Note from editor

Today, we are launching a new rubric in this blog: Discussion papers. The origin of it is that we have received an article that we consider is worth of immediate attention of readers interested in unconventional, fresh view of things, what we call food for thought.

It has never been published, and we appreciate the fact to be the first to bring it to our readers – to read, reflect and discuss– just as the title of the rubric suggests.

With this short introduction, enjoy the reading and send us your comments on:

Uberización de la educación: 1. De la colaboración a la transacción – by Ferran Ruiz  @frtarrago

“En su sentido original y auténtico, la expresión “economía colaborativa” (sharing economy, peer economy) hacía referencia al intercambio libre y mutuamente beneficioso de bienes y servicios entre personas sin que hubiera transacciones monetarias o bien que estas por lo general fueran de escasa cuantía. La idea subyacente a la economía colaborativa es que individuos que cuentan con algún tipo de recurso —tiempo, conocimientos, informaciones, espacios, herramientas o productos— lo ponen a disposición de otros y reciben a cambio una contraprestación monetaria o en especie, que consideran adecuada o bien la aceptan porque no están en condiciones de declinarla. Asimismo, inicialmente la idea se aplicaba a personas físicamente próximas posiblemente residentes en un entorno comunitario, como un barrio o un municipio. De manera inevitable este concepto ha recibido un profundo impacto por el desarrollo ultrarrápido de las redes sociales y de las aplicaciones informáticas móviles que permiten seleccionar información e interactuar en cualquier lugar y momento con unos costes muy bajos. La colaboración y la contraprestación ya no exigen cercanía física, sino medios de acceso a Internet, servicios de intermediación, destreza para comprenderlos y usarlos y recursos económicos.”
Keep reading with a click here to the full text 

Collaboration between private and public initiatives in Online HigherEd: Generating more equity?

Click on the collage to see more pictures
Click here to see more pictures

On November 9, this Chair held the workshop “Collaboration between private and public initiatives in Online HigherEd: Generating more equity?”. This project launched a new research field on economics of online higher education.

The invited speakers Santiago de la Barrera, Permanent Secretary at CONETyP (National Council of Education, Work and Production) of Argentina, and Melissa Highton, Director of the Learning, Teaching and Web Services Division, University of Edinburgh, UK, with their presentations have put the basis to the lively following discussion we will report later on.


Noticia UOC

La Càtedra UNESCO d’Educació i Tecnologia per al Canvi Social organitza el taller «La col·laboració entre les iniciatives públiques i privades en l’educació en línia: ¿Generadora de major equitat per a l’educació superior?», dins del seminari internacional «Efectes econòmics i impacte social de l’educació en línia». El taller se celebrarà a la seu de la UOC a Barcelona el dimecres 9 de novembre 2016.

catedra-unesco El taller té com a objectiu identificar i valorar els efectes econòmics de l’educació en línia i, més específicament, dels models de negoci singulars que poden proporcionar més oportunitats per a un desenvolupament de l’educació en línia equitatiu i a un cost sostenible. De la mateixa manera, es pretén analitzar quin pot ser el paper que el capital privat podria jugar en els escenaris actuals i futurs, i quins podrien ser els avantatges i desavantatges.

Aquest taller es dirigeix a experts en educació, economia i empresa, amb l’objectiu de discutir i analitzar la dimensió econòmica de l’educació en línia des d’una visió transversal i interdisciplinària, a partir de la perspectiva pròpia de cadascú.

Experts convidats

Els dos experts convidats son Melissa Highton, directora de la Learning, Teaching and Web Services Division de la Universitat d’Edimburg, i Santiago de la Barrera, secretari permanent de CONETyP (Consejo Nacional de Educación, Trabajo y Producción) i membre de la Fundación Oficios de Argentina. Tots dos han desenvolupat projectes amb finançament públic-privat en l’àmbit educatiu.

English translation

Moving Beyond Access

What Online Education can contribute to Capacity Building and Social Development of Students

Workshop May 2016 – Going beyond Access  (for more pics here)

The UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), jointly with the Penn State University School of Education (PSU), have started a research project focused on how online education institutions are moving beyond providing access and toward building students’ capabilities and societies’ capacity.

The study aims to define what going “beyond access” means, at a time when access to higher education seems to be the only important issue, forgetting or undervaluing what happens to students after having got this access.

Through a survey based on Alan Tait and Jessica O’Rourke’s Social Justice Audit approach (2013), students from different online universities programs, initially at UOC and PSU, and later from universities settled in other continents, will be asked to define the main elements of their learning experiences, the capabilities they consider online education have provided them, and the constraints they have encountered and how they have eventually being overcome.

Albert Sangrà, Academic Director of the UNESCO Chair, and Adnan Qayyum, Associated Professor at PSU, are the main researchers of the project, in line with the research aim of the UNESCO Chair in identifying and fostering evidence of social impact and economic effects of online education.

The project has been presented in 2016 at three International conferences: EDEN (European Distance and E-Learning Network) Conference in Budapest, The Learner Conference in Vancouver, and EduTeach 2016 in Toronto. Initial findings from the survey are foreseen to be presented by the end of 2016.

Homage to all the teachers of the world

LogoA proverb says that in Japan teachers do not bow at the Emperor, because
without teachers there will not be emperors

Far from considering whether this is true or not, having a look on what highlighted in the infographic below show that not only the teaching quality and students learning but also the quality of teachers’ personal lives must be improved.

Today is a special occasion to send our congratulations to female teachers – the majority of teachers are indeed women – who everyday push their students to take the best from what explained in the textbook and deploy what learned into the current reality, and once back home, they support their kids to do the same, between household duties and endless tests to correct.

Data is from Teachers’ Dream Classroom – the Infographic created by Edgenuity, available at


UNESCO Chair PhD studentship: Adult literacy and learning for social transformation

A fully-funded UNESCO Chair PhD scholarship for a research study within the theme of adult literacy and learning for social transformation is being offered at the University of East Anglia, UK.




The studentship will begin in October 2016 for a duration of three years full-time study and will cover tuition fees, tax-free maintenance grant, and research training support.
Deadline for applications is 17th June.
Please, see further details here.

For inquires:
Prof. Anna Robinson-Pant
School of Education and Lifelong Learning
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

Chronicle of a biomimetic celebration

sangakoo2A circular room, dark light, dance, mimics, saxophone music, audio-visual projections and much more. You might think that this is a discotheque, but it is not. It is a top notch intellectual performance. Last March 19th we went to CCCB to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hèlix3c, the “constructory” specialized in services that generate non-conventional thinking and transformative action. On the stage stood out the presence of Pere Monràs, the founder and inspirational leader of Hèlix3c.

The celebration was organized as a continuous dialogue between Pere Monràs and some of his collaborators and friends who presented Hèlix3c origins and trajectory. The event was the practical demonstration of one of their main concepts, biomimetic, which promotes nature based innovation. In this sense, Hèlix3c was portrayed as an actor grounded on a biomimetic ecosystem, in which several projects had emerged.


Female leadership: reality & social chance

Our previous post described how, in some contexts, the relation of women and technology is perceived almost as a deviation of the conventional ideas of femininity. But technology is not the only field in which women are still underrepresented. A similar situation is found on leadership positions.

According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2014-2015 elaborated by Development Dimensions International (DDI): “Even with a greater academic achievement and an increased presence in global workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership and are more likely to be found in lower-level than higher-level leadership roles”.
This statement is clearly supported by Catalyst’s Women in Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. In the main US companies, women only hold the 4% of CEO positions.


Women, Evil and Technology vs Conventional Ideas of Femininity

women and technology


The mermaid, the witch, the femme fatale (…): these are all representations of evil women or women who have subverted the conventional ideas of femininity. Kept alive in oral tradition and hidden in the unspoken rules of society, the dangerous, evil woman lives on to define what we believe a woman should be


These words belong to the overview of “Perceiving Evil: Evil, Women and the Feminine” edited by D. Farnell, R. Noiva and K. Smith in the frame of the alternative, unconventional, and multidisciplinary approach promoted by the Evil Project. This year, the Project will hold its 8th Global Meeting in Oxford (UK) on 23-25 September. Its main aim will be to analyse which was and which is the characterization of women with regard to evil. In their own words: “We are fascinated by stories of real and fictional women who perpetrate evil deeds, experience evil as victims, fight against evil and take the blame as scapegoats for evil that exists in the world”. Proposals for various forms of contributions should be summited by 22nd April 2016.

Beyond the idea of evil, it might seem that nowadays the relation of women with the technological world is almost a deviation of the conventional ideas of femininity. In many contexts, mainly in Europe and in the US, the participation of women in this field is completely minority and in some societies women are even perceived not to be “natural technologists”. However, this has not always been the case. As Sarah Murray describes in the Financial Times: “In the US and much of Western Europe in the 1980s, (…), women collected almost 40 per cent of computer science degrees. Today, however, the figure is 15 to 20 per cent”. (más…)

In Homage to Joe Bower, The Teacher from Red Deer

The night of January 3, Joe Bower, a teacher from Alberta, Canada, died of a sudden heart attack, a few days after his 37th birthday.

Too early, inexplicably, tragically. Still, the light and inspiration Joe radiated will far outlast him.  His death is a tragedy for the family, friends, students and colleges who were close to him. But it also moved many people to express their deep mourning for this special person – a person who worked to not only create better schools but also a better world. Joes work, writings and his blog demonstrated his courage in single-handedly taking on the system  and challenging the status quo. It also inspired many teachers around the world.

Members of this Chair‘s work, his fellow speakers and other participants in a conference in Barcelona in December 2014 had known Joe for only a few days. But we all immediately knew what a jewel was amongst us. His talk was so wonderfully down to earth and practical in application. In fact, it was less a speech and more of a conversation with the audience who he so naturally engaged with his logic and thinking processes – and led to joint conclusions. It was a real joy to watch him capturing attention, empathising with his audience and directing this academic forum as if it were a high-school class session! Clearly, here was a high-calibre pedagogue, a real master.

Cena bona

But this alone does not make a great teacher. Love and respect for children, compassion for their personal struggles and achievements, for their pain and joy – these were the qualities which made him great. As Cathy Davidson wrote, he set the bar for humanity and for our profession as educators sky high.

Joe’s human qualities, his profound honesty and his modesty are revealed by little details. He told the conference that he was not born a good teacher; in fact, he had started out a terrible teacher! On being asked why it was so difficult to get in contact with him, he confessed that when he received the invitation to come to Barcelona as a keynote speaker, he thought that was a (bad) joke and he had deleted the letter! And after all, how he could just leave his 126 students and go to Barcelona?