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).

Friday 30 November 2012

Free course on Learning Design #MOOC #oldsmooc

Open Learning Design Studio, a free and open course on learning design (how learning can be designed, how a curriculum can be build...)! That is something I cannot resist. Admittedly, the organizers are still getting all the locations and spaces ready, but there is a lot to be seen already.

Starting on 10 January 2013 (and lasts for 9 weeks, clocking off on 13 March 2013) a set of UK based learning institutes are rolling out a MOOC on learning design. Although the course is free, you do need to register.

They offer a list of new approaches to MOOC (and proven one's), which will make it of interest not only to us who look for a more in-depth knowledge into learning design, but also for those contemplating on setting up a MOOC.

What I like already:
  • Oldsmooc is using different online environments
  • At point of registration the registering participants are asked some relevant questions (type of learner, experience with online learning/learning design, ...)
  • they provide badges, embedded in parts of the learning environment
  • the fact that they start on a Thursday (leaving the weekend as work time for those in full time jobs)
  • visible resources
  • they have asked Martin Hawkey to strengthen their analytic approach
  • ... 
  • and I can just relax and learn, not having to worry about anything else... ahhhhhhh
So that simply looks great already!

A bit on the course (from their course site):

Study weeks start on a Thursday to allow those who cannot devote time during work days to participate over the weekend. The MOOC takes an active and collaborative approach to learning. Facilitators will provide resources and guidance, and participants are invited to critically engage with and add to these, and use them to create design artifacts that they will share and discuss with others. Committed participants will work individually or in groups on a learning/ curriculum design project that they will initiate and define. Additionally these participants will associate themselves with a study group, with which they will work throughout the MOOC. These groups will act as the primary learning support mechanism.

The course is structured to reflect a proposed process for design, and combines a number of design thinking methodologies (see and, inquiry learning (see and educational design research (see

Thursday 29 November 2012

Mobile #Moodle ready for beta release: feedback welcomed

It has been more than 2 years since the Moodle4iPhone project Unfortunately it was not ready to be officially released, but after additional work from Beto, Carlos and Ludo, the official release will be rolled out in the following weeks.

For all of those interested, we kindly request you to go to and enroll to the course and give us some feedback (at the social forum in order to improve this theme before to make it public for the whole Moodle Community.
Two themes will be released, 1 for mobile devices and the second one for tablets.

The timing towards the official release is as followed: try-out and feedback in the next two weeks. Than one week of tweaking based on the feedback received and ... release! So, for all of you interested in mobile Moodle, get your devices out and join the community to get this project launched. 

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Tin Can: learner #analytics for the next #research frontier

What if you are looking for an easy, accessible learner analytics that does not only map access and timings, but actually allows trainers and teachers to take a more in-depth look into the actual learning? THAT is what I am looking for. As I am researching learner interactions in a mobile accessible open, online course – I can see that access pushes forward learner interactions, and even meaningful, constructive learner interactions (research snippets will be shared soon, still getting my thesis together). Looking at Tin Can will reveal a bit of the future of learner tracking and open opportunities for future educational research. The most essential challenge that emerged from my research (at this point) was the fact that meaningful mapping of learning was lacking due to a number of reasons. 

So this is where Tin Can enters (@tincanapi), and thanks to Danny De Witte (@paravolve ) for getting me back on this topic! Tin Can builds on SCORM, but takes learning/training data to the next level. What Tin Can does is enabling teachers/trainers and as such also researchers to see which type of learning appears within a learner community. Not only the formal learning (access to course content, etcetera), but also the informal learning, not only web-based but offline as well as online, and adding ubiquity to the analysis as well. So in a nutshell Tin Can wants to push learner analytics to the next level.

Tin Can is not yet in a version to provide a widely audience a userfriendly version, but … you should have a look at where they are heading (currently 1.95 version, so near public release). What Tin Can does is getting all the diversity of tools that all of us use to build brick-à-brack solution for learner analytics, and centralizing them so that it becomes more intuitive.

The problems tackled with Tin Can as it is developed:
  • Mobile tracking – any device tracking: so allowing focus on the actual learning, no matter what device.
  • Simulations: allowing to move away from the browser, into where the actual learning takes place.
  • Educational (serious) games: gamification is a great way to learn, but it gives rise to a lot of learning challenges, let alone tracking. Currently a lot of serious games are being played by young children, which can actually show the actual learning going on (algebra, math, language…), but this (informal) learning does not seep through to the actual teacher/trainer… however, this could create a much more personalized and in-depth profile of the actual learning of a particular individual.
  • Performance support: point-of-need, just-in-time learning is essential for learning. But the barrier with scorm was the actual ‘login, path….’ Which gave rise to a bit of demotivation. But Tin Can takes tracking outside of the LMS, as such it is much more directly accessible.
  • Track real world activities: a webinar, training attendance… any tracking that is GPS enabled and such.
  • Offline and long running content: spaced learning enhances all of our learning as we know, but this was tough to track, with Tin Can offline tracking will be enabled. Tin Can will not program spaced learning, but will provide data that will make it easier to develop spaced learning.
  • Security and authentication: Tin Can will upgrade the security a bit: secure the security between a learning provider and the actual material. It will not be fully secure, but a bit more secure.

Deeper layers: multi-level tracking: in the cloud and on the device:
  • Everything is learning: if we do something that increases our knowledge, this is essential to get an idea of learning: making a mistake, writing a blog, reading up on a specific topic …. The holistic learning environment.
  • How it works: bookmarks are gathered (in Tin Can), book scanner (to add the books you read), tapestry api addition…. It is all about capturing learning events.
  • Key enablers: tracking does not need to be done inside an LMS, it can be launched from anywhere. The asserter of the learning material, can be different from the learning event => as such everything on the web can be used as a learning object, and can be tracked for its learning, it does not be ‘scorm-enabled’.
  • Free the data: LRS: this is a great concept, LRS is a Learning Record Store: the thing that accepts all the Tin Can data and enables other instruments to analyse the data. This is where specialized analysis comes in: improve content delivery, content analytics, point towards learning pathways…
  • Training data portability: allow to take along training records.
  • Personal data locker: that might give the learner herself/himself to learn more on their learning: ideal meta learning tool!
Major challenge: how can one filter out the signal to noise: what makes up relevant learning, what not?

And of course, if you look at Tin Can and put this next to MOOC’s and take socially intelligent agents into consideration, than you must agree that it will offer an amazing learning advancement for the next decennium. And the effect on educational research is ENORMOUS:
  • How do people like to learn?
  • Which learner profiles are there?
  • Can you deduct a professional profile based on learner profiles?
  • Can you filter out skills and consequent opportunities based on learning?
  • Can you find topics that arise from learning … from what seems to be missing?
This will shed light on actual learning apart from neuroscience monitoring. Great!

If you want to learn more about Tin Can, have a look at their website here ( ), or get a broader idea watching this webinar.

Monday 26 November 2012

A one access point for all books and music? YEAH

Hans De Zwart got me onto this site and ... what a great resource for avid readers and listeners! I admit I need to finalize my thesis, but I just could not resist taking a break to peruse through the content shared by the Internet Archive. I learn every day and ... will do for ever no doubt.

The Internet Archive gathers all types of content, and allows people to add it as well. They have wonderful initiatives (admittedly most of them are US oriented, but the idea is universal):
A bundle of Open Educational Resources with lectures on several subjects. 
TV archive with search option, for any media editor this is a dream. You just search for your favorite politician or fact, and start editing an overview of what they said versus what they do, or how certain facts get a different perspective as time goes by. Wonderfully educational stuff. 
Something called the waybackmachine that allows you to filter content that you think should be archived for future generations.
Open software location, with a list of freely downloadable software's (always fun, looking at a list of open source software)
A free music download page (where I searched for live recordings of Sage Francis and they had it! So went on to Hive Mind and yes, they also had a link to an album!)
After which I started to look at the open library and saw a list of books that are in part freely available, but some also simply linked to make up a complete digital overview of all books.

The great thing about this is that everyone can add to it. So a nice example of crowdsourcing, or maybe the term crowdcontentaddition fits more appropriately. Such fun! And now... back to thesis typing (some additional coding of messages; some additional references...)

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Blogphilosophy: Education makes the world a worse place

These last few days were pushing the truth into my face again: education does not change the world. In fact: it helps destroying it. So why bother? Why do I put so much time and effort in researching education?

It is not about Israël, it could just as easily be North Korea, China, Zimbabwe, waffles baking Belgium, … or the tiny country of Andorra for all I care. It is any region empowered by the educated that decides ‘the other’ should be destroyed (read murdered under a false flag of well-meant excuses). It is never about a nation or patriotism, those are just words used by the educated to feed propaganda, the media and lead up to destructive action. The nations never die, its citizens die, the children die. The powerful, educated few that decide they will bombard innocent people … they live. They are educated in surviving, constructing mind weaves to make them and others think violence is permitted, they understand how to fire guns pointed away from their homes. 

Universal rights are simple: you kill someone on purpose => you are a murderer and should be trialed.

Annihilating the powerless is the best way to keep people down. Annihilating the powerless and educating the thinking. Give those that have some intelligence something to do. Give them the illusion their education will make the world a better place. It will never do it. Power is not in education, power is in the elite network, the willingness to be part of the network, the willingness to engage in destruction to keep power to those already in it: “for that is how it should be. We know what is best for them”.

Palestinians are educated people, israëlis are moslims too, jews struggle for peace and all of us suffer from death and destruction. Killing someone makes anyone a murderer, even if they do it from 10 miles further down the road. That is basic knowledge we all know. But it does not matter that we know it. There is no world for the peaceful, for the balanced, for indigenous people, for any of us just wanting to live in harmony.

Delivering primary education to all?! I think not. Reaching the millennium goals is a nice sounding motto. Something to keep many of us busy, working, researching. But unless the few really want to achieve it, it never happens. And it does not happen. We could. Social science has many frameworks, theories, even pilot studies to prove its potential realization. But it does not happen. Because rebuilding cities, rolling out roads for tanks, pumping fuel from the core of the earth to regions consuming it in a rush to go to work, to professions that put all of us between brick walls for the biggest part of our day, for workers hurrying of to any space that is not their family so they do not have to talk to their fellow man/woman, even if those are their partners, their next of kin, their spouse. Let alone make them think about easy dilemma’s that might make a change.

What gets us on the streets? I don’t know. But I can tell you what does not get all of us walking the pavements, hammering on doors of our so called democratic elected leaders: technologically strong, educated  armies blowing children to oblivion.

Education is manipulated and misused. Maybe it is just there to keep us busy, to keep me busy. But for the life of me I cannot come up with anything else to try and change this world and hope that at some point we will find a cure for mindless aggression in name of the father, the nation, the god… or any of those iconic lies.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Harold Jarche on the need for #corporate #networking and learning

During the Learning Day at the European Environmental Agency (EEA), an organisation filled with knowledge workers, I had the pleasure of hearing a keynote of Harold Jarche ( @hjarche and ). These are my live blognotes.

An interesting central idea is the fact that all knowledge workers need to have time to do nothing, simply relax, get their heads into an open, wandering, creative state. I totally agree. Without pauzes, my brain would not be able to compute and emotionally process all the input absorbed by the day.

Breaking down barriers
Change is human. Although at every moment in time, we - as people - feel that something will be there forever. But we are only surrounded by artificial barriers. These barriers are artificially created. Organizations are the same, the barriers, guidelines are provided... These barriers are sometimes set up to create an idea of trust, balance, ... but in fact these barriers can be restrictive. If we want to grow, we need to share knowledge. As such we need to break the barriers down, enabling fruitful change. 
hyperlinks subvert hierarchy (from the manifesto)

Moving from local to global
We live in a less barriered world: self-publication, group forming across the world, unlimited information. In the past we linked up with people with similar interests locally, due to simply physical realities... now we can link up with people from around the world. So from a learning perspective our learning group grows (personal addition: this also means that the group that lives inside the personal zone of proximal development grows, as more people can potentially be in this). Groupforming is now becoming networks. This has an effect on mentorship: per mentor you can only have so many learners, but with the growing group more mentors can stand up and the learners themselves can become mentors.

The web has changed the way we work.
How we start businesses (get online financial support), couche surfing....

An interesting question put forward by Harold is from Robert Kelley, "What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?" research. The percentage decreases, but ... I am not sure about this, as the brain builds on its experiences, as such - even if we look up something, the basis of what we pick up is actually stuff we know. So - to me - the 'new' is not that new, it is only a small part of new, but mostly it is building upon personal knowledge.

Anything that can be automated will be automated
Anything that can be automated will be automated: production, outsourcing, law (when big corporate law goes to court, all the information needs to be organized. Now this search is done by computer data software), banking.... even to drive through: you go to a MacDonalds, someone in India takes the order and sends the 'burger computers' the order...
So if you are looking for work, look for the far right handside, otherwise you will loose it. (I agree!)
Talent is seldom outsourced, labour is. Live and work is in perpetual beta (I agree so much!).
So byebye teachers?

(personal note: although the above is true, I feel this is only true because we belief in the non-human at this point in time, money and profit is the goal, but that is not human. Because of this focus on non-human factors, humanity is out of balance. We should use the web, the new world order to shift back to the central goal: humans - think Star Trek society, the technology serves humans, no money needed).

Connections drive innovation
We need input from peope with a diversity of viewpoints - Tim Kestell (or Kastell?).
How do we connect the open world with the corporate world.
Communities of Practice: weak and strong social ties. "You know you are in a CoP when it changes your practices".
Rob Cross, et al. The Hidden Power of Social networks, HBS, 2004. is mentioned => the people that are more connected are the most connected, it is not the smartest people.

Collaboration versus cooperation
collaboration: working together for a common objective. Cooperation: openly sharing, without any quid pro quo. Corporation is linking with each other: yin/yang balance. 
Knowledge sharing networks is build on openness, for it enables transparency, which fosters diversity of ideas => trust! (agreeing here, any willingness to communicate openly is based on the feeling of trust).

We should all move into transparency to get to innovational drive.  Mentions Nancy Dixon on knowledge management: do not go to hierarchy, but to a networked corporational architecture.

Some nice quotes:
"All models are flawed, but some are useful.
"Assume positive intent" says Harold, things work better with this as a starting point.
"To change behaviour you have to do it 40 days in a row for change to stick".

Social network analysis shows trust (e.g. twitter traffic can show those persons that are trusted)

These are his presentation slides

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Solutions for learners with #disabilities using specific #social media

Karel Van Isacker from PhoenixKM and VIPI just gave a presentation on social media in an accessible learning perspective. He gave an amazingly interesting talk. The reason of interest was his focus on the actual usability of a broad range of alternative social media tools that people with disabilities need to use in order to actually access social media. I had no idea and I am very grateful that Karel got me so excited. So if you are looking for inclusive education that can be accessed by all people, have a look at his presentation.

Here are the slides provided by Karel, 15 slides with a mountain of information for people with and without disabilities.

iSpot a global #mobile enabled environmental #crowdsourcing initiative

For those interested in the development logic behind an ever growing, durable mobile project, the iSpot growth will be of interest. Especially as they share the choices they made and whether those were good or bad. There is also a link to the new Google mDesign recommendations.

Last October I met Will Woods who is part of the team behind iSpot a UK-based group linked to the Open University of UK. The iSpot team is now rolling out a worldwide mobile enabled project. iSpot a global mobile enabled environmental crowdsourcing initiative

iSpot focuses on sharing knowledge on what people can see in nature: birds, mushrooms, trees, flowers... and to determin what type of species or plant it is based on expert and peer knowledge. The project started out as something local, but is now set to go worldwide as an Open Educational Resource for nature in all it's wonders. In it's current version newly uploaded content to iSpot is determined (analyzed for what type of flora or fauna) within one hour!!

Different versions

The first version of iSpot was mostly web-based and was focusing on people willing to consume content related to nature. People could look up which type of flora or fauna they had met while being in the open. This was done based on a database with a list of visual and other information on local (UK) wildlife.
This first version was opened up for evaluation by all the stakeholders. As the project team got feedback from their first users, they quickly found that users wanted to be able to immediately access and share what they saw in the open field through their mobiles. the team got to work on a second version of iSpot, focusing on the possibility to share what had been seen in the open more quickly and immediately.

Version 2 got more interactive: people were now able to share their own content, load it up to the iSpot server, and ask for feedback on the determination of the species they had found, or simply add an extra visual to a specific species. By this crowdsourcing effect, the iSpot database is becoming a source of interest on where species were located, how their population is doing, how they migrate... Of course the database still needs to mature in terms of content, but ... it is a longterm project with a definite surplus to science.
For version 2 development choices had to be made which are of interest (see a bit further down this blogpost).

Version 3 wants to go international. This version will be rolled out by June 2013 but is already being developed and its vision was shared during the same session in mLearn2012. For this version to become of international interest, it meant that species not only had to be determined by the crowd, but that different language options for specific species needed to be embedded as well. This 3rd version is built based on the new Google recommendations for mDesign (G+), really new so check it out.
So what to expect in this version: html5, international options with regional mapping features, ecological relationships (relationship between different plants and animal life), improved social media tools, caching options for offline use and 'bioblitz' (which I forgot what it was... feel free to fill me in :-)

Interesting learning reward addition
An interesting and useful learning reward was offered. If people were able to determine which type of animal life they saw, they would grow through the 5 levels of expertise that the iSpot team had put up. This means that anyone with an interest and willingness to get into wildlife had the opportunity to work her/his way up to the 5th or expert level. Meaning they would reach a status where they would be the one's determining flora and fauna right up there with all the professors and experts connected to iSpot.

Choices made while developing
  • When content is uploaded ideally it would be anchored to specific regional coordinates, as this would be of scientific interest.
  • The mobile team also shared some pointers for ideal mobile project development:
  • foresee short windows of development: if the iterations are short, it will enable you to cater much quicker to your target learner audience
  • ensure adequate mDesign for an optimal user experience
  • add features most suitable to app development
  • design for a single platform initially as this will save you time and effort (= cost) and will enable you to focus on what matters => the actual content and user experience
  • started as a mobile native app, but now turning into html5 project (the ECAR mobile preferences report of September 2012 indicated that students prefer mobile apps to web optimized content, so with the html5 option they hope to offer an optimal mobile web application).
  • as different project iterations move on, it is of interest to analyse all the actions taking place in the project with event level Google analytics (this is also a new beta Google option and google looks for feedback so have a look).

Want to know more, contact Will Woods either through his twitter account @willwoods or his blog:

A nice extra, the iSpot project has resulted in an 8 year old girl finding and naming a newly found spider! How great is that?!

Monday 12 November 2012

The future of #HigherEd and #apps & #web two free report by Pew

The American Pew research center publishes a wide variety of human research topics. On many occasions these reports are linked to educational technology or trends, which is great when you are interested in training/education with innovative technologies.
Two reports that caught my attention were
The future of higher education : "tech experts believe market factors will push universities to expand online courses, create hybrid learning spaces, move toward ‘lifelong learning’ models and different credentialing structures by the year 2020. But they disagree about how these whirlwind forces will influence education, for the better or the worse".
While everyone knows by now that the future of higher ed is in a fast evolving state, and giving rise to a lot of new initiatives, the results of this report are of interest. Mentioning MOOCs, more particular the xMOOC kind: "as of mid-2012, Coursera’s massively open online courses (MOOCs) were provided free to its students—enabling unfettered, global access for millions to engage with some of the country’s most prestigious universities. Other start-ups such as MITx, 2tor, and Udacity are attracting similarly staggering, six-figure student enrollments". 
And yes, I feel that as a university we all need to build a masterplan which incorporates strategic higher ed goals and practices to refocus and gather an educational, qualitative space within this global higher education global evolution.
This report is of interest as it shows that all of us have no clue, and at the same time we are all pointing towards different global ed future movements. Ranging from full online learning as the key factor to high prized face-to-face, old school appreciated learning. Overall the authors of the report conclude that experts expect more-efficient collaborative environments and new grading schemes; they worry about massive online courses and the shift away from on-campus life. Overall a nice read and food for thought.

Another report that is of interest for a paper I am writing is the one on the future of Apps and the Web
My interest in apps versus web resides in the fact that many apps or applications can be integrated into curricula or training as learning tools. The same can of course be said about the mobile web. But this dichotomy (which in my mind will become obsolete once technology allows us all to get full access no matter where or when via personal devices; which by that time will not even be called mobile, just learning devices at most). But for now as a teacher and trainer we still need to choose between mobile apps or mobile web to add specific learning options.
The report is also a nice read and I just take out the following excerpt as it links apps to controlled content versus content openness... which I feel is relevant for all learning future (no critical thinking without openness!): "Many responders challenged the structure of the apps-Web question. Among their arguments: The world ahead is not either apps or the Web. A more hybrid world is likely. Moreover, the tussle between controlled content and user experiences on the one hand and openness on the other hand will play out in other ways. As one anonymous writer put it: “Apps will continue, as will app stores, but they’ll continue to be mass-market outlets for lightweight products on the one hand, and very narrow vertical outlets for very specific platform-dependent professional tools on the other, while the entire middle-ground will continue to belong to the Web.”

Friday 9 November 2012

South African #mLearning projects and calls for collaboration

If you are looking for ways to connect to South African researchers engaged and passionate about mobile learning. Look at the people mentioned in this post and connect with them. They are wonderful mLearning experts and … open to collaboration.

As mobile learning gets more broadly accepted, meeting inspiration people around the world gives rise to new ideas. Here are some ideas I encountered in South Africa. The University of Pretoria invited me to exchange some notes on mobile learning and innovative educational technologies and the meet up was simply amazing.

El-Marie Mostert and Linda Venter are experts in eLearning and using new technologies in a University setting. But in preparation of the future of learning, they are now in a team to look at how mobile learning can fit within their curricula, where new initiatives can be taken (based on needs, availability of people and willingness of already fully booked teachers to engage). Quite a challenge as we all know. As a result of their quest, I am writing up some practical mLearning options to create easy mLearning options to add to the overall curriculum (I will share them later in the next few weeks).
As I was down there I was amazed by the technology already being embedded in daily live:
e-Tags that scan your car for highway toll calculation (a chip that sits on the window shield, and opens the gate as your car approaches the toll booth).
A solar oven (cooking water in a big kettle in less than 10 minutes, 25000 watt of heat!)
Computer rooms on wheels
… it was amazing to see how mobile is quickly becoming part of normal life.

Adele Botha and Ronel Callaghan are setting up mobile living labs in rural areas that have no connection, mobile living labs. They want to team up with all of us that feel mobile education can make a difference. If you are interested in the project, join Adele and Ronel, or look at this video down below to see what vision Adele has on mobile learning.

Dennis Kriel has something completely different going: a simulation game aimed at teachers to understand the options that mobile learning can offer. If you want to help him out with screening the game or adding educational screenplays to add to his game, give him a tweet. He is very open on how the game is developing and looks for extra scenario’s to get the game ready for roll-out. He is also an OER believer, so ready to share. What he does is use Articulate Storyline to get a game together that is based on energy and learning outcomes. So sometimes if you choose to go for a mobile development option, it takes a lot of energy (energy level goes down), but if you finish it it can provide optimized learning results so the learning percentage goes up. If the learning level percentage is up to a specific point, you get extra treats (relaxing on a couch, sight seeing…). It is still a work in progress, but it already looks really nice.So if you feel like adding to his project, or simply exchange ideas, look at his project as it develops here:

Darryn Knobel has a facebook project going on veterinary health and diagnostics. In this facebook based peer-to-peer interactive course for veterinary students, the students go out to remote farms and screen cattle for parasites or other diseases. The students then take pictures and post them to a closed facebook group so they can discuss each of their findings and diagnostics. The amazing thing is that most of the students interact through their mobile in any location (at the farm, at university, at home), so their mobile devices are the central connectivity device. It is a nice project and Darren clearly has a great time being the guide-on-the-side who helps his students to stay on track whenever necessary.

And last but not least… What scenery! The campuses I visited are truly amazing: open, green, pleasant atmosphere, … wonderful. 

Here is the movie related to the mobile living labs and mobile South Africa project that is getting into shape for roll out by Adele Botha, Ronel Callaghan and team mates:

Thursday 8 November 2012

Sharing last nights presentation on #mobile #MOOC and learner interactions

Below you can find the slides I used for the CIDER session that was organized by the Canadian Institute for Distance Education yesterday. If you want to hear the whole story with more information on each slide and the somewhat coherent story behind the slides, you can have a look at this 57 minute recording session. The recorded session starts with an introduction delivered by the wonderful Dan Wilton, and takes off at 7 minutes into the recording.

The slides cover MOOCs and gradually focus towards the research I am currently rolling out to see whether mobile access has an impact on learner interactions in an open, online course.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Free CIDER session on #Ubiquitous #MOOCs and learner interactions

Tomorrow, Wednesday 7th November, I will be presenting one of the free CIDER sessions organized by the Canadian Institute of Distance Education Research. The title of this 40 minute presentation (with interactions during or after) will be: Looking at Ubiquitous MOOC Learner Interactions. During this session, I will take a look at what MOOCs are and how ubiquity affects learner interactions. 

Starting from the history of MOOCs and their general design, the session will gradually focus on the different learner interactions, mapping preliminary results of a research I am conducting into the effect of mobile access on MOOC learner interactions. 

MOOCs are a contemporary course format that allows students from all parts of the world to connect and interact on specific topics. Traditionally MOOCs use a lot of social media to promote networking and collaboration between learners. These social media in combination with learner created content exchange leads to a specific learner dynamic. In order to analyze the learner interactions I am using the Community of Inquiry framework. This enables research to look at social or personal interactions vis-a-vis academic or intellectual interactions. The reason for looking into these categories of learner interactions is to look at ubiquity or mobile accessibility on open, online courses and whether this ubiquity has an impact on learner interactions of any kind. The research will bring mobile learning and MOOCs together, both of which are contemporary educational formats that have opened up new pedagogical and educational opportunities to increase the effectiveness of learning online.

Details to connect:

When: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 11am to 12noon Mountain Time (Canada)
*Local times for CIDER sessions are provided here.

Where to log in for the session: Online through Adobe Connect at:

Please note that it is extremely important to get your system set up prior to the event. Make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that you can use the audio functionality built into the conferencing software. The Adobe Connect platform may require an update to your Flash Player; allow time for this update by joining the session 15 minutes prior to the scheduled presentation.

Registration is not required; so all of you are welcome!