“MOOCs and Beyond” is the title of issue number 33 of eLearning Papers, a quarterly online magazine published by the European Commission. Guest edited by Dr Yishay Mor, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology at the UK’s Open University, he believes the publication is coming out in an “incredibly timely” moment, at a point when “we are getting over the initial excitement about MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] and people are trying to get a more critical view” about them.
In a podcast interview given to eLearningeuropa.info Dr Mor expresses his wish to contribute with this special issue to “open up the discussion about MOOCs” and have a conversation started about questions that are currently on the table, such as “are MOOCs really adequate to open up the education scene as they seem to promise?”.
This new eLearning Papers offering shows the wide array of formats MOOCs can take. However, Mor points out that there are still several barriers for participation: basic access (not everybody has a broadband connection) and cultural barriers (some people are not comfortable using means such as blogs or chats). MOOCs generally seem to assume “people are comfortable with a variety of technological tools and channels”, and this is not always the case.
Nevertheless there is no doubt that “MOOCs do open up the educational scene. They have the potential to democratize education further and open up the scene in a different way: anyone with something to say can run a MOOC.”
The “possibilities are there for democratization and increase access, but the barriers are still there and we have to think hard about this”, stresses Dr Mor, who recommends “MOOCs and Beyond” to educational practitioners interested or intrigued about this phenomena, university administrators, higher education institutions considering to step into this area, and policy makers, who should remain vigilant and not feel tempted to stop investing in universities because of these online courses. “Both, higher education institutions and MOOCs have their purpose. The two should synergise in various ways. And in order to understand the relationships between both it is good to read this special issue of eLearning Papers”, he recommends.
43rd EUCEN European Conference - Universities’ Engagement in and with Society. The ULLL contribution
The 43rd EUCEN European Conference takes up two major aspects of University Lifelong Learning (ULLL): its diversity (the "lifewide" dimension) and its potential for providing learning opportunities throughout one’s life (the "lifelong" dimension).
ULLL in all its diversity...
Universities all over Europe are at present intensively developing institutional strategies for Lifelong Learning, thus progressing to a Lifelong Learning University. All the individual strategic development processes and the results of European strategic projects supporting universities show clearly that there is no single definition or approach to University Lifelong Learning and that the concept covers a wide range of activities. Best and good practices also demonstrate that this diversity is positive because it allows institutions to find their own answer, at institutional and regional level embedded in an international university environment, to positioning themselves when it comes to ULLL. EUCEN developed a wide definition for ULLL which is more an encouragement for an institution’s development than a definition in the traditional sense:
"ULLL is the provision by higher education institutions of learning opportunities, services and research for: the personal and professional development of a wide range of individuals – lifelong and lifewide; and the social, cultural and economic development of communities and the region. It is at university level and research-based; it focuses primarily on the needs of the learners; and it is often developed and/or provided in collaboration with stakeholders and external actors." (EUCEN BeFlex Project)
With this 43rd EUCEN European Conference we would like to offer an open and stimulating forum for practitioners, policy makers and researchers. We will explore this wide spectrum of contributions University Lifelong Learning is making to societal development. We will look at the contribution ULLL is making to stimulate and accompany innovative processes in regional business and industry, in NGOs, and in the public sector. We will also look at the contribution ULLL is making to Civil Society in a more general sense, providing learning opportunities for individuals and groups for active citizenship and community development, aiming at a democratic development in our societies. Developing ULLL successfully means that more and more "new faces" are knocking at the doors of Higher Education – learners who were usually not considering Higher Education but pursuing other educational and professional paths. As institutions we need to look at how welcoming we really are – marketing is not enough. What do we do with these "new learners"? How can we support them efficiently and effectively?
Universities as "learning spaces" throughout one’s life...
2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity promoted by the European Commission and other stakeholders; it is intended to raise awareness, identify and disseminate good practice and to encourage policymakers and stakeholders at all levels to promote active ageing. Within the framework of this conference, we would like to look more closely into this topic by exploring the role of ULLL in individual wellbeing, civic engagement and second careers in later life. Here Higher Education Institutions need to act in a responsible way to include all groups of society and encourage older people to take an active part in society in all areas. However, it is our sincere opinion that the future challenge is "mainstreaming ageing" – learning in later life is not only referring to learning after retirement, but also to people still in employment who want to actively shape their career at a later stage. As ULLL institutions we need to develop new learning opportunities for this group. This is not only to support those wishing to pursue individual career paths, but it is a necessity in view of the decreasing labour force within the next decades in almost all our European countries.
“Building a global community of policymakers, educators and researchers to move education into the digital age” is the theme of the EDUsummIT 2011 conference which takes place from 8-10 June in UNESCO, Paris.
Some 120 prominent stakeholders are expected from the EDUsummIT community who are committed to examining the impact of evidence and dissemination strategies on future ICT policies and practices globally.
They will report on the impact of UNESCO programmes in ICT in education which served as the basis for the first EDUsummIT conference in 2009 and led to a Call to Action on the Future of ICT in Education.
Building on the outcomes of EDUsummIT 2009, the 2011 conference also aims to refine national, international and regional models for the use of ICT in 21st-century education and develop strategies to build a global community in the field of ICT in Education.
EDUsummIT 2011 is organized by UNESCO (Teacher Policy and Development Section), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Kennisnet, International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) WG 3.3 (Research on Education Applications of Information Technologies) W.G. 3.3, the Association of Teacher Education, (ATE) and the International Journal For Computer Assisted Learning.