The upcoming EDEN16 in Budapest will be a very special conference and a milestone in our Association’s long history. The European Distance and E-learning Network is celebrating its 25th anniversary and several significant related initiatives are being prepared. The underlying idea for this programme of activities is to celebrate our European legacy of know-how and expertise in open, distance and digital education by projecting it into the future. In accordance, we’ve invited the different generations of researchers and practitioners in our field to engage in a joint reflection on the digital learning futures based on an analysis of the experience and know-how accumulated by our community in the past 25 years.

One major example of this is the panel discussion on the topic of the personalisation of learning, which we’ve designed in a most engaging way. In fact, imagine a confrontation between two perspectives and theoretical approaches on this theme as different as the ones of Michael G. Moore and of Cristóbal Cobo. It sounds quite exciting, don’t you agree? But, just think that we have also invited Steve Wheeler to instigate and moderate the discussion and try to find a synthesis of both sides. Well, I’m sure that you’ll be expecting a memorable debate. We are too! So please make sure to mark the date on your agendas: 17th June, at the closing session of EDEN16 in Budapest.

To introduce you to this exciting event, what better way than to give the floor to the keynote speakers themselves? That’s why I’ve invited my dear friend and EDEN Senior Fellow, Michael G. Moore, to contribute to today’s guest blog post. It is an honour and a privilege for me to be able to share with you a wonderful and thought-provoking reflection on the topic of the personalisation of learning by one the greatest scholars in our field and one of its pioneers.

I do hope you’ll enjoy reading Michael’s excellent contribution and feel encouraged to come to Budapest and attend his live debate with Cristóbal Cobo and Steve Wheeler.

António

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The call for papers of the EDEN RW9, to be held this year in Oldenburg next 4-7 October, has just been announced. Following up on the success of the RW8, held in Oxford, two years ago, the theme is once again very exciting and thought-provoking - “forging new pathways of research and innovation in open and distance learning: reaching from the roots”. The EDEN RW9 will be organised in collaboration with the Institute of Education and the Center for Lifelong Learning at Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, in Germany.

The announced selection of invited speakers is impressive and much diversified, including such names as Olaf Zawacki-Richter, Paul Prinsloo, Inge de Waard, George Veletsianos, Adnan Qayyum, Isa Jahnke and Som Naidu. This diversity and richness represents the current wide outreach and impact of EDEN in the research community worldwide.As you know and I’ve been pointing out in many of my blog posts, one of the focal points of EDEN’s strategy and one of the major aspects of our Association’s 25th years legacy in the field has been the support to the promotion, dissemination and recognition of quality research in open and digital learning. The organisation of the very successful biannual research workshops (the EDEN RWs) is only a part of that comprehensive activity, which has no parallel with any other association in the world in our field of practice.

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At the start of my academic career, some 25 years ago, I had the chance of working closely with Professor José Enes (1924-2013), then the Vice-rector of the Portuguese open university, Universidade Aberta (UAb). José Enes was one of the most important Portuguese philosophers of the 20th century and I had the honour of being his «last» assistant. Although very intense, our collaboration at UAb lasted only for three years. However, soon after his retirement we continued working together for several years. He invited me to help him organize the accreditation process of the University degrees in Philosophy in our country and we’ve assured it for the initial two full cycles. Professor Enes presided the evaluation committee and I was its Secretary and rapporteur. Afterwards, we remained very close friends until his death. Roberto Carneiro, EDEN Senior Fellow, was another of his great friends and admirers.

José Enes was a great philosopher and a gentle and kind human being. But, he was also an outstanding academic and an inspiring leader with an acute strategic vision. Enes masterminded the creation of the University of the Azores, of which he was the founding Rector, and was involved in the launch of the Portuguese Catholic University, where he was the first Vice-rector, amongst other initiatives. However, the most important feature I would like to evoke in this post is that Professor Enes combined as an academic leader a set of features and experiences which allowed him to build a holistic but also deep understanding of what universities are and how they should be governed. Read more…

The history of educational technology has been mostly dominated by an overconfident optimism and sometimes even blind faith in the future. In our circles, the majority of speakers and opinion-makers still try to show educational technology development as a coherent narrative of sequential dialectical oppositions in which the new replaces the old, to use Manuel Castells’ characterization of the Information and Knowledge society. However, our real history is not a straightforward succession of cumulative achievements. It has been a complex itinerary, a difficult navigation through many exciting possibilities, different promising scenarios and contradictory inspiring dreams, but also surprising failures and unanticipated obstacles, unavoidable errors and powerful fears.

The deconstruction of the progressive narrative in educational technology shouldn’t lead us though to a cynical position. By the contrary, we should try to understand the phenomena on a wider and more holistic perspective. Innovation in education cannot be seen as just a simple application of a new method or the use of a new tool. It is usually the result of a cultural transformation process. This has also been the traditional understanding of EDEN and its community. In fact, we have never tried to play the role of the uncritical advocate of every each new educational technology development emerging. No, we don’t see ourselves as preachers. But, as experts. In this way, we fulfil our mission by focusing on building a shared analytical understanding on the adoption and use of the different emergent approaches to educational technology, based on solid research and proven successful practice within specific cultural contexts.

In today’s guest post, I’ve invited my good friend and colleague Mark Brown to reflect precisely on this topic. Mark is a much experienced and very well-known global expert in our field. I’m very proud that he’s just joined EDEN’s Executive Committee as I’m sure he’ll make a great contribution to our Association.

In his critical analysis, Mark discusses the deterministic narrative used in educational technology discourse and suggests an alternative new ecological perspective which builds up on the metaphor of digital resilience. His point being the importance of focusing innovation on the internal transformation of organizational culture instead of imposing it to educational institutions from the outside.

António

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Current trends and future challenges for quality assurance in the fields of open learning and eLearning

As open education and eLearning mature and become mainstream across the world, the discussion on quality assurance emerges with a renewed importance, strength and impact in our field of practice. Although there are significant variations in how this topic is addressed in each regional context, there’s an underlying feeling which is shared by all stakeholders. It relates to the urgency of establishing effective processes that positively discriminate appropriate practices in online learning, as not all that glitters is gold, to use the famous Shakespearian quote.

EDEN has always paid close attention to this discussion and has contributed throughout the years to the development of an European expertise in this topic. Most notably, the EDEN 2003 annual conference, held in Rhodes, and the EDEN RW6, which took place in Budapest, in 2010, both focusing specifically on the topic of quality assurance in open, distance and eLearning, were major milestones in the consolidation process of a European quality culture in open, distance and digital education.

In the current context and given the strategic importance of this discussion, EDEN has been called by the professional community to play an even more active and leading role in this discussion. We recognise the relevance of this movement and as a consequence, new significant initiatives related to the topic of quality will be announced in the coming months.

In today’s post, I’ve invited my good friend Ebba Ossiannilsson, who is also a member of the Executive Committee and an EDEN Fellow to share with us her views on this very important discussion. Ebba is a well-known expert in the topic of quality assurance in open education and eLearning and has a large experience world-wide.

In her post, Ebba identifies the current trends and future challenges for quality assurance in our field and presents a brief conclusion of the study on quality models conducted in the framework of an initiative lead by our partner ICDE.

António

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A propos des attaques terroristes à Bruxelles et dans le monde / Over de terreur aanslagen in Brussel en in de wereld

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In the aftermath of the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, the EDEN community shares once again the shock and deep sadness caused by the terrible events that have taken place in Europe and in other regions of the world during the past months, taking the lives of many innocent people. Our sympathy and solidarity goes once more to the victims, to all those whose loved ones were killed or injured and also to our many partners and friends in Belgium and Turkey.

We’re facing a time of complex historical challenges for which a European integrated response is needed. But, what can be our best answer? Most surely, education should be a part of it. More importantly, we believe that open digital education can and should play a major positive role. We all know, in fact, how the combination of openness, education and digital media is particularly effective for building connections, instilling trust, crossing borders and widening participation to All.

António

 This past weekend the European eLearning community was confronted with a very sad news. We have lost Erik Duval. A Professor at the Department of Computer Sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven), in Belgium, he was one of the most brilliant scholars in our field today. His contribution to research on the topic of augmentation of the human intellect has been widely acknowledged across the academic community. In addition to this, he was also a most kind and generous human being. Borrowing the famous expression used by J.D. Salinger in The Catcher in the Rye, he was both a gentleman and a scholar, a real prince. We will all miss him deeply.

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 https://erikduval.wordpress.com/about/

 Erik was a keynote speaker at the EDEN 2007 Annual Conference, held in Naples, and made a wonderful contribution to the EDEN Research Workshop, which took place in Leuven in 2012. You can see the slides of Erik’s speech in Naples on “The Snowflake Effect: open learning without barriers” here.

Although having lost Erik, we haven’t lost his important legacy and example, which will remain with us more vividly than ever.

 António

The future of any community depends on how its members are able to understand it, by anticipating possibilities, preparing for its challenges and realising its opportunities today. The same principle applies to academic and professional communities as well. As the largest European organisation representing the open, distance and eLearning community, EDEN has always dedicated much attention to the preparation of the future in our field. One of the ways in which we conduct that effort is by supporting younger researchers and practitioners. We don’t focus only on offering them visibility. We try to provide them a broader and more significant experience, integrating them in the community. In fact, we reward their achievements, assure them opportunities to network, to share results and experiences and also to be part of the European legacy of expertise in our field.

In the year EDEN celebrates its 25th anniversary, a new exciting and powerful generation of researchers and practitioners is emerging. As a consequence, the future of the field of open, distance and eLearning in Europe never seemed so brighter and promising.

In today’s post, I’ve invited EDEN Fellow, Executive Committee member and friend Fabio Nascimbeni to share with us his views on this important topic. Fabio has been leading a number of EDEN initiatives aimed at supporting young researchers in our field.

In his post, Fabio shares his own personal experience as a young researcher and how it was welcomed in the EDEN community highlighting the importance of the dialogue and cooperation across generations.

António

 

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The importance and impact of a major Association such as EDEN comes from its ability to give a true and powerful expression to the aspirations and concerns of the community it serves. This means to be able to represent all kinds of actors involved and convey its different voices. In the field of open, distance and eLearning, EDEN clearly stands out not only as the largest European network of institutions and individual experts, but also the one which best represents the diversity of the community.

EDEN NAP - our Association’s Network of Academics and Professionals - is one of the largest and most important networks of researchers and practitioners of our field worldwide. The NAP not only provides a platform for networking and sharing information and resources, but also engages the members in influential discussions and many other activities. You may remember in a previous post a reflection on a topic being discussed in a new successful EDEN NAP initiative called the #EDENChat. Well, since then this initiative consolidated and became quite representative of the NAP’s activity. So, it’s time to share with you how it started and has evolved.

For that purpose, I’ve invited once again my good friend and colleague Steve Wheeler, who besides being one of the top education bloggers in the world is also the Chair of the NAP’s Steering Committee. Under this intriguing title «PD in your PJs with #EDENChat», Steve explores the story behind the #EDENChat initiative. I hope you’ll enjoy it and feel inspired to follow the debates and contribute as well.

António

 

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The Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton suggests in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work that however powerful our technology and complex our organisations are, the most remarkable feature of the modern working world might be one simple spiritual quality: the widely held belief that our work should make us happy. In short, our societal progress lies in an expectation that our jobs are fulfilling and not soul-destroying.

We should be, therefore, feeling very lucky and proud as our academic and professional field of practice is both so personally rewarding and meaningful to our communities. In this special and significant season, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how much open, distance and digital education is contributing to positively transforming the world.

Let me wish you all and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year of 2016, full of achievements!

A Technology-enhanced Christmas tree in Lisbon (2012). Photo by Camara Municipal de Lisboa