Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Part 2 on #Blockchain in #learning: some points of discussion

This is a second post on Blockchain in learning (specifically for certification, it is referred to as Blockcerts). In the first blogpost on the subject, I took a look at some examples that are currently out there (industry/academia), but in this post, I will have a closer look at the discussions surrounding Blockchain for learning. First I will zoom in on how I see Blockchain certification being the new big brother in an already very structured dominant education system. After that I share a prankster who conned himself into a professorship, then an example from Russia, and to finish the blogpost, a quick overview of one of the major critiques on blockchain. First off: fight the power!

Blockchain the move from freedom to the rigid, dominant system in learning
In history and innovation, there is always the first momentum which feels like liberation and promises a minor or major new Utopia (the emergence of television: education for all right in your living room; Internet: education at our fingertips; MOOCs: free education for all by highly acclaimed institutions, ... and now blockchain: certification for our lifelong learning, right in our mobiles). Blockchain certification is cutting out the middle person and making sure that all transactions move from user-to-user (where the user might be any person or company that is at one end of a transaction). At first, the promise of secure data transition is felt like new freedom to some, but once the technology gets more embedded and used by more people, a more rigorous system kicks in, the dominant system.

To me, it feels like dominant learning is reeling all of us, informal learners, back in, and blockchain certification might just be a strong example. Why would blockchain be a ball-and-chain from the dominant system? Easy, it now stacks formal certification, which means it becomes even more difficult to live and develop outside of the pre-set pathways of life (if you want a professional career that is). Why would this be necessary? Well, not all of us want to pull pranks, not all of us want to live outside of the set boundaries (study, go to uni, work and climb the ladder within a specific branch), but some of us do like a bit of job freedom. I for instance like switching jobs, and retaining some freedom while performing to the best of my abilities.

Our human right to pull pranks within the educational establishment
For me, we - as humans - need the freedom to pull off a prank from time to time. Nothing as big as full-blown fraud, but just something small to satisfy our inner fool.

I remember a prank that Gogol pulled off which actually went against the rigid educational system of his time. Gogol was a famous Russian author using quite a bit of surrealism in his books, eg. The Nose. At a certain point in his life, he could earn enough money, so he was looking for a means to earn money, and he managed to earn a chair as Professor of Medieval History at the University of St. Petersburg, a job for which he had no qualifications. He pulled this off for a year (not giving lectures, keeping all the information very general, and taking exams with a towel wrapped around his so-called toothache, so that he did not have to talk and another professor took the exams of the students. Great! I mean, let's be serious, this is something that makes all of us pranksters laugh. It takes a serious position and turns it into a very human momentum. Let's be honest, no robot or cyborg would do this, only humans can come up with such a beautifully orchestrated prank.
However stupid a fool's words may be, they are sometimes enough to confound an intelligent man. Gogol, Dead Souls.     
Blockchain certification is for idiots who cannot pinpoint real knowledge or expertise
Sometimes Blockchain certification is promoted with: "it takes away the risk of hiring someone who has not gotten the degrees that the person says they have". So what? If you cannot tell if someone had or didn't have an education based on what they deliver in terms of work, it sure means they were intelligent enough to really grasp those skills and experiences in their own way. If they cannot pull it off, it does not matter whether they had the qualifications in a formal way or not either, because if they cannot do the job, no matter which qualifications they have, you will fire them. So in a way certification is only a fools tool within a dominant system that agrees it is too difficult to distinguish real earned certification versus fraudulently earned certification. Or is it?

Universities are no longer on top of the educational ladder: the Russian implementation
In my previous post, I mentioned a couple of Blockchain certification options, but since then I came across a more advanced blockchain in learning example, and it is a Russian implementation called Disciplina. This platform combines education (including vocational training), recruiting (comparable with what LinkedIn is doing with its economic graph) and careers for professionals. All of this is combined into a blockchain solution that keeps track of all the learners' journey. The platform includes not only online courses as we know it but also coaching. After each training, you get a certificate.
TeachMePlease, which is a partner of Disciplina, enables teachers and students to find each other for specific professional training as well as curriculum-related children's schooling. Admittedly, these initiatives are still being rolled out in terms of courses, but it clearly shows where the next learning will be located: in an umbrella above all the universities and professional academies. At present, the university courses are being embedded into course offerings by corporations that roll out a layer post-university, or post-vocational schooling.

Europe embraces blockchain, as can be seen with their EU Blockchain observatory and forum. And in a more national action, Malta is storing their certifications in a blockchain nationwide as well. We cannot deny that blockchain is getting picked up by both companies and governments. Universities have been piloting several blockchain certification options, and they also harbor some of the leading voices in the debate on blockchain certification.

Major critique on Public Blockchains for learning
First of all, and prominently present, is Serge Ravet. He is co-author of the Bologna Open Recognition Declaration, founding partner of the Open Recognition Alliance, which already offers a good deal of interesting blockchain for learning related reading. On his learning futures blog, Serge wrote a couple of articles on why he thinks that blockchain for learning is not the way to go and is, in fact, solving a false problem. http://www.learningfutures.eu/2019/01/its-about-trust-stupid-why-blockchain-based-blockcerts-are-the-wrong-solution-to-a-false-problem-0-3/ . While going head-on, he pinpoints the real actor behind the EU blockchain observatory and forum, he then goes on to state that blockchain promotion is based on the promotion of the idea of distrust. When I read this, I concurred to the notion, as indeed there is another way to certify education and learning, that is by using the Web of Trust.
The blockchain is sometimes presented as the new panacea needed to heal the wrongs of the world. It is not just superficial, it is plain wrong: some applications of blockchain technologies can make things worse than they were, like the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are not just boosting traditional criminal activities but enabling new ones, not to mention global warming. (It’s about Trust, Stupid! Why Blockchain-based BlockCerts are the wrong solution to a false problem (0/3) by Serge Ravet)
In his follow-up post Serge zooms in on the economic-dimension of using blockchains, notably the actual risk of erasing regulatory bodies, and one of the most irregulated markets, the cryptocurrency market. He states:
The rationale for the initial development of blockchain technologies like Bitcoins, was to solve the problem of double spending while simultaneously:
  • Getting rid of regulatory bodies — the dream of the proponents of anarcho-capitalism also called libertarian anarchy, one of the ideologies widely shared between the alt-right, Trump and Silicon Valley (c.f. their track-record in tax dodging).
  • Getting rid of the need for trusted authorities to secure transactions — which resulted in creating an ecosystem that works best when everybody is at war with everybody. Trust is a mortal sin as trust between the [blockchain] miners could lead to collusion and cheating. 
 This puts a large part of society in a precarious position, as blockchains are pushed as being secure, while actually not only cutting away the middle man, but also the regulators, and the only ones really benefitting from having no regulators are those in power.

Another well-known downside of blockchains is their impact on global warming (definitely regulators needed there).
Public blockchains based on Proof of Work (PoW) are actively contributing to global warming—Bitcoin operations consume the annual energy of New Zealand, and growing! (It’s about Trust, Stupid! Why Blockchain-based BlockCerts are the wrong solution to a false problem (1/3) by Serge Ravet.
He also dispels the blockchain myth in pointing to how easy it is to get funding if you use 'blockchain' in any type of way.
What I really like, and often think, is that there is not always a need for blockchain. There are other options that do the job you want and have less impact on the climate, as well as less impact on society (so keeping it a low risk).

When addressing blockchain for certification, he hits on similar ideas as I did in the beginning of this post (though Serge uses a much more literary and blockchain-tech angle). And he uses some bitter wit as well:
The blockcert-authors want to use blockchains to reinvent the teaching machine that B. F. Skinner imagined for humans out of his extensive study of pigeons. But with an interesting twist this time: the positive reinforcement is not for the students, but the teachers; and it is financial! ... If the goal is to “enable a wave of innovation” what kind of innovation could emerge from making credentials “cryptographically signed, tamper-proof, and shareable”? The only innovation here is in using a new technology to improve paper-based credentials. We had a piece of paper, a static piece of information that is now a digital record, just as well a static piece of information, but easier to share and more difficult to tamper with.
When reading this last paragraph, it dawned on me that blockchain certification might well be a contemporary version of the Emperors New Clothes. Ah, so that means blockcerts might be a prank after all?! That idea feels satisfying, I no longer need to search a viable product for my project... or do I ? 

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

(live blognotes @ErasmusMATES) on #skills shift effect on #education & #training

Live blognotes MATES workshop on future skills education needed

This blog post refers to the future of education. In the near future (now actually) we need to set up professional learning that addresses the skills needs that emerge from the innovation-driven transition affecting different jobs. As a result, learning becomes effectively lifelong learning, and it becomes mandatory, as many jobs change constantly. This means universities must make their curriculum more dynamic in roll-out to cater to immediate demands, or ensure professional long learning. 

In this workshop, the European skills gap address is sketched. The field is specifically shipbuilding, but the notes I took are related to something that all educators interested in a pan-university or pan-training-organizational might find useful.

Everything between square brackets refer to my own ideas or questions [ ]

Julie Fionda Deputy Head of Unit Skills and Qualifications (DG Employment EC)
Great quote by Margaret Mead (Yeah!) We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools …”
  • A future of transitions
  • Changing jobs more frequently
  • Content of work changing faster (by 2022 54% of the

    existing workforce will need up/reskilling (Davos world economic forum)
  • Changing tasks more than redundant jobs ‘cobotisation’ (2022 machines/algorithms 42% humans 58 percent, huge shift (now 17%)

Which skills and where: diverse skills across Europe.
Cross cutting messages: digital skills (90% of all jobs now require some digital skills, including manual jobs), knowledge becomes less important (but navigating and applying the knowledge is increasingly more important than the knowledge itself)
Problem solving and critical thinking become more important (for themselves and as co-workers)
STEM disciplines are necessary, but the creatives are needed to say what the engines must do in terms of feelings, ethics, …
Sector specific skills: skills intelligence is often quite poor at individual level. Very important decisions are made on patchy information and pre-conceptions, that is why skills intelligence is one of the pillars in Europe.
Skills agenda in Europe high priority.
[skills intelligence: graduate tracking – blockchain certification from a learner , predicting future skills based on AI]
Education training systems need time to get people certified and credited, yet there is an immediate need to provide people with specific skills now. This also means we need to look at skills across the board (transparency across all levels, European, national and regional level)
Sectorial skills – European projects (Wave 1 – 2017, Wave 2 – 2018, Wave 3 – 2019)

Europass (certification ! informal and formal !): a suite of documents and services to improve transparency of skills. Over 130 million Europass CVs filled in (2005 – 2018), this will be renewed and testing it from June onward [ask Inge!]. The new Europass: web-based documentation tools, fact-based trends
More information on trends in your sector, connecting with learning opportunities, signposting for recognition of credentials, making it easier to identify the right candidates (to understand their qualifications, to trust their documentation is genuine and to have them find you).
Big data analysis of skills needs (roll out by 2020): Tens of millions of online vacancies, what are the skills sets they require, how does this vary across Europe, what trends can we see, first data March 2019, CEDEFOP expertise.

Graduate tracking: question on whether also tracking for informal learning after graduation (professional learning). Yes, this is done by Europass and it would be a service offered by Europass that can be embedded in a project so that both formal and informal certification can be validated by all and kept and/or provided by learner themselves. The Europass solution would be rolled out and available by 2020. Would be vocational tracking as well as university-related tracking, but admittedly the vocational tracking is more of a challenge.

Skills panorama (look at the picture for link).

Brain drain, movement of skilled labour in Europe, where are people going, where from, challenges and successes, independent study and mutual learning [here informal certification]
Transparency and recognition of qualifications: European Qualifications Framework (EQF), credentials, and international qualifications, blueprint qualifications, digitally signed credentials.
Looking for implementable projects and that it makes an impact on a strategic level.
Find out more: Julie.fionda@ec.europe.eu (and see picture with links )
Qualifications across nations/continents.
[our InnoEnergy skills3.0 bottom up approach, starting from the sector reports provides a more realistic market realistic overview of the skills needed]
ESCO skills taxonomy will be released as update in 2021.

Lucia Fraga Lago presents MATES findings (16 months of work)
Objectives: digital skills, green skills, 21st century skills, gender balance, VET standards and governance, ocean literacy. Transversal skills like these gain importance.
Project structure is iterative, currently in planning phase: stakeholder mobilization, baseline report on current skills gaps, analysis fo paradigm shifters, lines of action.
http://whowhomates.com for full report 176 experts and stakeholders commit to contributing to the strategy, organized in 8 thematic groups.

Input sources: 242 publications and 149 projects bibliographic, state of the art compilation, 2 rounds of regional stakeholder workshops [did MATES use AI for this]
Methods: description of current status in both sectors, value chain approach, mapping of relevant occupational profiles (based on ESCO), mapping of relevant Education and training programs across Europe, and identification of gaps in Education and training programs and skills shortages.

General challenges: aging workforce, young people not interested in the industrial maritime sectors, women are under-represented, and there aer few gender statistical data.
Mapping of occupational profiles (those that are very directly related to this field – shipbuilding). 35 primary (e.g. metal workers, welders, machinists…), and 25 supporting occupation profiles (e.g. civil engineer).

Relevant education and training programs across Europe (450 programs found) few programs directly targeted at shipbuilding industry, majority are VET programs addressing first phases of specialization only (mainly metalworking), few training schemes provide specific apprenticeships like advanced welding etc. , only 17% of the programs are English or bilingual and mainly higher education programs.

Skills shortages: specific technical gaps is highest, but also in language skills, health and safety.
[question: 450 programs found, but how do you solve the personal need of each worker, and how do you connect it to different parts of these programs?]
Info: mates@cetmar.org Lucia Fraga @erasmusMATES

On my question regarding: “who does a mix-and-match of existing programs and courses to the skills needs that are situated? Response of MATES and University of Amsterdam: multidisciplinary, dynamic curriculum development, multi-disciplinary curriculum building, more modulated, blended in terms of in-classroom teaching and on-site training. The MATES Lucia Fraga: we are going to tackle this step by step [so Skills3.0 project of EIT InnoEnergy might be leading in this]

Friday, 10 May 2019

#Blockchain in #learning exploring for #validation of lifelonglearning #certification

This is the first part of a series on Blockchain for Learning posts. In this post I am giving my (current) overview of Blockchain options from industry, a second post will focus more on the academic side (including impact on universities), and I will add a philosophical post on it as well).

Background and project
As I am working on the learning bit of the skills 3.0 project (a multi-disciplinary project combining AI, HR, learning and learning certification, see basic slides here), I have been gathering some Blockchain-for-Learning solutions as well (exploring options before adding them to the project slides). 

Main idea for using Blockchain (open or closed) for learning
What I am looking for is a stackable certification solution, which blockchain for learning or education can provide. This stackable way of organising or linking learning could enable a validated, personalized certification procedure covering both formal learning (e.g. certification, degrees, micro-credits) and informal learning (e.g. badges, skills, experiences). Practically: each learner has a learning wallet or portfolio, and you - as a learner - can add each learning step as you 'earn' it and you are issued a certificate/badge of what you learned by a learning authority/individual/group).  

Why is this useful?
Remember how each one of us has to give proof of learning whenever we want to change jobs, or when HR sets up these profiles that are so complex, that you wonder whether you will ever fit in? Well, in an ideal world this blockchain-for-learning solution might shed some light on both your formal credits, as well as your experiences throughout life and even your emerging interests (e.g. blockchain basics). It is a bit like a LifeLongLearning Accreditation On Steroids. 
So the blocks of this blockchain would be all instances where you learn, this could be study hours, but also workshops, reading, interactions with experts, papers, patents, peer groups of practitioners ... 
The idea is to support personalized learning when people are reskilling or upskilling their competencies and knowledge and adding a layer to it so their training and learning can be certified in a secure and digital fashion. 

Its technology, so there are heated debates
With all new technology, the heated debates emerge as well: what is the best, what are the upsides, who is a true believer, who is a true cynic... all of this I keep for a post later on this month. For now, just to give an idea, I am focusing on what is out there. Which is more than I had imagined. 

Blockchain you say? 
Any transaction between different parties where the transactions need to be validated, and they are distributed across locations fit the blockchain technology. The data is distributed over a massive amount of people, which would make tracking all the transactions very complex if done manually. Blockchain automates these transactions, and in many cases, they use distributed databases, as well as smart contracts to enable transactions. A smart contract is a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties. These transactions are trackable and irreversible (it being irreversible is one of the topics of debate, for instance, even if you are the author, you cannot change the transaction... so how does this fit in with Personal Data?). However, there is one important factor: the learner should be the one in charge of who can see what from his 'learning experiences and certification', which means she can give or revoke access to personal records. 

A great white paper on it (53 pages), called My Skills Project, written by John Casey from City of Glasgow College is a good read to get acquinted with blockchain for learning, focusing on vocational training (great read!). 

Some features that I feel are key:
  • Privacy (well, yes)
  • Learner is the owner of all data (others might be as well, but intermittent, while the learner is the owner of all their data. Right to be forgotten is also important, but seems difficult at this point - says my colleague Frederik who knows more about blockchain tech).
  • mobile first (you would think this is a given, but ... it still is not).
  • Standardization (otherwise it becomes difficult to achieve lifelong learning traceability)
  • Bridging formal and informal: this demands a variety of validated certification, including micro-credits, open badges and the like.
Giving some examples of products out there or in progress
Chainscript demo by Phil Komarny (Chainscript from SalesForce): in just 5 minutes Phil gives an overview and live (!) demo of the chainscript on mobile (oh yes!).

SmartDegrees: a mobile tool developed in Spain (the app already exists and has been rolled out in some Spanish Universities, a.o. Carlos III in Madrid). Because this solution seems (at least) a good starting point, I have a meeting with one of its people next week (looks promising, you can see a 2-minute video of what smartDegrees does here, but only in Spanish at the moment). 

A great comprehensive overview of Blockchain overall and with practical implementations in education comes from the Open University (UK), which looks at their plans for smart contracts, micro-accreditation, open badges, ... great 9-minute video. It is John Domingue (director of KMI at the OU) who speaks, and he has just been awarded the fellowship of the British Blockchain Association. 

LearningMachine: from MIT lab, and the good old W3C credentials community group, LearningMachine emerged. This is a full product in market, fully self-sovereign identity. But not sure how open they are to non-classic accreditation, although their video does include 'skills equivalencies' but not sure of the peer recommendations or fully informal learning options. They seem to be more focused on formal education (from government, university, companies). Their 2-minute mobile app can be seen in action here.

Standard-oriented information
CIMEA is the Italian Blockchain for qualifications standard. Their certification wallet service is called Diplo Me, which is still under construction.

DigiCerts is the German counterpart for Blockchain certification standards.

Blockcerts, subtitled "the open standard for blockchain certificates" is a service connected to Learning Machine, and also works towards a standard in an Alliance of major universities (which makes it feel mostly formal in certification). 

Europe is developing a standard embedded in its Digital Education Action Plan, called "framework for digitally-signed credentials". (pdf-document) A mostly theoretical approach, but of interest as it will be linked to Europass and such.

And of course the laudable Open Badges, used by multiple organisations (e.g. The Open University) to certify informal learning (I love this one, but it is of course going against the dominant system).

Some additional sources
Accredible is another, with UK, Netherlands and USA offices. They work across LMS systems, so they seem more LMS oriented. A lot of reading to get the idea, but nice reading. This is more like a certification publisher, not an active certification wallet option. 

The American, Public University system has blockchain lined up as well, but I could not find a bigger description of their project. 

Blockchain is a hot topic, so there is a multitude of courses out there, but one that seems to specialize is the Blockchain Training Alliance . They do not seem to offer specific Blockchain products though.

There are also some standards being developed (nice to keep in mind when wanting to use blockchain in a later stage):

Then there are a couple of blockchain companies who haven't developed a Blockchain for learning solution, but seem to be eager to explore the field:
T-mining (Belgium) - working with Frederik to explore which solution would fit my need best, great people to talk to. 
Learnovate (Ireland, connected to Trinity College Dublin), wrote a piece about it here.

Looking forward to getting a more in-depth look at these, and considering some of the more academic and philosophic ideas paralleling this technology. If you know of any other solutions, feel free to add them as a comment, or let me know. 

(picture from OpenBlockChain from UK)

Friday, 26 April 2019

#CfP Call for papers on #education, open #learning, #AI and #teaching

This call for papers offers a mix for research papers and call for speakers, enabling more research-based or more experienced based proposals to be written. The calls are organized in order of deadline.

ECTEL2019 conference

Deadline for submitting the mandatory abstract: 29 April 2019 (200 words using Springer template)
Deadline for submitting a full paper: 13 May 2019 (6 - 14 pages using Springer template)
When: 16 - 19 September 2019
Where: TU Delft, Netherlands
More information: http://www.ec-tel.eu/
Description (from website)
The European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (EC-TEL) is a unique opportunity for researchers, practitioners, educational developers and policy makers to address current challenges and advances in the field. This year’s theme of “Transforming learning with meaningful technologies” addresses how emerging and future learning technologies can be used in a meaningful way to enhance human-machine interrelationships, to contribute to efficient and effective education, and to assess the added value of such technologies.
The conference calls for papers focusing on this theme and addressing many topics: intermediation between learning systems, learners and educators; guidelines and methodologies to enhance learning experience through technologies; bridges between technology and learning; assessment of technologies’ educational added value; promotion of coherence and unity of technology and learning; and improvement of complementarity between technology and learning. We encourage participants to extend the debate around the role of and challenges for cutting-edge 21st century technologies and advances such as artificial intelligence and robots, augmented reality and ubiquitous computing technologies and at the same time connecting them to different pedagogical approaches, types of learning settings, and application domains that can benefit from such technologies.

Online Educa Berlin  

Deadline for submission call for proposals: 30 April 2019
When: 27 - 29 November 2019
Where: Berlin, Germany
Link to 'submit your proposal': https://secretariat.oeb.global/oeb_proposals/
More information: https://oeb.global/
Description (from website)
OEB Global, incorporating Learning Technologies, brings you to the forefront of learning technology developments. Get insights on opportunities and challenges that are changing the world of learning
  • Find out how to choose and use various technologies
  • Discover proven practice, approaches, strategies from leading institutions and organisations
  • Participate in pre-conference activities and 120+ break-out sessions with 300+ expert speakers from 70+ countries from across different disciplines, sharing their knowledge, skills and passion
  • Follow case studies presenting critical success factors and discuss innovative approaches with peers
  • Meet with 2,500+ learning professionals from the education, workplace learning and government sectors and forge essential international contacts and partnerships
  • Explore the exhibition at the heart of the event, where leading international e-learning manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers give hands-on demonstrations of innovative products and tools
  • Join us as we analyse new technologies and trends within ICT-enhanced learning and training
OEB Global has pushed boundaries, challenged preconceptions and catalysed new ideas for shaping the future of digital learning for 24 years.

International Open and Distance Learning conference

Deadline for submission: 15 July 2019
When: 14 - 16 November 2019
Where: Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey.
More information: http://iodl.anadolu.edu.tr/
The Anadolu University is proud to invite you to the INTERNATIONAL OPEN & DISTANCE LEARNING CONFERENCE – IODL 2019, which will be held at Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey on 14-15-16 November, 2019. After the conferences in 2002, 2006 and 2010, IODL 2019 is the 4th IODL event hosted by Anadolu University Open Education System. The conference is organized by Open Education Faculty, Anadolu University.

Anadolu University, one of the world leaders in open and distance education, currently offers higher education to over one million students worldwide. Anadolu University Open Education System aims to reduce the barriers to education, especially for adult and self-learners. In the 21st century, the idea of openness is in the very core of education which is surrounded with technology in multi-cultural learning environments.

The main theme of the IODL 2019 is “Glocal ODL Opportunities and Dynamics”.
The aim of the IODL 2019 is to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners to present and discuss a broad range of topics related to open and distance learning, including but not limited to:
• Open and distance learning, Lifelong learning, Open education and globalization, Drop-out in open and distance education, Open and distance learning for refugees, Learning analytics, Financial issues in massive education, Digital division, Barriers to learning, Role of education in crisis, Education in a multicultural society, Micro credential and short learning programs, Mobile learning, Adaptive learning environments, Deep learning in ODL, AI in/for ODL, IoTs for ODL, Student Support Services in ODL, Public science, New challenges to the Higher Education Area, Evaluation and assessment in ODL, Accreditation and QA in ODL, MOOCs and OERs

Transdisciplinary AI (TransAI) conference (combining AI with other disciplines)

Deadline for submission: 1 July 2019
When: 25 - 27 September 2019
Where: Laguna Hills, California, USA
More information: https://www.transai.org/
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is concerned with computing technologies that allow machines to see, hear, talk, think, learn, and solve problems even above the level of human beings. On the one hand it allows data to be analyzed by real-time models that enable unprecedented levels of accuracy and efficiency. On the other hand it enables domain specific problem solving and knowledge discovery that cannot be easily done by humans.
Transdisciplinary AI 2019 (TransAI 2019), technically sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, is an international forum focusing on the interactions between artificial intelligence (AI) and other research disciplines. It consists of themes that each addresses the applications of AI to a specific research discipline as well as how domain specific applications may advance the research on AI.
The TransAI themes address two dimensions--technology and academic research domains so that technologies can be mapped to domain applications.

Asian conference on education

(focusing on dependence and independence, nice topic)
Deadline for submission abstract: 22 August 2019
When: 31 October - 3 November 2019
Where: Toshi Center hotel, Tokyo, Japan.
More information: https://ace.iafor.org/
The 2019 conference theme for The 11th Asian Conference on Education is “Independence & Interdependence”, and invites reflections on the desirability, extent and limits of our individual independence and autonomy, of that of our students, and of the institutions and structures within which we work, teach and learn. We do not educate, and are not educated in vacuums, but in such contexts and constraints as families, groups, and societies; of nations and cultures; of identities and religions; and of political and financial realities.

Ever changing technologies offer new ways for us to be independent and autonomous learners, encouraging students to be self-directed and confident in making choices, and enabling and empowering students and teachers to be proactive and tailor content. However, myriad technologies and services make us more dependent on the very things allowing autonomy. How do we help students and teachers alike navigate and curate the vast information available? How do we encourage individual growth while also underlining the importance of belonging and of the reciprocal responsibilities and privileges of education? How do we help students build the skills and attitudes necessary for positive engagement in distributed, globalised communities that so often lead to polarisation and alienation instead? How do we educate with independence and interdependence in mind?

This conference is organised by IAFOR in association with the IAFOR Research Centre at the Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) in Osaka University, Japan.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

The impact of working to your heart's content #learningDesign #MobiMOOC #inclusivity

Last week was inspiring thanks to the company I was in and the ideas that were exchanged Thank you John Traxler for organizing this wonderful workshop! My presentation was part of a multiplier event for the European MOONLITE project, looking MOOC design for refugees and migrants. A couple of days ago I realized what an impact this event had and how it affected my well-being. So why did it feel meaningful? It was the mixture of being on the road, meeting up with like-minded peers (the importance of exploring the concept of inclusivity), and suddenly realizing I was in a workshop where all presenters were female… something one rarely finds oneself in outside of the gender-circuit or designated ‘all female sessions’.
All of these factors finally got me to break out of my social media silence and see how I want to move forward.

Realizing the impact of projects that evolve out of ‘just some idea’
MobiMOOC was the eight MOOC out there and focused on mobile learning, which was also a new topic for MOOCs in April 2011. The idea of organizing MobiMOOC just came out of a wild idea, having worked on mobile learning for Sub-Saharan countries, and because I loved the experience of CCK08 the first MOOC ever.
While I was rearranging my slides for this presentation, I realized that organizing MobiMOOC resulted in quite a lot of meaningful actions and connections. To give you some idea of what was said during the talk, I am adding my slide deck here.

Being on the road
I like being on the road (though - when happens too frequently - it takes a toll on family life, creating some imbalance at home). But being on the road somehow gives me ideas, and it puts me in a mindset that feels exhilarating. Although not as exciting as Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, I do feel it has something. To me, being on the road provides ideas, and it gives a feeling of being alive. I guess my ancestors have been populated with a lot of nomads, for instance, my great grandfather who sailed the seven seas as a cook on international boats since the age of 14, and there must have been more ancestors doing the same thing. Wanderers.

Being inspired by like-minded peers
It felt so good to be in the company of inspiring peers, and to feel my heart and soul being content.
It was wonderful to meet-up with Nell Bridges (great mind, wonderful home), to finally meet up with Gabi Witthaus (I still laugh out loud with the divorce anecdote you told me), meeting Marwa Belghazi, to share ideas with Agnes Kukulska-Hulme on what I would love to be paid for (simply sharing ideas, thinking, writing them down), to meet with the always warm-hearted Daniyar Sapargaliyev who is now living in the UK with his family, trying to provide ideal surroundings for his two young sons, and of course to listen and question John Traxler who always has a different and in-depth view on academia, on life, on creating a meaningful life.

Each day I was learning and I learned from all of them, as each person I met was truly inspiring. They walk the talk of inspiring people and they work to somehow make the world a better place. How wonderful is that!

It is fascinating how you can feel what makes you tick by being surrounded by people you connect with. But most of all, each person there told me about the importance of doing something you really like. Of putting yourself out there, in whatever capacity you can (all efforts are worthwhile), and of simply being yourself.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Liveblog @mathvermeulen #JustDoIt #vovpitstop @vovnetwerk

Liveblog Mathias Vermeulen Ode aan Angus
(Great keynote, capturing the audience first, coming to business with strong ideas)
Lang leve technologie!
Technologie is (ahem)
  • ·       Ons LMS
  • ·       Ons eLearningmodules
  • ·       Onze course vending machine

MacGyver is biggest inspiration of @mathiasVermeulen
Fabulous learning is developed by thinking ‘What would MacGyver do?”
·       Find what is out there, and use it to your own advantage and needs!
·       L&D is a party for everyone: becoming best friends with IT. HR, L&D
·       “Ik ben een bricoleur”

Zwitsers zakmes
  • ·       xAPI – LRS
  • ·       VR/AR
  • ·       Games (bury me my love – try it, text but serious game on Syria)
  • ·       Mobile
  • ·       AI and chatbots

Don’t worry be crappy (Guy Kawasaki)
Try out tools, set aside time (e.g. Friday afternoon) to test, think, come up with ideas on learning solutions.
Think ahead
  • ·       New people (we are good in this)
  • ·       More (what can we do to train our people)
  • ·       Apply (e.g. performance support when they need it: just-in-time learning)
  • ·       Solve (again, take time to learn what is out there)
  • ·       Change (produce a lean learning approach)

(Dutch) Yves Bosteels from Jan De Nul on eAcademy #vovpitstop @vovnetwerk #liveblog

Liveblog from Yves Bosteels over Kennis, Proces and Innovatie (just some pointers from his talk) Mostly in Dutch

Jan De Nul eAcademy (eLearning begonnen in 2017), combineren van opleidingen.
6500 medewerkers, internationaal, (80 – 100 lopende projecten, waarvoor opleiding aangeboden moeten worden, met een oplossing voor verschillende infrastructuur problemen, o.a. schepen).
Cornerstone on Demand (offline niet interessant voor schepen)
Online/offline LMS
Recurrente vragen van klanten
·       Training & Needs analysis
·       Show me training background
·       Show me certification
·       What other career training do you provide
·       Project-specific training (eg. Parkwind (nieuwe installatiemethode) – efficient bout placement
Schepen getest vanaf 2018
7 eModules (in 2018, gerigistreerde opleidingen, merendeel klassiek).
Iedere nieuwe werknemer krijgt onmiddellijk upcoming learning sessions, with training programs (cfr AICCM)
Impact van eAcademy precies gemeten?
  • ·       Kwisformule ingewerkt in modules (zie volgende slides)
  • ·       Dashboards voor teamlead en departementshoofden
  • ·       Hoe wordt er voor verankering en transfer gezorgd van wat geleerd wordt?

o   Testen in de module
o   Materiaal blijft in de eBib beschikbaar
o   Nadien ook aan bod laten komen in klassieke training
o   Van aanvraag tot aanlevering (3000 – 25000 eur per module, met module ca. 30 minuten – we automate parts to 2000 EUR per module, with adapted assessment)
Hoe zorgen ze ervoor dat mensen naar de eAcademy gaan?
  • ·       PR actie om animo te geven
  • ·       Mensen wel enthousiast qua materiaal

Implementatie voor eAcademy
·       PM aanstellen om dit gestructureerd en ‘serieus’ aan te pakken
·       Use case vroeg om eigen IT-inbreng om alles op schepen te kunnen implementeren
·       HR & IT
Flipped classroom approach: manage the expectations, ensure pre-contact knowledge acquisition
·       Alle schepen online krijgen
·       Interne opleidingsmatrices in eAcademy + mails met uitnodigingen
·       1370 externe cursussen naar eAcademy krijgen met een approval flow
·       Tegen eind maart: 16
·       Tegen eind 2019: 90
Recurrent materiaal
·       Bedrijfsrichtlijkenen
·       QHSSE
·       Recurrente treainingen zoals baggercursussen, DMS, IT, andere software
·       Inducties (projectsites & opslagplaatsen).
Expert academy: Finex portal (financial project and contact information): data and reports, ITA, Links, Tools, …. (test spec IT roll out)
Vraag naar soft-skills and Gamification (Check Marloes, Elizabeth interest: GC, Spain…)

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Just sharing a few rejections: paper & funding, and solutions #academicLife #life #loveMyNetwork

Life can be hard, both personally and professionally, yet at the same time life can simply push you towards a more pleasant option along the way, seemingly using rejections to get you on to the right track. I sure hope this will be the case, but only hindsight will tell. [addition one day after writing this post: while sharing these ideas on Facebook, I got such an inspiring response from my network, I decided to add the ideas and remarks they had below, between square brackets]
Today I was informed that my co-authored paper for the eMOOC summit 2019 in Naples was rejected. Rejections rarely result in joy, and this was no exception. For some reason writing a paper is also a personal effort. You try with all your ability (and mostly under a bit of time pressure) to come up with a paper that shares your research in just a few pages. Referencing to prior great minds in your field of expertise. So, when a paper gets rejected, it simply hurts. It feels personal to some extent.
The rejection came one week after my submission to get a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship got rejected as well, it did not get the threshold. The review did have a lot of positive points though (which did soften the blow). Granted, I wrote this submission as a plan B in order to increase my options to get back to work after I recovered from the year rehab after the cancer diagnosis. I put my heart into it, not only me but also the professor who was willing to employ me in his department if the fellowship was successful. Luckily, I was able to get back to work and on good terms, and on an inspiring project.
[It seems that rejections are common to everyone, even the highest esteemed scholars get them despite their obvious wisdom and knowledge. My friends shared some good advice and resources that help to bounce back from rejection. First off: upward and onward, as simple as it sounds, it works ... once you have managed to soften the feeling of a work being rejected. The process is to reflect, look at the feedback (or if they did not send any, ask for all the feedback, of course, anonymized), and rewrite and resubmit. Next, a great article in Medium on The Iceberg Illusion, adding the picture here as well.]

But the above two rejections just made me realize once more that I am not a traditional academic and as such, I doubt whether I can ever be part of the whole deal. Maybe this frequency of rejection is simply normal, but at present, I just feel I need to take another leap. Just like I did three times before. Maybe I am not made to gradually move forward? Maybe my thing is just this .... jumping ahead and then working on that 'new' concept until it becomes more mainstream.
[Feedback is an essential first step, next of course is to get going and to know thy self. And to repeat to yourself that critique is not personal, and it can be based on a number of reasons that do not even have to be immediately related to the work you did. In a way, emotion wins over ratio every time, but that does not mean we cannot rationalize after the first emotions have gone.]
Ciska sometimes tells me: "don't wine because you are living off the beaten track, even if you could walk the straight and narrow, you still would roll out your own route to get to the next place". Maybe she is right, but it does not make things easier. Maybe, it is never easy for any of us. Even for those who walk the more traditional roads to achieve a professional space in society. I don't know, but each time I get such a rejection, I just feel it's because of me, and it feels personal.
Okay, time to move forward again. Working on a project which combines human resources, AI and learning... fun, I must admit.
[and this is - and has always been - an inspiring Last Lecture]

Cartoon in this blogpost is from the fabulous Nick D. Kim - the http://www.lab-initio.com/ site

Monday, 14 January 2019

EU report on the impact of AI on Learning Teaching and Education #AI #education #EU #policy

The resently published report on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on learning, teaching and education gives a great outline on the realities of AI, the state of the art, and the challenges as well as opportunities for those of us with an expertise in learning in general, or learning in terms of learning theory. The report is part of the JRC Science for Policy documents, and it is very well written by Ilkka Tuomi (who is renowned for his expertise in Internet, data, AI and computer science). Ilkka recorded a brief overview of the report, which can be seen below. In the report-related video, he refers to current machine learning systems as datavors, he defines (and right fully so) the term of machine learning as an oxymoron and he puts current AI in very accessible parallel, namely the Artificial Instict (as current AI is mainly about behaviourist approaches and patterns).

A very interesting perspective is that Ilkka and the report stress the importance of having someone on board of AI for learning/teaching/education on board, who has expertise in learning and learning theory.

The policy challenges mentioned at the end of the report are:

  • A continuous dialogue on the appropriate and responsible uses of AI in education is therefore needed.
  • In the domain of educational policy, it is important for educators and policymakers to understand AI in the broader context of the future of learning. As AI will be used to automate productive processes, we may need to reinvent current educational institutions.
  • In general, the balance may thus shift from the instrumental role of education towards its more developmental role.
  • A general policy challenge, thus, is to increase among educators and policymakers awareness of AI technologies and their potential impact.
  • Learning sciences could have much to offer to research on AI, and such mutual interaction would enable better understanding about how to use AI for learning and in educational settings, as well as in other domains of application.
  • As there may be fundamental theoretical and practical limits in designing AI systems that can explain their behaviour and decisions, it is important to keep humans in the decision-making loop.
  • The ethics of AI is a generic challenge, but it has specific relevance for educational policies.
  • Human agency means that we can make choices about future acts, and thus become responsible for them.  AI can also limit the domain where humans can express their agency.
  • An important policy challenge is how such large datasets that are needed for the development and use of AI-based systems could be made more widely available.

This 47 page report offers the following topics:

Introduction ...................................................................................................... 5
2 What is Artificial Intelligence? ............................................................................. 7
2.1 A three-level model of action for analysing AI and its impact ............................. 7
2.2 Three types of AI ....................................................................................... 10
2.2.1 Data-based neural AI ......................................................................... 10
2.2.2 Logic- and knowledge-based AI ........................................................... 12
2.3 Recent and future developments in AI .......................................................... 13
2.3.1 Models of learning in data-based AI ..................................................... 15
2.3.2 Towards the future............................................................................. 16
2.4 AI impact on skill and competence demand ................................................... 17
2.4.1 Skills in economic studies of AI impact ................................................. 18
2.4.2 Skill-biased and task-biased models of technology impact ....................... 20
2.4.3 AI capabilities and task substitution in the three-level model ................... 21
2.4.4 Trends and transitions ........................................................................ 22
2.4.5 Neural AI as data-biased technological change ...................................... 23
2.4.6 Education as a creator of capability platforms ........................................ 23
2.4.7 Direct AI impact on advanced digital skills demand ................................ 25
3 Impact on learning, teaching, and education ....................................................... 27
3.1 Current developments ................................................................................ 27
3.1.1 “No AI without UI” ............................................................................. 28
3.2 The impact of AI on learning ....................................................................... 28
3.2.1 Impact on cognitive development ........................................................ 30
3.3 The impact of AI on teaching ....................................................................... 31
3.3.1 AI-generated student models and new pedagogical opportunities............. 31
3.3.2 The need for future-oriented vision regarding AI .................................... 32
3.4 Re-thinking the role of education in society ................................................... 32
4 Policy challenges ............................................................................................. 34

Below is the 20 minute video of Ilkka Tuomi which explains the report in easy terms.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Call for Papers #CfP #AI #mLearning #MOOC in conferences #UNESCO @FedericaUniNa

January has started and three important calls for papers are coming up, all related to conferences. The three conferences are: eMOOCs2019 (on MOOCs), Mobile Learning week at UNESCO (focus on AI for development and mobile learning, and eLearning Africa (this year in Cote d'Ivoir), listed per deadline of the CfP.

Mobile learning week UNESCO (Paris, France): focus on AI for sustainable development
Call for proposals deadline: 11 January 2019
UNESCO Global AI Conference: Monday 4 March 2019
Policy Forum and Workshops: Tuesday 5 March 2019
Symposium: Wednesday 6 & Thursday 7 March 2019
Strategy labs & International Women’s Day: Friday 8 March 2019
Exhibits: Monday 4 to Friday 8 March 2019
More information: https://en.unesco.org/mlw/2019
UNESCO, in partnership with its confirmed partners – the International Telecommunication Union and the Profuturo Foundation – will convene a special edition of Mobile Learning Week (MLW) from 4 to 8 March 2019, at the UNESCO Headquarters building in Paris (France). The five-day event, under the theme ‘Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable development’ will start with the ‘Global Conference - Principles for AI: Towards a humanistic approach?’, followed by a one-day Policy Forum and Workshops, a two-day International Symposium and a half-day of Strategy Labs. On 8 March, towards the close of MLW, participants will be invited to join the celebration of International Women’s Day, particularly a debate on Women in AI to be held in UNESCO Headquarters. During the entire week, exhibitions and demonstrations of innovative AI applications for education and more than 20 workshops will be organized by international partners and all programme sectors of UNESCO.
eMOOCs 2019 in Napels, Italy
Deadline CfP: 14 January 2019.
Conference date:  May 20 – 22, 2019
More informationhttps://emoocs2019.eu/call-for-papers/overview/
The Higher Education landscape is changing. As the information economy progresses, demand for a more highly, and differently, qualified workforce and citizens increases, and HE Institutions face the challenge of training, reskilling and upskilling people throughout their lives, rather than providing a one-time in-depth education. The corporate and NGO sectors are themselves exploring the benefits of a more qualified online approach to training, and are entering the education market in collaboration with HE Institutions, but also autonomously or via new certifying agencies. Technology is the other significant player in this fast-changing scenario. It allows for new, data-driven ways of measuring learning outcomes, new forms of curriculum definition and compilation, and alternative forms of recruitment strategy via people analytics.

At the MOOC crossroads where the three converge, we ask ourselves whether university degrees are still the major currency in the job market, or whether a broader portfolio of qualifications and micro-credentials may be emerging as an alternative. What implications does this have for educational practice? What policy decisions are required? And as online access eliminates geographical barriers to learning, but the growing MOOC market is increasingly dominated by the big American platforms, what strategic policy do European HE Institutions wish to adopt in terms of branding, language and culture?

The EMOOCs 2019 MOOC stakeholders summit comprises the consolidated format of Research and Experience, Policy and Business tracks, as well as interactive workshops. Original contributions that share knowledge and carry forward the debate around MOOCs are very welcome.

eLearning AFrica - Abidjan - Cote d'Ivoir
Deadline CfP: February 22, 2019.
Conference date: October 23 - 25, 2019
More informationhttps://www.elearning-africa.com/programme_cfp.php
The 14th edition of eLearning Africa, the International Conference & Exhibition on ICT for Education, Training & Skills Development, which will take place in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire from October 23 - 25, 2019 and is co-hosted by the Government of Côte d'Ivoire. 

A unique event, Africa’s largest conference and exhibition on technology supported learning, training and skills development, eLearning Africa is a network of leading experts, professionals and investors, committed to the future of education & training in Africa.

Read more about the eLearning Africa 2019 themeThe Keys to the Future: Learnability and Employability, and become involved in shaping the conference agenda by proposing a topic, talk or session here.
Register today to profit from our Early Bird Rate

About eLearning Africa
Founded in 2005, eLearning Africa is the leading pan-African conference and exhibition on ICT for Education, Training & Skills Development. The three day event offers participants the opportunity to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, as well as to enhance their knowledge and skills.
Over 13 consecutive years, eLearning Africa has hosted 17,278 participants from 100+ different countries around the world, with over 80% coming from the African continent. More than 3,530 speakers have addressed the conference about every aspect of technology supported learning, training and skills development.