All posts by pebe

Just what are the critical success factors in e-learning for project-based courses?

The conference is coming to an end but the presentations are still interesting and noteworthy.

Robert Lagerström from Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden,  addresses the really interesting question:

Can we identify critical succes factors when it comes to e-learning for project-based courses?

Inadvertently and unfortunately many e-learning courses have been designed by copying the traditional courses, in other words, no critical assessment of whether learning objectives have to been achieved in different ways than when in the classroom. The pattern of automatic transfer of curricula has to change.

Lagerström identifies the very pertinent factors which have to be taken into account when designing a meaningful e-learning course:

  • teacher – ensure the teacher is ready, able and confident to embrace new technological methods
  • student – ensure the students are aware of their roles and responsibilities
  • course – ensure the course objectives and activities take into account the online dimension
  • technology – which platform, which technology is chosen and why (explicate whether doodle, google hangouts etc)
  • support – ensure technical support so lecturers’  and students’ focus can be on the content of the course

When it comes to project based courses, e-learning activities have to include interaction possibilities and socially inviting technology platform.

Interesting observations based on qualitative interviews with lecturers in Sweden having experience with lecturing project based courses in an e-learning format.  Furthermore Lagerström mentioned that his research indicated that the e-learning systems already designed, and on shelf as it were, do not cate for the needs for interaction possibilities and socially inviting features. Thus further development is needed when it comes to the current e-learning platforms.

Chairing and presenting – multitasking and that is what conference participation is also about

There are so many different ways and reasons to attend a conference. Sometimes attending a conference is to gain new knowledge and new insights whilst networking as best one can. However, there are also other reasons to attend a conference, such as chairing a session / workshop. This is the case today.

The eminent Jesper Balslev was appointed this honourable assignment of chairing a session pertaining ‘Pedagogical and Technological Innovations in Education’ at the EDULearn 14 conference. Jesper and Karen (Karen Fritzbøger) are also presenting their paper during this session and this small blog will attempt at narrating just how this session went.

Below Jesper is opening the session.

Mr Chairman

We had the pleasure of attending a session with wonderful presentations.

Among the presentations we heard Dr. Arnau Gifreu-Castells’, University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia, personal experiences in ensuring learning environment where students create interactive platforms. Amazing platforms, aesthetically and content-wise. The ways in which Dr. Arnau Gifreu-Castells surmised the module it became evident that students’ motivation increased during the course as well as the learning objectives were achieved. The motivation increased due to the ways in the students were enabled to design their own platforms and the ways in which the students were involved in creating their own narratives and reflections.

The session also entailed an interesting presentation on global citizenship education and the importance of global citizenship education. One way of enhancing pupils’ awareness is through digital storytelling (Joe Lambert –  Very interesting and a paper worth reading.

Then the highlight of the day – Karen and Jesper’s presentation. As the picture portrays, their charisma was mesmerizing and the participants laughed when they heard that Denmark is the happiest country in the world and Copenhagen the most livable city.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 1.15.40 PM

Above Karen is presenting the model of check list and the experiences obtained from engaging the students in learning design activities. The interesting experience is among other things that students albeit digital literate are not necessarily digital literate when it comes to learning systems.

The learning landscape was presented as a way in which students can be actively engaged in the design process of a module / course / curriculum. The conclusions from the two experiments conducted show that involving and engaging students in this design process increased their motivation, their engagement in the learning process and their digital literacy.

All in all the experiences from both chairing and presenting at conferences such as EDULearn are that it is a way to present our various projects, experiments and experiences re. developing excellent studies at KEA. It also allows us to reflect on the value and quality of our projects, experiments and experiences.

  • Have we initiated the right projects and experiments?
  • Have we based these projects and experiments on the right sources of theories and knowledge?
  • Have we conducted the documentation and evaluation of these projects and experiments in ways which enable us to convey our experiences to others in such a way that it makes sense?
  • Do the projects and experiments possess potential value to others than ourselves to such an extent that we should aim to disseminate further than just one conference?

The paper, which Karen and Jesper have written and on which their presentation is based, indicates that although KEA is not frontrunner in digital learning, blended learning and / or e-learning, the approach adopted in the experiments described in the paper is highly relevant to other institutions, too. It has become evident at this conference that many institutions still assume that e-learning requires choosing between various technologies and thus share experiences on how to use Facebook.

The experience from Karen and Jesper’s research is that the question is not which social media to choose but how we intend to interact with technology and what we aim to achieve by engaging with technology when it comes to learning.

In closing, Mr Chairman did extremely well.
















Can you create a technology acceptance model and what is a technology acceptance model?

Overcoming cultural differences and e-learning – how do they go hand in hand?

TAM TAM – Technology Acceptance Model was proposed by Davis 1989.

The model can be used to predict the acceptance of new technology, the intention to use it which can lead to the use of this technology.

TAM has been used as the main system for predicting technology acceptance because it uses factor that can be measured. TAM proposes that people’s intention to use a new technology depends on to main factors:

  • Perceived usefulness
  • Perceived Ease of Use

This interesting presentation deals with identifying cultural factors’ influence on learning and how TAM can be modified and become a method which enables us to identify the cultural factors and ensure that they do not become an impediment to learning in e-learning courses.

However, it is noteworthy from a didactical point of view to critically address the value of TAM in order to gauge the ways in which the results can influence the planning of e-learning courses aiming at addressing cultural factors.

The True Value of Materials

You sit in Barcelona and never know quite what to expect from the different workshops and presentations. A point I have already raised but it is worth reiterating especially when a demure woman takes the stage and delivers an amazingly interesting and well-documented presentation on trans-disciplinary, international and a highly relevant societal problem.

Welcome to Bridge ( Building Research & Innovation Deals for Green Economy.

Dr. Joan Farrer raises the pertinent points when it comes to creating and ensuring a learning community which encompasses the relevant knowledge topics and embraces all participants.

  1. a domain of knowledge that defines a set of issues
  2. a community of people who care about this domain
  3. the shared practice that they are developing to be effective in that

Points worth remembering.

In conclusion – cross disciplinary problem-based projects provide some interesting learnings to students and the institution:

  • Returning to your own subject areas on a more sure footing (students become aware of what they know)
  • Deepening understanding through discussion
  • Enhanced sense of understanding of respective disciplines
  • Engaging students through real world subjects
  • Making better use of the learning environment
  • Making best use of the resources of an educational institution
  • Knowledge where to look or specialist expertise
  • Making connections across disciplines


The classic mismatch between digital natives and the lecturers

Identifying the mismatch between digital natives (i.e. our students) and the lecturers who are not digital natives.

So which lectures engages in digital learning environment and which lectures do not? This is the interesting question posed by University of Portsmouth.

Factors pertinent to identifying which lecturers engage in digital learning environment:

  • attitude
  • impact
  • levels of enthusiams
  • lecturers’ learning styles

Key insights from this research:

  • some lecturers are still unsure of the impact of applying digital learning methods and devices: do the students learn what is intended?

The paper which this presentation is baed on will be sent those interested, please contact Pernille Berg.


Writers’ Retreat – why they are a good thing for tertiary education institutions

What do you do when your college is engaging in research but does not have a tradition of writing and conducting research?

You consult what is recommended and implement some of the recommendations.

This is exactly what Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, New Zealand did and still practice.

The retreats are

  • An annual event – approximately 9 lecturers attend each retreat
  • Residential time for 5 days (sunday evening to Friday lunchtime)
  • Located about one hour away from campus
  • Lunch is communal, other meals are optional
  • Most of the time is available for writing and participants structure their time to suit themselves
  • Short (optional) workshops held after lunch every day (except Friday)
  • Facilitators meet with each participant at least once during the retreat to discuss progress
  • Participants give feedback on each other’s work.


The workshops deal with different themes, e.g.

  • Writing abstracts
  • Principles of grounded theory
  • Selecting the right topic and literature

Outputs (comparable to standards of outputs prior to retreats but based on what the participants’ former productions)

  • 12 international conference presentations
  • 5 New Zealand conference presentations
  • 10 international jopurnal articles
  • 4 New Zealand journal articles
  • 6 book chapters
  • 7 reports

Retreats are recommendable to colleges / university colleges where teaching is main focus and research is secondary focus.

The retreats assist in providing time to people having to write. The retreats should consist of both structure and flexible. Furthermore skilled facilitation is important as the participants need support, coaching and tutoring. The experience also shows that creating a communal experience is highly recommendable, e.g. from shared cooking. One of the key learnings from the retreats is to provide feedback from non-experts as this can provide very fruitful feedback in presentation of research topic and literature. As always pre-preparation from the participants is also a key critical success factor as this enables them to engage in writing and workshops more readily.

The paper which this presentation is based on will be sent to those interested, please contact Pernille Berg.

Intercultural Issues in International Cooperation

You sit a break-out session / workshop with five different presentations. It can be quite difficult to sustain focus throughout each presentation. They may not fulfill expectations, the topic may be a bit off or the presenters may just inspire you to drift of. So it was to me during this break-out session.


I heard the sentence: yes, globalization has had a major impact on education but so often internationalization is equalled with mobility. We tend to say that this is the dark side of internationalization as what is left behind is how we ensure that the students are adept and able to engage in mobility, we tend not to gauge or document what they bring home from their studies or internships abroad. We tend not to address the intercultural competencies needed in order to obtain the full potential of mobility programmes.

That got my attention and the titel itself to this specific presentation was enough to obtain my full focus: ‘Intercultural education Through the Postcolonial Lens’.

The project which is presented under this titel aimed at developing and implementing sustainable mobility programmes. The students were as part of this project assessed and evaluated in an online assessment programme. The lecturers used the IDI assessment ( The students were asked as part of the assessment to write essays. Furthermore the students were allocated cultural mentors and upon return to home college/university, the students had to attend a seminar where they had to give presentations.

The postcolonial lens on mobility programmes

  • globalisation has to be demystified
  • Euro-centrism in theory and practice
  • ‘Post’ in the postcolonial refers to flux of social realities

In a postcolonial lens mobility studies become about

  • Social justice
  • Transformative social actions
  • Critical reflection / thinking
  • Critical consciousness

One way of doing this is to ensure mentors can support and engage in pedagogical interventions where the students’ critical awareness is raised.

This interesting presentation had in their abstract to this presentation mentioned which EU mobility programme they had participated in: The Social European Enterprise Intensive Erasmus Programme (SEE IP) is a programme that attempts to fill a need in many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). This need is to incorporate EU policy regarding three key areas: intercultural competence, youth entrepreneurship and social inclusion into any HEI degree programme. Five different European HEIs were part of the programme: Southampton-Solent, Arcada, FH Salzburg, Kaunas Kolegia and UCAM. The IP involves the three relevant interest groups: students, universities and enterprises. The approach chosen is discipline and sector-independent thus being in line with the European Commission Study (2009:14) New Skills for New Jobs Initiative fostering “the mobility of knowledge workers across borders and sectors”. The IP also addresses and supports the EU’s commitment to youth entrepreneurship. Recent EU studies find that over half of all EU students have no access to such education opportunities and highlight structural difficulties with the delivery of programmes that do exist, citing the variety of practices and content within such programmes across EU countries (NIRAS, 2008). Three key areas are addressed throughout the programme: intercultural competence, social entrepreneurship and social inclusion. Intercultural competence, and its lack, has long been seen as a significant barrier to labour and social mobility and economic cooperation among Europeans.

Opening session – the need for change in the education system



Although conference programmes can look very interesting and the themes spot on in terms of what we are KEA need to focus on, it is always with a bit of trepidation that I attend conferences as a first timer. This year KEA is attending EDULearn. KEA has not – to our knowledge – previously attended this conference, however, the themes appear to highly relevant if not necessary for us to focus on: education and new learning technologies. The many workshops address various research projects within the entire education system. It thus requires close scrutiny prior to attending each workshop in order to have gauged the potential value of each session as carefully as possible. Not that easy but this conference is obviously experienced in understanding this challenge as we have been inundated with updates on the programmes as it unfolded. Furthermore the website as proved to be user-friendly and as we are three KEA attendees we have been able to discuss themes, workshop, presenters and potential interest to KEA before attending the workshops.

The conference themes are

  1. World is changing fast – How do we educate people to that their place in the future given that we cannot anticipate what is about to happen? This is effecting your daily lives and not just a theoretical issue. “All is in flux”.
  2. Technologies
  3. Education – in a broad context as a driving force to bring forth change. What needs to be learned? Information, Knowledge, Managing information, Grit, Competency, Skills, Imagination. Education is not about giving answers today but about ensuring the students learn how to ask the right questions. Talent – a definition for talent: Talent = f(k+v)*a = function of knowledge and value times attitude. (Amanda D. Relph). Very interesting definition.

The opening speech by Antonio Garcia Ricos brought forth the interesting aspects of change and the impact of technology. Not necessarily new but placed in the context of education this is very interesting. Antonio Garcia Ricos points to the interesting change of perspective which educations have to take into account. We should no longer to

When industry prefers specific universities it is because not so much due to the knowledge, but due to

  • Communication skills
  • Social skills
  • Team working
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Self-confidence
  • Culture in general

Industry asks questions as to how universities ensure the students obtain these skills not just that they know about these skills.

Kiran Bir Sethi – Not by Chance, But by Desing!

Kiran Bit Sethi started her own school as she was discouraged by the ways in which her son was treated at his former school. Leaving home believing he could do things and arriving home believing that he could not do things, just didn’t sit right with Kiran Bir Sethi. Thus she formed and opened her own school: Riverside where the children are encouraged to imagine, feel, do and share.

The Design Mindset is extremely interesting as it is

  • Human focused
  • Optimistic
  • Collaborative

Professor Eric Mazur – Memorisation or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?

“When I started teaching, I never asked myself how I wanted to teach. Interesting it would make sense that I had asked myself that question but I didn’t. Instead I started teaching in exactly the same way my teachers had taught me.”

My students in physics in premed got high grades and I naturally thought that I was the best teacher ever seen.

The illusion of being the best teacher unravelled.

For example the students put in their evaluation form that Dr. Mazur taught straight from his lecture notes… And it was not positively meant.

This passive model of teaching (instructive teaching) going on all round the world where the teacher is merely telling the students what they should know. And this model needs to change. As the students actually do not learn.

The difficulty is not in transfer of information but in assimilation of knowledge. Mazur started realizing that the challenge and obligation of teacher is to ensure an active class, not a passive class. It is not a new way of teaching. Rather the words of Socrates: Teach by questioning.

Classroom teaching can be based on a simple formula:

  • ask a question
  • give them time to think
  • ask the students to find a students with a different answer to the question than their own
  • discuss
  • present different answers
  • provide explanation

The interesting learning from this simple formula is that is stimulates thinking and students become emotionally engaged and committed.

And so the conference got off to an excellent start and the key learnings have been addressed namely that the education system has to change in order to address the needs of today and tomorrow in a way in which the students are able to engage in tomorrow in meaningful ways where they are able to think, do and share.