07 February

Horizon 2014 Report Is Out: 6 Technologies Will Change Colleges in Coming Years

- Learning Technologies

The six technologies and the changes they’re expected to bring are detailed in“NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition,” a 52-page document  comprised by the 56 international experts.

In a nutshell, the following trends and time horizons were identified by panel members:

 *  The two most imminent, within 2 years,  are the integration of social media into every aspect of college education and life and the blending of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning with face-to-face instruction.

 *  In 3 to 5 yearsdata-driven learning and assessment will have its maximum impact on campuses, helping to personalize learning and improve performance measurement. Also listed as having its greatest impact in three to five years is a shift toward “learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content.”

 * Two trends were identified  as long-range, with  their biggest impact is still 5 or more years away: the continuing evolution of online learning and universities’ shift to more agile “approaches to teaching and learning that mimic technology start-ups.”

For each of the trends the panel identified, the report offers examples and a further-reading list, as well as a discussion of whether the changes affect leadership, policy, practice, or some combination of the three.

The format of the report is new this year, providing these leaders with more in-depth insight into how the trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership and practice:


See also:


20 January

Open Access to Research: trying to throw light on a chain of misunderstandings

- OpenEd & OER

Open AccessOpen Access to research outcomes is a well  known and discussed issue, but there is still much misunderstanding and many questions remain unanswered. To illustrate that, The Guardian recently published an article about some OA myths that have not been undermined yet. For instance, the article points out that many scholars still think that the only way to provide OA to peer-reviewed journal articles is to publish in O.A. journals, overlooking institutional repositories; or that many still believe that publishing in a conventional journals closes the door to “liberating” the same work later – thoroughly false.

To throw light on such arguments, UNESCO recently published Policy Guidelines for the Development and the Promotion of Open Access. The Guidelines distinguish the so-called Green Route to O.A., which refers to repositories, from the Golden Route, relative to OA journals. Both are common ways to openly publish research outcomes. UNESCO recommends making research immediately available or after a short period of embargo, as well as warns authors to retain enough rights to be able to decide whether or not make publications freely available – even though Institutions or funders can also retain these rights if they are more effective in ensuring open access. The Guidelines also stress to promote OA rather than imposing it,  by drawing a range of incentives –such as future promotions.

Also, researchers, publishers and librarians usually clash over Open Access dimension as it happened at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting early this year. One of the strong arguments was that gold OA would minimize cost while protecting against inflated acceptance rates and decline in quality standards. Some see OA as a durable feature of the landscape of scholarly communication, maybe replacing current dissemination models; whereas others state it would only complement the traditional publication patterns or some even consider it “a passing fad”.

UNESCO Guidelines aim at settling that debate as well, by not dismissing the current publication systems but pointing out some traditional fee-based business models which are often abusive and unsustainable.  As repositories do not require any money to be spent –or very little of it, the Guidelines focus on cost of  peer-reviews and possible sources of funding: an institution, the community (donations or other support), sponsors, users (via subscription) or advertisers). OA books also may somewhat gain their momentum as they can be backed by sponsors, subsidizers as well as hard copies might be sold to offset the costs.

No consensus has been reached so far and maybe controversy came to stay. However, with governments increasingly pushing universities into making research freely available, steps towards open access are unlikely to stop here.

14 January

US Universities Lose Money on Research

- Education Worldwide

January 13, 2014

Most universities lose money on research, according to an analysis published in the journal Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors. The study notes that universities seek (and receive) research grants from the federal governments and other sources. But the study also says that these grants cover such a small share of “indirect costs” of research — such as staffing, equipment and facilities — that typically institutions lose money. The authors of the paper are Karen Holbrook, former president of Ohio State University, and Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/01/13/paper-universities-lose-money-research#ixzz2qJh4Kydl
Inside Higher Ed

09 January

University expansion in a changing global economy. Triumph of the BRICs?

- Education Worldwide

Carnoy, Martin, et al. University Expansion in a Changing Global Economy: Triumph of the BRICs?. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013.

BRICsThe four largest developing economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are important international players today, however their future role in the globalized economy will depend on how and to what extent they develop their higher education systems. China has carried out major transformations of its higher education system as well as has been able to improve quality of research; thus, it is likely to turn its economy into a highly developed powerhouse over the next generation

The case of Russia is less clear. The State is in the early stage of trying to reorganize its higher education system and seems little committed to transforming Russia’s economy from oil dependence. On the other hand, this country has a big advantage in the deeply university-trained human capital and its qualified labor force, but the State is not doing much to organize the society to compete in the global knowledge economy.

Brazil is showing itself as an innovative society which is producing high-quality research in universities through a greater investment than the other BRICs in R&D. If these trends go on together with decreasing poverty rates the country could keep its GDP growing and acquire stronger global relevance. Its higher education system experienced a rapid expansion and has increased access for the poor, but the threat of low quality of pre-tertiary education and higher education being mostly private is still there

India gets the most pessimistic picture. Its main weakness is the difficulty to expand education while increasing quality. Enrollment in higher education is growing but almost all in very low quality institutions, many of them private. India is also investing very little in higher education and is facing several challenges, e.g. rural and urban poverty or gender inequality.

Therefore, there is no doubt about BRICs turning into even more relevant global actors, but their future position in the International Community will depend at a great extent on the next steps they will take regarding to higher education.

19 December

Tech-Enabled Experiments Must Be Part of Education Reform, U.S. Report Says

- Education Worldwide

The U.S. Education Department must experiment with alternative models, such as stackable credentials and competency-based programs, as part of broader reforms of the nation´s postsecondary-education system, according to a report titled “A Path Forward.” published on 8/12/2013 by the Center for American Progress. The call for reforms aligns with goals of combating rising costs in higher education, addressing workplace needs and clearing the way for innovation.

Competency-based education receives special attention in the report. It calls for the development of standards and measures -based on job placement, earnings, and other factors- to assess the productivity of such alternative models. It also advocates engaging employers in order to better align higher education with workplace needs. Today, employers draw candidates with certain majors but may not know much about their actual workplace skills. Among the most prominent competency-based programs are those offered by Western Governors U. and Southern New Hampshire U.

Existing technology systems are named  part of the problem. They buttress a higher-education system that continues to deliver instruction by in-person and online classes held 2 or 3 times a week for up to 15 weeks. These systems will need to be modified significantly to record credits earned not in a classroom but ultimately to be awarded based on an assessment, the report says.

Even bigger changes will need to take place at the organizational level of colleges, with entirely new roles for administrators and faculty members. Some will specialize in the technology used to deliver content, and some will focus on assessment, but both will have little responsibility for instruction. Others will be instructional coaches, helping students through particularly difficult learning modules and competencies.

Read in full:

Tech-Enabled Alternatives Must Be Part of Education Reform, Report Says

“A Path Forward” Report

19 December

What does Mandela mean for ordinary people in South Africa

- Misc.

The most touching Mandela tribute came from the least expected place…

The choir began an “impromtu” rendition of Asimbonanga [We have not seen him], singing:

Asimbonanga [we have not seen him]
Asimbonang’ uMandela thina [we have not seen Mandela]
Laph’ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph’ehleli khona [in the place where he is kept]

Asimbonang ‘umfowethu thina [we have not seen our brother]
Laph’ekhona [in the place where he is]
Laph’wafela khona [in the place where he died]
Sithi: Hey, wena [We say: hey, you]
Hey, wena nawe [Hey, you and you]
Siyofika nini la’ siyakhona [when will we arrive at our destination]

The song was written during Mandela’s incarceration as a call for his freedom.

17 December

What does Mandela mean for the world?

- Misc.

MandelaMany things, which will become clearer with deeper reflection. There is nostalgia for the example of the life dedicated to the public good, now a chimera in an age of cheap populism. There is affirmation for the principle of leadership through values. And here, Mandela’s life and death could be a mirror from the South back to the North. We should remember that Margaret Thatcher’s government denigrated him as a terrorist.*

We should also remember that apartheid was founded in the racism of British colonialism…

Read in full:
Mandela saw equality of opportunity through education as the key to emancipation


* as the US government also did. It was only in 2008 when Mandela was removed from the US terrorist list.
In fact, as reported by William Blum, it was the US Central Intelligence Agency tip about Mandela’s whereabouts and appearences that helped the security service of South African government arrest Mandela.

16 December

Horizon 2020: high expectations and first concerns

- Education Worldwide


The much expected Horizon 2020 was launched by the European Commission last week with the first call for the Research and Innovation Funding Framework for 2014-2020.


Although universities and other stakeholders positively reacted to the announcement, some doubts concerning evaluation have arisen. The European University Association Dr Lidia Borrell-Damián, Director of Research and Innovation commented that it is not clear how the decision will be made when some projects are awarded the same scores. It seems that the Grant Award Panel will be responsible for that decision, but no criteria have been settled so deliberation might appear somewhat arbitrary. Dr. Borrell-Damián believes that Horizon 2020 introduces an element of uncertainty because within a broader topic many different disciplines and approaches fall in. Thus, stakeholders wonder on what basis Panels will decide on one proposal over the other in the event that both are highly marked.

On the other hand, a recent League of European Research Universities (hereinafter LERU) press release states that the final result is much better than the initial proposal by the European Commission in November 2011. Notwithstanding that, LERU remarks that the EU’s choice to support growth areas such as research and innovation, but also education, could have been even more outspoken as originally proposed by the European Commission and the European Parliament. Moreover, the press release points out that it will be crucial to monitor how Horizon 2020 will be implemented and how its ambitious goals will be translated into practice.

These drawbacks should not subtract interest from Horizon 2020. It will probably boost research and innovation throughout Europe as well as cooperation between organizations and countries, which would surely add value to future projects. Nevertheless, in the very beginning of that 7 years framework, there still are quite a few details to clarify.

Read for more opinions:

EU opens the €80 billion Horizon 2020 to researchers

LERU Press Release

02 December

Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: not much to celebrate yet

- Misc.

endViolenceDay for the Elimination of Violence against Women was celebrated as each November 25. In spite of the traditional institutional events, public statements and motions and a big array of good intentions and wills, the situation for women is today worse than it was some years ago. Some data and testimonies coming from Spain are woefully representative of that reality.

Carolina García from Tu Voz Cuenta (Your Voice Matters) campaign asserts that cuts in social policy limits the chance for women to make their own choices regarding to their bodies, relationships and autonomy and represent a new type of violence against women. Immaculada Montalbán, President of the Gender-Based Violence Observatory of the Spanish General Council of Judiciary (henceforth CGPJ) states that in such a context of uncertainty women are less likely to report violence to the police because they feel much more dependent on their partners. CGPJ points out that before the crisis 30% of abused women reported their situation to the police; today only 16% dare.

According to CGPJ’s data, reports decreased by 10% between 2008 and 2012 in Spain. The Catalan Ministry of Internal Affairs  claims that women murdered by men jumped from 9 in 2008 to 15 in 2012 (+67%), while reports and convictions fell by 3% and 25% respectively. Crisis has heavily worsened women situation as they are now more dependent and vulnerable. Less individual economic resources and harmful budget cuts are threatening several previous achievements which are increasingly being wounded.

20 November

A Break-through Step Toward Open Access and OER Movement?

- OpenEd & OER

vimeoIn a Memo to the faculty members released on Nov.18, The University of California system informed its faculty that after two years of evaluations and reviews,  the Academic Council voted in July 2013 to adopt a new Open Access Policy for publishing scholarly articles.  The policy was released, on a pilot basis, in three out of ten campuses, on Nov.1, 2013 and will be officially rolled out at the other campuses in one year, if the outcome of the pilot would be positive.

The new policy allows- but does not require- faculty to publish in OA journals;  instead, it commits faculty to making a version of each article available publicly in an OA repository  (UC´s  eScholarship  digital repository  or another  OA repository).It is important that the faculty will keep legal control over their publications, if they  wish, by opting out of the policy for any given article, by delaying  the release of the open version (“embargo” it) or by stating their terms of use (commercial vs non-commercial reuse).

This UC policy might become a vital catalyst to the whole community of informed  but  not convinced researchers who would like to be socially responsible  but to do so on their   own terms.  Policies like this one have been adopted by more than 175 universities and  by larger systems, however, they often remain  an emphatic manifesto  not  provided by means or mechanisms to implement them.  In this case, when a large,  influential  player like the University of California sends a strong signal of commitment   to the cause, it may help the OA and OER Movement  finally break through.

To read more:

UCLA  details on implementing, costs, OA license waivers, embargos, etc

 Watch a 90-second video about the policy.

 How easy it is to deposit your articles in eScholarship

The extensive policy Q&A list