06 October

Open Social Learning at the VI International Seminar

OpenEd & OER


Open Social Learning will be the focus of the UOC UNESCO chair in e-Learning VI International Seminar, that will take place in Barcelona on November 30 and December 1 2009.This year, as part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, the seminar will focus on new trends in the field of open online education at all levels.

VI International Seminar will feature talks by George Siemens, Associate Director of the Learning Technologies Center. Manitoba University. Canada, Alejandro Piscitelli, former CEO of educ.ar portal, Stephen Downes, Senior Research for the National Research Council of Canada and Laura Czerniewicz & Tony Carr, Director and Senior Lecturer, respectively, of the Center for Educational Technology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

For further information about the event and it’s registration, please visit the seminar’s website.

30 June

Working Session on Open Social Learning (III). Dolors Reig: Open Social Learning in Spain. Clarifying Concepts

OpenEd & OER

Notes from the the Working Session on Open Social Learning, organized by UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning and held in Barcelona, Spain, on June 30th, 2009. More notes on this event: uocunescoosl.

Open Social Learning in Spain. Clarifying ConceptsDolors Reig

Dolors Reig. Photo by Carlos Albaladejo
Traditional e-Learning: everything preset, all paths settled. The evolution has then been, [...]

30 June

Working Session on Open Social Learning (II). Rubén Díaz: Diagnosis and Perspective

OpenEd & OER

Notes from the the Working Session on Open Social Learning, organized by UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning and held in Barcelona, Spain, on June 30th, 2009. More notes on this event: uocunescoosl.

Open Social Learning en España: Diagnosis and PerspectiveRubén Díaz

Rubén Díaz. Photo by Carlos Albaladejo
Expanded education: Search for new ways of education that embed and [...]

30 June

Working Session on Open Social Learning (I). Marc Alier: Open Social Learning?

OpenEd & OER

Notes from the the Working Session on Open Social Learning, organized by UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning and held in Barcelona, Spain, on June 30th, 2009. More notes on this event: uocunescoosl.
Open Social Learning?Marc Alier
Open Learning: We use to define problems so that some structured learning outcomes happen, but problems do not usually have unique [...]

09 June

Tim Unwin video: ICT4D


We finally have the 10 minutes video that summarizes Tim Unwin‘s talk at UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar. One of the most “fighting the digital divide” talks, focused on the development of the underprivileged countries through the use of ICT’s, but keeping a very interesting sceptic point of view of some things. [flv]http://unescochair.blogs.uoc.edu/video/unwin.flv[/flv]

You can embed the video on your web site using this code.

03 June

Tim Unwin's ICT4D conference teaser


Last month we made a break in the publication of the videos recorded during our Fifth International Seminar, but we had another good video instead: Jack Dorsey talked with us about possible educational uses of the tool Twitter. Now we have some more material to show. It’s an honour to present you Tim Unwin’s ICT4D conference (which is just a short way to express a larger tittle: Partnerships and post-constructivism education in development practive).

Unwin, who holds an UNESCO Chair in ICT4D in the University of London, came deep on the mainlines of collaboration with underprivileged countries and how ICT’s can help development but always keeping a very strong sense of critics on the mistakes done, the problems found and how to improve it all.

On this teaser, that announces the incoming of the conference video for Monday 8th June, Unwin gives us a key sentence: “I’m a passionate addict of technology, but in the back of my mind I think we may be causing a huge damage”:[flv]http://unescochair.blogs.uoc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/teaserunwin.flv[/flv]

You can embed the video on your web site using this code.

05 May

Horizon report 2009 conclusions

Education Worldwide, Learning Technologies

The New Media Consortium (NMC) and the Educause Association recently reported the results of the Horizon Project, “a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations”. The document (PDF, 368KB) analyses the context of new education and its relationship with technologies like mobiles, cloud computing, geo-localization, the semantic web applications or smart objects and describes key trends like:


  • Increasing globalization continues to affect the way we work, collaborate, and communicate.
  • The notion of collective intelligence is redefining how we think about ambiguity and imprecision
  • Experience with and affinity for games as learning tools is an increasingly universal characteristic among those entering higher education and the workforce
  • Visualization tools are making information more meaningful and insights more intuitive
  • As more than one billion phones are produced each year, mobile phones are benefiting from unprecedented innovation, driven by global competition.

This issue of Horizon report, which is the sixth annual report in the series, also alerts about critical challenges like:

  • There is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy
  • Students are different, but a lot of educational material is not
  • Significant shifts are taking place in the ways scholarship and research are conducted, and there is a need for innovation and leadership at all levels of the academy
  • We are expected, especially in public education, to measure and prove through formal assessment that our students are learning
  • Higher education is facing a growing expectation to make use of and to deliver services, content, and media to mobile devices




Iphone educational apps as shown on the Apple Stores. Photo by Wesley Fryer on Flickr. 

In addition, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya has been collaborating with the New Media Consortium on the translation of the report onto Spanish (PDF, 401KB) and Catalan (PDF, 396KB) languages.

The New Media Consortium, an foundation world wide respected due to its expertise on education and innovation fields, include some names on its council that might be familiar tu us. I’m talking about Susan Metros, whose “Digital literacy in the age on the big picture” intervention at UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar video summary we published on this blog some weeks ago.

What seems to be a bit worrying is that, after reading the report challenges and conclusions, the Spanish Government plan (addresses to an article written in Spanish) of stablishing partnerships with editorial, technology and telecommunication services companies (links to a blogpost written in Spanish) in order to digitalize its teaching materials doesn’t seem to fit very much with the main ideas of the Horizon plan.

24 March

Expanded education symposium: who is Brian Lamb?

Education Worldwide

Disclaimer: this post is an exercise of liveblogging. Even when the content remains forever, must be understood as juncture, with some imprecisions. 



This post is egocentric, I’m really sorry about that. But let me continue, you might find some useful information though.

I have to introduce Brian Lamb this evening at Zemos 98 Festival, so I have decided to organize my ideas about him in this post as a previous exercise to my spoken introduction.

I completely agree with novelist Vladimir Nabokov: one of his biggest reasons in order not to give live interviews was that he was much better writer than speaker, so why should he speak about his novels? I feel in a similar way every time I have to speak to an audience. That’s why I have decided to write this post, I prefer to put my ideas on a text before communicating them in a talk.

I heard about Brian Lamb many times, all of them by some of my colleagues telling wonderful things about how this professor innovates in the use of learning technologies. Everybody was speaking about him in such a good way that in my mind he became like a untouchable pope with miles of distance between me. That image soon felt when I met him personally. It was during UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar, where he assisted as part of the audience: dressed up with a black shirt with big white music keys in. To me his image was near to one of those Nudie country suits. Weird for a Canadian teacher, isn’t it? I thought the same.

After this first impact I started to talk with him and to me he seemed a really nice person, he was actually trying to speak some Spanish so that I could feel more comfortable with him. We didn’t talk about e-Learning, neither about technologies or mash-ups, we spoke about his son and family, for at that time he was a visiting professor at UOC and had his family (including his girlfriend’s mom) with him.

The rest of the things I know about him I learned from his weblog:

He is an expert on social learning and open education, formerly Emerging Technologies Discoordinator with UBC’s Office of Learning Technology.

A fast look to his weblog give us very interesting information: his very innovative idiosyncrasy as learning professional is accompanied by a very acid and fun sense of humour. Some of his most famous articles are titled making funny (and atractive for the audience) winks to cultural stereotypes and myths. For example:

Brian is also a very valuable speaker. Let me summarize some of the ideas he recently expressed on an interview published at UOC’s web site:

  • About educator refusing technological innovation:

    There are a lot of really legitimate grounds to feel insecure, but I believe that if the university addresses those challenges head on it can actually thrive in a more open, disaggregated knowledge environment, really actively engaging the wider community. 

  • About Web 2.0 uses in education:

    My approach is to look at what is working out in the Web 2.0 and try to see what lessons we can learn. And it seems like the projects that are successful there have an invitation to participate as a big part of that. It is the idea that individuals doing the things that they want to do can nonetheless be part of something bigger. The opportunity to offer feedback, the idea that a piece of media once created can be replicated, adapted and mixed with other pieces of content… 

  • And some more, just see how he inspires others. In this case is Jim Groom, creator of the term edupunk, writing:

    The ability for Brian to simultaneously challenge and embrace ideas may be facilely discounted as contradictory or incongruous. But, in fact, it is this faculty that made this talk so deeply inspiring, it wasn’t only unbelievably gripping as performance, it was also deeply evocative as a means to elegantly problematize while affectionately living within some of the basic tenets supporting the infra-structural ideas of educational technology. Brian’s final slide sums it up even more eloquently… 

These are just some examples of Lamb’s value as a educator and speaker, but there are many more. Some of them will be shown today at his talk, some of them will be appearing on his weblog. The rest of us should just sit down, open our mind (as Jimi Tenor says, they should be like open books, so that we could read some others mind easly) and let him inspire us.

23 March

Susan Metros: Visual Literacy conference video

Education Worldwide


Susan Metros presented at UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar her particular point of view of how Visual Literacy should be done in what she calls “the age of the Big Picture”. Now that images (of any kind: still, motion, print, digital, etc.) are running the world of communication, it’s sad to check how the youngest are used to decode visual messages but barely know how to create them. Susan Metros conference, now summarized on this video, is a great guide to visual literacy. Don’t miss it.

17 March

Susan Metros talks about visual literacy (teaser)

Education Worldwide



Susan E. Metros (University of Southern California) also visited Barcelona on November 08 to attend UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar. Her expertise areas combine graphic design, e-Learning and visual literacy.

Her conference, entitled “Visual literacy on the age of the big picture”, was a theorical session about how can we define visual literacy, a discipline everybody has asumed as a very necessary one. However, visual literacy doesn’t have its own theories, it borrows from several other disciplines. All about the topic on Susan Metros’ extended video, to be published on Monday March 23th.

Meanwhile, if you want to embed this teaser on your website you can use this code.

18 February

Howard Rheingold: how to make a successful virtual community

Learning Technologies


It was a great pleasure and honour to share a working day with one of the most influential writers about the Internet. As Howard Rheingold says on the video teaser we published some days ago, he has been working on the creation of development of a lot of on line communities. Based on this experience (and with the security that not all of them are going to be successful), Rheingold explained the keys to build up a community with high probabilities to succeed. In my opinion, this video (this master class) is useful not only for those professionals interested on the field of e-Learning, but for any smart Internet user too.

Please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post to start a conversation about the topic that might be profitable for all. In addition, if you want to embed the video on your site, the code is available here.

13 February

Howard Rheingold's 'Virtual Learning Communities' teaser

Education Worldwide, Learning Technologies


This UNESCO Chair in e-Learning had the privilege of sharing knowledge with Howard Rheingold last December. The American sociologist and writer, author of the so-famous book Smart Mobs and creator of the ‘virtual community’ term, chaired a roundtable that took place at UOC on December 11th.

This video is a teaser of the complete video, to be published on Februay 18th. Although Howard Rheingold didn’t take part in UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Fifth International Seminar (actually he visited UOC in order to lead a Social Media project), we also wanted to record and share his intervention due to the value of its content. The embed video code is available here.

30 January

Sugata Mitra: Hole in the wall (13' video)

Education Worldwide, OpenEd & OER


The video above is our first feature. It was recorded during Sugata Mitra’s conference at UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar: Fighting the Digital Divide Though Education. We wanted it to be long enough to allow our readers understand all Mitra’s ideas (wich are great, by the way) and the overall philosophy of the conference. At the same time, we know how valuable is people’s time when they are on line, so we needed the video to be short in order not to abuse of them.

Please, don’t hesitate to leave your comments on this post, we want to start a discussion about Sugata Mitra’s ‘Hole in the Wall’, Self Organized Learning Systems, etc. If you want to embed the video in your web site, you can get the code here

Update (02/02/09)

Finally, if you would like to watch the whole conference video, please wait until Monday February 2nd.

Those of you who have already seen the 13′ video and are willing to watch the entire conference you can do it at our Sclipo.com virtual academy. Please notice that it’s a 87′ video of the whole conference and contains some silences and things that might be unconfortable for online viewers.

27 January

How kids can teach themselves (and become millionaires)

Education Worldwide

This might be a little bit off topic, but worths some lines. Some of you might have already watched Slumdog Millionaire, the award winning and serious Oscar candidate film directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan.

The film is an adaptation of Q and A, a novel by indian diplomat Vikas Swarup whose success, like many times happens, came as a chain of casualities. Wikipedia explains it perfectly:

A BBC radio play based on the book won the Gold Award for Best Drama at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2008 and the IVCA Clarion Award 2008. Harper Collins brought out the audio book, read by Kerry Shale, which won the Audie for best fiction audio book of the year. Film Four of the UK had optioned the movie rights and the movie titled Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle has been released in the US to great critical acclaim. It won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and three awards (Best Film, Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer) at the British Independent Film Awards 2008.

What almost nobody seems to know is that Vikas Swarup got the inspiration for his novel from Sugata Mitra’s ‘Hole in the wall experiment‘, even when there is no explicit mention to the indian professor neither in the film or in the novel, Self Organized Learning Systems are the only explanation possible to an indian poor kid strongly prepared and with deep knowledge that allows him to win the Who wants to be a millionaire? tv quiz.

Luckily, the indian writer is fairy recognizing Sugata Mitra’s work: “I was inspired by the hole-in-the-wall project, where a computer with an internet connection was put in a Delhi slum,” he told India Express. “When the slum was revisited after a month, the children of that slum had learnt how to use the world wide web.”, said to Times Online. We would be proud of an Oscar award for the film.

23 January

Sugata Mitra's 'Hole in the wall' conference video preview

Education Worldwide, OpenEd & OER


UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning is proud to start the dissemination of its audiovisual knowledge campaign. Sugata Mitra is the first character of a series of videos that will be published monthly. Today’s piece is just a short preview of the two full length videos that will be out on Friday january 30th. From now on, we will be able to watch a teaser before enjoying a 10-15 minutes version of each conference plus the complete recording done during the chair’s Fifth International Seminar, held in Barcelona on 12-14 November 2008.

Both this and all the forthcoming videos are by-nc-nd Creative Commons licensed. Please, feel free to use the embed code to copy or distribute the video anywhere. Enjoy and stay tuned.

09 January

"Mobile telephones will reduce the digital divide"

ICT4D, Learning Technologies


Shantanu Narayen (1964, Hyderabad, India) is managing director of Adobe, the second software company in the world. Products like Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign or PDF have been created on their laboratories.

The sentence above is the main conclusion from an interview published on January 1st on Spanish newspaper El País (spanish text, sorry).

Some of the Narayen ideas are very interesting:


  • Using video conferences and e-learning platforms can help us reducing the cost of papers, travels, etc. It’s the same with on line apps for administrative works, they acelarate decision making.
  • We are suffering a hard economical situation with no precedents and its impact is very difficult to measure. Anyway, we can anticipate that the digital divide will continue reducing because technological innovation will go on, despite of the crisis.
  • It’s very important the amazing grow of the mobile market, a technology that will help actively to reduce the digital divide.

21 November

"The videogame is part of my school"

Learning Technologies


Dibujo de LUIS F. SANZ 


Illustration by LUIS F. Sanz for El País. 

The sentence above is the title choosen by Javier Martín to open a very interesting articled featured yesterday on El País, one of the most important Spanish newspapers.

On his piece, Martín speaks about the use of videogames as a learning tool, which was the main topic of the ECGBL 2008 Congress, announced on this blog by one of his organizers some weeks ago.

The article also features some of the most interesting opinions of Professor Sugata Mitra and, of course, an explanation of his “Hole in the wall project”. The main novelty of the article for the readers of this blog might be the list of competences announced by the MacArthur Foundation as result of the study “Media education for the 21st century“:

  1. Play: experiment with the context
  2. Act: adopt different identities
  3. Simulation: interpret and build dynamic models from the real world.
  4. Appropiation: assuming ideas and rebuild them onto multimedia materials.
  5. Multitask: scan the context and change the target if it is needed
  6. Distributive knowledge: interact with tools in order to distribute our knowledgement
  7. Collective intelligence: gather information and share with others in order to achieve a common target
  8. Common sense: evaluate the credibility of the different sources
  9. Transmediatic: follow the trace of stories and informations through different methods
  10. Connection: search, summarize and distribute
  11. Negotiation: move between the different groups respecting multiple perspectives.

18 November

UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Fifth International Seminar pictures


Just a quick post to announce that we have already uploaded all the pictures from UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Fifth International Seminar: Fighting the Digital Divide through Education to our Flickr account. We will upload more seminar content during the next days, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, a slide of the seminar pictures:

18 November

The hole in the wall: the holes in my thinking and my life

Education Worldwide, ICT4D

a line of screens, originally uploaded by phitar.

Note: this was mostly written last Friday, and I only write here a small fraction of what I wanted… But I do not want to hold this post hostage until I get it right.

I do not have the time, bandwidth (technological, cognitive), or battery life to properly respond to this week’s sessions at the UOC’s Open EdTech and Digital Divide conferences. Though again, I am pleased to point you to Ismael’s incredible liveblogging performance – and I believe the video archives will soon be available.

I will say that I was as provoked and moved by Dr. Sugata Mitra’s session on his Hole in the Wall project (also here) and subsequent work as by any session I have ever attended. I won’t attempt a synthesis, but will suggest that watching his TED Talk will be twenty minutes very well spent.

And two sets of related questions that I can’t get out of my head:

  • If we can so rapidly mobilize a trillion dollars or more to rescue a financial system from the incompetence, greed and depradations of the people who are still in charge of it, is it not in our self-interest to spend a small fraction of that amount for the countless millions of extraordinarily deprived and vulnerable children of the world? Dr. Mitra estimates a cost of 3 cents US per student per day for his method. If we won’t do it because it’s the humane thing to do, let’s do it out of our own self-interest and self-preservation (if nothing else, think of the global conflict and security implications).
  • What are the broader implications of “minimally invasive education” and “self-organizing educational systems”? Dr. Mitra is convinced that these methods cannot work for adults. Based on my own instinct and experience, I have to reluctantly agree with him. Why not? And what would adults need to unlearn in order to learn the way these kids do? I again find myself thinking that the teaching of skills is less important than changing attitudes – but I have no idea how best to do so.

Finally, thanks to the scale and intimacy of this week’s events, I (and members of my family) had the privilege to spend time interacting socially with Dr. Mitra in a casual environment. He was unfailingly kind, generous, irreverent and immensely amusing, evidently more or less devoid of ego… Funny how so often the most impressive people I meet in this field seem to share those attributes.

Hopefully I’ll have more reflections on this remarkable week in future posts.

14 November

UOC UNESCO Chair in Elearning Fifth International Seminar (VIII). Reflections & Conclusions

Education Worldwide, ICT4D

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning Fifth International Seminar. Fighting the Digital Divide through Education)
Reflections & Conclusions

The real fact of the digital divide

Multiple factors
Many different (digital) divides, in relationship to context: culture, geography, education, wealth
Where to start? Many and different approaches

Importance of the “digital” issue

The “digital” embedded in the socioeconomic divide
The “digital” embedded [...]