Digital students, analogue institutions, teachers in extinction

Next 20, 21 and 22 May 2008 takes place the bdigital Global Congress, one of the major events about the Information Society in Spain.

Our University has been asked to organize the Education track, that will be chair by our Innovation Vicerector Begoña Gros. I have been invited to impart the opening speech for the track, and

give an overview of the relationship between the development of the Society and economic development, and how both questions are closely related to the acquisition of digital competences by the citizens. In this matter, the situation of ICTs at school and their use by teachers and students will be analyzed, proposing some strategies to foster ICTs in the educational framework.

I here advance the material I prepared for that session as a request for comments. Feel free to send any feedback about it. Thank you in advance.


English version follows. Please click here for the original version in Spanish and the downloadable version for both languages.


Castells, M. (2000). “Materials for an exploratory theory of the network society”. In British Journal of Sociology, Jan-Mar 2000, 51(1), 5-24. London: Routledge.
Castells, M. (2004). “Informationalism, Networks, And The Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint”. In Castells, M. (Ed.),
The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Dutta, S., López-Claros, A. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2006). Global Information Technology Report 2005-2006: Leveraging ICT for Development. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutta, S. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2007). Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007: Connecting to the Networked Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutta, S., López-Claros, A. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2008). Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008: Fostering Innovation through Networked Readiness. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Eurostat Information society statistics. [online]: European Commission.
Mominó de la Iglesia, J. M., Sigalés Conde, C. & Meneses Naranjo, J. (2008a). L’Escola a la Societat Xarxa: Internet a l’Educació Primària i Secundària. Barcelona: Ariel.
Mominó de la Iglesia, J. M., Sigalés Conde, C. & Meneses Naranjo, J. (2008b). L’Escola a la Societat Xarxa: Internet a l’Educació Primària i Secundària (Volum I). Informe Final de Recerca. Barcelona: UOC.
Mominó de la Iglesia, J. M., Sigalés Conde, C. & Meneses Naranjo, J. (2008c). L’Escola a la Societat Xarxa: Internet a l’Educació Primària i Secundària (Volum II). Informe Final de Recerca. Barcelona: UOC.
OECD (2007). PISA 2006: Science Competencies for Tomorrow’s World. Volume 1: Analysis. Paris: OECD.
Peña-López, I. (2007). El papel de las TIC y la Web 2.0 en el desarrollo: de las estrategias push a las estrategias pull. Seminar and round table imparted in Cornellà de Llobregat, January 25th, 2008 at the Difundir las TIC en la época 2.0 conference, Observatorio de la Cibersociedad. Cornellà de Llobregat: ICTlogy.


Many thanks to Julio Meneses for so kindly sharing some graphic materials. Thanks also to Begoña Gros and Jaume Moregó for counting me in.


Skills of an expert knower 2.0/leaner 2.0

Elisabetta Cigognini asks me whether I could draw a list of 10 adjectives — concepts, capacities, competences — that qualify the skills of an expert knower 2.0 or learner 2.0.

Difficult, because I get consciously or unconsciously “intoxicated” by John Palfrey’s list of characteristics of a digital native. I believe that a digital native and a knower/learner 2.0 are overlapping concepts (especially if you take digital native as a “syndrome”, as I do, and not as a generational fingerprint, which makes poor sense in a digitally divided world) but are not exactly the same thing.

You can browse Elisabetta Cigognini’s publications and speeches pages for a good bunch of readings about what a knower/learner 2.0 stands for. Regarding myself, and summing up, what I have in mind is an adult learner, or an expert knower, that, by definition, has left a long track behind that backs his vast knowledge in one — or more — fields, and is intensively using the Internet — specially Web 2.0 apps — to both increase and enhance the reach of his knowledge. Just to put things clear again about digital natives, I believe that:

    Digital native = expert knower 2.0 – experience – maturity – general knowledge (+ deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge)

Or, mutatis mutandis:

    Expert Knower 2.0 = Digital Native + experience + maturity + general knowledge (- deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge)

Notice the parentheses: as I said, I understand the digital native concept as a syndrome. Thus, some non-generational natives do behave like (almost) perfect digital natives, hence the fact that “deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge” can or cannot be a difference. Experience, maturity and general knowledge are provided only by lifetime spent, which, by definition, is shorter in (generational) digital natives. To me, the expert knower/learner is very close to the definition of the digital settler by John Palfrey / Urs Gasser / David Weinberger.

Going back to the list, I tried and group its points under three categories. Not that I like doing it, but it makes an easier reading and comprehension than just a 10 bullets list. They are not sorted in any way, thus last item is “last but not least” and so:

Technical skills

  • English: necessary to access relevant information. English natives will nod proudly and non-natives will deny in anger. Even if things are changing, the fact that English is the lingua franca these days for both science and business, and the fact that the Internet and the Web where born and developed in English-speaking environments has created a deep lag in the amount of information that is available in English or in other languages… combined.
  • Digerati: Informational literate: knows where and how to search, how to evaluate relevant information, etc.; Media literate: can manage any type/support of information: text, hypertext, photo, sound, video…; and Technological literate: has advanced technical skills such as general knowledge of HTML, javascript or PHP, knows how a computer, server or the Internet work, how to set up a web site and a domain, etc.
  • Multitasker: can do more than one thing at the same time, specially combining job-training-leisure tasks to create a difficult balance. Can also play havoc on the knower/learner if energies/resources are not properly measured/allocated.

Philosophical approach

  • Open: Needs sharing (for many reasons: principles, unselfish etichs, pretentious ego, self-esteem, selfish benefits…). Above all, awareness that what you give is what you get, that your wealth is — you are worth — what you contribute to your network.
  • Passion to learn: needs knowing. Learning is both a pleasure and a must. Keeps (or tries to keep) him/herself informed and up-to-date.
  • Led by the “procrastination principle“: “[to deal] with problems only as they arose—or [leave] them to [other] users to deal with” (read, for instace, Jonathan Zittrain). In other words: do what you are good at and leave the rest to other contributors of your network… and work/learn while you enjoy doing it. Can also play havoc on the knower/learner, as well as multitasking, if priorities or long-term strategies are not properly defined.

Psychologycal/Social aspects

  • Networker: can work with different people/teams for different projects. I see it quite different from the teamworker: one team for everything. Networking means that people and resources are assets that allow infinite (in possibilities) and finite (in time) combinations (Yochai Benkler puts it better than I).
  • Ubiquitous and always online: no time/space boundaries. People and information are just a click away; not being able to click them (because of being off-line) is not an option.
  • Multidisciplinar: other disciplines (than his/her default one) can bring good solutions/information on our problems. And there are many and new problems that can only be explained by a mix of different points of view and approaches.
  • Autonomous: can design, plan and lead his own learning; knows what he does not know / needs to learn, who can train or where the information is; can be self-discipline and draw an strategy and path towards his/her own (training, need for information) goals. Actually, doest not really care for what a “discipline” binds inside of it.


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