Mobile Learning Experience: mShools
- Improve learning with mobile technologies, encourage learning with mobile.
- Improve digital skills and promote digital enterpreneurship: a 105h course whose goal is building an app with App Inventor, collaboratively, mentored by tutors in the industry (Moodle with resources). Almost 6,000 students followed the course, +250 teachers, +250 centres, +200 mentors. The training of trainers will now be a MOOC.
- Build and open environment for mEducation.
- mSchools Market.
- mSchools Lab.
- mSchools Mobile4all
Enter Forum (2014)
Round table on the Internet, Privacy and Education
Chairs: Genís Roca
Q: How can we approximate people that shaped their lives “the traditional way” (with books, with intimacy) in this new age? What happens with the digital divide? Sibilia: yes, there is a generational bias, but the market is approaching them (for profit purposes, of course) to get them in the new way of life. And, on the other hand, the connected self, the networked subjectivity is trendy, and valued by society, which also helps in bringing in outsiders. Camps: leapfrogging is possible in certain areas and this is also contributing to bridge some divides.
Q: What happens with the Internet creating new opportunities and spaces of freedom, but also causing a “panopticon effect” where everybody can be watched at, especially by governments, loss of intimacy, etc. Sibilia: not sure that this is the creation of the Internet, but more a strengthening of previous practices. What we are now living is more the consequence of some social fights and achievements of the past, especially those related with the libertarian ethos of 1968. But something went wrong or did not end totally well. A parallelism can be found in Latin America and their different revolutions and counter-revolutions: they also are the aim for a change, for achieving new roles, but with very different outcomes. But they all come from the same root. We are now having serious problems imagining an alternative to capitalism: the market also got networked, and got into some spaces whose entry was forbidden to it: the body, the school, etc.
Q: we have to vindicate a change of paradigm from learning to learning how to learn, how to manage knowledge, how to build one’s own network of people and resources. And this is the role that libraries have always performed and are nowadays focussing more in. Camps: we have to teach how to look for alternative sources of information.
Natàlia Cantó: what lies in between the walls vs. networks dichotomy? Is there a room in between for the urban landscape, for the city? Sibilia: yes, the Benjaminian approach of the flanneur is a very interesting one and it is part of the escape from the walled spaces. But maybe open spaces are the opposite to walled spaces, but what is the opposite, or the complement to the network? How do we scape (or disconnect) the network? Or can’t we? We sure have to thing about that. For instance, the different use of the Network is being done in different protests and demonstrations, which is not exactly the pattern of self-promotion, showing-up or lack of intimacy/privacy which seemed to be the (new) norm.
Enter Forum (2014)
How to educate in an audiovisual environment?
When looking at cyberspace, we have to avoid being apocalyptic or integrated (à la Umberto Eco). It is “just” a different way to get information, to communicate, to buy, to engage people (in politics), etc. So, we cannot moralize over a world that is deeply and quickly changing from the point of view of an ancient regime that is fading away. We have to try and be objective. And the question is: is the Network a progress? Always?
The Internet has made some physical characteristics (race, gender…) irrelevant for discourse, has desacralized the centres of wisdom and creation of knowledge, has decentralized (or shifted) the centres of knowledge. On the other hand, knowledge is increasingly vulnerable in the Information Society: being informed is not the same thing as knowing something.
The Internet has proven to be a revolution for political engagement, as it contributes in building community.
One of the most important rights in this new Internet-led age is the freedom of expression.
But every right of freedom has to have its limits, and the limits of freedom of expression are privacy and honour.
And what happens with the respect to one’s own privacy? That is, what happens when people do things on the Internet that they would never do offline. Are we losing intimacy? Is there a right to be forgotten?
Democracy can be deeply changed thanks to the Internet, but we need lots of good information so that we can decide on solid ground. But who certifies what is quality information? We need new professionals — or traditional professionals focussing on specific tasks — that filter and certify good information: journalists, teachers…
What happens with intellectual property? It is property as in the offline world.
On the Internet, we need self-regulation and self-regulation means education: formal education, education within the family.
Enter Forum (2014)
Paula Sibilia, author of La intimidad como espectáculo
How social networks transform our intimacy?
We are living an age where our many technological devices — e.g. mobile phones — are pervasive and we “cannot live without them”, but this is happening because something had already happened, a change had already taken place decades ago. How is that we became “compatible” with our devices? Our ways of life accommodate to the devices, we made our lives compatible with our devices. And it’s both cause and consequence: we became compatible with our devices, but we built our devices because we aimed for a change.
During the modern era, and especially since the XIXth and XXth centuries, reading (especially fiction and novels) became a mainstream routine, and it was something that happened in silence and in isolation. Same happened when writing: both writing and reading was an intimate activity, something you did on your own. These activities required concentration, dedication. And even a specific place, a walled one — including schools.
This exercise of introspection was necessary to build one’s own subjectivity, one’s own identity, one’s own self. One’s own self compatible with the world that was being created since the Industrial revolution and all along the industrial era.
What changed in recent times?
We’re witnessing a shift from the intimate individual to the networked one. Which is changing the way to define our subjectivities, to deal with the world, to deal with others. We’re leaving behind the need of “a room of one’s own” (à la Virginia Woolf) for being and we’re moving towards a new paradigm of building one’s ego, one’s person, one’s subjectivity.
And this is of course radically changing education, we’re tearing down the walls we built for preserving our intimacy, much needed for building our selfs (¿Redes o paredes? La escuela en tiempos de dispersión).
Now, being visible, being online, being networked is the essence of time. And it shapes the essence of our own beings, our own self, our own identity and our own identity.
Our subjectivities are not alter-directed, instead of intro-directed or self-directed. We needed silence and intimacy, now we need crowds and openness. We were confined inside walls, we got rid of them, we became free… only to fall inside the network. Is that freedom? Is it not? It’s just different, much different indeed.
If we look at the school as a technology, the technology of a given age, the technology that we made compatible with a given age… it may now be the case that this technology, the school, if the age changed, it may well now be that the school became an incompatible technology for the new age.
So, it looks we got free, we unconfined ourselves. But. Can it be that the private sector could be capturing these free ones for their own profit? Could it be that the disclosure of the school is now being captured by the market? Is it possible that, in the quest for freedom we disclosed education for it to fall in the arms of private ownership?
We may agree that tearing down the walls of the school, disclosing education, is a much better scenario for knowledge to be created and transferred. But, instead, we may now need to create spaces for dialogue, for debate, for thoughtful exchange. We disclosed the spaces of knowledge, which is good, but we destroyed along the spaces for dialogue and debate, which is not.
Enter Forum (2014)
Sara Vannini: Social Representations of Community Multimedia Centres in Mozambique
UNESCO creates in 2001 the concept of community multimedia centres (CMC), a kind of public access points to the Internet, which Mozambique applies to fight against poverty. These centres have since their inception been in the debate of schoolars, who find on them both successes and failures.
- Sustainability: financial, political, ethical, social…
- Impact: social, economical…
- They represent huge investments.
There are huge design-reality gaps between what happens in the lab, or the design of the intervention, and what is at last implemented. There is more need for context, and here the concept of social representation comes very handy.
- Enables individuals to orientate themselves and interpret their (new) world.
- It is a relationship between one’s ego, the others and objects (or the object of their relationship): there is inter-subjectivity. And this relationship happens in a context.
- As realities change along time, so do relationships and thus the social representations that people have.
Applications of social representation theory:
- Inclusion of context.
- Participatory action research, design-oriented approach.
- Used to inform policy-makers and to find drivers for individual actions.
10 CMC out of 34 centres in Mozambique, chosen by kind of ownership, who was managing them, what kind of services were they providing, location. Most of them provide community radio, computers and connectivity; some of them did not offer Internet connection and two of them had only the community radio working.
Qualitative interviews were carried on, including photo-elicitation, as it fosters the reflection, empowers the interviewee, decreases the risk of pre-conceived responses, offers richer data to the researcher, etc. Photo-elicitation was participant-driven: participants were asked to provide their own pictures as an answer to the questions produced by the interviewer.
Photo-taxonomy; deductive content analysis on photos-related text; inductive content analysis; automatic analysis of the reciprocal relationships among textual units.
CMC are perceived as two parts: community radio and a telecentre.
Community radio is about information and having political role. It also has a strong role in building community, both at the local level as at the national level, establishing a link with the rest of the country. Community radio is also related with edutainment: education and entertainment.
The telecentre is about learning, and learning how to use a computer, basic software packages, etc. It is not perceived as a communication space but, on the contrary, as a business centre where one can carry one different tasks as photocopying, etc. The telecentre is also a financial resources centre, as it provides income after some services.
As seen, with social representation theory, de design-reality gap is addressed and the methodology can be used for policy-making. It can provide insights on appropriation and reinvention of a (new) social object.
Telecentres do not offer contextualized services, as the community radio does. There is a need for more advanced services.
Erkki Sutinen: does the name CMS still carry too much meaning? Cannot we use a name that is not a definition on itself? Does this make any different in the usage or the appropriation of the venue, because it is artificial? Or does the definition constrains the evolution of the service? Vannini: What the research tells is that the definition is needed for people to understand and to appropriate a new object/venue/service. Of course we do not have to be slaves of our definitions and these have to be flexible.
Erkki Sutinen: can we develop schools in other means, e.g. merging with telecentres, and create a new kind of institution? Can we get rid of CMS and build instead new kind of services that put together many needs with many solutions? Vannini: Agreed. That is exactly the role of the community radio, that goes beyond a “mere radio”. There are many things that telecentres could copy from community radios, especially in what relates to everything else that a community radio represents.
Ismael Peña-López: how can we “simplify” this methodology and embed it in the usual e-readiness indicators? Vannini: there are methods of social representation that can be scaled, but nevertheless people should be asked and participate and tell what is happening at their level, and inform indicators.
Ismael Peña-López: could we use big data analysis and content analysis to infer what people is thinking of CMC and the use they are doing? Vannini: sure, but we may risk excluding important people from our analysis that are using the centres but not participating in these social netorking sites.
Erkki Sutinen: is there any feeling of status embedded in the technology, of proudness of having the telecentre in their community? Where there technical issues or fears that people did not take into account because of the aforementioned “proudness”? Vannini: yes, there was some status-factor, but it did not seem very important. Indeed, there were technical issues but generally related with macro-level issues like power outages, etc. At the micro level, there sure is room for improvement when it comes to educating and training telecentre managers: this would definitely make a difference.
Erkki Sutinen: can we measure not only representation but attitudes after this methodology? Vannini: this analysis was not done, but we can tell, from the interviews, that many people did not have the attitudes related with creativity, or challenging how things are.
Ismael Peña-López: can this research identify developmental outcomes due to CMC? could they go a step beyond, from empowerment to governance? Vannini: the research was a snapshot of a given reality, not the analysis of an evolution. But, during interviews many people stated how they had gained empowerment, how they could no make some decisions about their lives that they could not before. This was especially relevant with connected centres.
Erkki Sutinen: why this methodology? why not? Vannini: maybe more time with less centres would have been better. But this methodology was very useful given the time available and space to be covered.
Ismael Peña-López: we now have telecenters, hubs, co-working spaces, libraries, fab-labs, etc. You have 20 billion Meticals, or half a billion Swiss Francs, what do you do? Do you create more CMC? Both in Mozambique and Switzerland? Vannini: would invest on education of the operators and in the community at large.
Erkki Sutinen: is the idea of an ICT4D discipline over? what is the agenda of the research on ICT4D? Vannini: won’t get obsolete until all differences are reduced to their minimum expression. It is true that a middle class is emerging, but still poorer communities exist, and not only in Africa but everywhere, and are somewhat becoming more important indeed in some areas.
Lorenzo Cantoni: how would a research be designed to measure the impact of mobile technologies on CMC in particular and in developing areas in general? Vannini: first of all, not only individual or isolated appropriation should be measured, but how different technologies are being integrated among themselves.
PS: congratulations, doctor Vannini!