The first course for auditors on the requirements of the new Portuguese standard “Vocational training management system, including technology-enhanced learning" (NP 4512:2012). The sessions took place on November 29th and 30th on the premises of the Portuguese Institute for Quality (IPQ) in Caparica, Portugal.
The Q-Cert-VET, which develops a new quality standard and supports a related certification scheme for the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Portugal. consortium welcomed 17 experienced auditors from 8 Portuguese and international certification bodies. If you represent a certification body interested in the specifics of this new Portuguese standard, please feel free to contact the Q-Cert-VET consortium through the official website at www.edu-certification.eu/
This book presents the main outcomes of the OER test project. It provides the reader with the foundation for the development of envisaged framework, organised into the four topics: assessment methods; requirements and standards of resources; credentialisation and certification, and recognition and inter-institutional collaboration.
Through consultation with a multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional team of experts the initiative developed a set of supporting tools and guidelines for assessment, recognition and portability of credit based on OER. In particular, our team of researchers developed a proposal for a ‘learning passport’, which would act as an instrument for credit portability between institutions and would allow the description of learning using existing conventions set out by the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and the Council of Europe model diploma supplement.
Call for Papers prolongued! 'Agriculture business, education and training' for the COME-HR - 5th European Conference
The European Conference “Competence Modelling for European HR and Policies: Bridging Business, Education, and Training” (COME-HR) has launched its Call for Papers: All experts from the agricultural sector, human resources development, and competence modelling are invited to contribute their own related professional or academic efforts and to present them in a scientific paper and presentation.
The conference will take place in Brussels, Belgium on the 09th and 10th of November, 2011 and is organized by the European consortium for competence tools eCOTOOL. “By sharing the results of the eCOTOOL project with European professionals and academics and asking them to draw upon their own experience, we hope to greatly benefit the discourse concerning innovations for Europass and the agricultural sector by competence models, E-Learning and social communities”, says Christian M. Stracke, the Coordinator of the eCOTOOL project from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, ISO Convener and editor of many competence standards and specifications. Additionally, the key note speeches and participation of representatives from the European Commission, competence modelling experts, and European standardisation bodies ensure a competent and influential audience and thus fruitful exchange of ideas.
By this Call for Papers all experts and practitioners are invited to contribute to our dialogue on competence modelling for Europass and the agricultural sector and to submit high quality papers describing fully developed results, on-going work or innovative concepts on the following topics:
Innovations for Europass
- Competence models supporting vocational education and training
- Competence modelling in human resource development
- E-Learning for vocational education and training
- Social communities for vocational education and training
- Learning outcomes and competences orientation
- Job profiles and working places defined by competences
- Standardization of competence models
- European tools for supporting mobility and transparency of qualifications
- Qualification standards for the effective linking between education and employment requirements
- Europass instruments and their usage into the transparency of competences and qualification
- Implementation of E-Learning and social communities
- Harmonization of competence models
.Overview of the European Conference:
The conference is organized together with an experience session on the 10th of November which gives all participants the opportunity to exchange their experiences face-to-face. On the 09th of November 2011, next to the key note speeches, the results of the eCOTOOL project will be presented: The Europass CS eco-tools and the Competence Model supporting a better description and recognition of competences and their online representation which will contribute to European competence standardisation and improve vocational education and training and the mobility within Europe.
Overview of the important dates:
- Paper submission deadline: September 25, 2011
- Notification of acceptance: September 30, 2011
- Camera-Ready copy due: October 7, 2011
- Conference program: November 09-10, 2011
Attendance at the European conference “Competence Modelling for European HR and Policies: Bridging Business, Education, and Training” (COME-HR) is free of charge and requires online registration as places are limited. Submissions of papers related to the conference (max. eight pages) must be sent to the eCOTOOL Consortium by Tuesday, 16th of August 2011. The submitters are informed about the acceptance of the papers by 16th of September 2011. All accepted will be published in the official proceedings of the European Conference (with ISBN) and distributed to all conference participants and across whole Europe.
More Information and Contact:
For more information, please visit the web site of the 5th European Conference (COME-HR) “Competence Modelling for European HR and Policies” at the eCOTOOL web site www.competencetools.eu.
Direct enquiries and full papers can be sent to the eCOTOOL project manager Karna Wegner, University of Duisburg-Essen, via e-Mail to: Karna.Wegner@icb.uni-due.de.
For registration, please contact Mr Charalampos Thanopoulos (Agro-Know Technologies) in an email with your name, country of origin and organisational affiliation at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The move to e-learning has been a major development in the recent history of education, involving changes in pedagogy and in the way in which technology is used to support learning. New approaches to education are emerging which promise improvements in provision and learning. Open source and free software and resources are also increasingly important in e-learning and e-teaching, in contrast to the 90´s, when proprietary code and software were dominant. This development is in part driven by economic and policy issues, but also by a desire to make knowledge more accessible.
Our intention in this article is to draw attention to two specific aspects which can make a key contribution to making these wider developments in e-learning successful. Firstly, in parallel with the changes we have mentioned, a number of institutions have collaborated to provide specifications and standards that address several widely recognised problems in e-learning. One key focus for this effort has been on interoperability and re-use, making it possible to use the same information package or learning scenario in several different tools, and to create new units of learning re-using some existing content. This is seen by many as being a key requirement for making e-learning an effective solution, and the main body of this article is taken up by a an introduction to some of the specifications which have been developed to address this need. Particular attention is given to IMS Learning Design, as its pedagogic expressiveness, and its function as a co-ordinating specification, give it a particularly important role.
Secondly, any successful e-learning effort (platform, specification, repository, editor…) needs to be supported by an active community, which is often partly or wholly virtual. The community requests information and raises problems, and provides answers and solutions. In the most cases, the community is open and free and the drive to participate is pure altruism and/or a need of information interchange (Hummel et al, 2005). At the end of the article we briefly describe how the UNFOLD project has contributed to supporting the communities which are working with e-learning specifications.
Standards and specifications
A standard is an international or national method, technology or format, documented in detail, commonly accepted, and backed-up by ISO (International Standards Organisation), CEN (European Centre of Normalization), IEEE or some other recognised standards setting institution. The establishment of a specification is a prior step, and is often carried out by a company or organization, and not yet certified by any standards setting institution. It may, however, be widely or universally adopted, and be accepted as a de facto standard (i.e. a specification which is so widely adopted that in practice it is recognised as an essential standard, even though it has not been given any special formal status).
We now provide an introduction to Learning Design, followed by a survey of the some of the other most well established and relevant e-learning specifications.
IMS LD: Learning Design (IMS, 2003)
IMS Learning Design, or simply IMS LD, (IMS, 2003) is a specification focused on modelling lesson plans and courses, and making them available online as Units of Learning (UoL). It is one of the more recent IMS specifications, and also one of the most ambitious in scope. A wide variety of pedagogical models can be represented by IMS LD, enabling teacher to adapt their resources and learning scenarios to virtual lessons in a flexible way. Far from only sequencing activities or using repositories of learning objects, IMS LD provides several features to create adaptive, dynamic and personalized learning (Burgos et al, 2005; Koper and Burgos, 2005). Through this description of different roles, activities, environments, methods, properties, conditions and notifications, IMS LD can be used to transform lesson plans into formally specified Units of Learning (UoL).
Thus the specification is a flexible way of representing and encoding learning scenarios for multiple or individual learners. It may help to think of it as a way of creating interoperable lesson plans which can be read by an application called a player. The player can take on responsibility for coordinating the learners, teachers, learning resources and activities as the learning process goes forward (Burgos et al, 2005a).
Learning Design does not offer a particular pedagogic model or models, but can rather be used to define a practically unlimited range of scenarios and pedagogic models. Because of this it is often referred to as a pedagogic meta-model. Some previous e-learning initiatives have claimed to be pedagogically neutral. Learning Design does not aim for pedagogic neutrality, but seeks to enable pedagogically aware e-learning.
We now go on to consider a number of other key e-learning specifications.
CP: Content Packaging (IMS, 2001)
Educational content often needs to be packaged in some electronic form, so as to support efficient aggregation, distribution, management and deployment of the content. Authors of educational materials need tools and technologies to assist them in creating content; learning management system vendors, computing platform vendors and learning services providers want efficient distribution and management of the educational materials created by authors; and students need good deployment and delivery of tools.
Thus Content Packaging provides a structure that integrates a number of elements. A Content Package can group, for example, LD (Learning Design), SS (Simple Sequencing), Meta-data and QTI (Question and Test Interoperability).
Final Version 1.1.2 of the IMS Content Packaging Specification was released to the public in August 2001. A revised version 1.2 will be published in mid 2006
LIP: Learner Information Package (IMS, 2001a)
The Learning Information Package is a specification for the records of information held about learners.
It was designed in order to allow records relating to learners and their progresses to be transferred between different software applications and institutions. Version 1.0 of the IMS Learner Information Package Specification was published in March, 2001.
Using LIP a record of all the learner’s achievements can be obtained, so LIP information on students’ progress could even substitute for paper certificates. Information can also be stored about the learner’s preferences, which can help, for example, to support the needs of learners with disabilities. All the information related to learners is stored in an XML file, which uses tags to specify what each piece of information in the record means.
SS: Simple Sequencing (IMS, 2003a)
This specification is used to define rules that determine the learner’s path through learning content. Alternative navigation paths through a learning material collection can be defined, which are followed in response to users actions. It defines a method to represent the intended behaviour of a learning object so that any compliant learning technology will be able to sequence learning activities in a consistent manner.
The Simple Sequencing binding provides a unique namespace which is embedded in the organization element of an Content Packaging manifest. Because Simple Sequencing uses the Content Package structure, it is possible to integrate a sequence into a Learning Design.
The Simple Sequencing Specification was published in March, 2003.
QTI: Question and Test Interoperability (IMS, 2003b)
The IMS Question and Test Interoperability specification makes it easier to share assessment information such as questions, tests and results. It provides a standard way to share data defined in XML, so that users can import and export questions, tests and results. The specification supports both simple and complex questions and tests, which are defined clearly and concisely so as to avoid ambiguity. In this way information about questions and about the learner and his or her results can be shared through different learning management systems and different software packages. Authors of assessments can create their own questions, or include questions designed for other IMS QTI users, making it easier to create question banks for reuse on different systems.
SCORM (ADL, 2000)
The SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a part of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative strategy. The primary sponsors of this initiative are the United States Department of Labour, Department of Defence and the National Guard Bureau.
SCORM was originally designed to support personnel instruction at the Department of Defence of the USA, and as a result the pedagogical assumptions which underlie SCORM reflect educational practice in these institutions. Previously the United States Department of Defence had experienced problems when trying to share courses among the different management systems used in the Department: truck drivers, fire-fighters and military and environmental personnel all had their own training materials and delivery systems, with slight differences between all of them. Moreover, the format for delivering training content, depended on the learning management systems, operating systems and authoring systems used by each organisation. If the organization needed to change one of these technologies, the training material might not work with the new system.
The UNFOLD Project, and support for the communities which work with e-learning specifications
UNFOLD project was conceived of as a measure to promote and coordinate the adoption, implementation and use of IMS Learning Design and related specifications, as this appeared to be the best candidate for resolving the need for more sophisticated interoperability. This judgement has been confirmed by developments during the life of the project. UNFOLD was funded by European Commission as a Framework 6 IST Coordination Action, and project partners were Pompeu Fabra University [www.upf.edu], The Open University of the Netherlands [ www.ou.nl], The University of Bolton [www.bolton.ac.uk] and EUCEN [www.eucen.org]. Extensive details about UNFOLD and its activities are available on the project website at [www.unfold-project.net], and so here we restrict ourselves to a brief outline of the project and its achievements.
To read the whole article, please click here
IMS Consortium, http://www.imsglobal.org/
UNFOLD Project, http://www.unfold-project.net
Moodle OpenUniversiteitNederland, http://moodle.learningnetworks.org/
Runnable Example Units of Learning,
Learning Networks, http://www.learningnetworks.org
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, http://www.upf.edu
- ADL (2000) Sharable Content Object Reference Model, SCORM. Available at
http://www.adlnet.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=scormabt. Retrieved on August 31st, 2005
- Bolton (2004) Reload Project. United Kingdom: The University of Bolton, The University of Strathclyde and JISC. Available at http://www.reload.ac.uk. Retrieved August 31st, 2005
- Burgos, D.; Tattersall, C.; Koper, R. (2005) Utilización de estándares en el aprendizaje virtual. Funcionalidades didácticas de la especificación IMS Learning Design. II Jornadas Campus Virtual. Madrid: Universidad Complutense
- Burgos, D., Berbegal, N., Griffiths, D., Tattersall, C. and Koper, R. (2005a) IMS Learning Design: How the specifications can change the current e-learning landscape. E-learning World, issue 2, March-April. 2005. Moscow, Russia: Magazine of Moscow State University for Economy, Statistics and Computer Science
- Cetis (2005) CETIS website and CETIS encyclopedia. United Kingdom: CETIS. Available at www.cetis.ac.uk. Retrieved on April 28th, 2005
- Hummel, H., Burgos, D., Tattersall, C., Brouns, F., Kurvers, H., Koper, R. (2005) Encouraging constributions in learning networks using incentive mechanisms. In Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21, 355-365
- IMS (2001) Content Packaging. Boston: USA. Available at www.imsglobal.org. Retrieved on August 15th, 2005
- IMS (2001a) Learner Information Package. Boston: USA. Available at www.imsglobal.org. Retrieved on July 30th, 2005 E-learning specifications. An introduction Burgos, D. and Griffiths, D. Page 10 of 10
- IMS (2003) Learning Design. Boston: USA. Available at www.imsglobal.org. Retrieved on July 30th, 2005
- IMS (2003a) Simple Sequencing. Boston: USA. Available at www.imsglobal.org. Retrieved on July 30th, 2005
- IMS (2003b) Question and Test Interoperability. Boston: USA. Available at www.imsglobal.org. Retrieved on July 29th, 2005
- Koper, R., Tattersall, C. (2005) Learning Design: A Handbook on Modelling and Delivering Networked Education and Training. Germany: Springer Verlag
- Koper, R., Burgos, D. (2005) Developing advanced units of learning using Ims Learning Design Level B. In International Journal on Advanced Technology for Learning, Special Session. Issue: 2, Number 4, October, 2005 [http://hdl.handle.net/1820/333]
- OUNL (2004). Learning Network for Learning Design. Heerlen: Open University of The Netherlands, OTEC. Available at http://moodle.learningnetworks.org. Retrieved on August 14th, 2005
- OUNL (2000). Educational Modelling Language, EML. Heerlen: Open University of The Netherlands. Available at http://dspace.learningnetworks.org/handle/1820/81. Retrieved on August 3rd, 2005
- OUNL (2002) Dspace repository. Heerlen: OpenUniversiteitNederland. Available at http://dspace.learningnetworks.org. Retrieved on August 31st, 2005
- Tattersall, C., Koper, R. (2004) EML and IMS Learning Design: from LO to LA. Heerlen: OUNL. Available at http://dspace.learningnetworks.org. Retrieved on June 23rd, 2005
- UNFOLD (2004) UNFOLD Project. Retrieved August 30th 2005 [http://www.unfold-project.net]
- University of Bolton (2005) Reload Project. United Kingdom: JISC Project. Available at www.reload.ac.uk. Retrieved on April 22nd, 2005
- Van der Vegt, Wim (2005) CopperAuthor. Heerlen: Open University of The Netherlands. Retrieved at www.coppercore.org . Retrieved on July 29th, 2005
- Vogten, H., Martens, H. (2005) CopperCore 2.2.2. Heerlen: Open University of The Netherlands. Retrieved at www.coppercore.org. Retrieved on August 9th, 2005
In this interview Dr. Carol Strohecker give us her insights on a lot of subjects around the role of new media in the learning process. We thank her for her kindness to our users.
What is the difference of didactics or methodology between e-learning and traditional teaching/learning (such as face to face teaching)? Can you predict, in e-learning environment, which abilities/skills of human will be developed (or created) more specially, and which one will be reduced (or disappeared), compared with the traditional education?
HaTran (Rest of the world)
Digital capabilities have obviously revolutionised ways we can communicate, access information, construct ideas, and learn. But human experience is strongly dependent on relations among people. We can do some socialising in virtual worlds, and researchers and developers have devised ingenious ways for us to see, hear, and engage with others virtually. No doubt such channels will continue to improve. But we are a long way from achieving the range and subtleties of real-world interpersonal interactions. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology made a bold move in acknowledging the importance of face-to-face, real-time, real-place relating, through their establishment of the MIT Open Courseware movement. By putting syllabi, course notes, and related materials online they are providing a wealth of information to anyone who wants it, free of charge. But they continue to charge tuition fees for the experience of being a student enrolled on campus, because they understand the importance and added value of face-to-face interacting with professors, students, and other members of the MIT community. The most important characteristic of any learning situation, physical or virtual, is its support for people to make their own knowledge – to employ information and relationships in processes of creating their own meanings and understandings.
What are the current practices & methodologies used to teach Computing subjects online keeping in mind that they don’t have local support and are lone learners?
Abdul Rehman http://www.ecmit.ac.ae arehman2 (Rest of the world)
I would recommend the Open Courseware from MIT’s department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Logo, and Squeak. Also, this paper gives an overview of many available systems (but I would recommend checking the material that each of the systems’ developers provide for thorough descriptions of their theoretical bases, recommended uses, and example code.
Do you consider that e-learning should be complemented with Strategic Planning Systems?
Aida AIDUCA (Rest of the world)
I don’t know much about the field of Strategic Planning but I would only say that it would seem a good idea if the learners are the ones not just involved planning their own learning, but in charge of planning their own learning. Others may provide resources and recommendations, but each learner needs to develop self-awareness of how he or she learns well and must have the power to act accordingly.
If we replicate the real world learning situations into the digital environments, the learning process will be more productive? What kind of tools could we provide to create more human digital scenarios?
HaTran’s question prompted some consideration of social factors in learning. We can also consider how the increasing availability of sensing technologies enables a broader range of perceptual and conceptual involvement as people learn with digital technologies. Perhaps these sources would be useful for further consideration:
Do you envisage informal learning playing a greater role within the formal environment of traditional education? If so, what new skills will teachers need to learn to enable this cultural shift?
Paul Justice (United Kingdom) www.elearningscotland.org
Yes, I do think what’s become known as "informal learning" will play an increasingly important role in all sorts of educational settings and processes. It’s important to remember that "informal learning" does not mean "unstructured learning" but, rather, "differently structured learning" – learning settings and processes that have structures which may differ from those we recognise from traditional schooling. In my view, these differing structures come from identifying things that are important to know in the 21st century, examining and articulating the structure of that knowledge, and creating tools and environments that learners can use as they construct this knowledge for themselves. The world is changing so rapidly that there is no reason to assume that anyone, including teachers, will have learned everything they need to know through some initial professional development. Everyone, including teachers, needs to keep learning throughout life and career. The most exciting teacher development project I have seen is "Empowering Minds," conducted by Dr. Deirdre Butler at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University. In this project, practicing teachers learn about digital technologies side-by-side with their young students. The setting is transformed from classroom to studio, where learners of mixed ages work with a range of materials – colourful paper and fabrics, photographs and videos, writing instruments, building bricks embedded with tiny computers and sensors – to construct folkloric narrative scenes with figures that move in response to light and sound. Everyone is a learner, everyone is a teacher, all are creating things together – things that communicate, things that exercise cultural understandings, things that exemplify the deepest ideas in computation. The participants develop understandings of their own learning processes – indeed, they are learning about learning itself, as well as about the interdisciplinary range of ideas. It is a true "learning environment." For more information see:
Why the governments of Europe do not get hundreds of e-learning contents developer companies to develop all standard courses thought in European Schools from 1st grade to 11th grade. There are about 160 or so courses in 11 year of education. EU can afford $ 160 million to develop 160 courses. Then everybody should reach them free like MIT Courseware. Am I too naive?
I don’t know whether anyone has proposed this idea so that it could be debated by potential founders. I would only say that "standards" need to be thought about carefully, especially when such a large and diverse group of people is concerned. Furthermore if we were to develop courses that merely extended today’s curricula, I think we would not be spending our funds well. Too many existing curricula are outdated, both in terms of the knowledge they address and how they address it. We need to rigorously question what people need to know in the 21st century and what kinds of learning environments will best engender this pluralistic knowledge. Last year MIT Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert and I conducted a seminar on this topic, in conjunction with a conference on technologies in education (which was being held at Media Lab Europe as a programme associated with Ireland’s hosting of the EU Presidency). We posed the question of whether people will use computer technologies merely to instigate incremental progress in education, or whether they can prompt us to consider and achieve fundamental changes. Professor Papert’s forthcoming book will explain his preference and recommendations for achieving fundamental change. Meanwhile, you could find some of his earlier writings at:
I’m doing a research about discussion groups and its importance and benefits for the pedagogical process, that’s to say, teaching and learning. What are de pros and cons of the discussion groups? In which way the discussion group can be an answer to the different learning styles in a virtual classroom? Is this tool more appropriate for a specific kind of students, for certain subjects? What type of pedagogical activities can we develop with this tool? Which are the best strategies to stimulate the students participation?
Maria Pedro Serrador mpserrador (Portugal)
What an interesting and important topic you are exploring! I believe that discussion is extremely important to learning processes. It is a way for a learner to make developing ideas explicit and to enrich or challenge them through comparison with other views. Years ago I had the good fortune of studying with the aforementioned Professor Seymour Papert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of my most cherished memories is of a seminar in which we read Galileo’s "Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences." This is a beautifully written work in which three characters discuss the phenomenon of gravity: one is a strong proponent of the view that the phenomenon exists and a sage elucidator of how it works; another is a clever sceptic; and the other is a simpleton who nevertheless asks questions that can be illuminating. This method of personifying different views is a helpful way to bring out detail and sustain rigour in considering an idea. Years later I incorporated readings of Galileo’s "Dialogues" into a seminar that I conducted at Media Lab Europe, along with Imre Lakatos’s "Proofs and Refutations" and Gregory Bateson’s "metalogues" with his daughter Catherine. (We had also read these "talking about talking" exercises in Professor Papert’s seminar). In addition to such literary approaches, there are many computational tools that can support discussion of learning experiences and processes. Here are just a few that I’d consider noteworthy for their strong theoretical bases and application potential or for their ways of supporting learners’ developments of self-awareness, expressive vocabularies, and multiple perspectives: http://www.empoweringminds.spd.dcu.ie, http://www.inderscience.com/filter.php?aid=6019, http://www.media.mit.edu/~ananny/papers/mobileHCI2003.PDF, http://people.ucsc.edu/~wsack, http://smg.media.mit.edu.
I would appreciate your insights on the cultural differences in attitudes toward everyday learning. For instance, what differences do you see between the US and Europe?
Lisa Neal, Editor-in-Chief, eLearn Magazine lisaneal (United States of America)
The biggest difference I see is Europe’s greater reliance on mobile telephony. This pervasive technology enables a range of capabilities in communication and computation, which offer wonderful potentials for intercultural exchange and for learning among people of all ages. I also appreciate being closer to some important landmarks in the learning landscape, such as the "play well" concept emanating from Denmark, the "hundred languages of children" concept from Italy, and the "genetic epistemology" concepts of the Piagetian tradition whose birthplace is at the centre of the European continent. Jean Piaget’s work has often been misunderstood – and often misused – among psychologists and educators. But the emphases on structure and development of knowledge, and on microanalysis of individuals’ thinking processes, provide important approaches for research on learning and for design of tools and environments to support learning.
I am currently working on a project that is looking at the prospects of setting up a Virtual College for the Dublin Fire Brigade training centre. I have spoken to representatives from the Fire Brigade and I am getting a mixed view with regards to using e-learning as a tool for training. A web based learning tool is appealing to some, but not to all. Do you see e-learning as a method of enhancing training and if so, what tools are currently being used and is technology or cost the deciding factor?
Murray Ahern Muahern (Ireland )
You are fortunate to be in Dublin, as a multifaceted group has emerged recently to examine and develop e-learning concepts and methods. I would suggest contacting Declan Kelly at the National College of Ireland. He has access to a wealth of information about e-learning practices and prospectuses. You might also contact Jim Devine at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, who is renowned for his work in e-learning.
I would like to study cognitive sciences next year. Is trying to establish "learning profiles" for individuals an old idea? If yes, what are the current theories about the individual ways of learning? If not, who/what laboratories/institutions are most advanced in this field and are there any on-going projects?
Sergiu Popesco sergiusergiu (France)
My favourite paper on this topic continues to be "Epistemological Pluralism," by Sherry Turkle and Seymour Papert, my own doctoral dissertation (MIT 1991, "Why Knot?") explores a related approach.
This anthology has a section on styles and strategies which exemplifies similar approaches:
These sorts of domain-focused, microanalytical approaches seem more appropriate for learning research than the generalised, questionnaire-based personality- and role-type categories that have become popular for organisation and human resources management.
Suppose there are 120 hours of instruction for a 9th grade physic class: If we can prepare a very well done internet course full of activity, interactivity, simulation, graphics, animations, pictures, videos, I claim that students can learn better than remote areas and underprivileged areas and underdeveloped countries schools’ students. Am I right? A very good course can be prepared let us say at $ 1 million, but when 1 million children reach and use it, it costs only $1 per student: why do you think people and governments of the world do not go for e-learning?
Muvaffak GOZAYDIN e-learning promoter mgozaydin (Turkey)
I share your concern that not enough people have access to such important ideas and your apparent realisation that providing people with computers and communications infrastructure is an important initial step but does not go far enough: we need to develop sophisticated treatments of content so that it is easily distributable, uses a range of media, and supports constructive interactivity enabling individuals to build their own understandings in ways that suit them well.
We are working in implementing e-learning (training) method to replace the traditional method and we have two questions: is there a questionnaire to analyze the profile of student in which we can trust, without the risk of the pleasant answers? And, is there any standard more flexible than SCORM Standard, with more functionalities. We would like to have the support of a browser to search for a word or at least not so hermetic, because if we are constructing a course with variants within the learning profile, we just can’t do it with this standard. How can we deliver the learning objects separately respecting the SCORM standard?
I’m not in a position to recommend an alternative or work-around to SCORM, but your desire for browser support makes sense to me and I hope that any standards developers who are reading may take note of your request. On the deeper methodological issue, I am way about questionnaires as instruments for ascertaining learning profiles. Such instruments go in an important direction by acknowledging differences in learning styles. However their necessary generality makes them brittle when we consider the vast diversity in learning styles: we are far from being able to anticipate and capture all the relevant descriptors of people’s ways of engaging and thinking. From the perspective of the nascent learning sciences, such instruments are premature. We need to do much more research into how people learn in order to develop the views and vocabularies that would help us to characterise thinking processes and how they grow, develop, and change over time for different individuals.
I am interested in the use of commercial Instant Messaging Programs (Yahoo Messenger, ICQ etc.) in e-learning. Are there any examples of using this everyday technology in e-learning? How would you suggest incorporating them in a learning process?
I would suggest pursuing the resources mentioned above in the notes to Maria Pedro Serrador and Murray Ahern.
Could you tell us if the spontaneous and self initiated learning is more successful than the learning traditional model, started and directed by the teacher?
There are several ideas in your question that need to be teased apart: learning may be spontaneous and/or deliberate, self-initiated and/or recommended, self-conducted and/or guided, exploratory and/or rote, constructive and/or didactic, and/or of course much more. I think the most important recent development in learning research and practice is the theory and method of "constructionism," which can be contrasted with the notion of "instructionism". For a wonderful compendium of sources on this idea, see: http://www.papert.org
I would like to know to what extent the ICT and the new technological devices applied to the educational field can really change the way we think. I mean: using hypertext environments frequently -for instance- could change the linear way in which we structure knowledge?
Technologies can echo familiar ways of thinking or support new ones, depending on how we choose to situate and use the capabilities. I think the most important step we can take toward employing the full power of the computer is to encourage people to go beyond word processors, spreadsheets, and search engines to exploring the computer’s extreme versatility as a modeling tool. Even young children can write computer programmes to animate graphics, compose melodies, and control real-world movements of gears and sensors. These activities can be enjoyable and valuable in and of themselves, but they can also promote learning about fundamental ideas about how systems work generally – and this is important knowledge for surviving in our social and physical, large and small contexts on planet Earth. I will soon be publishing a paper elaborating on these ideas in the International Journal of Knowledge and Learning: http://www.inderscience.com/browse/index.php?journalCODE=ijkl ("Learning Cyrkus," in press).
What do you think about the power of "unwitting learning" - for example learning from experience?
kopeckyk (Czech Republic)
I think the discovery of the unconscious mind and studies of unconscious processes of thought are among the most important advances of recent times. I am grateful to writers such as Freud, Poincaré, Piaget, Winnicott, Papert, and Minsky for their studies of such processes, which play an immeasurable role in "unwitting learning." Such processes are perceptual, cognitive, affective, and emotional. We still have much to learn about how these aspects of human experience function and interrelate. Perhaps serendipity is worth considering as another aspect of "unwitting learning." The world gives us many ways to probe and understand the workings of gravity, ecologies, families, and countless other complex phenomena that constitute our experience. But where the natural world does not provide easily accessible means for developing such understandings, we can devise our own representations and models to aid experimentation. The computer is an excellent tool for such explorations. Again, please see my forthcoming article, "Learning Cyrkus," for further consideration of these points: http://www.inderscience.com/browse/index.php?journalCODE=ijkl
I am incorporating an e-learning platform for Language and communication teachers in Chili. They are teachers of seventh grade (students from 11-12 years old). I’m interested in your opinion on a blended strategy that incorporate classroom activities (e.g. oral language, drama, TV or radio listening, news reading) and web-based activities (construction of dialogues between characters, developing of drama sketches, news analysis, exercises of school journalism, etc. Can one combine these activities in a way that there is continuity in the course and that neither the purpose of learning nor the course’s objectives are lost?
Rolando Palacios (Chile)
Your approach sounds delightful and I hope you will pursue it. The different media lend themselves to different kinds of activities, which may be associated with different ideas and with different learning styles. These broad ranges have great potential to support "the purpose of learning," with each person being able to seek out and exercise interests and preferred approaches within an overall context. Please consider carefully what you mean by "continuity" and the "course’s objectives." Each person may be best able to create continuity for themselves if it means coherence within their own scope and progression of ideas. And are your choices of media consistent with your objectives? The broad range of media may be most consistent with a broadly encompassing notion of learning, one which respects and empowers each thinker’s unique development rather than attempting to bring everyone into the same prescribed knowledge. Above all, real learning takes time, and the sort of learning environment you describe would need especially to allow participants to spend time exploring the range of ideas and media, deepening activities in areas discovered to be fruitful. You could find examples of such environments, with descriptions of the media and other design decisions they rely on as well as analyses of the learning they support, in these books on constructionism and at the site of the previously mentioned Empowering Minds project: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0893917869/qid=1113719826/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-8271849-0011115, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805819851/qid=1113719826/sr=2-2/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_2/104-8271849-0011115.
I would like to thank all of the correspondents for their thoughtful and provocative questions. I appreciate this opportunity to exchange views with you and hope you will persevere in your attempts to engender productive learning experiences and better understandings of how learning happens.
Carol Strohecker has conducted learning research at Media Lab Europe, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She earned the PhD of Media Arts and Sciences from MIT in 1991, and the MS in Visual Studies from MIT in 1986. She has been a Lecturer for the MIT Media Arts and Sciences programme and has worked in the Human Interface Group of Sun Microsystems. Carol has been a Fellow of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the US National Endowment for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities. She holds 4 US patents for her work in interactive media tools and methods.
In this portal we published an article by you entitled “Why isn’t e-learning taking off in a big way in our daily lives?” Do you think it is beginning to take off now?
The situation is complex, as e-learning implies making technology work in a process called learning. But the process of learning has not been well understood and this leads to a situation where people used technology to support learning although they do not know how learning really works. So I think it was a dramatic situation from the start because learning is more complex than most people think. But over the last few years we have been going through the learning process itself, learning how to make technology work for learning. Today more people understand what learning means, where learning happens and how to use technology to support it. So we are well placed now for take-off.
What do we need to achieve scale and scope in e-learning? Is a problem of common standards, common rules...?
There are a number of issues, which should be addressed, at least three. The first one is the one you mention: without stable standards in the industry, it is really difficult for a market to evolve. And in this case the e-Learning Industry Group places the emphasis on open standards for e-learning. We don’t want standards controlled by individual companies; they would slow down the evolution of the market and stifle innovation.
The second issue is obviously the whole infrastructure side, which is often underestimated. I hear often the people say ‘we have the infrastructure in place’, ‘there are no more problems with infrastructure’, but I do not believe this. The infrastructure is much more than the network and the access devices. All the virtual learning environment is really infrastructure, because it should enable the individual to access learning material and to obtain information, to link up with the system from wherever you are. And it must be integrated in your enterprise systems so that you can create a seamless environment for learning, knowledge management and work. In my opinion, this infrastructure is still at an embryonic stage; with even the basic layer i.e. the network in most cases is not appropriate to handle multimedia content.
What’s your deadline for that?
I think it will happen over the next five years. There will be a big push in infrastructure, you can already see the broadband push from the European Union, which goes beyond e-learning. And at the same time we’ll see very significant and fast growth wireless systems. Wireless is liberation for people using PCs.
To continue with your schema, what’s the third issue to be addressed to enhance e-learning?
The third factor is Content. You know how challenging it is to transform traditional contents into digital contents and to redesign them for learning. All this implies a huge change and I believe one of the big challenges in our emerging market is how the content industry can respond to these necessities.
Only 58% of Europeans said they could use a computer, while 50% said they could not use Internet, according to a recent Survey by the Eurobarometer – Cedefop. What’s your opinion about the eSkills level of Europeans?
These numbers are alarming and should be taken by governments as very important input for policies. We need another large push in Europe aimed at building the basic ICT literacy including Internet, amongst the broader population. How can somebody who is not familiar with the Internet benefit from e-learning? How can these people be part of a lifelong learning process, which is based on technology? I believe the European Commission and the national governments need to review their policies and launch major initiatives setting specific objectives for ICT literacy and monitoring the progress. And there are also a number of companies who can help governments to improve general ICT skills.
How big is the e-learning market in Europe?
It's difficult to say, it depends how you look at it. There are different numbers available from market research companies. I would not want to pick a particular one - but what is certain is that e-learning is growing very fast and becoming a multi-billion Euro market.
When people think about how to improve their professional skills, only a small proportion (12%, according to the Eurobarometer study) think about Open and Distance Learning. This seems related to longstanding ideas about where one is supposed to learn, that is at schools, training centres, universities... Is there a problem about how e-learning is perceived? Maybe the image e-learning has is too technological?
You are right; there is an issue that goes deeply into the cultural sphere. The importance of such cultural aspects in the perception of e-learning has been underestimated. And many people who were interested at the early stages were discouraged because it was a hassle to get into e-learning – hence the benefits did not show up for the end-user as expected. Now with increasingly robust technical infrastructures and user-friendly learning environments this is starting to change. Yet we have still a way to go where a critical mass of people become promoters of e-learning based on their positive experience.
What would be the priority to increase people’s participation in e-learning?
Above all we need systems that are easy to use, where everyone can easily access engaging rich media learning content or collaboration resources. We need this absolute simplicity. Let me give you an example: when people have permanent access to broadband, the statistics show that user behaviour already changes. When everyone has easy access to broadband and wireless they will use the net in completely new ways. This means that there will be a critical mass of people stimulating the content industry and service providers to really provide what people want.
What’s your opinion about the difference between e-learning development in Europe and in the United States?
As far as I can see, the US is more aggressive in implementing e-learning in various areas. In the US, Universities must provide today what I would call a “21st century virtual campus” to be competitive. There are High Schools in the US with eight to twelve thousand pupils online. Culturally it seems to be a bit easier to promote e-learning in the US. Europe has the complexity and beauty of many different languages and cultures, adds complexity but this wealth can be exploited through e-learning, because people share learning programs and collaborate across different cultures.
What activities is eLIG planning for the near future?
We try to be very present in the area of policy recommendations and we take a position in a number of policy areas such as, for example, the European Union's e-learning programme. We will continue to do this. We are also focusing on a number of important areas for the development of the industry: infrastructure, content, open standards and teacher training are some of the most relevant. In these areas we are producing white papers, which will point out the direction the industry should take. In addition to this we want to put specific focus in 2004 on the best ways e-learning could be adopted in SMEs. The competitiveness of SMEs is a particular focus for the European Commission and the Member States and we want to contribute with the exchange of best practices and the development of a vision in this arena.Related articles
Why isn’t e-Learning Taking off in a Big Way in our Daily Lives? by Richard Straub.
eLIG, the eLearning Industry Group by Richard Straub.
Recommendations to Enhance e-Learning in Europe