Open EdTech Summit (IV). Conclusions

Fourth and last session at the Open EdTech Summit. Conclusions, in the shape of “plus” and “idealistic” ideas, are presented.

Personalization of the Learning Process

  • Two kinds of personalization: what is taught, and how is it taught.
  • Concerns about converging processes (e.g. Bologna), acreditation and control frameworks, etc.
  • Build new models instead of change current ones, by trying to make obsolete the latter. Find spaces of subversion.
  • One space for subversion is assessment, trying to make ends meet with freedom of choice.
  • Extreme importance of capacity building, letting the student to localize their own decisions.
  • Automated personalization as suggestions, not as compulsory roads to follow, and led by the teacher, not by the technology.
  • Microcredits as the smallest unbundled parts of a larger course, so they can be “rebundled” into other courses according to needs and competences to be acquired.
  • Opennes a requisite for tailoring and personalization, enabling cost reduction, remixing itself, etc.
  • Collaboration is enhanced (if not just enabled) by openness, but personalization can play havoc on social activities: beware.

Learning Content Development and Delivery

  • Content as infrastructure, thus OER has to go beyond content and enter into meaning creation.
  • Content is not static: it has a source but evolves multi-directionally.
  • New roles shaped by the new landscape: teachers and institutions become guides, enablers, capacity builders.
  • Cultural shift: from the notion of controlling knowledge towards an open environment.
  • Superiority of open content for reuse and reproduction, but as it is not static, the concept of preservation is at stake and needs redefinition.
  • OERs should provide context-sensitive output formats: open distribution.
  • Open quality assurance: not only open content creators, but also curators.
  • Rethink copyright and fair use.

Future Technologies at the Service of Learning

  • We need open, interoperable tools and services, no more corporate driven, pre-packaged, specific tools.
  • The World is an LMS: knowledge is anywhere and we have to know how to find and retrieve it.
  • Access is a right: free broadband (or really affordable), free content.
  • Technology has to enhance the joy of learning (not make it a nightmare).
  • The success of FLOSS communities should be replicated in OER.
  • New assessment models that capture the personalization of learning. The community might be able to accredit the learner.
  • Content will come to the learner in a personalized way.
  • Usability: make the interface invisible.
  • Help (and give credit to) the process of the teachers’ using technology and acquiring digital capabilities.
  • Education has to radically change according to the disruption that the Internet represents.

Learning: Everyone, Everywhere and Anytime

  • uLearning: ubiquitous learning as the new model.
  • Long life learning requires adaptability of the system.
  • Knowledge does not go out of date, just becomes more complex.
  • Connections more important than the nodes.
  • Self organized learning, through mash-up curricula, user generated content, communities of practice and learners, within personal learning environments.
  • Ubiquitous and persistent classrooms for continuous (and informal) learning.
  • Universal recognition of levels and certificates.
  • Accrediting institutions internationally.
  • Context and progress aware of digital scaffolding.
  • Recognition of prior and experiential learning.
  • Limit the cultural imperialism of technology and learning design: one size does not fit all
  • Free access for all
  • Encourage respect and understanding through learning.
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Open Ed Tech (2008)

Open EdTech Summit (III). Converging session: Personalization of the Learning Process

Third session — and second teamwork session — at the Open EdTech Summit. This second teamwork session focuses in converging the ideas of the brainstorming session and try and come up with 5 “plus” ideas and 5 “idealistic” ideas.

(reprise and gather up from the previous session)

Focus on mentoring as the added value in the learning process

Microcredit structures, besides personalization, allow the evaluator and the evaluate to be different entities. Right now the system is self-referential, as the output is evaluated by the same one that facilitated the inputs.

Education institutions could split in three different institutions: the ones that provide content, the ones that provide guidance and the ones that provide certification.

The added value is in mentoring, not in content. So we should concentrate in mentoring. And open content and open technology to support it play a crucial role in this part.

And quality also has to do in this scheme of things: we have to go open to reach high quality standards.

From teaching to learning

The “bolonization” (convergence) of educational systems, shifting responsibility to the student, and putting more stress on learning rather than on teaching. Focus also in capacity and competences. If just e.g. 25% was standarized or compulsory, that will leave plenty of room for personalization within assessment.

Capacity building

On the competences side: empower people to do things.

On the choice side: allow people to do their choices.

Learner motivation

How to engage the student: personalization would actually be a good way to keep students engaged.


Quality assurance systems that foster innovation, or testing innovation in quality assessments, act as a bottle neck as normally do not include technology in their evaluation system. Their assessment map is closed. How much space for subversion, for innovation, can we find.

Empowering teachers

Make lower design statements to that the learning materials can be acted upon, that feedback from experience can be adapted and sent back to the material or the lecture.

(for “plus” ideas and “idealistic” ideas, please see next session)


Open Ed Tech (2008)

Open EdTech Summit (II). Brainwriting and Brainstorming: Personalization of the Learning Process

Teamwork at the Open EdTech Summit. First part is a brainwriting exercise where a personal reflection time should produce a list of ideas. Then, a brainstorming exercise with the rest of the group where ideas are put in common. This group is about Personalization of the Learning Process. Other groups are Learning Content Development and Delivery, Future Technologies at the Service of Learning, Learning: Everyone, Everywhere and Anytime.

Team 1 – PLP (Personalization of the Learning Process). Contents of this area: individual methods of learning, personal learning speed. student personal learning experience, interaction between learning processes and technology.


How far can we go with personalization in a credential-driven education system?
  • As far as we push the learning process away from teaching, shifting responsibility to the student, the process can be as personalized as at the individual level.
  • Goal setting and assessment has to be homogeneous in a higher degree (with slight changes according to personal needs), education has not.
  • ICTs lower the transaction costs of individual/personal mentorship
  • ICTs lower the costs of content diffusion (open educational resources in digital format)
How far can we go in automatically adapting the student’s personal learning experience, based on the system’s assessment of their knowledge/understanding?
  • Syllabuses can be highly dynamic, though they require some human and technological effort
  • Again, assessment should take place at the final stage, evaluating the “output” of the educational process. The process itself… should it be assessed (per se, not in terms of evaluating its performance to achieve educational goals)?
Will it be possible in the very next future that each student rules completely her/his learning process?
  • The student should be able to rule their learning process
  • More effort — and resources — should be put on the how and the what for, not the what
  • The focus should be goal setting, designing “default” paths according to more common profiles, and guidance
How far technologies will help us in adapting the personal rhythm of learning to the academic demands of the universities?
  • Should universities have academic demands at all? Shouldn’t universities be the ones to adapt their rhythms to personal learning demands?
  • If focus is not put in the process but in goal setting, guidance and assessment — not in teaching — then technology could help to bind people together while keeping the ends quite loose.
Is it possible to offer university contents completely adapted to a specific (individual) learning process?
  • It absolutely is: we don’t have to make scarce something abundant (e.g. tight syllabuses)
  • The goal is not filtering, but capaciting people to filter


Larry Johnson: how do you guide someone through their random process so that they become an e.g. “engineer”?

Jutta Treviranus: Personalization can be understood as personalization of access, not necessarily (or not only) personalization of the content. It’s critical to identify what constitutes an “engineer”.

David Wiley: a credential is shortcut for the employer to identify competences, a bundle of competences. Can be unbundle these competences? Course selection, sequencing, etc. can be hence adapted.

Llorenç Valverde: still a tight curriculum in Spain even after the Bolonia process. Is there room for a freedom of choice?

Lev Gonick: how to create space for subversion? how to bring the student autonomy? not big changes: where are the cracks of the system?

Jutta Treviranus: optimising learning, making it challenging to the student.

Vijay Kukmar: we can go very far in personalization. Microcredits, e-portfolios… are already existing tools that can be drivers of change. Not thinking about disciplines, but transferable skills and learning how to learn.

Jutta Treviranus: how you best learn? personalization is not about the system itself, but the engagement.

Ismael Peña-López: now what’s scarce is not knowledge (that’s why we had to produce and put together the scarce knowledge in classrooms and universities), but mentoning: no more focus on knowledge, but on mentoring.

Claudio Dondi: It’s easy to identify what the core competences are in a specific discipline/degree/etc. Thus, competences should be certified competences, more than learnings. Move the assessment from knowledge only to know-how.

Llorenç Valverde: how to certify competences without assessing content?

David Wiley: what happens with social interaction (amongst students) if personalization goes to the limit of individualization? Personalization should not let aside social activities. How to find the balance between helping in the decision-taking and taking the decision for the students.

Elena Barberà: personalization of what? goals? processes? technologies? We have to identify where are we learning, where are the connections between the person and knowledge, and adapt the use of the tools to this: learning needs evidence, documentation.

Francesc Santanach: personalization will be crucial in the future where heterogeneous students will meet in the same classroom. Globalization and digital technologies foster this heterogeneity. It is more important to recommend, not force anyone into any path.

Larry Johnson: there is a deep lack of definition about what is personalization, how to… There is not such a defined niche for personalization, and technology will not make it out of the blue.

Jutta Treviranus: personalization and technology not only from a pedagogical approach, but also in other aspects just like (physical) access.

Vijay Kumar: the difference between information and education; and between education and formal education (certification, etc.); and between education and learning. Should we focus in how learners customize their learning experience and forget about education?

Lev Gonick: how do institutions avoid the irrelevance of “bad” learning practices?

Llorenç Valverde: personalization has not to be contaminated by the commoditization that came with the industrial revolution. But we can avoid the pret-à-porter one-size-fits-all of education and go into personalized tailoring.

Lev Gonick: we have to set up theories that create new frameworks that e.g. allow the human genome project to emerge.Without that theory, educational institutions will be marginalized from their own system.

David Wiley: theory has to be backed up with real data.

Jutta Treviranus: and we need a framework to gather all theories.

Claudio Dondi: there is a problem when trying to put under the same system training (professional training) and education. The higher education system is not actually coherent with the rest of the socio-economic system. Thus, something should be done at the system level: the problem might not (only) be at the praxis level, but at a more systemic one.

Vijay Kumar: what is the atomic unit of personalization: is adaptation or is it individualization? The currency between the academic system and the socioeconomic system is the degree. Is the problem this currency? the different interests at either side of the currency exchange?

Larry Johnson: the very most importance of competences as the real currency, not certification.

David Wiley: competences permit tying the content, to experience, to certification…

Lev Gonick: we created a personalization at the technological level, but not at the educational process level.

Claudio Dondi: Difference of personalization between how and what.

Larry Johnson: there has to be a mentor-like connection in personalization. The system is educational, not technological.

David Wiley: personalization of the mediation, personalization of the feedback you give, personalization of the hint, etc.

Lev Gonick: how to use the technology to personalize to achieve higher success, to prepare the student for success?

Vijay Kumar: metacognition, where I know how to access problems and where to look for help or solutions. Seeking information, validating information, etc.

David Wiley: prior knowledge is a basic, stable difference between students.

Ismael Peña-López: not only identifying how to access problems, not only assessing one’s assets or prior knowledge, but be able to identify and assess your own context, culture, environment… your localization. These three issues — the cognitive process, prior knowledge and context — might be three main drivers of personalization.

Claudio Dondi: the difference between prior knowledge and the capacity of learning.

Vijay Kukmar: how to shift from content-centered processes towards learning-to-learn processes?

Elena Barberà: we are looking forward more autonomous learners, to enable them to take responsible and adequate decisions at the correct time. Autonomous thinking might be one of the big answers to the whole debate.

David Wiley: personalization as Amazon. Amazon only asks you to buy books, no conscientious or rational or meditated choice required: just buy. And the system can tell the tastes and needs and suggestions.

Jutta Treviranus: what are the limits of personalization? don’t we have to let the system open? We cannot allow ourselves to reinforce individual biases.

Person is all alone, big distance to cover, all learning is contextual, take the route to the future… by walking, the first step is down, it’s lonely on the mountain top, breathing is learning, room for serendipity.


Open Ed Tech (2008)

Open EdTech Summit (I). Panel: Trends in Education

I am at the Open EdTech Summit where very interesting people from the world of Education and instructional technology have gathered to share best practices, as the basis for discussions to help identify future education and technology needs and trends for next-generation educational and learning environments.

Opening Up Education
Vijay Kumar, MIT

A departure point of the session is Toru Iiyoshi & Vijay Kumar’s book Opening Up Education (2008), which gathers experiences on open education around the World (and can be freely downloaded at the book’s site).

Some issues: what does open education mean for the future of institutions? how can it be made financially sustainable? how can it work as an agency for change in both formal and informal education? how can niche learning communities take advantage of open educational resources?

Three axes: Open Technology, Open Content, Open Knowledge.


  • Investigate the transformative potential and ecological transitions: does open education helps in finding solutions to the structural or traditional problems of education? can quality be scaled to reach wide national needs? what’s the role and design of blended learning? how can we throw down the boundaries of education?
  • Change Education’s culture and policy: fight inertial frames (e.g. “scarcity of knowledge/content”), enabling structures, how can open education help to improve access to and quality of education? are we ready for that much openness? what arrangements have to be made in institutions and educators to benefit from openness?

Susan D’Antoni, UNESCO IIEP

Not only universities: but education as a whole, universal primary education, gender equity.

The Horizon Report 2008 states some crucial aspects: the needed change of scope and leadership in research topics related to education (and open education); the importance of mobile devices for mobile learning; the emphasis on collaborative learning that demands new forms of interaction and assessment; new literacies that education has to bring into curricula.

Experience shows that communities of interest are useful for:

  • awareness raising and identifiying who the leaders to be informed are
  • spreading knowledge and capacity bulding
  • guarantee quality and serve as a reputation device for both content and people

Paul G. West, Commonwealth of Learning

The “openness” process has to be smooth and progressive, and same applies to the process of “blendification” or “e-learningification” of Education, specially in those communities where the digital divide is more than a tag (physical access, broadband, affordability…).

In this sense, it is important to see that the sharing will not be one-way sharing (from developed to developing countries) but a two-way sharing. And this requires a change of mindset in developed countries institutions and people.

We need to think on whole-world terms, and beyond the interests of closed groups. And, on the other hand, on the different perspectives and approaches of the many and many kinds of people and communities around the World. And this takes us back again to the digital divide issue.

Linda G. Roberts, Curriki

There’s always been innovators, innovators that are necessary to break with the way things have normally been done and try and find new ways of doing them… or of doing new things the old way. Normally, doing different is the most difficult way.

Clayton M. Christensen Disrupting Class: work from outside the system, break it. Linda G. Roberts: we should work both from inside and outside the system.

After breaking barriers, after bringing innovations into the spotlight, sustainability is the issue. Innovation requires new strategies. If (methodologically successful) innovations are not here to stay, because they are not sustainable at all, should we engage in the effort of making them up?

Sustainability is also about political or strategical sustainability. Thus, the correct questions have to be put — and given an answer — so that the whole thing makes sense for each and everyone.

Of course, sustainability is not only about taking into account costs, or investment, but also in how this investment is going to cut down final costs of alternatives to the innovation (i.e. the traditional way), in this case, open educational resources.

Llorenç Valverde, Open University of Catalonia

We shouldn’t talk about teaching, but about learning — and this is specially important in open or distance education institutions.

If content is open, the container should be open too.

And, as a matter of fact, if content has any value, it does not make any sense to close it to “protect or investment”, because, sooner or later, someone will open it for us.


Open Ed Tech (2008)