Wednesday, December 30, 2009

e-Skills Week

I'm running this campaign, taking place in March 2010.

"The e-Skills Week campaign aims to raise awareness of the growing demand of highly skilled ICT practitioners and users within the industry. DIGITALEUROPE and European Schoolnet have come together with 20 national partners to promote e-skills whilst building bridges between the different stakeholders. The culmination of the campaign will be the European e-Skills Week taking place in the first week of March 2010."

One of the highlights will be an event in Brussels where we'll invite young people and teachers to tinker with technology, in a creative and stimulating location - the brand new Square venue. Prizes are on offer for students and businesses doing uber-creative things with tech. We're aiming for a kind of SXSW for kids, with a big party closing the event.

More info...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

European Journal of Education: special volume on networks in education

'Networks in Education: benefits and issues in Europe' is the theme of this quarter's issue of the European Journal of Education. My colleagues and I at European Schoolnet have published a paper available in this issue.

Here's the full reference:

European Schoolnet: enabling school networking

Published Online: Nov 6 2009 6:53AM
DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2009.01407.x

Friday, September 11, 2009

How Can ICT in Education Excite Girls and Boys?

"Look at any ICT-enabled school classroom, and there is often a greater excitement for the technology with boys than girls, which by middle or secondary school, can translate into ICT tools being an exclusive domain of boys, excluding half the learning population from their benefit. How can technologists and educators design more gender neutral, or pro-female ICT-enabled learning experiences?"

This is the opening statement of the latest discussion on the UNESCO/InfoDev Education Technology Debate. Brooke Partridge (CEO of Vital Wave Consulting) and myself are the opinion contributors in this debate. Join in and contribute your thoughts!

Photo by Starbooze

eLearning Awards - win prizes for technology

For the ninth consecutive year, European Schoolnet is organising the eLearning Awards, Europe's leading competition to reward excellence and best use of technology in education. Schools and teacher training institutions are invited to take part and register at to present their best projects making use of ICT for teaching and learning.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Creative approaches to chemistry education

Today I'm at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry's General Assembly in Glasgow, where we are planning the 2011 International Year of Chemistry. A lot of exciting ideas are being discussed and you can already see some of the projects and events planned, together with UNESCO.

Here, we've been talking about various chemistry outreach programmes, based on cutting edge topics and creative approaches, which hope to contribute to the year. There are too many to mention in detail, but they include:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Educational Technology Debate: low cost devices for developing countries

Educational Technology Debate (ETD) "exploring ICT and learning in developing countries" has been launched by UNESCO and InfoDev following the World Summit for the Information Society stakeholder meeting in Geneva last year.

The current topic is computer ratios: will 1:1 generate new models of education? The key experts are Mark Beckford (Ncomputing) and Walter Bender (MIT/OLPC/Sugar Labs).

Over the next months, the ETD site will host debates on a range of key ICT in education issues such as:
  • Free and open source software vs. proprietary solutions

  • How can ICT excite girls and boys?

  • Unintended consequences of ICT in education

Experts are invited to send in articles or to share views with others via the commenting features. The editors include Mike Trucano (World Bank) and Wayan Vota (OLPC/Inveneo) so the debate is sure to be engaging and high quality.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ICT gender gap: stereotyped thinking continues to impact females’ choice of tech careers

My team at European Schoolnet just completed our white paper financed by Cisco.

From the press release:

"A high number of female students are not pursuing further studies or careers in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, despite having good basic computing skills, according to a study and white paper by European Schoolnet, commissioned by Cisco. The study can be downloaded from"

Some key recommendations from the report to address the problem:
  • Public-private partnership could play a role in changing perceptions about industry, by giving access to more realistic and authentic information about ICT and ICT careers.

  • Need to ensure accurate information about ICT is available to teachers, pupils and their parents.

  • Numerous initiatives launched, but mainstreaming is required to have a systemic impact.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Data privacy on social networks

EU privacy regulators are trying to improve data privacy but suggest a rather impractical approach in my view. Data privacy law like this already applies to published photos in news outlets, but even those are nigh impossible to regulate and enforce.

What would you do if you have a photo of yourself with a crowd in the background - get permission from every one of the 100 people in the photo before uploading? Not really thought out. What about people who are not using the platform, how could you get the permission verified? No obvious system to deal with that.

The old but very useful recommendation of having profiles default on private would do much more to solve the problem, as well as being able to categorise types of freinds: then people would be sharing photos with friends only, or subsets of friends, rather than the whole world/Google crawlers. And of course, educate people about privacy through initiatives like Data Privacy/Protection Day - the 2010 initiative is being supported by Microsoft and European Schoolnet (see European Schoolnet's site for last year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cory Doctorow on open education

I recently wrote a few questions for Cory Doctorow, for a video message for the European Schoolnet International Symposium for ICT in Education Networks. Take a look!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Games in Schools conference and research results

Last week, my colleagues Paul, Benedicte and I liveblogged the Games in Schools conference that we organised at the Council of Europe. The conference was to present and debate the results of an eighteen month study on the use of (mostly) commercial computer games in educational environments.

The blog turned out pretty well, so go and check out the presentations and reports.

You can also find out more about the research results, and download the full reports.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nanotechnology in the classroom

Students in Europe often complain that they are learning about the science and technology of yesterday, rather than cutting edge issues, which they find more exciting.
I’m working on a new, major EU project, Nanoyou, which aims to help teachers get support in bringing the latest nanotechnology R&D in energy, environment and medicine as well the surrounding ethical and social issues to their students. It’s a huge project involving Spanish, French, Belgian, Austrian and British partners, led by ORT Israel.

Nanoyou kicked off on Monday 27 April in Tel Aviv, Israel, and over the next 27 months, the project will create and test new toolkits for teachers at lower and upper secondary level, an online game on the topic, exhibitions in science centres and much more.
Teachers who are interested to get involved, should contact me at European Schoolnet at

Image credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Open education: the US got there first!

Publicly-funded institutions "that expend more than $10,000,000 in a fiscal year on scientific education and outreach shall use at least 2 percent of such funds for the collaboration on the development and implementation of open source materials as an educational outreach effort" reports David Wiley (via Stephen Downes).

This is really fantastic news: in fact, it was one of the recommendations resulting from the run of the UNESCO/OECD Open Educational Resources discussion that I moderated some time ago.

So why doesn't the EU do the same? It would be so easy to make that part of the 7th Framework Programme research funding or the Lifelong Learning Programme, by including it in the contractual requirements, or at the very least in the award criteria for selecting projects for funding. It's unfortunate that the EU research programme - although funding research in this area - doesn't grab the issue by the horns.

On the other hand, they have recognised that the web is an equivalent 'right' to schooling, which is quite a victory.

Image credit: mag3737

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Censorship begets creativity: Aqua teen hunger force and communist China

Does censorship stimulate creativity? A few recent examples suggest a strong link. Whether in China or in the classroom, web filters are stimulating some entertaining, yet thought-provoking trends to occur.

1) In China, a very funny video has been circulating (thanks to my friend Zhuohua for sending me the link), and even remade in an animated hiphop version. On one hand, it's a protest against censorship (the grass mud horses are fighting against the repressive river crabs), it's also a funny demonstration of how futile censorship for 'moral behaviour' can be. Grass mud horse, translated into Chinese, sounds almost exactly like obscene words which are vilified by the censors. More on the phenomenon via the NY times. It's spawned lots of spin offs including stuffed animals and T-shirts.

2) School kids are also finding funny ways to swear. Many filters ban specific swear words, resulting in massive growth of the phrase 'Sofa King' (say it fast, out loud..), originally used in Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Coincidentally, it has also made the leap into hiphop... Perhaps less politically engaged than the Grass-Mud Horse, it just illustrates how we cannot stop kids from using language in ways they want, and that they'll just find creative ways to bend the rules.

It reminds me of the days of the Criminal Justice Bill in the UK, which banned the public playing of "sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats," to prevent the organisation of raves. Warp records' Autechre then released the "Anti EP" including a track called 'Flutter',"programmed in such a way that no bars contain identical beats and can therefore be played under the proposed new law." Ironically, it was arguably one of the most creative times for UK electronic music, stimulated by the sense of rebellion.

While writing this post, I also came across an old, but interesting post comparing access to the web in China vs. a school in Oklahoma, US by Wesley Fryer, which is really revealing!

Is China really more repressed than Western counterparts? And are we inadvertently stimulating the development of more creativity by censorship?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Join the Games in Schools community of practice

I'm working on the Games in Schools research project looking at how games are used in schools in the EU. We just launched a community of practice, being led by Derek Robertson from Learning and Teaching Scotland. Here's the invitation to join us:

"As a follow-up to the online teachers' survey that some of you may have participated in, on the use of electronic games in school across Europe, we are delighted to announce the launch of our online community of practice which we warmly invite you to take part in. This community of practice will provide you with a unique opportunity to voice your concerns, ask questions, share positive experiences and generally become more knowledgeable and confident about the next steps you should take to successfully integrate the use of games in your classroom. The community is available at"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day: Female IT engineer

On the occasion of Ada Lovelace Day, we've published an interview with Sally Buberman, a 26 year-old female IT engineer and entrepreneur from Argentina, on the European eSkills portal. It will also be covered in European Schoolnet's March newsletter.

Ada Lovelace day on Twitter and Facebook.

It's also a good occasion to tell you that there's a new organisation in Europe active in this area: the European Centre for Women in Technology.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Getting girls interested in IT

I’m at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center for an event on how technology can support innovation in education in Europe. We’ve had a morning of speeches, presentations and videos including meeting a team of Digigirlz from the European School in Brussels.

During the event I gave a short presentation (scroll down) but it inspired me to summarise and pick out the main issues:

• Make technology accessible / access personal technology: help girls to get preferential access to PCs and equipment e.g. through girls IT clubs. Another idea is to look at their personal gadgets (e.g. mobile phones, iPods) and explore with them how they can use them in a more sophisticated way.

• Increase their confidence: a lot of girls have good grades in maths and science subjects, so are well prepared for IT and programming subjects. But female teenagers in particular lack confidence, and even with good grades will think they are not up to scratch. Help them understand you don’t have to be perfect!

• Show how leisure IT use can be helpful for education / careers – encourage students who have their own blog, or are digital photo enthusiasts, to understand that this is can be adapted for education and career purposes. Help them to know that this is a skill that others may not share.

• Help them meet realistic role models: IT is notoriously stereotyped in the media, so it’s a good idea to help them meet people who can inspire them in career choice. Why not take them to a local IT company to have an afternoon Q&A with a young, female IT professional? If you can’t physically go, try doing an online chat!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Playschool: games as learning environments

I recently read (on Constance Steinkuehler's blog about a new school programme being launched in the US, Quest 2 Learn.

"Quest supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of “systems.” Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century."

It's being setup by the Institute of Play, an organisation to "promote gaming literacy: the play, analysis, and creation of games, as a foundation for learning, innovation, and and change in the 21st century."

I think we need an EU equivalent!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creativity and innovation at the eTwinning conference

The eTwinning conference took place over 13-15 February in Prague, Czech Republic. Here are a few video messages from teachers and students taking part in eTwinning. You can also take a look at the team blog that we put together with volunteer teachers.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Celebrate Ada Lovelace day by blogging

"Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised."

I'll be posting myself on the day - 24 March 2009 - and hope you will too!

In case you've never heard of Ada Lovelace, here's a quick bio from Wikipedia:
"She is mainly known for having written a description of Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. She is today appreciated as the "first programmer" since she was writing programs — that is, manipulating symbols according to rules — for a machine that Babbage had not yet built."
She was also the daughter of Lord Byron, a very well-known English romantic poet.

Find out more and make your own pledge.

Via Brussels Geek Girl Dinners