CODUR presented at EDEN and CIDUI conferences

Prof. Albert Sangrà, coordinator of the CODUR project and Director of the UNESCO Chair for Education and Technology for Social Change, and members of the team Montse Guitert and Juliana Raffaghelli attended the European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) Annual Conference held in Genova (17-20 June) and the International Conference on University Teaching and Innovation held in Girona (4-6 July).

In both conferences, the objectives were two-fold: a) to present the CODUR project with its initial online indicators to be included in university rankings and to promote the debate about the evaluation of the online dimension inside the university ranking system, and b) to conduct an interactive workshop where the participants could give their feedback about the new set of indicators created by the CODUR project.

The CODUR project is leading to its end, but the number of impacts (both institutions and people) are growing remarkably.


International Seminar on Evidence-based research: methodological approaches and practical outcomes. Insights for Online Education


Last November, 21 and 22, the International Seminar on“Evidence-based research: methodological approaches and practical outcomes. Insights for Online Education” was held in Barcelona.
The international speakers invited shared their different perspectives on the topic, touching upon research and ways to get reliable evidence, learning analytics as a mainstream of evidence gathering, policy and the way that evidence can play a role on policy systems.
By clicking on every title you will be able to download the presentation of every speaker.


JAIRO H. CIFUENTES MADRID, TELESCOPI – Network of Observatories of Good Practices on Strategic University Management in Latin America and Europe 


Evidence-based Institutional Research: Gathering data for measuring impact



RICHARD GARRETT, The Observatory of Borderless Higher Education


Researching Online Learning… Reflections on Techniques and Sources



EMMANUEL (MANNY) JIMENEZ, 3ieImpact – International Initiative for Impact Evaluation


Systematic Review of the Effects of Interventions to Improve Education in Developing Countries


DONATELLA PERSICO, Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche (ITD) – Italian National Research Council (CNR)


There is no such thing as context free evidence




FRANCESCA POZZI, Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche (ITD) – Italian National Research Council (CNR)


Will the future of Higher Education be evidence-based?



PAUL PRINSLOO, University of South Africa – UNISA


Learning analytics in a time of an insatiable thirst for data and evidence: A provocation



KATIE ROSE, Centre for Public Impact


Decoding Government Effectiveness



OLAF ZAWACKI-RICHTER, University of Oldenburg


Relevance and rigour – towards evidence-based practice in education

International Seminar on Evidence-based research: methodological approaches and practical outcomes. Insights for Online Education

The UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change at UOC work and initiatives take as reference the document “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (United Nations, 2015) which underlines the commitment and the challenges to face world-wide for a sustainable and equitable development. Specifically, the Chair focuses on the Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aims to ensure, by 2030, “that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development” (SDG 4.7).

This means that education is one of the main tools for achieving a sustainable development (OECD, 2007; UNESCO, 2014) and that those countries with more educated people have generally better economic incomes and more opportunities to grow and increase the wellbeing of their citizens. In addition, technology is also providing new opportunities for access to higher education, as well as the transition to new methodologies that might help to get better teaching and better learning outcomes.

Online teaching and learning can make a huge contribution to the achievement of the aforementioned goal. It provides more flexibility, easiness of access, affordability and appropriate skills for the digital age, as well as social and economic impact in the society. However online education is always under the magnifying glass as it usually brings concerns about its quality and effectiveness.

What opportunities online education is going to provide to higher education are growing is a fact (Allen & Seaman, 2016; Bichsel, 2013; Online Learning Task Force, 2011), but doubts on this educational modality still persist. Different studies (Cavanaugh et al., 2004; Means et al., 2010; Means et al., 2013) have started to provide some evidence of its effectiveness through research, but there still is a big need of further investigation in this field, which could help to increase online education reputation.

To do this, the development of an appropriate methodology is crucial. In this sense, the work from Hattie (2008), Visible Learning, becomes a benchmark. Other studies have also highlighted the importance of the meta-analysis approach for these purposes (Borenstein et al., 2009; Field & Gillet, 2010). But considering just a unique approach could be biased and, therefore, taking into account other perspectives is highly recommendable.

Building up a methodology that can be the underlying framework for carrying out a set of research looking for evidence supporting the reputation and better visibility of online education is the main purpose of this event: organizing a Seminar with experts on this topic to get the knowledge that will provide the UNESCO Chair and its collaborators with the required skills to establish an observatory on the reputation and visibility of high quality online education.

This UNESCO Chair is highly committed to identify, analyse and disseminate any evidence or data regarding the quality, the effectiveness, and social impact and economic impact of online education. In the last two years, this Chair has fostered a long-lasting Seminar on the “Economic Effects and Social Impact of Online Education” consisting in different workshops, aiming to analyse how online education can be a driver for improving the way people can have a more equitable higher education, and to identify what might be the economic effects of greater dissemination and understanding of the contributions of online education to social development.

The good outcomes of the previous workshops have led the Chair, to organise new activities addressed to go further and deeper to identify the ways in which evidence can be gathered to know more and to make more visible the economic and social effects of online education.

The current International Workshop we are organising is aiming to know and understand the methodologies underlying evidence-based research; getting the skills to translate evidence-based research to the online education field; interacting with experts gathering data for observatories and impact of policies and strategies; and establishing the methodological foundations for the creation of an observatory for the reputation of online education, that will be evidence-based. After identifying what kinds of things could be constitutive of evidence, as it was worked in precedent workshops, we would now like to know how to gather them.

In this context, the International Seminar Evidence-based research: methodological approaches and practical outcomes. Insights for Online Education will have two parts:

Workshop on Evidence-based Research: Gathering data for measuring impact

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 10.00 – 14.00 h.

Place: Palau Macaya, Passeig de Sant Joan, 108, 08037 Barcelona

This activity is by invitation only. Five experts from different international centres and observatories will present the methodologies they use to gather data and evidence for their purposes: how they work, how they design their research and how the collect the data they later use in their observatories or studies:

  • Richard Garrett, Observatory of Borderless Higher Education, UK
  • Emmanuel (Manny) Jimenez, 3ieImpact – International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, USA
  • Jairo Cifuentes, Red Telescopi – Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, COL
  • Katie Rose, Centre for Public Impact, UK/USA
  • Donatella Persico, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, CNR, IT
  • Karsten Krueger, Fundación CYD – U-Multirank, ESP

Every speaker will have around 30 min, to present the model they work with to the audience. Invited participants, who have participated in previous seminars organised by the UNESCO Chair on the social and economic impact of online education, will discuss with the speakers.

Open Public Session (lecture + roundtable): Will the future of Higher Education be evidence-based?

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017, 17.30 – 20.00 h.

Place: Palau Macaya, Passeig de Sant Joan, 108, 08037 Barcelona

This Open Session will start with a lecture and followed by a roundtable in which it is expected to have an overview of how evidence-driven education would be, with their benefits and possible risks, too.


  • Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa, UNISA (Lecture)


  • Olaf Zawacki-Richter, Karl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, GER
  • Richard Garrett, Observatory of Borderless Higher Education, UK
  • Francesca Pozzi, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, CNR, IT
  • Frans Kaizer, Centre for Higher Education Policy & Studies, CHEPS, NE

These two parts are very complementary and will provide valuable outputs to go forward with the research endeavoured by the Chair. As one of the milestone of this research, information about the launching of KLEOS, the Observatory for the Reputation and Quality of Online Education will be given.

If you are interested in participating to the Open Session, you can register to the event by filling this form.

For the Spanish Version of the program click here :

Referencias bibliográficas

Allen, I.E. & Seaman, J. (2016). Online Report Card. Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC.

Bichsel, J. (2013). The State of E-Learning in Higher Education: An Eye toward Growth and Increased Access (Research report). Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research.

Biesta, G. (2014). ¿Medir los que valoramos o valorar lo que medimos? Globalización, responsabilidad y la noción de propósito de la educación. Pensamiento Educativo: Revista de Investigación Educacional Latinoamericana, 51(1), 46-57. doi: 10.7764/PEL.51.1.2014.17. Retrieved from

Borenstein, M.; Hedges, L.V.; Higgins, J.P.T. & Rothstein, H.R. (2009). Introduction to Meta-Analysis. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-470-05724-7.

Field, A. P. & Gillett, R. (2010), How to do a meta-analysis. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 63, 665–694. doi:10.1348/000711010X502733.

Hattie, J. (2008). Visible Learning. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

OECD (2007). Higher Education for Sustainable Development. Final Report of International Action Research Project. OECD from Forum for the Future (2006-2007).

UNESCO (2015). Position Paper Education post-2015. Paris: UNESCO.

UNESCO (2014). Sustainable Education begins with Education. Paris: UNESCO.

United Nations (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from

X International Seminar videos now available


Videos of the X International Seminar have been published on UOC’s youtube page. The 2-day seminar led to several discussions on the challenges and opportunities of education regarding to curricula. Our speakers discussed on what is and should be taught and learnt, the role of schools and teachers in learning, the educational needs for the next century and the policy implications of the changes to be made. Also, demo presenters shared with the rest of the participants many hands-on experiences of change-triggering practices. All this you can find clicking on the links below.

Opening Session (Josep A. Planell Estany, Emma Kiselyova, Albert Sangrà)


Changing Higher Education from the Classroom Up (Cathy Davidson)

Patterns of Innovation-Transforming Early Learning and Beyond with 21st Century Skills (Helen Soulé)

The New Curriculum: Policy into Practice in Scotland (Mark Priestley)

A Curriculum for Ownership, Ubiquity and Accountability (Núria Miró)

Do Schools Conceal or Reveal Learning? (Joe Bower)

Learning {Re}Imagined: How the Connected Society is Transforming Learning (Graham Brown-Martin)


Encouraging Pre-Service Teachers to Re-Vision Mathematics: Focusing on the “Have a Go” Aspect of Numeracy (Audrey Cooke)

Sangakoo: Proven Effects of Collaborative Learning (Pere Monràs and Judit Castro)

Agilifying Learning: How Agile (SCRUM) Organization Techniques Can Enable Learner Agency, Dialogue and Democratization in Learning Within Any Curricula (Jasmina Nicolik and Karl Royle)

Interaction, Reflection and Competencial Work (Antonia Dolcet and Alba Rodoreda)

Holistic Education: the New Model’s Learning Objective (Anna Díaz and Paco Rico)

Can Learning Using the Internet in the Context of Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) Replace Traditional Vocational Education and Training? (Cathy Ellis)

Open Assessment and OERs as Enablers in Competency-Based Education (Tom Caswell)

Zero Cost Management Graduate (Ankit Khandelwal)

Conclusions and Takeaways
(Albert Sangrà)


You can visit the official X Seminar’s website here.

What are the top three things our students need to learn in order to thrive in the world we live in?

Cathy Davidson, from City University of New York and The Futures Initiative, gave the first keynote talk of our X International Seminar. During her speech she asked the participants to write down on a card the top three things students need to learn in order to thrive in the world we live in. On a blog post, she says that people came up with great insights. Among the ideas she gathered, many of them point out the need of a competency-based curriculum, which should be far more flexible and created by students and teachers rather than distant authorities.

You can find a small taste in the snapshot below, and you can read the complete list of suggestions on Cathy Davidson’s article on HASTAC’s website.


X International Seminar tweet by tweet, debate by debate

Danica Savonick, from the Futures Initiative, has created a detailed Storify page with a representative selection of the conversations and moments that took place during the Seminar. It is a good summary of the debates and the dynamics of our 2-day event, which enabled a unique opportunity to share knowledge and ideas and to learn from others’ experience. Thank you, Danica!


Highlights from Day 1 of X International Seminar

This post was written by Tom Caswell

Day 1 of the X International Seminar of the UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change was lively and thought provoking. After a warm welcome from Josep Planell, President of UOC, Emma Kiselyova, set the stage for the seminar. Her remarks were a call to action, citing parental and student concerns that the current system of higher education is not doing enough to prepare them for the world of work. She quoted Frederick Douglass, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Brenda Gourley, former Vice-Chancellor of the Open University UK, introduced Cathy Davidson, who began by stating that her passion was not for higher education but for unleashing human potential. Her message: “Stop thinking about subjects and start thinking about solving problems.”

Cathy shared historical insights into the Industrial Age origins of our system of higher education. The first two organizations to adopt letter grades were meat packers were replacing more detailed feedback in colleges the meat packer’s association rejected the idea, considering it an insult to give meats a letter grade. How sad that cuts of meat would receive more careful and nuanced evaluation than college students! Cathy also asked participants to list the top 3 changes that could be made to improve curriculum. The Wordle below gives a visual representation of the various changes suggested.

Day 1 tag cloud
Day 1 Talks Tag Cloud

One of the themes that emerged throughout the day was that of empowering students with the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing and uncertain job market. Helen Soule shared her vision of 21st century learning through collaborative project based work, emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving in authentic situations. Audrey Cook gave useful strategies for how to teach and even enjoy mathematics. She challenged us to be positive about mathematics, especially with young women.

Another important theme was the need to develop curriculum around a clear purpose. Mark Priestley shared insights he gained while developing Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland. Knowledge in and of itself is not a suitable starting point for curriculum development. We must understand the context of the learning and how to adapt it and keep it relevant into the future. Jasmina Nicolik and Karl Royle presented an intriguing demo on using Agile methodologies and open spaces to boost student engagement and democratize learning. Sharing Agile skills gives students proven patterns of collaboration and project management. Agile methods are widely used in software development, although they can certainly be used outside of the computer programming space to organize collaborative work.

There was also strong local representation this year, including excellent presentations by Nuria Miró (ownership and accountability), Antonia Dolcet and Alba Rodoreda (SetMesTres), Anna Díaz and Paco Rico (Institut Broggi). There were too many great ideas shared to include in a single post, but fortunately many participants used the conference hashtag (#curriculumBCN) to capture more of the conversation via Twitter.