H2020 is coming!

I’ve recently gone through a change in my career. I am still working in Higher Education but now I am closer to research and funding. This is interesting. This is a field I knew something about but in an unstructured way. Now I am getting structured! I’ve been reading and going to events all about Horizon 2020. I must say that I love to read these strategy papers… most people must think I am crazy. 

I still need to learn how to go from my readings to actual projects. I am used to projects but they were from DG Education and Culture. H2020 seems to be quite different. To start with, the programme is huge and it has a lot of money. For me, it is still not clear the types of actions and beneficiaries that are targeted by H2020.

What is clear as water is that H2020 is a big thing because it moves a lot of people and everybody talks about it! So I am still learning and will be sharing some of the lessons learned. 

For now, back to my readings!


NEW! ESCO, a portal for European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations

Today the new European Portal for skills, competences, qualifications and occupations was launched. It is mainly a taxonomy or a classification system for these items. I like taxonomies, a lot. Both my MSc and PhD dissertations are related with classification systems for learning.

There are somethings that are bothering me. First, the indecision in the name. Are skills and competences the same thing? Is so, why are they using both terms. If not, why are they not separate. I understand that these are bot easy concepts. There are different views on what are skills and what are competences. For this reason, I think that it would be useful to include in the ESCO portal a definition of the main term in use. Even though people might disagree with the definitions, at least it would clarify what was meant by those terms. This was done with the EQF, the European Qualification Framework that includes the definition the key terms as part of the framework.

Another aspect I don’t really like is the lack of integration with other European initiatives like EQF. Statements in the offical documentation that indicate support of other European instruments. However, as I was following the webinar of the launching event, I got the feeling that they didn’t really work together. The instruments are “compatible” but the teams are not aligned. This might be totally unfair, but it was the feeling I got from listening to the speeches.

On the other hand, I like these type of instruments and I consider that it can be helpful. I will explore it a bit more and maybe write about it later.

WOWWW! E-learning is changing. What should we do?

Mary Poppins

I’ve been working in e-learning for more than a decade. During these years, technology changed a lot. Even though there were different ways of thinking about e-learning, there were thing that were a safe bet. If an institution (and in particular Higher Education Institutions) wanted to have a safe e-learning or b-learning strategy they would get an LMS and start implementing it. LMS are still in use in most HEI.

But if you’re just starting, are LMS still a safe bet? If you want to develop an online learning strategy for an Institution that wasn’t really active in e-learning, is an institutional LMS the way to go? I’ve never been very avant-garde in terms of e-learning. When we were implementing e-learning at our Institution we would bet on safe solid technology. We were aware of trends and innovation but we were conservative in terms of what should be mainstreamed to the 30k users. And that was an LMS integrated with the Information System of the University. We would support innovative projects and if they were interesting we would integrate them with the main structure. But the main approach was cautious and traditional.

But if I was doing the same thing now, I am so sure if this is still a safe bet. I am not sure if a LMS stills provides the best solid solution for institutional adoption of e-learning. Even though most universities are currently using LMS to deliver e-you can feel that something will change very soon. I can’t exactly say what will happen and why. We have the MOOCs movement, of course, that is creating a disruption in the e-lerning world. But I have a feeling that it is more than that. There is a strange energy in the air, the Mary Poppins effect, the winds of change are coming.

The CULTURE of small things or CULTURE is in details

You can choose either title, they both work well for this post.

How do you define what is culture, as in culture of a country, culture of a region or culture of a group of people?

When you’re working abroad or working with people from other parts of the world you have to deal with different cultures. That is part of the fun. You try different foods, you learn how to say “thank you” and how to make a toast (with glasses, not with bread!). But that is the informal part of acculturation. If you make a mistake, it’s just an awkward moment.

But when you’re doing serious business? How do you learn how to deal with different cultures? The consequences of a mistake during a business negotiation can be expensive. So how do you learn that? How do you teach acculturation?

Workers of the world travel constantly in a very efficient manner. Or, at least, in a very rapid manner. One day you’re in Europe, next day you’re in Africa, two days later you’re in South America. You arrive at your destination, go to your hotel (most likely an international chain) or just land directly at the meeting you have to attend. You don’t have the time to learn the culture, to learn the people. How can you teach or do business with people you don’t know or understand how they think? Well, the fact is that you can and you do! But could it be improved if we could teach acculturation skills?

Cours en ligne ouverts massives. AKA MOOCs but in French!

France has joined the MOOC movement! Last week the french Minister for Research and Higher Education launched the “France Université Numérique”. This digital university aims at helping students in different stages of their learning lives. This initiative has 18 actions that deal with different aspects of “digital education” including pedagogy, technology and even research.

FUN – France Université Numérique offers a MOOC platform (based on EdX?) to host courses from french universities and other HE institutions that want to join them. This month 22 courses will available.

As far as I know, this is the first national/official/governmental initiative/decision on MOOCc. Am I wrong? Well, right or wrong, je suis curieux!

Rankings and change

Yesterday the World University Rankings of TImes Higher Education came out.

I wonder if the changes that are now occurring in Higher Education have considerable impact on the rankings. Are MOOCs affecting the rankings? Did/does Bologna have any impact on the rankings? And e-learning?

I don’t have answers to these questions but I wonder…