Actually, this is a favourite saying by my university. It found the most appropriate place here in this blog post dedicated to summarise the main achievements by EDEN, its Governance and the Community in three years perspective. These achievements may be summarised and presented in two most important strategic steps taken: to consolidate the Community and to revisit and reshape practices, services and European policies in education. These steps supported EDEN developments in line with the EDEN Constitution. They were implemented through collaborative leadership and partnership and resulted in the impressive picture we have today of our association.
Consolidating the Community
There exist example practices which highlight the challenges raised for organizational leaders. One of these challenges is to find a way to answer the question – how flexible the organization can be in terms of individual group initiatives, and how strict it should be in terms of tradition, how new initiatives are in line with the existing ones, how integral they are or should be.
The winds of change in societal developments described by M. Castells and Van Dijk, a “self-expanding network” of the community finally moved to continuous “space of flow” in “timeless time”. Besides physical traditional events, the “real virtuality” was implemented through new initiatives for virtual events started in EDEN in 2016, introducing European Distance Learning Week (#EDLW), European Open Education Week, but also the series of webinars by EDEN NAP Steering Committee.
These new initiatives consolidated the EDEN community, receiving attention and contributions from new members and experts from the European and global arena. #EDLW embraced latest trends, developments, historical and futuristic perspectives – amazing list of intellectual – discussion records and resources available!
If success factors were identified for the initiatives above, the following could be mentioned:
- trust in the idea and people behind,
- shared responsibility and activities,
- involving coordination,
- bringing as broad consultation on the topics, timing, scope as possible, and,
- taking collaborative and easy approach, under the distributed leadership and involvement of great colleagues.
We stand on the shoulders of Giants
Despite the fact that we do stand on the shoulders of giants, the field our business is so dynamic that our locus very much depends on the most creative community, digital and networked society needs, that shape the future of education.
In the forefront of many challenges we had, starting with the Brexit referendum results in June, 2016, and the efforts to re-shape Europe and optimise European Higher Education Arena by member states, and many others…. EDEN senior colleagues knew very well, there is always the EDEN family with us. But what did we do to develop a better platform for the think – tank of EDEN to better contribute with the wisdom and collaborative leadership to support EDEN developments to serve the community best?
In Jonkoping, in June, 2017, we had the second meeting of EDEN Fellows, 5 years after the first meeting in Dublin, to revive the idea to strengthen the movement and contribution of EDEN Fellowship community members. Internal structural developments, based on both, board initiatives and grassroots movements, resulted in EDEN Fellows’ meeting in Genova, in June, 2018, and the establishment of the Council of EDEN Fellows in Barcelona, in October, in 2018, as a proof of enhanced quality of the activities of internal structures.
But Barcelona was famous for one more strategic step forward, namely, consolidation of EDEN Research and revival of the EDEN PhD Symposium after several years. The activity which has been long awaited by PhD students, supervisors and PhD schools – to reach for EDEN research activities, to find platform for collaboration and exchange in research.
Re-visiting and re-shaping practices, services and European policies in education
How clear and descriptive TEL (Technology enhanced learning) definition can be?
What do we mean by open and online learning (OOL)?
How seamless is transition from non-formal into formal learning?
How ready are SMEs in Europe to uptake online learning at workplace?
What are the elements of artificial intelligence that affect the quality of TEL?
Several initiatives and task forces were established and fostered in EDEN through these years:
- A mandate in the EU Education and Training ET2020 Working Group on Digital skills and competences, followed by the same mandate for the renamed group of DELTA: Digital Education, Learning, Teaching and Assessment – established collaboration with EU stakeholders and Member states in developing strategies for TEL application in education.
- EDEN Special interest group for technology enabled learning and quality enhancement was established, with distributed leadership and activities through academic years – to take a picture of TEL developments at micro – mezo – macro levels
- Continuous collaboration with international and global partners in the area of open and online learning, exchange of best practices and knowledge sharing – so much rewarding for our open communities
- Finally, a change and development in terms of recognition of academic and professional merits and services, as well. Being a part of the EDEN community is often associated with the recognition of professional activities. It has been some time since our schemes developed, were digitized and unbundled. However, a more serious shift happened recently in the concept of recognition per se.
- EDEN aims to serve as a platform to develop, discuss, and improve recognition activities. Our professional community has become involved in researching new recognition instruments, reshaping existing practices, introducing digital credentials into academic recognition schemes, supporting policies for learning innovation and assessment and searching for new ways of collaboration with stakeholders.
Collaborative leadership – easy taking, scalable and manageable, always negotiated and thoughtful approach by great colleagues in the governance of the association, through direct and open consultation with the community. This is the main success factor of the latest achievements through the years of my presidency.
It’s Lisa and Wim, Sandra and Josep, Diana and Ebba, Fabio and both Marks, Helga and Antonella, as well as Elena, Rebecca, Ulf and Tim. I would not say we pushed any further nor reached any limits, as Antonio would say. On the contrary, it was a great pleasure to work and create new ideas, which were realised with the great support by Andras and Ferenc, Kriszta and Krisztina, Zoltan, Gabor and Kinga and Judit, Agnes and Dora.
Thank you for the wonderful years of collaborative leadership. We made it all together.
You and the EDEN Community gave me that strong confidence in every step I walked the walk with each of you to reach new peaks of EDEN.
Looking forward to building further bridges and “self-expanding networks” within our network! See you soon!