The iJET journal aims to focus on the exchange of relevant trends and research results as well as the presentation of practical experiences gained while developing and testing elements of technology enhanced learning.
Its mission is to provide customer-driven support to the EU policy-making process by researching science-based responses to policy challenges that have both a socio-economic and a scientific or technological dimension
Nicolas Balacheff: "There is a growing understanding of the role and needs of teachers and institutions, of the place of knowledge in the design, and of the implementation and deployment of ICT"
Continuity! I think that the main challenge for the EC’s technology-enhanced learning (TEL) research policy—but it might not only be the case of TEL—is ensuring a continuity of its policy that will be directly in line with the “sustainability” challenge that the Commission offered to the new FP6 instruments. It is clear that if the policy doesn’t have a long-lasting vision of the development of the field, researchers - because of their need for financial support - will just try to surf the wave of the always-changing priorities. As I suggested somewhere else, it will stimulate the development of the Acadustry, a chimera of industry and academia that will indeed be sterile. On the contrary, a policy informed by a long-lasting vision of what I deem necessary for the development of the European research area will be a strong and productive support to research. Ahead of that, academic research and R&D have the responsibility for developing a research domain that is both scientifically robust and productive.
Among the priorities I see for us, is the responsibility to organise the fight against reinventing the wheel and developing technologies that are all-but-forgotten soon after their development by PhD students or projects. A stable EC policy would be a real incentive to make this effort. In particular, the challenge will be less a question of seeing the future twenty years ahead, but rather one of understanding what we know, where the current problems and barriers are, and in which areas we can make real breakthroughs. I would like to suggest that if we engage this direction, we will be more efficient in supporting the development of SMEs in the field, offering real solutions to them, and methods to issues they have to face now, in today’s market.
Kaleidoscope has already shaped elements to support the EU efforts to set a productive TEL research area; a good example of this is the Kaleidoscope virtual doctoral school. Soon the Kaleidoscope open archive initiative will demonstrate the capacity of researchers to share and document their production properly and at an international level. However there are difficulties that come from the fragmentation of TEL on a regional basis. The obstacle raised by this fragmentation is quite difficult to overcome because the research needs are not expressed in the same way by all the European nations and the needs are not shared; learning is not yet a global market. This has an impact on the relations with users and SMEs, whose markets are in general quite local and specific. However by setting up European research teams on concrete and precise topics, Kaleidoscope has initiated a movement to build a European research force with a sustainable scientific agenda. Moreover, while building the network, a fragmentation of the research field itself appeared. We are now reducing it, though, with initiatives like the convergence workshop to be held next December to bridge research on collaborative, mobile, and inquiry learning.
What do you consider at this stage to be the most important research revelations in the field of technology-enhanced learning? What can learners expect from the future?
The inertia of knowledge building in the learning sciences is far more important than in other domains. I don’t expect “revelations” but rather a growing awareness of the complexity and the nature of what we are working on. I expect the development of frameworks and methodologies that will allow us to understand where we are, what our results are, and what our priorities should be. We are already beyond the technology push and learner-centred design; there is a growing understanding of the role and needs of teachers and institutions, of the place of knowledge in the design, and of the implementation and deployment of ICT.
The learners can expect from the future more personalised, more reactive learning environments: learning environments more integrated into the global educational system in and out of schools, formal or informal. But my discourse here is too general and common. Actually, everything has been said about the expected evolution of the learning environment in general. We now have to be more specific and say what we can expect for general education and universities, for learning at the workplace and at home, in a museum, or on the playground. Because we understand the needs better, learners should expect more relevant and specific learning environments.
They should also expect learning environments that are more coherent or inline with the assessment and accreditation procedures in schools, universities, or at the workplace. There is an “evaluation divide” that has to be addressed; this is not a “revelation” but one of the key challenges we have to take up. As you can see, this not only addresses the learner, but also the teachers, the trainers, and the institutions.
How do you react to the criticism sometimes made of researchers generally that they tend to research topics which are of interest to them and which they find important rather than the topics that society as a whole expects and needs them to research?
This is a normal tension that exists everywhere, and which may exist forever, I’m afraid. The more you progress, the more you understand your ignorance, and you see that the problems you’ve been considering may have been badly formulated, which in turn means the more you will develop research that may be less self-explanatory for the so-called society. I say “so-called” because it may well be the case that the market and the users, the policy makers and the parents, do not have the same view on what the priorities are and what the focus of research should be. It is not even clear that they can effectively articulate research problems, just as academics may have difficulty in envisioning the application of what they are doing. Nobody is really right, nobody is really wrong in that matter. We need a better understanding of each other, better respect of each other’s responsibilities and competencies.
Let me give an example: Researchers have invented dynamic geometry that the society didn’t ask for but is now using widely, whereas society is asking for technology to enhance the learning of maths that researchers seems unable to provide! Maybe this demonstrates the misunderstanding. The difficulty in learning mathematics is a problem that is too vaguely formulated. On the other hand, even if dynamic geometry has had an impact, it hasn’t provided a definitive solution for the learning of geometry, although it has improved its teaching.
We need a place where both are able to interact and understand each other better. We need a kind of gateway among the academic world, the users, and industry. It is a challenge that Kaleidoscope has taken up together with specialists in the dissemination and transfer of technology, who should be able to act as facilitators in building the needed linguistic, conceptual, and political bridges.
How can the TEL research community supported by Kaleidoscope avoid the dangers of constantly "re-inventing the wheel", i.e. how is it possible to record and make current and previous research activities and findings available on a very wide scale for the next generation of researchers?
In my opinion, the best instrument we could employ for this purpose is currently a documented open archive, in line with the current Open Archive Initiative. Such an archive will provide a central and sustainable repository on the model of the well-known ArXiv, which is heavily used by researchers in physics, mathematics, and computer-science.
To develop such an archive, we will need to agree on metadata at a scientific level and hence on the definitions and concepts that lie behind it. It will make the current scientific results and resources available to PhD students, researchers, and projects. Moreover, we must consider that an open archive is multilingual, raising in a very concrete way the question of the epistemological diversity in our field in Europe and beyond. We thus also have to support the development of better mutual understanding and awareness of the differences that prevent us from fully sharing our production today. This should also apply to software and digital resources, indeed combining the standardization efforts that are already being engaged in at a technological level.
Other materials, like video records and large corpora — like those of learning trails—must be shared in the same way. This will take some time since it is very unlikely that such a movement will find its cruising speed very quickly. We must be willing and patient! We must be supported by a stable policy with a long-lasting vision.
Are researchers the best people to lobby policy-makers, and if not, then who should provide the interface between those carrying out front-line research and those responsible for policy making in the same field?
First, here as elsewhere, the researchers need mediators in order to communicate with policy makers. Who can to do that is not clear; the answer might lie in people who are closer to specialised dissemination or to R&D. But there is a difficulty specific to TEL that you may not find in every field. Because people have been educated in schools and have often had the experience of being parents of students and pupils, they feel that they have knowledge about learning that they can claim with the same authority as researchers. This is a very interesting phenomenon, and it constitutes one of the more important barriers in communication between researchers and society, especially policy makers. Look, either researchers express their results in terms not directly understandable and that are seen as jargon, or they express them in everyday language and it is seen as truism…
There is a need to build a communication channel. In my opinion a medium like the eLearning Europa web site or a conference like Online Educa Berlin can contribute - and actually are contributing to this effort. How could it be more systematic? A solution might be by ensuring that all PhD students are trained in general communication, dissemination strategies, and science popularization. This should be part of a modern researcher’s training. By the way, in big ICT companies, the researchers are not in direct contact with the market: the R&D engineers and possibly marketing people are between them and the users or consumers. Why should academia make the economy of this interface? If a research group cannot afford that, it may be possible for a larger organisation like Kaleidoscope to provide this interface, this “gateway” among academia, the society, and industry.
Kaleidoscope is offering support to PhD and Master’s students through the Virtual Doctoral Schools. What are the barriers to implementing a successful Virtual Doctoral School in Europe in the field of TEL, e.g. national differences regarding supervision practice, etc.?
We have just started a systematic exploration of the commonalities and differences, of the obstacles and of the facilitating conditions for the full establishment of such a school. The fact is that we should probably anticipate difficulty in reaching a consensus about the way PhDs are trained and also about the content of their training. What could constitute a course at this level? At what point are the scientific contents shared enough so that they can be considered as a common reference? The building of a TEL doctoral school is not only a pedagogical enterprise and an institutional partnership, it is really a scientific construction whose result will have an impact far beyond the PhD training.
I see this as a convenient back door to the shaping of the scientific foundation of TEL research. Moreover, this common reference must be flexible and open to rapid evolution; a virtual doctoral school should provide resources that the supervisors and students are able to adapt to their needs and view of PhD studies.
Kaleidoscope is developing an infrastructure at a PhD level; Prolearn is developing an infrastructure at a Master’s level. This is interesting and suggests that a common effort should be made in the near future to bridge the two networks and to reach an even more integrated policy for the development of TEL research. Indeed, there are stimulating and interesting challenges for the coming 7th framework programme. I hope the European Commission will take it up with us in a spirit of continuity in view of the huge effort we have all made up to now in search of robust and sustainable integration of the field.
About Dr. Nicolas Balacheff
Dr. Nicolas Balacheff is Directeur de Recherche (senior scientist) at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He also serves as Director of the Leibniz Laboratory in Grenoble, France, a multidisciplinary laboratory in computer science and discrete mathematics, with 100 researchers. In addition, he is the present scientific manager of Kaleidoscope, the European Network of Excellence on technology-enhanced learning.
Kaleidoscope is the European research network shaping the scientific evolution of technology enhanced learning. It integrates the leading research teams in the field, who work collaboratively across educational, computer and social sciences to transform the quality and reach of the learning experience. Kaleidoscope fosters innovation and creativity through the development of new technologies, methodologies and concepts, defining the challenges and solutions for interdisciplinary research.
Kaleidoscope’s goal is to inform knowledge transfer between education, industry, and the wider society. Through its scientific programme, Kaleidoscope is helping to build a dynamic knowledge-based economy for Europe, engaging with social, economic and political stakeholders at all levels.
In my practice-based research, I demonstrate how I am contributing to a knowledge base of practice by creating my ‘living educational theory’ (Whitehead, 1989, 2004). This involves me in systematically researching my practice in order to bring about improvement. The context of my research is in collaboration with participants on the MSc in Computer Applications for Education and MSc in ICT in Education and Training Management at Dublin City University. Coulter and Wiens (2002, p.23) point out that it is crucial that teachers and researchers become better educational judges of practice. I explain how the educational values that emerge in the course of my practice based research become living standards of judgement. These standards and values include a ‘web of betweenness’ (O’Donohue 2003) and a ‘pedagogy of the unique’. ‘Pedagogy of the unique’ is characterized in the recognition that each individual has a particular and different constellation of values that motivate the enquiry and a different context from within which the enquiry is developing. The ‘web of betweenness’ refers to my belief that we learn in relation to each other and how ICT can bring us closer to the meanings of our embodied values.
Objectives of the session
The objectives of my presentation are as follows:
- To communicate the meanings of my embodied values of a web of betweenness and pedagogy of the unique.
- To demonstrate how Information and Communications Technology (ICT ) can make our teaching public through ‘artefacts that capture its richness and complexity’ (Shulman, 2004, p.142).
- To provide evidence of how I am supporting practitioner-researchers to develop their own living standards of judgement from their practice-based research.
Educational and scientific importance
In their review of the literature on pedagogies in higher education, Zukas and Malcolm (2002, p.1) suggest that the new specialism of teaching and learning in higher education has developed without reference to adult education. Neglecting the strongly self-motivated learner has tended to impoverish many current approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. They found little evidence of critical practice in writings on higher education pedagogy. As diverse and more mature types of students enter higher education, it is vital that the traditional role of the educator as one who offers content knowledge is broadened so that teaching is aimed at developing students’ capacity to create their own understandings and insights through participation, negotiation and dialogue. Barnett’s understanding of a ‘higher education’ is one where students are provided with the space to develop their own voice (Barnett, 2000, p.160).
As the full potentiality of human computer interaction is developed there is likely to be a further explosion of the use of multimedia and the ability for people to communicate in more dynamic ways through use of technology. Myers (1996, p.3) points to the emerging technologies that are a result of research in human-computer interaction. These extend from the mouse pointing device, windows, computer applications such as drawing, text editing and spreadsheets and hypertext, and to the new technologies of the future, such as multimedia and 3D, gesture recognition, natural language and collaborative learning technologies. Myers believes that user interfaces will most likely be one of the main 'value-added competitive advantages' of the future, as both hardware and basic software become commodities. We are still witnessing the pursuit of a developmental paradigm whose eventual outcomes can only be guessed at.
By contrast with the evident potentiality and dynamism of the new technology, studies of its impact upon teaching practices in higher education indicate that, as yet, teachers in general are making use of email and web resources but more advanced technologies, such as online learning environments and wireless solutions are only being used to a limited extent. Few in higher education are dealing in a practical manner with the new technology’s central ideas about the handling of knowledge.
An international comparative study on Models of Technology and Change in Higher Education was carried out by the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies and the Faculty of Educational Science and Technology of the University of Twente in the Netherlands (Collis & van der Wende, 2002). The study found that Institution wide technological structures are now in place. However, rich pedagogical use of the technological infrastructure is still in development. Van Merriënboer et al. (2004, p. 13) point out that the central concept in handling of e-learning currently tends to center upon ‘content’. They regret that forms of e-learning that emphasise the active engagement of learners in rich learning tasks and the active, social construction of knowledge and acquisition of skills are rare. In other words, the potential of the technology to transform the teaching/learning environment is still far from being realised in the institutions of higher education.
It is worthwhile, at this stage, outlining the contribution ICT has offered to the development of my educational knowledge, and in particular, to the development of new standards of educational judgement in educational practice. ICT has been used to complement and support my pedagogy as it unfolds. Some examples in the context of this presentation include: digital video to record my teaching and supervision, online learning environments that have sustained ongoing dialogue among practitioners and myself, desktop videoconferencing that has opened up the classroom environment and provided opportunities to share our knowledge with others. Multimedia and web based artefacts with supporting text provide evidence of how practitioners are developing living standards of judgement through asking, researching and answering the question, ‘How do I improve my practice?’
In creating my ‘pedagogy of the unique’ through a living educational theory approach to research, I provide evidence to show my educational influence in my learning, in the learning of others, and in the education of social formations. The methods I use to validate my claims include:
- Living eeducational theory action research cycles;
- Winter’s (1989) six criteria of rigour;
- Social validation meetings.
Living Educational theory accounts of learning methodology involve expressing concerns when educational values are not lived in practice, imagining a way forward, gathering data, evaluating practice on effectiveness of actions, modifying plans in light of the evaluation.
Winter’s (1989) Six Criteria of Rigour include dialectics, reflexivity, collaborative resource, risk, plurality, theory, practice and transformation.
Habermas’s (1987) Criteria of Validity include four criteria of social validity, i.e. comprehensibility, truth, rightness and authenticity.
In assessing the quality of my practice based research I focus on my embodied values and living standards of judgement.
The following data sources will be used to provide evidence of the standards of judgements used to show learning in the public interest.
- Accounts of my learning as a higher education educator.
- Accounts of the learning of Practitioner-Researcher accounts on the MSc in Computer Applications for Education and MSc in Education and Training Management (ICT) at Dublin City University.
In the context of my ‘pedagogy of the unique’ the dialogic processes reflect my growing openness to learning and relearning with others, and reveal that I believe that education should be a democratic process that gives adequate “space to each participant to contribute to the development of new knowledge, to develop their own voice, to make their own offerings, insights, to engage in their own actions, as well as to create their own products” (Barnett, 2000, p. 161). I believe that I have directed my teaching towards learning by gradually providing opportunities for participants to take responsibility for their own learning and develop their capacity as learners.
My practice based research enquiry has indeed been a collaborative endeavour that could not have taken place were it not for the participation of students in the creation of knowledge in collaboration with me. I have articulated the educational values that have emerged in my practice and I believe that I have endeavoured faithfully to live these values in my practice. My values can now be seen to be communicable standards of judgement. I hope that my enquiry will contribute to new understandings of the link between teaching and research and how teachers can contribute to a knowledge base of practice through use of ICT.
- Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the University in an age of supercomplexity. The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
- Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Collis, B. & van der Wende, W. (2002). Models of Technology and Change in Higher Education. An international comparative survey on the current and future use of ICT in Higher Education. [Accessed from www.utwente.nl/cheps/documenten/ictrapport.pdf on May, 2005].
- Coulter, D. and Wiens, J. (2002), Educational Judgement: Linking the Actor and the Spectator. Educational Researcher, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 15-25.
- Furlong, J. & Oancea, A. (2005). Assessing Quality in Applied and Practice-based Educational Research. A Framework for Discussion [Accessed from http://www.bera.ac.uk/pdfs/Qualitycriteria.pdf on July 4th, 2005)
- Myers, B. A. (1998). A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology. ACM Interactions. Vol. 5, No. 2, (pp. 44-54).
- O’Donohue, J. (2003) Divine Beauty. London, Transworld Publishers.
- RAE (2008). Research Assessment Exercise.Initial decisions by the UK Funding Bodies. Retrieved 1 June, 2005, from http://www.rae.ac.uk/pubs/2004/01/rae0401.doc.
- Shulman, L. (2004). Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Whitehead, J. (1989) ‘Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, “How do I improve my practice?”’, Cambridge Journal of Education 19(1): 137–153.
- Whitehead, J. (2004) What Counts as Evidence in the Self-studies of Teacher Education Practices? - final draft before publication in Loughran, J. J., Hamilton, M. L., LaBoskey V. K & Russell, T. (eds) (2004) International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices. Dordrecht; Kluwer Academic Publishers.
- van Merriënboer, J., Bastiaens, T., & Hoogveld, A. (2004). Interstructional design for Integrated e-learning in Jochems, W., Van Merrienboer, J & Koper, R. Van Merrienboer, (2003). Integrated E-Learning: Implications for Pedagogy, Technology and Organization,. Routledge.
- Winter, R. (1989) Learning from Experience. London, Falmer Press.
- Zukas, M. & Malcolm, J. (2002). Pedagogies for Lifelong Learning: Building Bridges or Building Walls? Chapter 13 in Harrison, R., Reeve, F., Hanson, A. and Clark, J. (2002) Supporting Lifelong Learning. Volume 1: Perspectives on Learning. Routledge. Pp 203-217.
“E-learning is a teaching and learning method that involves the formative product and process. Formative product means every type of material or content made available in digital format by means of computer or network channels. Formative process means the management of the entire didactic itinerary that involves aspects of distribution, fruition, interaction and evaluation” (ANEE, E-learning Observatory, 2003).
E-learning constitutes a broad sector with many facets. The themes to be taken into consideration vary and knowledge of the complexity of the issue is fundamental in order to have a global vision. It would be a mistake to consider this kind of education from a purely technical point of view; nor should one deal with it by limiting oneself to the didactic and methodological aspects.
Although one often makes the mistake of thinking that, for this form of education, it is sufficient to obtain, and concern oneself solely with, platforms, learning management systems, learning objects, etc. (thus delegating educational strategies to technical instruments), experience has shown that, in order to accomplish successful e-learning, it is essential to carry out an in-depth restructuring of educational processes, maintain a constructive and collaborative approach to e-learning, and re-think the roles, placing the student at the centre of the educational process.
It is clear that didactic and methodological issues should always remain in the foreground; nevertheless, keeping an eye also on the instruments and following the technological developments that accompany e-learning from a purely technical point of view is a necessity, if not an obligation. This is fundamental in order to innovate education, taking the best advantage of everything that technology makes available to improve, integrate and strengthen the learning procedure.
The biblio-webliography is sub-divided into the following themed areas, which have been separated in order to deal with the various constituent elements of e-learning with greater clarity:
- GUIDELINES: Research and National Governing Guidelines• TECHNOLOGICAL ELEMENTS: Platforms, Standards, Learning Objects, Open-source.
- EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT: Production/Planning of Contents, Instructional Design
- EDUCATIONAL PROCESS: Methodological Aspects, Collaborative Approach, On-line Tutoring
- FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS: Integration with KM, Mobile or Wireless Learning
Key terms: Research and National Governing Guidelines.
With the aim of providing valid support to deal with the problems resulting from innovation processes in Italy, a number of bodies and associations (including the CNIPA, ASFOR and ASSINFORM) have become involved in creating documents either to operate and provide guidance in the sector of distance learning, or to understand the terminology and methodology within.
There are a number of key texts that are of interest in terms of having a full view of the situation concerning e-learning in Italy.
- ASFOR Lettera Asfor n.3/2002. “The e-learning planet and the Asfor proposals: from Guidelines to Glossary”, in ASFOR, 2002 (consulted on 15 July 2005).
A full glossary with a further 450 terms, the objective of which is to constitute a reference point for the entire public and private education sector. The aim of the ASFOR initiative is to offer clarity in the somewhat confusing sector of e-learning, starting with the terminology itself, often hostile, which is used in this field of activities. ASFOR is the Association for Management Education Development, and has also created the guidelines for the on-line Master’s accreditation process.
- CNIPA (a cura di). “Vademecum for the execution of e-learning educational projects in public administrations”, in CNIPA, 2004 (consulted on 15 July 2005).
An extremely useful, complete and accurate publication drawn up by the CNIPA (National Centre for Information Technology in Public Administration). It contains guidelines for educational e-learning projects in public administrations, with the aim of promoting the correct use of new methodologies and technologies for education. The section dedicated to the organisational and methodological aspects of management of an e-learning project is of note, and particular attention is paid to the numerous and diverse roles and professional figures involved.
- Liscia R. (2004). E-learning: stato dell’arte e prospettive di sviluppo (E-learning: state of the art and development perspectives) Milan: Apogeo.
The ANEE (National Association of Electronic Publishing) of ASSINFORM (National Association of Producers of Technology and Services for Information and Communication) carried out the E-learning Observatory 2004 in order to study the current trends in the Italian market and provide an up-to-date scenario of the sector. The study revealed that the e-learning sector in Italy has grown steadily for the third year in a row. The study was carried out under the aegis of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and with the collaboration of companies and universities operating in the distance learning sector (including Microsoft, Banca Intesa, Sfera, Telecom Italia Learning Services, Isvor Fiat, the State University of Milan and the Polytechnic of Milan).
Key terms: Platforms, SCORM Standard, Learning Objects, Open-source.
The section presents texts concerning mainly technical issues such as the e-learning standards (SCORM – Shareable Content Object Reference Model), learning objects and the diverse types of software (open-source). Nevertheless, the majority of the texts could also be of use to those who have less expertise, from a technical/technological point of view, or to those who need not deal exclusively with technical issues, because it provides an overall framework in relation to the world of e-learning.
Those involved in instructional design, or those needing guidance in the choice of technological solutions for the definition and organisation of virtual learning environments, will undoubtedly find it useful to go into greater depth with regard to certain essential technical concepts (for example, the importance of metadata, the possibilities that the standards offer or the consequences of the adoption of a specific instrument, be it synchronous or asynchronous, on the type of approach of the on-line course, etc.) and thus perceive the way in which the technological environment can restrict or increase the learning and methodological possibilities of distance learning.
- ADL Initiative. “The SCORM Implementation Guide: A Step by Step Approach”, in ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning), November 2002 (consulted on 15 July 2005).
This text may be useful for the practical application of SCORM and may be considered a good starting point for instructional designers. It is a practical guide that provides interesting and precise ideas for the organisation of a SCORM project. Four main phases may be noted: analysis (needs, content, target); planning; content development; and verification and testing. This is a document under continuous development.
- ADL Initiative. “Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 2004 2nd Edition”, in ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning), July 2004 (consulted on 15 July 2005).
The text, which is in its second edition, provides an overall view of all of the documentation regarding the SCORM particulars, the main characteristics of which are illustrated in the latest version (SCORM 2004 or 1.3). Although this is an overview, the language used is technical. Further information regarding the technical details of SCORM can be found in three other documents: CAM (Content Aggregation Model), RTE (Run Time Environment) and SN (Sequencing and Navigation). The ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) is one of the main organisations to advance the initiative for the e-learning standards, and is sponsored by the Department of Defence (DoD) of the USA. This is a collaboration programme between the government, industry and universities, the objective of which is to define how to make the learning instruments and contents interoperational.
- Barritt C. / Alderman Jr F. L. (2004). Creating a Reusable Learning Object Strategy. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
An introduction manual that highlights all of the problems regarding the implementation of a strategy of learning objects in organisations and companies. It analyses the life cycle of the reusable content and is based on real corporate experiences. It is characterised in particular by costs and the increase in ROI (Return Of Investment). It is not very useful from a didactic point of view, in that it does not deal with issues regarding didactic strategies but limits itself to economic and organisational matters.
- Carnegie Mellon University. “SCORM Best Practices Guide for Content Developers”, in LSAL (Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab), 2003 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
A guide aimed at content creators and instructional designers, a valid support for the creation of materials compatible with the SCORM standard, or even to convert existing material. It contains advice and techniques for the implementation of particulars, but it does not substitute the other official, more technical, documents. Document edited by Learning Systems Architecture Lab (LSAL) of the Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA).
- Carnegie Mellon University. “Simple Sequencing Templates & Models”, in LSAL (Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab), 2003 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
A document illustrating the main sequencing rules of the didactic contents that provide the learning object designers with control over the learning process. For example, by means of the setting of certain rules, it is possible to establish a minimum number of points to be obtained in a test as a requisite in order to be able to go on to other contents, or even make it obligatory to consult certain materials before being able to move on to other sections of the course. The objective is to have a universally shared sequencing model.
- Fini A / Vanni L. (2004). Learning object e metadati. Quando, come e perché avvalersene. (Learning objects and metadata; when, how and why these should be used). I quaderni di formare n. 2. Trento: Edizioni Erickson.
An excellent, complete and clear book; above all, it is correct in its approach to learning objects. It provides a number of practical examples regarding instruments, as well as the various experiences on a national and international level regarding the application of standards. The chapter on “Questions, critiques and problems” is of particular interest, as it provides a useful overview of the debate under way which, for some time now, has offered encouragement to researchers and students in the sector with regard to the true didactic value of the learning objects and the possibility of using them effectively.
- Fontanesi P. (2003). E-learning. Milan: Tecniche Nuove (New Techniques).
These texts put forward a brief and concise framework from a theoretical point of view (what e-learning is, main definitions and characteristics), as well as from a technological point of view and in terms of the changes under way in the sector. The market standards are illustrated and explained in a simple manner, even for non-experts. The guidelines to choose an e-learning system are of great use, as is the section devoted to practical examples of available instruments and platforms. Besides these, it is a practical resource for novices who intend to embark on an e-learning project and who, therefore, require certain basic notions, this book also takes a look at the future of distance learning, highlighting the potentials and fields of application of mobile learning.
- Pasini N. “What content developers & instructional designers need to know: an overview of SCORM concepts”, in LSAL (Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab). 2002 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
A presentation (PowerPoint) produced by Nina Pasini, from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA) that provides an outline of the advantages of contents in standard format: the contents become reusable (it is possible to reuse them in a number of learning contexts), interoperable (they can be used with diverse instruments and in various platforms), durable (they will resist technological developments), and accessible (it is possible to individualise and access the available contents in various places). Of particular interest is the section devoted to the impact of SCORM on the design of e-learning processes and therefore on instructional design. Although this is a presentation containing a content outline, the author clearly explains certain fundamental concepts and stresses that the instructional designer should not be responsible for including all of the technical details of SCORM, but should concentrate mainly on the design of effective content.
- Pettinari E-L / Rotta M. “Ambienti sincroni in Open Source” (Synchronous environments in open-source), in Form@re Erickson, February 2005 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
The article presents an overview of how the environments for synchronous communication in a didactic sphere are considered. The importance of synchronous communication instruments (such as chat, audio/video conference, etc.) has been safely proved in constructivist-type courses, which see interaction as the key to the construction of knowledge. Nevertheless, the open-source world, unlike what is currently taking place with owner software, still offers a limited number of solutions of this kind. After giving an outline of the main characteristics of synchronous spheres, the authors illustrate some of the instruments of this kind that are currently available, and often little known; for example, platforms, chats and shared blackboards. The authors conclude with a presentation of a number of experiences and specific cases. This is an interesting contribution in order to understand the state of the art regarding the use of synchronous environments in the didactic sphere and the possibilities, unfortunately little known, made available by open-source.
- Rotta M. “L'accessibilità e l'usabilità delle piattaforme Open Source” (The accessibility and usability of open-source platforms), in Form@re – Erickson, February 2005 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
The problem of accessibility by differently-abled subjects remains unresolved in the majority of e-learning platforms. Their architecture often makes it harder and more complicated to adjust to the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) standards. The author shows that there is still a great lack of attention devoted to the issue, although research groups and specific projects (such as the Commonwealth of Learning or the MIUR Technological Observatory) are dealing specifically with the issue. Part of the problem stems from the fact that there are still too many barriers in e-learning, not only technological ones, but above all cognitive ones, concerning the planning and bad organisation of educational plans. The barriers with cognitive implications are still such a huge problem that they overshadow the technical barriers. One potential solution is the possibility of making open-source type platforms accessible since, given their nature (the possibility of accessing the source code), they can be modified and adapted to specific requirements. This is a task that undoubtedly requires time and work, but it is possible.
- Rotta M. “Open Source e scuola: alcune riflessioni” (Open Source and school: some reflections), in Form@re – Erickson, February 2005 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
This interesting article by Rotta offers an in-depth framework regarding the perception and aims of the use of open-source software in schools. The author stresses that, although this has been talked about and debated for a while now, one often mistakenly thinks of open-source mainly as a means of breaking up the Microsoft monopoly, or to obtain free software. This is not correct, since the situation is actually complex, whereby the types of license vary and the scenario is constantly evolving. Rotta criticises the fact that, too often, the technological choice prevails over the didactic one (hardware and software are, in fact, only instruments of an educational strategy) and that insufficient attention is devoted to the learning project. Dwelling too much on the ideological debate under way regarding open-source does not appear to be very useful in relation to schools, which should also take into account the fact that, besides CMS and platforms, there is a great deal of specific software (text editors, graphic, sound and animation editors, etc.) that can be used for didactic purposes.
- Sinform - Sinergie per la formazione (2003). Gli standard internazionali di produzione dei contenuti didattici: il modello SCORM (International production standards for didactic content: the SCORM model), project financed by the region of Emilia Romagna.
A complete and in-depth report on e-learning standards. It deals with technical issues, such as the Content Aggregation Model (specifics to define data and content in XML for learning objects) and Run Time Environment (specifics that enable communication between objects and LMS) in a simple and accessible manner, even for beginners. The issue of metadata is explored in depth in an accurate way. Also of interest is the section on conformity and LMS and content certification, an issue about which little information is found in networks and literature on the standards.
- Whiley D. “Learning Objects, a definition”, in Wiley, 2002 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
For the creation of reusable content, the SCORM model is based on Learning Objects (LOs). One of the most recognised and used definitions of learning objects, also because of its flexibility and indefiniteness, is that which can be found in this document by Whiley: a learning object is “every digital resource that can be used to assist learning”.
Key terms: Instructional Design, Content Design.
Instructional Design is the application of learning principles and theories and teaching for the development of formative participation. The instructional designer is responsible mainly for the organisation of the on-line education course, defining the instruments, the technological architecture and the storyboard, with the objective of creating effective learning experiences.
- Bruschi, Barbara / Perissinotto, Alessandro (2003). Come creare corsi on line (How to create on-line courses) Rome: Carocci Editore.
This guide contains practical advice and methodological indications for those who intend to create on-line courses. It is particularly useful from a practical point of view, in that it offers good suggestions in relation to basic issues, such as the use of images, the usefulness of speakership, music, videos and animations, the strategies to use for the construction of texts, from formatting (graphical form and text arrangement) to the type of language (brief, schematic, syntactically simple and attractive). Also of note is the part relating to the structuring of the didactic learning objects which, according to the authors, should have an initial evaluation, an introduction, a set number of content units, a summary or conclusion of how much has been learnt and a closing learning assessment. The section on learning objects is not dealt with from a technical point of view, but a methodological one: the authors show a certain sensitivity in terms of the Italian learning situation, and indicate a different approach to the one suggested by those who drew up the standards. Indeed, it is often difficult to believe in the real combinability and standardisation of the learning objects and the possibility of applying a model of this type in a humanist environment. Therefore, methods that are more in keeping with the Italian education system and the cultural traditions of the country are put forward.
- Calvani, A. (2001). Educazione, comunicazione e nuovi media, Sfide pedagogiche e cyberspazio (Education, communication and the new media, pedagogical challenges and cyberspace) Turin: Utet.
In this book, which deals with the main problems related to the use of technology in educational contexts, a number of interesting concepts emerge, such as “media ecology” and “didactic ergonomics”. The former regards the mechanisms to be borne in mind in learning environments, such as avoiding an overload of information, finding a balance between direct and indirect learning experiences, integrating and measuring out more learning channels, and using simple technologies. The latter concept concerns a discipline that is placed mid-way between the ergonomics and education technology, the object of which is the safeguarding of the cognitive commitment in the subjects involved, to prevent a levelling-off of the cognitive functions during the subject-technology interfacing.
- Lucchini A. “E-learning e scrittura professionale” (E-learning and professional writing) in Mestiere di Scrivere, 2004 (consulted on 12 July 2005).
Lucchini is a business writer and is involved in professional writing courses. In this MdS (Mestiere di Scrivere, in PDF format) notebook, the author analyses (based on his own experiences and specific cases) the use of e-learning for education courses on writing, demonstrating the advantages of distance learning. The author dwells on the issue of the sense of isolation and coldness that can be experienced in a computer learning situation and, in this respect, puts forward methods of experimentation in order to increase the active and emotional involvement of the students and collaboration among them. He cites, for example, the CREAM method (Control, Relevance, Emotion, Action, Multi-sensory environment) proposed by Patrick Dunn (a learning strategist from DigitalThink UK Ltd.). The author comes to the following conclusive reflection: “… we can anticipate for the coming years a development in the profession of the e-learning writer. Not a simple extension of the web writer, or the technical writer, but a professional who, besides writing skills, requires the understanding of the psychological and didactic mechanisms that govern and promote learning”.
- Ranieri M. (2005) E-learning: modelli e strategie didattiche (E-learning: didactic models and strategies). I quaderni di Form@re n. 3. Trento: Edizioni Erickson.
After providing an introduction to the concept of industrial design and the differences between the two main directions (instructivism and constructivism), the text illustrates the main types of e-learning that can be developed from the methodological point of view. This can be summarised in the following categories: content and support, the content being the central element, learning is individual in type and interaction with peers is scarce; wrap around, whereby content is less structured, learning is individual and in small groups, with the support of a facilitator; and integrated model, a form of e-learning that focuses on the group and in which there is a great deal of interaction between peers. After dealing with the problem of e-learning design and the factors that have an impact on this (use, objectives, content and infrastructure), the author stresses the role of the instructional designer and the importance of models and didactic strategies that can be implemented in networks.
- Guerra T. & Heffernan D. “The Guerra Scale”, in Learning Circuits, March 2004 (consulted on 12 July 2004).
A very original point of view in terms of e-learning content is that defined by Tim Guerra and Dan Heffernan: the “Guerra Scale” describes the possible levels of interactive experience of the student in a scale that goes from one to ten, where the first levels are made of the simple reading of on-line PDF files or internet pages that are interconnected, and the final levels represent simulation scenarios attended by experts in the field and virtual realities. This is a very useful representation in that, going up one level in the scale, there is an increase in complexity, functionality, development times, programming capacity, course design capacity and the attention of the experts in the field.
Key terms: Collaborative Approach, On-line Tutoring.
This section presents a number of fundamental texts regarding network communication mechanisms, the various types of on-line interaction and the most effective methods for e-learning. If one wishes to conduct distance learning courses or devote oneself to tutoring activities, it is necessary to have a certain familiarity with the communicative dynamics of distance learning and be able to manage learning situations that respond to rules that differ greatly from those related to traditional forms of teaching.
- Anzalone, Francesa / Caburlotto, Filippo (2003). E-Learning. Comunicare e formarsi online (E-learning. Communicating and learning on-line). Milan: Lupetti – Editori di Comunicazione.
A brilliant text that focuses on certain points of extreme importance where communication, methodology and the management of on-line learning courses are concerned. From the reflections of the authors, the following concept is clear: e-learning differs from the traditional didactic approach in that it is possible to use networks as a collaborative means, where virtual space becomes a space for growth and interaction between the on-line communities and the network is no longer understood as a computer network, but as individuals’ networks. Learning is stimulated through belonging to the group and it is precisely the ongoing confrontation with the group, the exchange of experiences and ideas among those participating in the learning experience that contributes to the acquisition of notions by the individual, increasing motivation and thus also encouraging the growth of the entire on-line community. The roles of the figures involved and rapports within the virtual classes are undergoing a genuine revolution. The introduction of new information technology instruments influences the type of communicative model that is installed: teachers and tutor are no longer at the centre of the communicative process and no longer constitute the only source of knowledge. Furthermore, the student is no longer limited to a mere receptive and passive role, but takes on an active role and has greater autonomy in the construction of the learning course itself (learner-centred approach). The main task of teachers and tutors is to stimulate, motivate and enable the flow of knowledge, guiding and monitoring the progress of the pupils.
- Calvani A. e Rotta M. (2000). Fare formazione in Internet. Manuale di didattica online (Learning via Internet. On-line educational manual). Trento: Edizioni Centro Studi Erickson.
This is a fundamental publication in order to gain a complete idea with regard to distance learning, starting with its history and ending with the most efficient and up-to-date applications. After a first part, in which the main mechanisms of “presence” and “absence” communication are analysed, the text concentrates on more practical issues, such as the design and preparation of on-line courses, presenting the main problems involved. The manual concludes with a series of in-depth charts, a reasoned bibliography and network resources.
- Mabrito M. “Guidelines for establishing interactivity in on-line courses” in Innovate on line, 2004 (consulted on 12 July 2005).
The objective of the article is to enable an understanding of the importance of interactivity within on-line courses. There are three possible types of interactivity: 1) student-teacher interaction; 2) student-student interaction; and 3) student content interaction. The author provides a series of practical advice in order to increase interactivity, an element that contributes greatly to the success of the courses. Diverse studies show that on-line courses are particularly effective when the students manage to be active participants and learn through a collaborative approach: collaborative interaction is the key to the knowledge creation process.
- Trentin G. (2003). Gestire la complessità dei sistemi di e-learning (Managing the complexity of e-learning systems). Taken from the minutes of the Didamatica 2003 annual convention, pp. 1-8.
In this interesting article, Trentin underlines the importance of defining above all the e-learning model that is to be implemented. It is fundamental to be aware beforehand, in order to organise the project as well as possible. For example, for a model based on self-instruction, and therefore on the use of structured materials, professional figures and specific technologies are necessary for the production of e-content; however, for an approach based on learning groups, it is necessary to consider specific professionals (such as on-line tutors) and technologies with ad hoc functionalities for group interaction. It is therefore evident that the choice of model has a decisive influence from a didactic-pedagogical point of view, but also from a purely operative point of view (human resources for the design and management of the educational project, technologies and organisational order). According to Trentin, future studies should concentrate on the problems preventing the dissemination of the proposed models. From his conclusions, it is clear that “the key is to acquire knowledge regarding the demand for a change in paradigm in confronting the issues of continued learning, moving away from the learning on the job logic to that of learning is the job”.
Key terms: Integration with KM, Mobile or Wireless Learning.
A number of authors illustrate the possible developments of e-learning in the near future. On the one hand, a close integration of platforms (Learning Management Systems) with other platforms that are currently used for a number of purposes is forecast, until knowledge management is reached through a single integrated structure. On the other hand, there is greater talk of mobile learning (m-learning) or wireless learning, a learning method that takes advantage of the possibilities of wireless networks, such as those in wi-fi systems, mobile telephones or palm systems. Some of the studies presented in the section demonstrate how these instruments can encourage learning during one’s free time, effectively representing the possibility of learning any time, anywhere.
- Attewell J e Savill-Smith C. “Learning with mobile devices, Research and development”, in LSDA (Learning and Skill Development Agency), 2004 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
An interesting set of studies on the possible applications of mobile devices for learning. Topics discussed include the effectiveness of m-learning, costs, content development methodology, the type of design necessary, the learning potential of games, and the role that mobile learning may play in increasing social inclusion.
- Giacomantonio M. “Il futuro dell’e-learning” (The future of e-learning) in WBT (Formazione in Rete), (in WBT, web-based training). March 2003 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
After a brief overview of the various aspects that characterise e-learning, such as the role, the sectors (content, communication, support, management), the instruments and technologies, the author questions the future of distance learning. Having overcome the adaptation to the standards phase (already in operation for a number of years and at a satisfactory stage) to eliminate the link to certain technological solutions, e-learning will undergo an integration with many diverse applications, thus reaching a more mature phase, to border on more evolved and mature sectors such as KM (Knowledge Management), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), becoming an integral part of HRM (Human Resource Management).
- Giacomantonio M. “Dove vanno le piattaforme di e-Learning” (Where the e-learning platforms are headed), in WBT (Formazione in Rete) in WBT (Web-based Training), September 2004 (consulted on 29 June 2005).
The author presents an in-depth analysis of the current LMS characteristics, their evolution and future developments. His conclusion is that the current trend is that of converging e-learning platforms with other technological instruments for content management, document management and project management, in order to attain complete instruments for integrated knowledge management. Indeed, even today, on-line learning activities are no longer reduced to simple structure courses; one learns through working in groups, connecting to the Internet and managing projects together with other people. Therefore, new modules with new functionalities will be integrated within the platforms.
- Prensky M. “What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything!”, in Innovate online, June 2005 (consulted on 12 July 2005).
Mobile devices, particularly mobile telephones, are becoming increasingly small and powerful. Although they are still considered instruments to be used prevalently for telephone communication or, more recently, for recreational purposes, mobile telephones have now become genuine computers. Like any information technology communication instrument, mobile telephones can be used for learning, bearing in mind the fact that they have a huge distribution, particularly among young people and students. After illustrating how to take advantage of the various characteristics of mobile phones (voice, SMS, graphic displays, download functions, Internet navigation, GPS, etc.), the author concludes the article by suggesting, particularly to those who continue to seek to ignore the phenomenon, that this learning mode be seriously considered, and advising a flexible reconsideration of how to design content and activities for mobile learning.
Learning technologies tailored to individual needs
The key to success of the information society is the empowerment of all individuals with the competencies and skills to exploit the opportunities it offers. Empowerment means educating people, equipping them with the information, knowledge and skills necessary to live, work and communicate in the digital age. This creates challenges for ICT-based learning.
For learning, the challenge is to develop e-learning solutions that understand and support individual learners, whether they are learning on their own or collaboratively with others. We need solutions that motivate people to learn, including, or even especially adressing those learners who are often excluded from more traditional educational settings; and solutions that are affordable. And these solutions must address the needs of different user groups, matching specific needs, experiences, circumstances and profiles.
Today's technologies, such as those coming from the computing science domains of artificial intelligence and knowledge management, are providing the enabling conditions to support individualised learning. We are moving away from generalised systems, focusing on the delivery of distance learning and training, to customised solutions putting the demand side, the learner, in the centre. This is creating a dynamic which is different from preceding e-learning systems.
This calls upon educational institutions to develop new models in support of more ubiquitous and lifelong learning, and to integrate formal and informal learning environments. Making e-learning systems more relevant to different needs and contexts will help underpin widespread adoption and turn into a benefit for the society. Providing better learning opportunities to individuals and organisations can improve competitiveness, productiveness and well being.
On-going research work
EU-funded research on technology-enhanced learning is part of the IST programme
Technology enhanced-learning research aims at improving our knowledge of how we learn when using information and communication technologies for learning. It focuses on the development of the next generation of user-centred learning solutions, on the improvement of the learning process and the efficiency of learning for individuals and organisations.
Advances in technology, especially in intelligent and cognitive systems, and in neuroscience are providing a new baseline from which to re-examine past models of ICT enabled learning, but going beyond a purely technology-based approach. Research in this area is increasingly interdisciplinary and involves engineers as well as researchers from the humanities and social sciences.
The first FP6 funded research projects in technology-enhanced learning started work at the beginning of 2004. They address topics like:
• personalisation and adaptive learning for individuals and groups
• dynamic mentoring (e.g. through intelligent agents)
• collaborative learning, supported by high performance distributed computing infrastructures (such as GRID)
• experience based learning in the classroom
• new methods and new approaches to learning with ICT
• innovative learning resources for professional training
• promoting interoperability and standards for learning objects and systems.
The range of project participants covers both suppliers and users of technologies for learning: universities, training centres, multimedia publishers, research centres and industry, including SMEs. Participants come from about 30 countries in- and outside Europe.
This portfolio will be reinforced by the projects selected under the last call, which focused on
• the interactions between the learning of the individual and that of the organisation in order to improve how current or emerging ICT can mutually enhance the learning processes for the individual and for the organisation.
• new understandings of learning processes by exploring the links between human learning, cognition and technologies.
On-going research is based on expertise and knowledge built up by EU research into educational technology and multimedia since 1988. Under FP5 (1998-2002)
The application areas targeted by the research work were (virtual) universities, schools, professional training and lifelong learning.
One strand of projects developed electronic platforms and brokerage systems for exchanging and trading multimedia components for learning, the so called ‘learning objects’. Technology in conjunction with interoperability standards allows teachers and learners authoring themselves courses and other material by accessing, tailoring and combining digital learning resources from large public and private repositories of educational content.
Other projects created collaborative learning environments for seamless access of teachers and learners to learning resources such as modeling software and remote laboratories. The projects developed demonstrators in science areas as diverse as water management, climate control, bioinformatics, medicine, astronomy, seismology, space science and robotics.
Under the so-called 'School of Tomorrow' action line of the programme, several projects have worked on new approaches to the use of technology in various teaching and learning situations occurring in the traditional classroom setting. Their developments support, for instance, more practical, more interactive and more collaborative learning experiences.
For learning at the workplace, novel tools and systems were designed in order to support management training and human resources development. Some projects resulted in virtual and blended learning spaces for technical domains like aeronautics or mechatronics.More information on projects, the programme and calls for proposals is available from the TeLearn website of the European Commission, Directorate-General 'Information Society and Media', unit 'Learning and Cultural Heritage'.
The current situation appears to need urgent reforms. According to Nikitas Kastis: “We need to increase the resources for education research. This is urgent if we want to decrease the gap that is increasingly emerging between the learning that is taking place inside schools and other types of learning that are taking place outside the institutions”. And this process is very risky. “We have indications that we are moving towards widening the social gap. The digital divide is actually a learning and knowledge divide. We need to invest to understand in a short time how to tackle this problem,” warned Kastis, who is also the Chair of the Open Classroom Working Group of EDEN.
Claudio Dondi agreed with his colleague: “When you look for the right place to submit an educational research project, you don’t know where to go. You find some educational research space in the European Framework Programme, in the thematic areas of ‘Information Society Technologies’ and ’Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society’. But in none of those places is it a high priority”. When asked if research is too focused on technology in Europe, the response given by Nikitas Kastis was clear: “Research is not focused; it is driven by technology. I don’t reject this type of investigation. But we should admit that the money for research is technology driven. The starting point seems to be that there is a need to carry out research into technology, and education can be one area of application. But the other way is not considered: that we need to carry out research into education. I don’t blame anybody, but we should realise that this is the case”.
To resolve this situation, Claudio Dondi pointed out that, “As researchers, we need to pay attention to the present and potential impact of education research. If we keep education research in a segregated and self-referential area, in which we study what we want but we don’t refer back to policy makers as to the impact of education on employment, social inclusion or economic development, we cannot really complain too much if they do not see the benefit of putting education on their list of number one priorities.” Kastis also remarked on “the need to make education research much more policy related. We need to make our authorities understand that education policy is not easy thinking. We need some policy planning to support this activity.” Without innovating education”, argued Dondi, “we will probably not achieve the results that are required in the strategy to make Europe competitive and inclusive”.
What, then, could constitute the main fields of research into education that should be undertaken? Nikitas Kastis pointed out two areas: “We need to understand the new forms of communication that are brought by the media and the technologies and how this would work in learning set-ups, schools, universities, etc. And, secondly, we need to understand new ways for collaborative content development and collaborative knowledge building.” Claudio Dondi made a final suggestion: “I think that, here, there is a great opportunity to link the diverse programmes of the Commission through a bridge programme on learning systems innovation, including of course e-learning.” The debate will continue in the following months. The UK EU Presidency website provides information about the priorities of Education, Youth and Culture from the point of view of the European Presidency.
Some issues about the overall strategy in Europe to achieve the Lisbon goals can be followed through the initiative Education and Training 2010.
The Irish Presidency event: New futures for learning in the digital age (Dublin, 17th and 18th of May 2004)
The next major event, called European Conference on Primary Science and Technology Education, will be held in the context of the Dutch Presidency. The event will take place from 15 to 16 October in Amsterdam.
This meeting will be focused on the lack of interest of young people in Science and Technology. This is partly caused by the unattractive image and position of Science and Technology Education (S&T E) in European countries. There are initiatives in several European countries aimed at addressing this issue at the secondary school level but one of the most important and also most difficult areas is the Primary level of Education (age 5 – 12).
The European Conference on Primary Science and Technology Education will bring together experts from research, teacher training and curriculum development with professional advisors and policy makers from various Ministries to exchange experiences and discuss possible ways of improving the situation.