Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The eMature school in Europe

At the end of November I travelled to Seoul in South Korea, for the KERIS annual symposium where I got the wonderful opportunity to present about eMature schools in Europe. A paper on the topic will follow in the KERIS journal (both English and Korean versions) in December.

SlideShare Link

Science education in Europe - EU and national developments

I recently gave a presentation summarising key initiatives in science education in Europe, as part of the EMINENT conference. The presentation was part of an industry working group on how to increase young people's interest in science across the EU.

SlideShare Link

Monday, December 10, 2007

Inquiry-based science education for Europe

Eminent, European Schoolnet's annual conference for policy makers included a presentation by Johannes Klumpers from the European Commission's Directorate General for Research. He focused on the results of the Rocard report on science education in Europe and revealed some interesting plans for more inquiry-based science projects in 2008-9.

The report is pushing for more use of inquiry-based techniques in science education across the EU. Sadly it missed the opportunity to challenge the EU to open up its research databases publicly so that schools can get their hands on high quality data to use in science classes.

The full presentation by Johannes Klumpers is available for download.


EMINENT repository

Monday, November 05, 2007

Glance at a country: S. Korea

Over the years, thanks to the wonderful opportunities I've had for globetrotting, I've been able to get a view on many different countries' approaches to ICT in education and eLearning in general. So, I'm going to create a series of posts on specific countries, giving a few highlights of their activities and approaches.

I'm starting with South Korea, a country I will visit at the end of this month for the KERIS annual symposium. KERIS is the leading ICT in education agency in South Korea, and is arguably one of the world leaders in this field.

Here is a set of links and articles that give an idea of what is going on in S. Korea:

Update on 28/08/08: UNESCO Bangkok case study on pre-service teacher training in Korea

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Intriguing links related to eLearning and development

It's been far too long since I blogged, and to get myself back into the habit I'd first like to share with you a set of interesting links I've come across recently.

ICT in schools
Raising school standards: setting up computer labs with refurbished equipment - another interesting initiative coming from Schoolnet Namibia

Prizes for excellent projects
Les Trophées du Libre: prizes for free software for multimedia, education, eGovernment
The eLearning Awards: a competition for schools and teachers running good ICT in education projects

ICT and democracy
Citizens' guide to bypassing internet filters (PDF) - essential bearing in mind the situation in Burma (via dGCommunities)

Science and ICT
Catch a star competition - launched by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere.
Xperimania - a competition for students to design experiments relating to chemistry and materials.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Science experiments via the web

European Schoolnet's Xplora project, together with the University of Kaiserslautern, has developed and deployed an online experiment which schools can use in real time, obtaining real data. The project announced "With this technology, developed by Xplora and available on Xplora's website, a student can now contribute to Millikan's Nobel prize winning experiment." The physical experimental apparatus is based in Helsingin Yhteislyseo, a private high school in Helsinki, Finland, but is open to all schools to use for free. Schools have to register on the portal to access the tool, which is available in the members-only section of the site.

Visit Xplora at

Photo: Karl Sarnow, Xplora manager celebrates the launch of the experiment with a Finnish teacher

Friday, June 29, 2007

Open Educational Resources: new eBook from OECD

OECD has just published a new book, called "Giving Knowledge Away for Free", and has made it available as a free eBook. OECD wrote "Learning resources are often considered key intellectual property in a competitive higher education world. However, more and more institutions and individuals are sharing their digital learning resources over the Internet, openly and for free, as Open Educational Resources (OER). This study, building on previous OECD work on e-learning, asks why this is happening, who is involved and what the most important implications of this development are."

You can download the free PDF or buy the print version from the OECD bookshop.

Namibian Schoolnet: Open source for education

Peter at OpenFree recently interviewed Uwe Thiem, from Schoolnet Namibia.

"Namibia's open source based SchoolNet project provides computer labs to schools all across the country. Some are in very remote locations that are not traditionally suitable for this type of technology. It has been quite successful and has won many international awards."

They are also distributing open content (a.k.a. open educational resources or OER) for schools via Project Gutenburg and Wikipedia.
Take a look

Friday, May 11, 2007

Internet awareness campaign advert

At the EU Media seminar, one of the speakers showed this amusing video to raise awareness of children's web-use among parents.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Protecting children vs. free speech

Over the years I’ve attended a lot of EU events focusing on children’s use of and behaviour on the internet. One issue that is rarely raised in these EU events is the unfortunate tension between child protection and free speech. Many experts in the EU advise using filtering and blocking tools in particular with young children, who might be exposed to ‘harmful’ content on the web.

Although I understand their concerns, I worry about the EU funding development of such tools, mainly because research in this area is easily repurposed by governments to restrict freedom of speech and access. For instance, these technologies are used by China for it’s ‘Great Firewall’ (euphemistically termed the ‘Golden Shield’) and Burma to block access to controversial or critical websites. Indeed, Thailand recently blocked YouTube across the country, due to the posting of some rather silly but obviously critical videos about the King of Thailand.

At the same time, many free speech activists are constantly developing tools that allow users to subvert controls and filters; any smart kid could search for them on Google and thus subvert parental controls. Reminds me of the famous Star Wars quote: “the more you tighten your grip, […] the more […] will slip through your fingers.”

It’s a difficult issue, which I hope to raise today during the working group being chaired by Sonia Livingstone at the EU expert media seminar.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Google Earth: Crisis in Darfur

I've been following the development of Google Earth with a lot of interest, as it's a great tool for supporting teaching and learning of Earth sciences, biology and geography. Recently Riina Vuorikari pointed out this impressive application, developed by the United States Holocaust Museum and Google. It mashes up data from Google Earth, personal testimonies and maps of settlements from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It's unbelievably striking in conveying the impact of conflict, in a way that we can't grasp via TV news. Take a look.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tim O'Reilly on Education 2.0

"Tim O'Reilly is the founder of O'Reilly Media, and one of the originators of the phrase 'web 2.0" writes Steve Hargadon, to introduce his audio interview with Reilly himself.

He talks a great deal about exploratory learning, small class sizes and 'free data'.

Listen to the the Interview in MP3 format
Picture: from the O'Reilly website.

Setting up a new school in Cambodia

A previous colleague and now friend John Denny is setting up a new school in Cambodia. I asked him a few questions about what he's up to.

What kind innovative uses of ICT are you putting in place?
"To be honest from my perspective none! But from a Cambodian perspective we are modern as I am pushing all aspects towards digital communications, such as a computer in each classroom. Instead of typical cassette tape listening methods we will use computers to play CD or MP3 versions. Students can then compile listening lessons in MP3 format to play back as they please or cut a CD for home use. I do hope to get some some basic recording equipment so we can upload digital lectures, yet at present stage Internet costliness is a major block in Cambodia as they tend to charge by the MB downloaded. Our school is one of the first to use an unlimited broadband line! We have a satellite connection beamed in from one of [Thaksin - ex-PM of Thailand] Shinawatra's floating beasts. Thus I will encourage massive downloading - something new for Cambodians."

What's been the biggest challenge in setting up the school?
"First I thought it was to create a unique identity as language schools are a dime a dozen here. Thus it has taken considerable thought coming up with a doable plan that will attract students while giving them the security they need. We intend to offer a quality program second to none."

"On second thought offering a quality program is a struggle. Getting highly motivated teachers, school staff and connected issue of creating a ""culture of quality" institution-wide is not an easy task. It is a major struggle dealing with my developed world sensibilities versus the reality that in a post-conflict country things simply do not and cannot work the way one knows they should."

What would be the dream 'killer app' for helping the school, whether pedagogical, admin or something else?

"That's an easy one. I am dying to get a web-based open source school management app installed and configured. My target is OpenAdmin, if that fails Focus/SIS or CLaSS. Whatever it is, I am desperate to consolidate all school management function in one web app. Yet the bigger struggle is to get largely non computer literate staff members to understand the importance and buy-in after it is installed."

What's the local reaction like?
"So far we have distributed about 10,000 brochures. I was instrumental in totally reconfiguring the marketing strategy set by our school director. Instead of paying media corporations to advertise our school I convinced the team to advertise for commission-based sales representatives. These sales reps are given brief training on school selling points then set afoot to broadcast the message. Any student enrollment generated by the sales rep then brings them a 10% sales commission. After bringing in 6 students a sales rep is awarded an extra bonus or the chance to enroll for free in any of our course offerings."

"As per several of the highly motivated sales reps the reception is excited and enthusiastic as they can see via our brochure that this school strives to be different, is going to be a value added experience -- the type of place where students come to develop a lifelong experience in learning and sharing ( i.e. 3 NGO's on premises; special workshops, lectures and seminars, free overseas study advise, free software distribution, etc...)"

The website is still under construction, but visit:

Teaching the machine

Short and sweet video on web 2.0, by Mike Wesch, a researcher who is currently working on an ethnography of YouTube.

Update (10 May 2007): I'm now at the EU Media Expert seminar in Leipzig, and the AOL speaker is showing this video in the plenary session!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Insafe: mobiles at school

Right now I'm at the Insafe Training Meeting for the European network of Internet safety awareness nodes, being held in Vienna. It's been an interesting event, discussing around issues to do with children's media use. Annie Mullins, the "Internet hero" presented some interesting new and planned features for customising mobiles to the age of the child involved.

In a brief chat after her presentation, we agreed that the education system really needs to integrate mobile phones into teaching and learning. This will enable more media literacy activities around mobile use, and hopefully help to combat cyberbullying issues. The staff from children's helplines mentioned that cyberbullying is one of the major topics concerning kids now in their use of media. Maybe we don't spend enough time on 'netiquette' and mobile etiquette in schools, and parents often feel unable to deal with it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Innovative Teachers Conference in Siam Reap

UNESCO and Microsoft recently co-organised a conference for teachers in Angkor Wat, a beautiful World Heritage site in Siam Reap, Cambodia. The concept is really exciting, as it brought teachers to this amazing location, to work together in international teams to produce ICT-based teaching and learning materials, focusing on Angkor Wat as a theme for introducing other curricular areas such as arts, science and environment. More info on the UNESCO website and UNESCO Bangkok website.

Photo by TylerDurden.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Open educational resources: overcoming the obstacles

I recently moderated a UNESCO online discussion, with Susan D'Antoni (UNESCO IIEP) and Jan Hylen (OECD) on open educational resources. The expert group looked in detail at an OECD study of OER, and made many suggestions and recommendations for enhancing and stimulating OER production. My finalised discussion report is now available for download.

Photo by Jek in the box.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Young people struggle to maintain their privacy online

Latest results from a survey of young people I launched in December: "57% of young people make their online social network profiles public and disclose a great deal of personal information, according to a recent survey of 21,872 people across Europe organised by European Schoolnet, coordinator of European Insafe network. Almost a third of youngsters responding indicated that they didn't know what to do about making information public or private. However, in other areas, awareness of safe behaviour is increasing."

Read the full press release. A full report on the survey of young people will be released around the end of March.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Peacemaker: a game for peace

Peacemaker is a computer game based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's aim is to "promote dialogue and understanding among Israelis, Palestinians and interested people around the world". The player has to find a route to peace, navigating through events such as suicide bombs, military attacks and diplomatic negotiations. Much of the game is based on real video footage, and has relied on university academics for their knowledge of the region and realism.

Watch the demo video

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Open Access eLearning Papers, a European portal for ICT in education, has recently launched a new open-access, Creative Commons-licensed journal called eLearning Papers. The second volume (PDF) is now available for free download, while you can browse individual articles and papers on the site. Great to see an open approach being used by a publicly-funded project, and ties in nicely with the recommendations of the participants in the UNESCO-OECD forum on OER I led recently. Another archive of eLearning papers is available via TeLearn (see my previous post).

Safer Internet Day: global blogathon

Safer Internet Day is taking place on 6 February 2007. More than 200 schools and 150 organisations are taking part in the event via a global ‘blogathon’ and competition for creating digital materials on ePrivacy, Netiquette, Innovation and the Power of Images.

Starting as an initiative in 2004, SID has become a major annual event crowning the awareness activities of Insafe, the European safer internet network coordinated by European Schoolnet.

Schools will showcase their creations in the 2007 Blogathon: a blog that opens every year on SID. On 6 February, 4 winners will be announced and receive prizes of ICT equipment for the schools worth a total of 3,000 euros. At the same time, the blog will be opened to participating organisations, who will each post messages on the topic of ‘crossing borders’ from all over the world.

Also on SID a press release will be issued including the first data from my survey of children's behaviour when using ICT tools such as mobile phones and social networking platforms.