. Barcelona: Huygens.
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2012). “Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), La innovación en la docencia del Derecho a través del uso de las TIC, 143-157. Actas de la III Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 8 de junio de 2012. Barcelona: Huygens.
Peña-López, I. (2013a). “El PLE de investigación-docencia: el aprendizaje como enseñanza”. In Castañeda, L. & Adell, J. (Eds.), Entornos Personales de Aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red, Capítulo 6, 93-110. Alcoy: Marfil.
Peña-López, I. (2013b). “Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning”. In On the Horizon, 21 (2), 127-137. Lincoln: NCB University Press.
Peña-López, I. (2014). “Innovació social oberta: l’organització política com a plataforma”. In Costa i Fernández, L. & Puntí Brun, M. (Eds.), Comunicació pel canvi social. Reflexions i experiències per una comunicació participativa, emancipadora i transparent, 59-75. Girona: Documenta Universitaria.
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Vivancos Martí, J. (2008). La Competència digital i les TAC. Conferència al Cicle de Conferències. Vilafranca del Penedès: CRP Alt Penedès.
Yousef, A.M.F., Chatti, M.A., Schroeder, U., Wosnitza, M. & Jakobs, H. (2014). “MOOCs – A Review of the State-of-the-Art”. In Zvacek, S., Restivo, M.T., Uhomoibni, J.O. & Helfert, M., CSEDU 2014 – Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Volume 3, 9-20. Barcelona: SciTePress.
Zook, M.A., Graham, M., Shelton, T. & Gorman, S. (2010). “Volunteered Geographic Information and Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief: A Case Study of the Haitian Earthquake4”. In World Medical & Health Policy, 2 (2), 7-33. Berkeley: Berkeley Electronic Press.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2016) “Book chapter. Networked learning: strategies and tools to open and disrupt educational institutions” In ICTlogy, #159, December 2016. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4495

ICTlogy Review

  • ISSN 1886-5208