Summary of my experience with Edulearn Barcelona.

The conference started with two excellent keynotes from Kiran Bir Sethi and Eric Mazur.

Kiran Bir Sethi talked about her succcess with starting the Riverside School. It is founded on a design mindset, where student engagement and ability to make independent choices is highly valorized. She summarized the design mindset as human centered, optimistic, collaborative – creating competences in problem solving & scientific inquiry. A typical learning cycle departs with the pupils own feeling, and continues through imagination, action and finally the act of sharing the process.

Check out for the global “Design for Change”-program.

Eric Mazur did his brilliant speak on Peer Innovation. Peer innovation is Eric Mazurs coining of a very precise method of teaching, that tries to deal with the bad retention rates observed in traditional lectures. Eric Mazur demonstrated the method on the audience, by asking us a question about the effect of heat on metals. The process is as follows:

  1. question – in this case: does a circle in a metal plate get smaller or larger when the whole plate is heated?
  2. let the students think
  3. poll the students (with clickers)
  4. make the students discuss the question
  5. repoll
  6. explain

It worked perfectly: everybody was engaged in figuring out the answer to the question, and we were all dying to know the right answer – even though the theme was unrelated to most attendants professional sphere.

Read more about Peer Innovation here.

Most of the following speeches at the conference, however, did not pick up on these themes of design thinking and didactics. A majority of the presentations were concerned with quantitative measurements (on the basis of surveys), of the effect of introducing new technologies in the classroom. There were papers on the use of whatsapp, wikis, blogs, tablets, facebook, mobile technologies etc. My personal interest was a more foundational one: on which basis do we choose new technologies? Which methods can help us gauge the use of technology in learning? How do we design decision-making processes? How do we bridge the gap between generic IT and local context? These questions, of course, were adressed in our presentation and paper.


The true value of materials (Pernilles notes)

New learning paths for augmented learning, by G. Torrisi from the university of Urbino. Excerpt from the abstract:

 ….at the University of Urbino we tested and compared, against more than 100 indicatorsfive among the best augmented learning solutions, identifying “it’s learning” as the learning platform which was best for our specific educational needs.

Integrating web 2.0 technologies in higher education learning, by G. Dafoulas, S. Azam. Excerpt from the abstract:

“With the advent of Web 2.0 tools, educators are looking to these new technological tools to examine its potential in enhancing teaching and learning. While its runaway success as a social networking tool is now renowned, the use of Facebook for educational purposes may be considered still at its infancy stage.”

Entrepreneurship in actions and blended learning, Pernille Berg and Karen Fritzbøger. Excerpt from the abstract:

The entrepreneurial mindset is addressed theoretically via The Business Model Generation (Osterwalder and Pigneur). The elective entailed an explorative process oriented learning design, which secured students attention to and interaction with the business model elements, mixed with practical independent exercises and supported/collaborative online activities.

A comment on the conference-format: “Blocks” consisted of 5-6 lectures each, each with a duration of 12 minutes + 3 minutes for questions.  This gave a great and fast overview of many different themes and fields, but in many cases, more time for discussion could have provided the opportunity to perspectivize findings, and discuss how findings could be applied to the participants local context.

All in all: the conference gave a great international overview of the field of technology in learning, but general focus was maybe a bit too positivistic for our own design-view on education.