Friday, 28 December 2012

End of a personal era at the Institute of Tropical Medicine

Today is my last day at the Institute of Tropical Medicine. After a wonderfully inspiring six years, I am clearing out my office and preparing myself to set sail for a new professional horizon.
In these six years I have understood that joining hands with others is the best way to move forward. I was blessed to travel and work in different continents, to meet people all across the globe and realize that we are all in this together, trying to reach the same goals. I met so many people, all giving it their best, making this world a better place, optimizing learning and health care for all… and simply having fun while moving forward. The educational innovation projects were multiple, ranging between online learning projects for health care workers across the globe, to MOOC’s, to mobile learning projects targeting rural areas across the globe. 
As I had the opportunity to give presentations in a wide variety of places, collaborate on projects in all sorts of places and write up a number of research papers… I am now ready to start a PhD track and explore new options while researching my passion: technology enhanced education for all. In the last few years I jumped in on every new trend that got me excited: QRcodes emerged, MOOC’s started to take off, mobile learning became universally integrated and online learning moved from sporadic towards a global trend.
In the next few weeks I will have some time off, take my oral exam to finalize my Master in Education on mLearning at Athabasca University, finish an eBook, finalize a business plan, set up workshops across four continents and … get ready to travel down to the Centre for Education and Educational Technology or  CREET in the United Kingdom, my next stop to increase my knowledge, collaborate with inspiring people and nurture my happy, hungry mind.
Happy endings, and wishing you all inspiring new beginnings in 2013!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Eulogy for a long lost love, lost, no networks for the lonely

Last week my ex-partner died. Tina Vanbiervliet, a ferocious painter and artist. We lived together for 7 years, but it was already 10 years ago that we departed our ways. I heard the news only yesterday. She was found days after being dead. In her small apartment covered with paintings. Murals on every wall including the ceiling. Her dog next to her. She took her own life.

As word spread around, old friends emerged. Familiar friends from what seemed to be a past life. All of us were part of the same group, once. But as time went by, all of us gathered new groups of friends. We dived into new worlds, got new lovers, new lives… All of us, except her apparently. She went on with what she gathered up to that point. Painting. Trying to stay sane. Keeping some of her wits in a mind that was at times haunted. As she stayed, we were all drifting further away from her.

Her creative idol was Van Gogh. We would go to the Kröller-Müller museum and bike like crazy to get to the central museum amidst the wide woods to see the small Van Gogh paintings so full of pigment that the colors would blast into our faces. Or visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, listening to the audio tape and suddenly realizing that his life felt so very familiar? The diaries of Van Gogh bore a remarkable resemblance with your writing Tina. Each paragraph read like a painting, filled with emotion and life cut down to its core.

Life seemed easy back then. We did not have to think about ‘doing the correct thing’, for all of us were living outside of normality anyway. We could do whatever came into our minds… and at times pay the consequences. What about making a movie with us walking through a supermarket wearing a paper bag on our head? An anti-capitalist statement on consuming! It seemed a great idea, until the supermarket owner pushed us out never to come again, thinking we wanted to rob his supermarket… That silly bloke, stopping you in expressing your creative mind!!! Your mind. It was always your mind. I have never heard of anyone getting a master based on 4 pages of thesis… but you could do that. Poring meaningful art in every sentence, linking facts and emotion in such creative, imaginative splendor… Let’s pick up all our gear at just a month’s notice, heading off to another city, thinking the academy would be better there and artistic life would take off for sure from there. Or what about smuggling in cats where it was not appreciated. Those short minded animal haters!!! Or at 11 pm driving through a MacDo drive in with a motorcycle twenty times around before placing an order and realizing they had shut down the counter afraid of … yes, a robbery. Those wimps!!! We only wanted some fish burgers to accompany the end of a great day out in the open! So you set up exhibitions in run down areas, lived in East Germany in a occupied building, you reenacted movies and series, making endless self-portraits... and all the while giving all of us, your extra’s in all those objects d’arts, a fun time.

From all of your idols Tina, I loved Cindy Sherman the most. This personal passion led to numerous paintings, movies and photographs on the subject of gender fluidity. Great fun for all of us. Tina, you could come up with things none of us could, none of us would. You could make friends with everyone. Such a kind heart and non-judgmental. You longed for love, and all I could think of was that you would find it. Love has so many different faces, so for sure you would find it. But you did not. Your dearest one was Fluffy, your loyal dog.

It is strange how the pain is physically apparent. How my breathing has slowed down to half its pace since I heard the news. How tears keep coming although everything seems to come from a past life. But it never became a past life for you Tina, or at least, that is how it feels right here, right now. You deserved more: more love, more recognition, more support.

Tina I wish I could have held you in your last moments, hold you close to my heart. I understand that the end was probably inevitable, but than at least, I could tell you that you have made a difference. You gave such joy. Your heart and kindness were touching the lives of so many people. Tina your life was worth living. The mere act of painting was enough, is enough. In fact creating is much more than most of us are capable of, much more noble, much more human than anything. No other life on earth is capable of art for art’s sake, you did it moment after moment. You were the most human person around. I miss you.

Please, I beg and pray to everything in nature, in the skies, in all of the universes to let your soul find a good afterlife, befitting your beauty and love.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Analyzing institutes online #presence for increased competitiveness

During the last few weeks I was asked to see where my current institute was in terms of innovation, digital identity, online visibility... and more of those knowledge age connected characteristics. This lead me to set up a presentation with some options to find out where your institute or organization is placed among its competitors or partners. Where is your institute at? Mine is now working on a strategy to enhance its visibility and online presence based on the results ... exiting and fun stuff!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Gathering a #research tribe has benefits

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this era demands collaborative approaches to stay on top of any expertise. In order to enable collaboration, mutual trust and respect is needed. This in part will result in the necessary openness and willingness to grow collectively, research collectively.

In the past (and present) I had the good fortune of collaborating on some research papers with fellow researchers that were not linked to my own educational institution. It was a great, open, informal research experience. The starting point of this collaboration was given by a common course called MobiMOOC, in which everyone was involved in some way or another. And now, I want to expand on this.

I truly believe that there is a benefit in getting together - trans-continental / academic & corporate - and joining forces with people that have a common interest, yet an expertise that results from different disciplines. Like petals of a flower all gathered around the common theme, attracting attention or simply growing. Or an atom model, attracted yet busy in our own orbit.

Knowledge benefit:

  • When joining forces with people that have a common language - but different viewing angles - everyone learns as there is some kind of zone of proximal development there, or it can be created based on mutual conversation and dialogue. 
  • As discussions happen, reflection increases, arguments are weighed and knowledge deepened.

Research benefits: 

  • Everyone in this research tribe writes their own papers as first author, BUT asks the other tribes people to join in if they feel the subject of the paper is something they can relate to. These others all become second authors of that paper. 
  • Methodologies are shared, strengthened by experiences of others, and/or complimented by the knowledge of others. 
  • Future research can immediately be linked to what is worked on. The theoretical flows into the pragmatic, to result into theory and practice again... in an ongoing research iteration. 
  • Multiple publications for all, upgrading all of our academic interests. 

Personal benefit: networking happens natural, we connect, we learn, we support and encourage... or not (time/changes in life...), but the connection at least is made at some point in time, ready to be taken up at any given moment. In 2013 I want to expand my research tribe and I am already looking forward to it.

Tribe gathered: Optimizing ubiquitous MOOCs for reaching education for all (first draft made),
Tribe collaboration I would like to start (and my topic entree would be):

  • creating durable communities: the difference between passive and active dynamics
  • critical psychology to screen educational objects and their mediated meaning 
  • mapping pedagogies from cultures under stress (finding ancient approaches before they perish) - this is more a long-term thing... still getting my mind around this idea that has been with me for a few years.

Friday, 7 December 2012

5 Call for #papers on #mLearning, #MOOC and #eLearning

Having finished my draft thesis to submit for review, I am ready to dive into the call for papers and … get some abstracts in. Here are some of the calls that got into my mailbox.

EdMedia 2013 – World Conference on Educational Media and Technology
Deadline for submissions: 12 December 2012
Conference dates: 24 – 28 June 2013
Location: Victoria, British Colombia, Canada.
Information website :
What to expect (according to the organizers) :
The EdMedia World Conference on Educational Media and Technology is an international conference, organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
This annual conference serves as a multi-disciplinary forum for the discussion and exchange of information on the research, development, and applications on all topics related to multimedia, hypermedia and telecommunications/distance education.

MOOCs and PLE: Learning and Diversity in the Cities of the Future
Deadline for submissions: 4 March 2013
Conference dates: 10 – 12 July 2013
Location: Berlin, Germany, Europe and Melbourne, Australia, Oceania
Information website :
What to expect (according to the organizers) :
PLE 2013 – 4th International Conference on Personal Learning Environments The Personal Learning Environment Conference (The PLE Conference) is an international scientific conference taking place annually, each time in a different city. Following the highly successful events in Barcelona in Spain 2010 (#PLE_BCN), in Southampton, UK in 2011 (#PLE_SOU) and the parallel events in 2012 in Aveiro, Portugal and Melbourne, Australia (#PLECONF), the 4th International PLE Conference 2013 will be held in Berlin, Germany together with a parallel event in Melbourne, Australia (#PLECONF) from the 10th to the 12th July 2013.
The PLE Conference intends to create a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experiences and research around the development and implementation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – including the design of environments and the sociological and educational issues that they raise.
To gain something of the flavour of the last conferences, search for #PLE_BCN, #PLE_SOU and #PLECONF and see and
Conference topics include (but are not limited to):
• Concepts, scenarios and technologies for fostering diversity with PLEs
• Concepts, scenarios, technologies for learning in smart urban spaces
• General theories and frameworks for PLE
• Technologies and software for developing PLE
• Pedagogical and didactic approaches to Personal Learning Environments
• Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks (PLN)
• PLE and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
• Personal Learning Environments, Open Badges and Gamification
• PLEs in practice: case studies, good practice and approaches to PLEs
• PLEs in education: new approaches and managing change in education
• PLEs in organisations: new approaches and change in enterprises
• PLEs at work: PLEs work-based learning and vocational training
• PLEs in context: PLEs for contextual learning such as mobile learning
• PLE vision: emerging technologies and innovative approaches to PLEs

Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research
Deadline for submissions: 1 February 2013
Conference dates: 
emerging researcher days on 9 – 10 September 2013
Main conference : 10 – 13 September 2013
Location: Istanbul, Turkey, Europe
Information website :
What to expect (according to the organizers) :
EERA, European Educational Research Association and Bahcesehir University Istanbul, Turkey, invite Educational Researchers to submit proposals for the European Conference on Educational Research 2013. The conference theme will provide a focus for keynote addresses and invited events. Proposals for contributions are welcome from all fields of educational research.
Participants are invited to submit up to two abstracts for papers, posters, research workshops, round tables and symposia. All proposals must be handed in electronically via the online submission platform 'Conftool'. PhD students and emerging researchers are invited to submit proposals to the Emerging Researchers' Group in order to participate in the Emerging Researchers' Conference.
ECER is the annual conference held by the European Educational Research Association (EERA). It welcomes 2.500 scholars each year, representing views and research traditions from all parts of Europe.
National governments and the European Union see innovation as increasingly important for the development of the 21st century knowledge society. It may contribute to economic prosperity as well as to social and individual wellbeing and may, therefore, be an essential factor for creating a more competitive and dynamic European society. In the effort to manage the challenges facing societies and economies, political agencies and systems expect educational research, the social sciences and humanities to find solutions for developing creative and innovative education as a means to foster creative competences and innovative skills among the next generation. [...]
Read more on the conference theme

Submissions need to be directed to one of the 29 EERA networks and can be handed in as paper, poster, round table, research workshop or symposium. Please carefully read the Network descriptors on the EERA website to ensure that your submission is in line with the Network's research focus. You may also consider consulting the guidelines on the format of presentations before handing in your proposal.
All submissions have to be handed in via the ECER submission system 'Conftool'. To access the system you first need to create a user account.
The closing date for submission will be 1 February 2013. No late submissions will be accepted!
Browse through EERA Networks
Submission Procedure & Formats of Presentation

Deadline for submissions: 28 December 2012
Conference dates: 14 – 16 March 2013
Location: Lisboa, Portugal, Europe
Information website :
What to expect (according to the organizers) :
Conference background and goals
Free as Birds Learning in the Cloud
Mobile learning is concerned with a society on the move. In particular, with the study of “…how the mobility of learners augmented by personal and public technology can contribute to the process of gaining new knowledge, skills and experience” (Sharples et al. 2007).
 A growing understanding of the learning and instructional affordances of mobile technologies (alongside technological developments), have enabled the design and investigation of mobile learning experiences across contexts and dimensions of mobile learning. For instance, the literature in the field is rich in studies which investigate how learners move physical locations, utilising several devices/technologies, interacting with various social networks (perhaps across formal and informal learning settings), as they pursuit a learning path or event.
There is much appreciation of learning principles, such as contextual, situated, augmented and collaborative among others, particularly suited to mobile learning. There is a well of studies reporting on how these principles can be best applied in the field. There are also always new technologies being implemented in the context of mobile learning for example, ‘smarter’ phones, e-readers, tablet and augmented reality applications. However, the evaluation of mobile learning is an area that has lagged behind.
The mobile nature of mobile learners and the application of traditional evaluation strategies and tools, have often limited the scope of investigation to what can be observed by researchers or captured by external recording devices (such as video or sound). Thus, a challenge remains to understand what happens while learners are on the move.
The advent of cloud computing and learning analytics offer potential for exploring innovative mobile learning experiences and alternative evaluation strategies which may in turn, shade light into what learning happens in the move.
The IADIS Mobile Learning 2013 International Conference seeks to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of mobile learning research which illustrate developments in the field.
* Format of the Conference
The conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. The proceedings of the conference will be published in the form of a book and CD-ROM with ISBN, and will be available also in the IADIS Digital Library (accessible on-line).
Authors of the best published papers in the Mobile Learning 2013 proceedings will be invited to publish extended versions of their papers in the "International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (ISSN: 1941-8647)"and also in other selected Journals.
The conference proceedings will be submitted for indexing to INSPEC, EI Compendex, Thomson ISI, ISTP and other indexing services.
* Types of submissions
Full and Short Papers, Reflection Papers, Posters/Demonstrations, Tutorials, Panels and Doctoral Consortium. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process.

Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education
Deadline for submissions: 28 January 2013
Conference dates:  25 – 29 March 2013
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Information website:
What to expect (according to the organizers) :
SITE 2013 is the 24th annual conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. This society represents individual teacher educators and affiliated organizations of teacher educators in all disciplines, who are interested in the creation and dissemination of knowledge about the use of information technology in teacher education and faculty/staff development. SITE is a society of the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
SITE is unique as the only organization which has as its sole focus the integration of instructional technologies into teacher education programs. SITE promotes the development and dissemination of theoretical knowledge, conceptual research, and professional practice knowledge through conferences, books, projects, and the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE).