Open educational resources on Cloud Computing and Social Networking Sites for professionals

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During the last two academic courses I have made some collaborations with the Open University of Catalonia’s Business School and the joint project in e-training for unemployed people between this university and the Catalan Employment Service.

I was asked — in both cases — to author some learning materials on Cloud Computing and Social Networking Sites. The target of the courses were micro-entrepreneurs in the former case and unemployed people in the later. Thus, those would be very short courses (usually 4 or 5 weeks long), that required very short time spans (people are busy running their businesses or looking for a job) and with special emphasis that they had to be really practical, avoiding theoretical digressions. In other words: useful courses for partial-time (even casual) learners.

I here present the materials that Mercè Guillén and I penned together. There are a total of 4 learning materials that we are free to share as open educational resources under a CC BY-NC-ND license. The courses are as follows:

  • Social networking sites for unemployed people, in Catalan.
  • Cloud computing for unemployed people, in Catalan.
  • Cloud computing for micro-entrepreneurs, in Catalan.
  • Cloud computing for micro-entrepreneurs, in Spanish.

For those interested, you will see that while the Cloud Computing courses share some content, their approach is quite different, the second one (for micro-entrepreneurs) following the usual design of a (fictional) case-study.

Downloads:

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Mercè Guillén Solà, Ismael Peña-López (2011).
Xarxes socials i professionals a l’empresa“. Materials d’aprenentatge per al Programa d’e-Formació del Servei d’Ocupació de Catalunya i la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
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Ismael Peña-López, Mercè Guillén Solà (2011).
Cloud computing: introducció als nous models de prestació de serveis i de tecnologia a la xarxa per a l’empresa“. Materials d’aprenentatge per al Programa d’e-Formació del Servei d’Ocupació de Catalunya i la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
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Ismael Peña-López, Mercè Guillén Solà (2012).
Informàtica en núvol“. Materials d’aprenentatge per al Programa de Gestió i Direcció de Microempreses de la Business School de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
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Ismael Peña-López, Mercè Guillén Solà (2012).
Computación en la nube“. Materiales de aprendizaje para el Programa de Gestión y Dirección de Microempresas de la Business School de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Horizon Report: Ibero-American Edition 2010

During the last 7 years, the New Media Consortium (NMC) has been publishing the Horizon Report, the main outcome of the Horizon Project, the centerpiece of NMC’s Emerging Technologies Initiative, [which] charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry.

To deepen in the characteristics of specific scenarios, the NMC engaged in 2009 in opening up the Horizon Report Series to thematic reports that addressed not the global landscape, but segments of the reality. Thus, there came the 2009 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition and 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition in the area of primary education; 2008 Horizon Report Australia-New Zealand Edition and 2009 Horizon Report: Economic Development Edition for these two countries in Oceania; or the 2009 Horizon Report: Economic Development Edition as related to small to medium-sized businesses.

In a joint effort with the eLearn Center of the Open University of Catalonia, a new issue of the Horizon Report Series has been published, the Horizon Report: Ibero-American Edition 2010, this time zeroing in the region comprised by Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal.

The report, as its sibling reports, begins with a brief analysis of key trends and critical challenges, and then lists six technologies to watch in the short-run, 2-3 years and long-term horizons:

  • Collaborative environments;
  • social media;
  • open content;
  • mobiles;
  • augmented reality;
  • semantic web.

Unlike previous reports, the authors considered the inclusion of a brand new section, Policy Recommendations, so to go one step forward and suggest action lines for the future. The report has been so far published in Spanish, but English, Catalan and Portuguese versions are on their way.

More information

If you cannot see the embedded presentation, please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3467">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3467</a>.

De-institutionalizing education

In October 2009 I had the chance to be one of the participants that took part into the Open EdTech Summit 2009: Exploring Learning Solutions Together.

The aim of the event was to reflect on the future of education. To do so, a hypothetical assignment was put onto the participants: to create, from scratch, a brand new university for an imaginary country. There were only four conditions to that assignment:

  1. Access to high-quality education should be available to all, and open content is a key part of providing such access.
  2. Informal learning and mentoring are effective and well-proven approaches to engaging with youth and stimulating critical thought.
  3. Personalized learning is critical to student success, but will require learning standards that allow students to continue their learning where ever life takes them.
  4. Tools such as digital video, mobile devices, social media, and the global network all have important roles in learning and should be available to all learners.

The results, a Call to Action, identified five major tasks that are perceived as critical to meeting the needs of students, namely:

  1. We must encourage the reuse and remixing of rich media.
  2. We must embrace the full promise of mobile devices as learning platforms.
  3. We must award credentials based on learning outcomes.
  4. We must enable a culture of sharing.
  5. We must take care that open resources include the context that will enable their use and understanding.

Though I subscribe to the aforementioned points — I was there and I really do —, some shades of meaning have escaped this necessary but short summary of the debates that took place (formally or informally) during two days.

This manifest call to openness (remixing, mobility, outcomes, sharing, context…) is, as far as I can remember — and always according to my own feelings and opinion — a call to de-institutionalization. In general, I perceived (and still do) three main philosophical shifts or movements:

  • A possibility to detach content from the container: the digital revolution has made possible to separate books (paper) from what it’s told in them. Unbundling opens a new way to understand content and knowledge. But, this unbundling also applies to knowledge holders per excellence: teachers. Digitizing is to books what telecommunications are to people: everyone’s knowledge is at a click’s range. Thus, why should I stick to a bunch of people (i.e. Faculty)?
  • A claim to detach learning from institutions: if content can now be found (and retrieved and copied) from anywhere, and if we can get rid of a closed, limited, selected group of individuals, why stick to their “holder”, the institution? If there is abundance of content and knowledgeable people, how do universities, schools, libraries, etc. still make sense?
  • An effort to detach the object from the supporting structure: but it’s not only about content and people and institutions. Why (oh, why on Earth) should a specific institution give credit for what I’ve learnt? How did that got credit for that? Why, if I learn 24×7 (because my brain just won’t stop — what I learn is another debate), should I limit my learning to a specific place (school, university…) and a specific time (class hours)? Why building artificial scarcities and barriers when there’s (almost) none?

I’m not expressing here a personal wish — though I find most of these questions really appealing and even compelling — but an underground roar that is increasingly becoming mainstream, not only in education with the edupunk “movement”, but also in other fields like e-Government and e-Democracy.

We are witnessing a move towards de-institutionalization, from an education that works for the institution towards institutions that work for education, or from a democracy that works for parties and governments or parties and governments that work for democracy.

But, as always, the interesting question is not what is happening, but why. Why all this being fed up with institutions? What is the problem with them? And, moreover, why still so many people — especially policy-makers — are so deaf to hear (not to speak about listening to and reflecting about) and address these questions?

The problem with tampering with education is that the results (a) are unpredictable (because of the complexity of the subject) and (b) will only show up in the long term, when the harm (and a big one) has already been made. I think the movement towards openness and de-institutionalization in education is unstoppable (time will tell, though). So institutions (governments, universities, schools, parents associations, etc.) would better accompany the movement, so to avoid that people that exit institutions just find themselves out in the void, and try instead to engage in a debate to move towards a planned de-institutionalization or, at least, re-institutionalization.

More information on the Open EdTech Summit 2009

If you cannot see the video, please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3308">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3308</a>

Tim Berners-Lee: doctor honoris causa

Notes from Tim Berners Lee’s investiture ceremony as doctor honoris causa, Open University of Catalonia, Barcelona, October 10th, 2008.

Manuel Castells: Laudatio for Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Quoting Tim Berners-Lee (TBL): the World can be seen as just connections, nothing else.

Net neutrality has to be maintained as one of its genuine foundations, not to create a new digital divide amongst the ones that can freely surf the Internet and those who cannot.

Timothy Berners-Lee

The Web is just a platform for people to do new things.

Lots of things that happen on the web are there just because someone else let them happen, and let people go on with their ideas… just like the Web, that in a first draft was dubbed as vage… but exciting.

Keeping one web is important, securing that computers still speak the same language, the same protocol, one to each other.

Why does the web work? Because one person puts a link, and somebody else follows it. So, understanding people is (or should be) the first step in computer science and, indeed, in designing and developing the Web of the next years. This is the aim of Web Science, to gather under the same roof computer scientists, who know about computers, and other disciplines, the ones who know about people. Web Science is about bridging the people that understand technology and people that understand people. Technology is created for the sake of Humanity, not the other way.

Announcement. Call for Candidates and Fellowships at the PhD on the Information and Knowledge Society, Open University of Catalonia

The PhD on the Information and Knowledge Society Programme recently opened the call for candidates — including 10 full time fellowships —, offering 33 student places in the following fields:

As said, UOC‘s research institute, the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, offers 10 grants for full-time PhDs that are carried out physically in its headquarters in Castelldefels’s Mediterranean Technology Park (20 minutes from Barcelona). It carries a stipend and access to travel funds.

Please visit the PhD programme‘s website, for detailed information about the places on offer and the fellowships.

Analogue Teachers vs. Digital Students

(notes from the homonimous session at the bdigital Global Congress)

Moderator: Begoña Gros

Three main reports issued in 2007 in Spain about ICTs at Schools. The conclusions are more or less the same: everyone uses ICTs (teachers and students) but not at school.

Ismael Peña-López
Digital students, analogue institutions, teachers in extinction

(click here for Spanish version of the presentation and presentation downloads)

Jordi Vivancos
Knowledge and Learning Technologies, a transforming vision of ICT in Education

The Educational sector (i.e. teachers) is one of the sectors with highest penetration in the use of ICTs. So, teachers are not analogue anymore.

The design of the traditional syllabus did not make possible the introduction of ICTs in the educational programmes, especially the acquisition of digital competencies. This was solved (in Catalonia) in year 2006, where such capabilities where included in new syllabuses.

Copernican change in Education (K-12): shift from “memorizing the capitals of the world” towards “learning how to use a map”.

Three stages of tech education:

  • Learning about technology
  • Learning from technology (i.e. instructional technology)
  • Learning along with technology: technology as a context

And especially the last stage requires huge amounts of investment to achieve total capilarity of ICTs at school.

But, computers per student, without data about its use, is a useless indicator: it is intensity and not density what counts. So investment in computers is not (only) the issue. So, how educators and schools should and could appropriate technology for teaching purposes? How to improve, through ICTs, the learning processes?

Antoni Zabala
Computer sciences at school or PC at school?

The ICT adoption problems comes not from the Education professionals, but from school policies and design. We’ve been putting computers in the schools and this has not happened anywhere else: in other sectors of the Economy, there’s been no “pc installation” but “computer-based strategies”.

We use to relate ICTs with educational innovation, in quite a Freinetian approach. But ICTs might not solve each and every problem educators have.

As long as ICTs help educators solve their problems and move ahead, ICTs will be successful. The inverse (ICTs will be successful as long as they change the way educators act) is completely wrong.

Thus, we should analyse what the necessities are, both the educators’ and the students’ in the whole educational process. And leaps are no solution, but tiny and smooth evolutions.

In this train of thought, specific tools and software are better than computers. For instance: there are plenty of handooks from which the educator can choose to impart their courses, but there’s not such a thing in the instructional technology landscape: not a real choice, not competence.

Manuel de la Fuente
ICTs and Education: A Vision from the Classrooms

Not ICTs, but KLTs: knowledge and learning technologies.

SWOT Analysis on several schools:

Opportunities
  • Plenty of digital content
  • Good educational free software
  • Virtual communities of practice
  • New syllabuses include digital competencies
  • Global acknowledgement that digital competencies is a priority goal
Menaces
  • Lack of infrastructures inside the classroom, and lack of resources (e.g. maintenance) in general
  • Based on goodwill not on incentives or general strategies
  • Self-taught people, not formal training
  • Lack of strategies
Strengths
  • Highly motivated educators
  • High potential of KLTs
  • Existing intensity of use
  • Some infrastructures already installed
  • Some pioneers setting up interesting best practices
  • General agreement that sharing is the new scenario
Weaknesses
  • Lack of time to lead and coordinate
  • Lack of training
  • High dependency from the leader or the coordinator
  • Existing material is but an adaptation of traditional methodologies, it’s not designed from a technological paradigm.
  • Increasing loss of confidence because “the future never comes”
Way forward
  • Hardware
  • Resources
  • Training

Comments from the audience

  • Stress on media literacy, not only informational and technological literacy
  • How to bring back value to content, content creation and authorship, and fight not only plagiarism, but devaluation of knowledge and reflection.