Published on 11/28/2008 - Experiences

Co-LearningCommunities / NetworksTecnology reappropiationICTsAnalogies of digitalNetworks creationTelecommunicationsWeb 2.0

Contributors: Teemu Leinonen

BCK Seville

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So, I would not like to see that in a future students will study on a services provided by Nokia, Google, Vodafone, Yahoo, or Facebook - at least not if these comanies business model in their services is not changed.

8. M-learning gained momentum with the One Laptop Per Child project announcement. Given your deep knowledge of the area, what other developments can you anticipate for the near future? Any major technological breakthroughs that you think will play a key role in the evolution of mobile knowledge sharing?

I think we could do much better job by looking for simple solutions and less get excited from the technology. Radio is good. Community radio is great. TV is good. Community TV is great.

We should also see that the computer technology may work nicely with the "old technology". You may already add your phone in your TV. Why not using phones for distributing video learning materials for students and show them with TV sets that are almost everywhere.

We may also use audio speakers to broadcast "mobile radio" in a public spaces. We may ask people to post or record their news with their voice.

9. How do you think mobile technologies could be used in a context like the Bank of Common Knowledge (i.e. a changing, non-fixed platform where people from all sorts of backgrounds meet to exchange knowledge)?

I think you could use mobile in many ways: from "mobile working groups" to documenting the sessions. People could also use their phones to document their own "knowledge": to tell a story, so shot a video and then share or exchange it with other people. It could be a kind of flea market of knowledge.

10. Can you talk about the LeMill project? What exactly is your involvement there? From what we have seen (haven't tested it first hand) It looks like a very interesting platform. Why do you think it has been so successful in eastern-European countries (especially Estonia)?
The LeMill is a part of a larger European Calibrate project in where my group has been responsible on the LeMill design and development.

One reason is the fact that in the project there are partners from easter-Europe. On the other hand countries with small language are more open to experiment with this kind of alternative ways of producing learning materials in their own language. Making schoolbooks is simply not a business in such a small market and this leaves space for an alternative approaches. Like in Estonia teachers and the general populations ICT skills are also in very high level.

It looks that teachers in these east-European countries are very willing to show their expertise by making content on LeMill to get it visible in their portfolio. It is a sign of being a good teacher.

11. Like the people at School of Everything say, "Our current education system was designed in the Victorian era to train people for factory work. These days, though, we live in a very different world. And we need a new understanding of learning to go with it." And still, despite the existence of initiatives like the Calibrate Project, many European countries (Spain, for instance) maintain a fairly narrow-minded conception of education strategies, knowledge sharing and the role of teachers in general. What key points do you think should be changed to improve these practises?

A huge question, we're talking about globalization, ICT and education here. I think that things are moving slowly to the right direction. One should take a good care of: (1) teachers, (2) pupils, and (3) the system as a whole.

First of all, I think ICT in Finnish schools do not play very important role, at all. Maybe this - not giving ICT a central role - is the paradoxical best practice of using ICT in Finnish schools. However, we do pay a lot of attention to "learning environments" - in a broad sense.

In Finnish we have the proverb (that says that something can be a good servant but not a good master "hyvä renki, huono isäntä"(*) ). For instance, you can say that "fire is a good servant but a bad master". Most educators in Finland see ICT as a servant that should serve the main task: helping students to learn. ICT is a tool - no more, no less.

However, it is true that the Finnish educational system is ranked in the OECD's PISA studies as one of the best in the world. So, if ICT usage in schools is not the factor that makes the Finnish educational system successful what are the factors?

Three things. Taking good care of: (1) teachers, (2) pupils, and (3) the system as a whole. Let me explain these.

(1) Teachers' wellbeing comes from the quality teacher training, decent salaries, respect of the profession in the society, possibility to professional development, and wellbeing of their pupils.

(2) Pupils' wellbeing is made out of basic health care, free and healthy school meals, small
classes, teacher's child-centered approach, and wellbeing of their teachers.

(3) The whole system is doing well when it is supporting continuous pedagogical and organizations development, open for criticism, willing to look for solutions to the challenges recognized, and have wellbeing actors (teachers and pupils).

Conclusion: You may have a world-class educational system without a single computer or ICT tool in it. Computers do not take care of teachers, pupils or the system as a whole. It is not a right solution to the problem.

Still, there are many reasons to use ICT in the educational system.

(3) In different levels (national, local, school) computers are great tools for collecting and analyzing data about the wellbeing of teachers, pupils and the whole system. Are teachers paid enough? How many pupils are there in every classroom? etc. To work with this data, computers and networks help a lot.

(2) Among teachers ICT can be used for teacher training, professional development, and to build teachers-to-teachers, teachers-to-parents, teachers-to-authorities connections and networks. All these will increase the wellbeing of the teachers. This kind of networking is possible if the basic ICT infrastructure is in place (Internet connection in teacher's room at school or in their homes) and teachers are given the possibility - they are encourage and supported - to use the tools.
(1) Among pupils ICT can be used for giving them a voice, to help them to document their learning process for reflection, and to build pupils-to-pupils, pupils-teachers, pupils-to-parents, pupils-to-authorities connections and networks. All this is part of the child-centered approach and will increase the wellbeing of the pupils. This kind of ICT usage is also easy to arrange if there is easy to access Internet infrastucture for pupils all the time and they are encourage to use it for these purposes.

Simple. Easy. Fast - Not.

(*) I am not sure if this proverb is originally Finnish. Probably not. Anyway, as it is commonly used in Finland it has become one kind of "cultural property" - however, in commons. A good example of positive globalization.

(1) This interview was carried out at the beginning of 2008, after the first public actions with the Bank of Common Knowledge (BCK), when Platoniq researched into new points of view to expand their collaborators network and to enhance and develop BCK's structure, contents, participation strategies and economic sustainability. To achieve this, we got in touch with several collectives, projects managers and consultants whose work and activities were similar to Platoniq's and BCK's philosophy. We conducted surveys and carried out interviews and consultancies with experts who came from different contexts and had various needs. Thus, we obtained a wide spectrum of answers and oppinions.
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Platoniq llevó a cabo en marzo de 2009 una experiencia piloto de Banco Común de Conocimientos en el Instituto de Educación Secundaria Antonio Domínguez Ortiz, localizado en el Polígono Sur de Sevilla, también conocido como Las 3.000 Viviendas.