Wide Open Spaces: the Pros and Cons of Open Education

The infographic was suggested to us by the company Value Colleges. Believing that educational field is in need of more agencies and more new players, we are posting this view of Open Education. Your comments are welcome, as always.

Open education is defined as, “the institutional practices and initiatives that broaden access to learning and training through formal education systems”. The two main systems of open education is Open Educational Resources and Massively Open Online Courses. Learn just how hugely open education is catching on. The pros of open education lie with it being more iterative and interactive with online communities, live feedback, student services and more. Regardless of educational background and history, only about 4% of students actually complete an entire MOOC. In the future there will be better ways to identify students and enhance the instructional quality of the programs. 75 percent of students said they enrolled in a MOOC because it was free and nearly half said they would take another course if it cost a small amount, but only 18 percent were willing to pay a larger sum. University presidents have different views on open education, most agreeing that it can foster creative pedagogical studies.

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Art Schools Go MOOC, With a New Online Platform

Teaching free courses in the arts as MOOCs had bee tried before via Coursera, but it did not work out well, so its authors frustrated by limitations of the Coursera platform,  just left  it – until now.

The new virtual art school Kadenze has teamed up with 18 institutions, including Stanford and Princeton Universities, to create a digital platform designed for  arts courses. According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook, an emeritus professor at Princeton, the platform will be multimedia rich and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned art, watch videos, and participate in discussion forums.

Kadenze will initially offer about 20 courses on subjects including music, art history, and technology and art. Students will enroll in courses and watch videos free, but if they want to submit assignments and receive grades and feedback, they will have to pay $7 a month. There will be courses offered for credit, for fees of $300, $600 or $900 a course.

Kadenza’s founders anticipate that Kadenze’s courses will attract a broad range of students, but that the primary interest will be from artists, performers, and those interested in going to art school.

Read in full: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/art-schools-go-mooc-new-online-platform-works-with-art-programs-at-18-colleges/56947

UNESCO launches a fundraising campaign to bring relief to Nepal

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On April 25 and May 12, Nepal was hit hard by two earthquakes that brought about awful consequences to the country and its citizens. The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8-8.1, killed more than 8,000 people and injured other 23,000. The second one, with a magnitude of 7.3, killed 117 people and left 2,500 injured.

To help the country recover from this natural disaster and the humanitarian crisis it is sunk into, UNESCO is leading an international fundraising campaign. In addition, UNESCO is assessing the damage at the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley, which is composed of seven groups of monuments and buildings. The seven monuments and sites include the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan. To donate, go to: http://www.unesco.org/donate/nepal2015/donate.php#sthash.kSaBloAr.dpbs

In addition, UOC (Open University of Catalonia) has teamed up with the Red Cross to raise money for the cause. The donations will be devoted to alleviate the damages caused by the earthquakes in homes, schools and health centers. The goal is to raise €1,500 and you can donate here and spread the campaign on twitter with the hashtag #UOC4Nepal. The twitter campaign will start on June 22.

Catalan UNESCO Chairs call attention to the Government with the Palau Robert Manifesto

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The Catalan UNESCO Chairs held a meeting on May 6 in Barcelona to discuss the challenges Catalan UNESCO Chairs face in the economic crisis. A paper was presented summarizing the activities of Chairs in research, training and advocacy fields. In fact, UNESCO Chairs are the ones most severely hit by the cuts of the Catalan government and host universities.

One of the objectives of the meeting was to call attention to the Government of Catalonia. The regional government had been co-financing the UNESCO Chairs within its territory until 2013, when it stopped co-financing due to the harsh financial conditions of La Generalitat. To show strong concern with the government’s decision and to stress the importance of assistance to maintain existing UNESCO Chairs alive, the Palau Robert Manifesto was prepared and signed.

P.S.: Fortunately, there are some experiences of universities which know the value of UNESCO for ademica and society: this month, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid is inaugurating a new UNESCO Chair on the Use of Technology for Multilinguism – TECLIN.

Fake Diplomas, Real Money

An Insight into the Scam of Diploma Mills

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Allen Ezell “Accreditation Mills” book cover

“Very little in this virtual realm is real”. This is how New York Times describes the network of alleged education institutions offering fake accreditations run by Axact, a software company in Pakistan. Aggressive sale agents cajole clients seeking real education into enrolling for coursework that never materializes. Ruses include impersonating American government officials and using tricky names for institutions, such as Barkley or Columbiana . Shoaib Ahmed Saikh, Axact’s founder and chief executive, is supposed to be using benefits from fake degrees to fund his own media group, BOL. Allen Ezell, a retired FBI agent, explains the fraud with further detail in his book Accreditation Mills.

Most of the clients seeking real education are scammed and pushed to pay large amounts of money under very diverse threats. However, such an established business wouldn’t be generating dozens millions in profits every year since 1997 without people willing to pay for fake degrees, hoping to secure a promotion or pad their résumé. People keen to buy certificates are the main driver of those companies, clearly degrading the reputation of online Education.

Read more:

Education For All Report Presented in Barcelona

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Aaron Benavot, director de of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2000-2015, presented the achievements and challenges of Education worldwide yesterday in Barcelona.

All through the event, organized by the UNESCO Center of Catalonia and Fundació Jaume Bofill, Benavot pointed out that there are many signs of notable advances. The pace towards universal primary education has quickened, gender disparity has been reduced in many countries and governments are increasing their focus on making sure children receive an education of good quality. However, despite these efforts, the world failed to meet its overall commitment to Education for All. Millions of children and adolescents are still out of school, and it is the poorest and most disadvantaged who bear the brunt of this failure to reach the EFA targets.

The organizers are asking for contributions to the debate on the three priorities for next 15 years: access, equity and quality. If you want to make your opinion heard, you can join the debate on http://www.edupost2015.cat/participa/ 

The report can be read and download on https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/

 

Call for applications to undertake postdoctoral research studies

 

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The UOC’s UNESCO Chair is a center for the promotion of research, learning and information resources in the intensive use of ICTs in education for social transformation. As a further step toward fostering meaningful social change, the Chair is opening a call for applications to engage people who share the mission and values of our organization to establish mutually beneficial collaboration. Priority will be given to research proposals related to the three main areas of the organization’s work: quality of online education, ICT for development and economy of online education.

During the stay, the researcher will have the chance to share with the UOC community the outputs of his or her work, as well as will be able to take part in research events held by the university. In addition, the researcher will be invited to participate in the activities organized by this UNESCO Chair. The Chair will foster a meaningful collaboration so that both parties would benefit from the other’s contribution.

You can find the specifications of the call here. To fill and submit the application form, please click on the following link.

The Call is also available in Spanish here.

The state of MOOCs in Europe analyzed

eadtu homeThe report “Institutional MOOC Strategies in Europe” is part of the European Union-funded HOME project (Higher Education Online: MOOCs the European Way) led by EADTU. Released a few weeks ago, it presents data on the perception and objectives of European higher education institutions on MOOCs and the main drivers behind the MOOC movement. The methodology consisted on a survey answered by 67 institutions from 22 countries serving 2.8 million students.

Respondents were generally reluctant to introducing fees on MOOCs with a few exceptions, e.g. MOOCs leading to formal credit as part of an accredited curriculum. Also, it appears to be no general consensus when it comes to the limits of “openness”. Some respondents described fixing a start and end date as necessary, while others defended self-paced courses. Another finding was that from 10 MOOC-drivers gathered from relevant literature, three were in general defined as not relevant: increasing shared services and unbundling (that is, outsourcing internal processes), reducing the costs of higher education and envisioning MOOCs as a new method in a big [$7 trillion] business.

The attitude toward MOOCs in Europe is currently much more positive than it is in the US. One reason is the presence of the ECTS framework in Europe, which provides a sound base for recognition of credentials across institutions and borders – though this recognition has not been implemented yet at any institution. Also, while in Europe about half of surveyed population believes MOOCs are a sustainable method for offering courses, the rate drops to 20% for the US.

The conclusions above are only a sample of the many contained in the report. The full document with complete information can be downloaded here.

Technology and Higher Education: challenges and opportunities for coming years

nmcLast month the New Media Consortium (NMC) released its annual Horizon Report which identifies six key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education and six challenges hindering its adoption. The NMC is a not-for-profit organization stemming from the confluence of higher education institutions, museums and companies that centers its research activity on emerging technologies.

The report divides the trends accelerating ed tech adoption into fast, mid-range and long-range trends. Fast trends are the growing perception of online learning as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning, and the gradual emergence of new learning environments. As for mid-range trends, the report identifies the credit increasingly gained by the open education resources and the growing use of data left by students on the internet, which helps improve the educational experience. The long-range trends are the ever more positive attitude of universities towards change (especially the one driven by technology) and the boost of cooperation among higher education institutions.

The six challenges impeding ed tech adoption in higher education are divided into solvable, difficult and wicked challenges. Solvable challenges are digital literacy, a skill addressed in school that encompasses the need to blend formal and informal learning. Difficult challenges are those concerning the emergence of the myriad ways of communication and interconnection and the difficulties when it comes to personalizing learning. Finally, the competition between new and traditional models of education and the lack of rewards for teaching are labeled as wicked challenges.

All in all, some trends repeat over the years, while others disappear or change to a greater or lesser extent. Technology and Education have become two inseparable realities that affect each other. Education is undergoing a seamless reshaping process, clearly influenced by technology, while the potential of technology cannot be detached from the traditional dynamics of bricks-and-mortar higher education institutions.

The report can be found here.

Nomination call for UNESCO-Hamdan Prize 2015-2016

hamdan prizeThe fourth edition of the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers has opened the call for nominations.

The prize is awarded every two years and it recognizes initiatives that contribute to improving educational practices around the world, with priority given to developing countries and to marginalized and disadvantaged communities.

The Prize of $300 000 will be divided between three winners.

Candidates may be individuals representing institutions or organizations; international or national governmental or non-governmental organizations (NGOs); educational or research institutions and local/national/regional communities.

Deadline for nomination is October 31, 2015

To submit a nomination, you can download the guide and the application and nomination forms.

Former winners include Oxfam, Education International (Belgium), SOS Villages d’Enfants (Madagascar) or ProEd Foundation (Panama), among others.

For more information, please visit the Prize official website here.