eLearning Africa was a great conference, with 1778 delegates from 78 countries. The main theme was concentrating on the question how to improve education in Africa with technologies.
I was invited for the VLIR-UOS pre-conference workshop “ICT in education”. This workshop was set up as a Train the Trainer session for the African partner universities of the VLIR-UOS, similar to the session for the rest of the world in the Universidad 2010 conference in Cuba. It’s always great to have many VLIR-UOS partners brought together. We were happy to attract also many non-VLIR-UOS-partners in a fully booked room (peaks of 70 participants).
As Open Source was a major theme of eLearning Africa, I was also invited to talk about Strategies and Policies to implement Free & Open Source Software in Higher Education. African universities use already mainly Open Source Learning Environments, and they are stimulating the use of Open Educational Resources and Open Access journals, but their desktops are mainly running proprietary software. They would love to migrate everything to Open Source, but their entrenchment and lock-in into proprietary systems is already so deep that migrations or new deployments will need strategies and policies.
My first presentation was “New learning paradigms and educational technologies part II” (part I, focusing on the paradigms, was presented by Prof. Libotton):
My presentation “Strategies & Policies for the implementation of Free & and Open Source Software in Higher Education” was again a duo presentation with Paul Scott from the Western Cape University of South Africa.
I received great feedback on both presentations and have invitations for organizing related training and management workshops in different countries.
I was invited to give a guest lecture about Free Libre Open Source Software for the course Business Aspects of Software Industry of Prof. R. S’Jegers and M. Goldchstein, with students from management science and computer science.
I was invited by the University of Cuenca in Ecuador to give a workshop in the framework of their VLIR-UOS project. I had nice discussions, mainly with the people from the ICT departement, about migration to Free Libre Open Source Software and the implementation and support of e-learning facilities. For the Vice-rector, ICT-managers and the Deans and two professors from each faculty I gave two days workshops about “Technologies For Higher Education” and “Freedom And Openness For Higher Education“. My pictures can be found here and my presentations hereunder:
Prof. dr. Černochová together with the ATEE Resource & Development Centres “ICT in education” and “primary education” organized a small but interesting and lovely ATEE Winter conference under the title “first class learning, first class teaching, and first class teacher education” There were great people and contributions.
Prof. dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey (USA) elaborated on the idea of Professional Development Schools (PDS), where teachers and teacher educators work together. (American) schools often seem to miss “the collegial arrangement where teachers could collaborative reflect on the day’s activities and results, then discuss what would be improved tomorrow.” The physical space is one requirement; but teachers also need systematic, planned and scheduled time for collaborative reflection and learning. As teaching is increasingly complex, such needs are growing. Teacher educators should move their academic work closer to the schools. In school-universities partnerships teachers and teacher educators can work together. Teacher educators can help schools to find the right tools for the right learning needs, while schools can provide knowledge for / in / of practice.
Prof. dr. Arne Trageton from Norway elaborated on his ideas of “Writing to Read. Playful computer Writing.” He said: while we are convinced that we want creative humans, most of the ICT in education reports are about children as consumers instead of producers. Writing is easier than reading. And typing is easier than hand writing. So why are most schools starting with reading instead of writing? Prof. Trageton has set up programs where children are in pairs working on (old) laptops, standing up (who needs a chair?) They start writing random gibberish. And then they start counting the letters A. B, … Gradually they are writing and reading better and better, always about things that interest them (what happened last weekend? Keep it playful and keep it authentic! People like to write when they want somebody else to read it! The children write longer and longer texts and produce their own textbooks. IIRC, Prof. Trageton measured that children trained with computer writing score after 3 years one year in advance of hand writing trained children.
Also interesting were the country reports about ICT and innovations in schools.
It’s no coincidence this conference was in Prague. The Czech Republic has a long history of ICT in education. During the eighties they used their Czech produced 8bit-computers (IQ 151 and PMD) in schools. We visited a school in Prague which has invested a lot in technologies with the help of many research projects. Many interactive whiteboards and videocams, but also something I never seen before: A Czech produced box with some twenty usb sockets. I first thought it was filled with USB-sticks, but actually it were all transmitters for wireless mice. It means you can give each child a mouse to control the same computer in front of the classroom. I can imagine quite some interactive use with that.
Prof. Davide Parmigiani from Italy reported about a Cl@sses 2.0 project: how to improve the learning environment in the classroom with ICT? 156 schools from different regions received 30000 Euro to transform classrooms to 2.0 environments. The teachers can decide what to buy. I can imagine this could go wrong, but this case was well organized, with as one of the nicer results a shift from individual to team teaching.
I had also a nice time with Hans Pronk and Jan Folkert Deinum who reported about their projects in the Netherlands. They care a lot about Nearly Qualified Teachers (NQT) and Induction (the phase after initial teacher training) for novice teachers. Dutch schools are now demanding teachers with ICT skills!
Under the mastery of Glynn Kirkham from the UK we concluded the conference with the Nominal Group Technique. These are the resulting most important concepts of the conference and their votes:
12 Towards interactive teaching; Role of the child as knowledge producer; teacher:child and child:teacher
10 Early childhood importance
9 Innovation (ICT)
7 “Back Porch”; Professional development schools (PDS); Much to learn from each other; School learns if its members learn; Lesson planning
5 Recognition of the competent child
3 Digital citizenship
2 Induction for novice teacher
2 Co-operation among students
1 Contextualization; Own the wheel
1 Important to experience both digital and tactile/sensory activities
1 Recruitment of male teachers in the early years school
Personally I was member of the scientific committee of this conference and I had a keynote about “What can we learn from One Laptop Per Child Projects?”
I visited our joint-PhD students from the Distance Education Department of the UCLV University in Santa Clara. Their subjects are:
- Yoilán Fimia León: Strategy to integrate digital portfolios in the teaching-learning process
- Roberto Carlos Rodríguez Hidalgo: Teaching Strategy for supporting the collaborative activities in the teaching-learning process through the use of social software
- Didiosky Benitez Erice: A methodology for knowledge management using Open Educational Resources in teaching-learning processes: the case of Central University “Marta Abreu” of Las Villas.
- Wilder González Díaz: Quality indicators for e-learning
At the Universidad 2010 conference in Havana, I gave together with Prof. Arno Libotton a keynote titled: “New learning paradigms and educational technologies”
My part, focussing on the technologies is shown hereunder:
Together with Paul Scott I gave a keynote titled: “Strategies & Policies for the implementation of Free & and Open Source Software in Higher Education Institutions”. Paul Scott is head of the Free Software Unit in the University of Western Cape. He is also the lead developer from the (mainly African) e-learning environment Chisimba. We met each other before shortly, but now that Prof. Georges Eisendrath invited us to work together on this presentation, I had the real pleasure to spend a week with Paul. I consider Paul a highly skilled hacker (in the original sense ofcourse) with a heart for the “right” technologies.
Since the first of February I no longer work as the head of the (no longer existing) Educational Innovation Center of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. I still have my 30% professorship at the same university. I’m preparing an international project and I might start with a consultancy company if there proves to be enough demand for consultancy about learning technologies, free & open technologies, (educational) innovation, … In the meantime I’ll increase my contributions to University Development through VLIR-UOS and I’m open for any new projects. Contact me if interested
Today Chamilo, a new e-learning & collaboration software project, was announced. Chamilo is a fork from Dokeos. Over the last years, the Dokeos community seems to have grown much faster than the Dokeos company. Seen from the perspective from at least many community members, the community wanted more freedom, while the company took more control. Free Software protects the freedoms of both users and developers. These freedoms allowed the original Claroline author Thomas Depraetere in 2004 to fork Claroline into Dokeos, and these freedoms allow the community now to fork Dokeos into Chamilo. Maybe that’s more competition. But in the Free & Open Source Software universe competition most often leads to survival of the fittest and stronger projects! Still, with these 3 Open Source projects now sharing a common history and code base, I would hope for some collaboration opportunities!
I’m invited for the scientific committee and a keynote presentation at the ATEE (Association for Teacher Education in Europe) winter conference in Prague, February 2010. The conference theme is “Early Years, Primary Education and ICT”. This is the title and abstract of my keynote:
What can we learn from One Laptop Per Child Projects?
Five years ago, Prof. Nicholas Negroponte announced the “One Laptop Per Child” idea. The mission of the non-profit OLPC foundation is to give the children of developing countries better opportunities to explore and learn by means of a cheap Internet laptop (the XO). The laptop and software is specifically designed according to constructionist learning theories and aimed at primary education. Many critical voices dismissed these ideas as undesirable and impossible. Why laptops while there is a shortage of food, teachers and electricity? Why a laptop per child instead of a few computers per school or class? Isn’t this a form of neo-colonialism?
Whether today OLPC is a failure or a success remains in the eye of the beholder. The projected milestones proved too optimistic. The XO laptop still costs around $188 instead of the projected $100. Over the last two years, “only” one million XO laptops are rolled out in 40 countries. The impact on the computer industry is very visible: the XO gave inspiration to a dozen cheap netbook models, increasingly popular at least in the developed world. The impact on education and the developing world is less visible. Two years of pilot projects and national deployments is understandably short for long term research evidence. Establishing a deployment is hard, but the first results are promising. Teachers report that the children are more motivated to learn, read and write and that they do so more accurately. The children teach each other and their parents what they learned. The one laptop per child ratio, the children’s ownership and the fact that they can take the XO home seem to have indeed the desired benefits of equal access (no matter the gender, competencies or socio-economic status) and low incidences of theft or maintenance needs. The children are most positive about the Internet connection, which gives them a window on the world, not only for exploring, but also for expressing themselves. The laptops and the software seem indeed well designed to allow a lot of learning by self-exploration. Of course many things are hardly self-discoverable, and the quality of learning remains mainly influenced by the teacher’s design of learning scenarios. Teacher training plays a crucial role, not only about the laptop and the software, but mainly about learning methodologies that fit best with these technologies (and today’s society).
The OLPC foundation focuses on developing countries, where the need is highest. But the demand for similar projects in developed countries is rising. The challenges are smaller in countries with good education and good availability of ICT. This means however that the increase of learning efficiency can be expected to be smaller. Recently, the first small pilot projects in Europe have started. These projects deserve the attention of European teachers, teacher educators and researchers.
I’ve bookmarked the most relevant OLPC reports and evaluations in my Diigo library. I’m still preparing the presentation, so contact me if you want yours or other additional OLPC reports and evaluations shared with the European Teacher Educators community!
The 8th Ethical Forum of the University Foundation will be held in Brussels, November 19th 2009. The topic is “The University in the age of Google and Wikipedia.
New potentials, new threats, new duties.”
Since they ask short reactions to the question “Should we resist or should we expand the role of Google, Wikipedia and the like in the life of our universities? Why? How?” I prepared the following:
Let’s integrate our academic knowledge into the global brain!
Prof. dr. F. Questier, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Google, Wikipedia and the like have become cornerstones of our information society. Their disruptive innovations were impossible without flirting with the boundaries of privacy and copyright laws. We should remain very critical and teach that even ‘don’t be evil’ Google and non-profit Wikipedia have their limitations and related risks. We should teach what is good and what is bad scholar use of these tools. Wikipedia and Google have proven that mass collaboration and innovative use of web & user data can create services that tend towards collective intelligence. In a certain sense they have become complimentary to the academic knowledge and practices. More important than the question about the role of these internet services in universities is the question about the role of universities in this new collective intelligence. Let’s unlock the academic knowledge by embracing open innovation, open access, open learning materials, open standards and free & open software. Let’s teach our students to be not only knowledge consumers and producers, but also knowledge publishers. Today it’s not enough to publish single resources, such as articles and books. We have to integrate our academic knowledge into the global brain.
My reaction is maybe a bit too general, but I found it difficult to go more specific, without loosing my general perspective, in the 5-15 lines asked.
Disclaimer: I have no affilitations with Google or Wikipedia. Yes, I’m a user of their services; I was contacted by Google for a job offer; and I contributed to Wikipedia and similar projects such as Wikibooks (Educational Technology course book).
Together with Frits Hoff from the Openwijs.nl foundation, I was invited to Aruba for consultancy around ‘One Laptop Per Child‘ projects. We discussed with the minister of education, parliament members, directors from educational networks, the University of Aruba, and the teachers & parents of two schools that want to start OLPC pilot projects. My focus was on the training & coaching for teachers, and monitoring & evaluation of such innovation projects. All stakeholders were very enthusiastic and we got nice press coverage (at least 3 news paper articles [1, 2, 3], 1 press website, 1 radio and 2 tv transmissions). Pilot projects should start in january, and scaling up to all childeren in primary school starts hopefully next school year. Thanks to Kiwanis Club of Palm Beach for sponsoring our travel and stay.
See my Aruba pictures.
The design of this so called $100 laptop for kids from the developing world dates from 2006. I played with it at FOSDEM 2007, while it was still in preview. Since then it has started the minilaptop ‘netbook ‘ revolution. And while it is 3 years old, it still has many innovative concepts which are not yet common in other laptops. Many laudatios have been written, but let me share two features which I still appreciate: When there is enough light (or too much light for other laptops), the screen is very readable with the back-light switched off. This is a big energy saver. And while you are only reading the screen, the operating system (Fedora Linux) powers down most of the laptop components. It’s really impressive to see the power led go on and off while the screen remains powered. Netto result: between 0.3 and 8W is enough for the OLPC, while my other laptop consumes often 40W. The day I forgot my OLPC power supply, I could use another one from a dead Sony walkman with power specs (5.4W) lower than any other reported usable power supplies (see my contributions at the OLPC wiki).
Frits Hoff suggested me two current OLPC issues (mainly in the developed world) to think about: Flash support and speed improvements. (continue reading…)
I gave a workshop about ‘FREE AND OPEN Source Software, Licenses, Technologies, Scientific Publications, Courseware, …’ (download PDF – 111 slides) in the framework of the International Training Program on INFORMATION.
I’m PhD jury member for Sofie Timmers from the University of Ghent.
Her thesis is entitled “Implementation of an innovative pharmaceutical curriculum: analysis of the impact on readiness for pharmacy profession”
We organize our ““eight day of educational innovation / 8ste dag van de onderwijsvernieuwing”. The central theme was lifelong learning.
I was PhD jury member for Chang Zhu from the University of Ghent. Her thesis is entitled “E-learning in higher education: student and teacher variables in the Chinese and Flemish cultural context“
I was invited to Kenya for 3 lectures at 2 universities:
- F. Questier, Free and Open Source Software, An ethical and pragmatic choice for education, International Conference ICT for education, invited plenary keynote lecture, University of Nairobi, Kenia, 2-4/02/09
- F. Questier, Free and Open Source Software, An ethical and pragmatic choice for education, Management workshop, Moi University, Kenia, 07/02/09
- F. Questier, Virtual Learning Environments, Experiences and reflections from Brussels, Management workshop, Moi University, Kenia, 08/02/09
Exit guest professor. I’m selected as professor (lecturer) on courses about Educational Technology, Virtual Learning Environments and E-learning design in the Teacher Training Programme and the Educational Sciences programme of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
I went to the Dokeos users days at Geneva and gave a presentation about the Dokeos Portfolio.
I was invited for the CIONU 2008 conference at Tanger, Morocco and gave a lecture about “Open Source & Free Software: why it matters for education”. See my pictures.
25/04/08 – 02/05/08
Wrote a book “Onderwijsvernieuwing: een continu proces” (Educational Innovation, a continuing process), which we presented at our “seventh day of educational innovation / 7de dag van de onderwijsvernieuwing”.
25/04/08 – 02/05/08
Visited Italy (Naples, Pompei, Herculaneum). Pictures coming soon.
06/02/08 – 16/02/08
Visited the Fosdem conference.
As Thea Derks is retiring, I’m starting as head of our VUB Educational Innovation & Educational Service Center (OSC).
We moved! From Brussels to Brussels. Mail me if you want our new address.
I’m appointed as guest professor for the Educational Technology course at the VUB teacher training.
I’m back from a sight seeing trip through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Now I should try to make some time for processing and publishing our 3000 pictures.
30/11/2006 – 03/12/06
I visited the Dokeos conference 2006 in France, Valence, and stayed an extra day for sight-seeing.
See my pictures.
I attended a seminar about ‘Intellectual Property Rights‘ by Roger Kampf (Counsellor, WTO Secretariat). Interesting seminar, but I was disappointed that the lecture started by defining ‘the purpose of Intellectual Property Rights as to extract economic value through use or licensing’. I replied that I prefer the original idea that the purpose is (like mentioned in the US Constitution) ‘to promote progress of science and usefull arts’ and that ‘to allow economic value’ is the not the goal, but the mean. The lecture continued with a good discussion about TRIPS and finding the balance between protecting investments and not hindering public health treatment, e.g. in third world countries. I asked about TRIPS and soft patents: TRIPS on the one hand clearly states that software is protected by copyright, but on the other hand it is very broad about what can be patented, and TRIPS art 27 has a footnote which not only allows patents that have an industrial application, but also patents which are a useful utility. Software patent proponents use this as to argue that software patents would be allowed or even obligatory. Roger Kampf answered that TRIPS is not stating that software should be protected by patents, but that it leaves the “choice and flexibility” to the nations.
Upcoming week there at least 4 interesting conferences in Brussels about Open Source, Internet and Technology: OSCON Open Source Convention, Drupal Conference, Govcamp and Barcamp. A few talks are directly educational related (e.g. “Using technology in education” by Dominik Lukes at Barcamp, and “Student registration using the eID” by Jurgen Lust from Ghent University at Govcamp).
As the upcoming week happens to be also the only week between two academic years, it is the most busiest week at our OSC-department. Half of our department is giving off-site teacher training (“onderwijsprofessionalisering seminarie“). The other half (including me) is preparing our e-learning platform for the new academic year: not only applying the new subscription data, but also bringing into production all the new functionalities we developed over the previous year. So, we won’t find time for these nice conferences in our own city, but I registered for the Barcamp conference, which is on Sunday. Also some of our VUB-colleagues from the Knosos project will visit at least Drupalcon, Govcamp and Barcamp.
I spent some holiday in Scotland.
See my pictures.
I was invited for the kick-off conference of the “Science Education and Learning in Freedom 2006″ project in Den Haag (Netherlands).
I followed a course about Project Cycle Management organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and South Research.
We organized our ““fifth day of educational innovation / 5de dag van de onderwijsvernieuwing”.
I visited the Pubelo study day around learning objects and meta data with talks by Erik Duval and Wayne Hodgins.
I was invited to take a seat in the VLIR UOS expert group ICT/OLL (Information and Communication technology / Online Learning)
I was invited as a keynote speaker at the Fifth International Congress on Higher Education UNIVERSIDAD 2006″ in Cuba. I talked about the advantages and opportunities of Open Source Software for education. See my Cuba pictures.
I attended the Academic session in the Gothic Room of the Brussels Town Hall for 150 years of Flemish students in Brussels.
Afterwards I attended the piano recital from Frederic Rzewski. Rzewski is in favor of the Copyleft concept for his music.
I visited the workshop “e-learning standaarden en interoperabiliteit” (e-learning standards and interoperability).
I had a nice meeting with the people from the Knosos project. Their aim is to build a social network for sharing knowledge.
I edited (together with Dirk Gombeir) the book
“Open Bron, Open Inhoud, Open Leren” (Open Source, Open Content, Open Learning)
and wrote 2 chapters for it:
- “Extremadura: Vrije Software in onderwijs en overheid als basis van een informatiemaatschappij”
- “Open Source leerplatform opende nieuwe perspectieven voor Vrije Universiteit Brussel”
17/12/05 – 31/12/05
I visited Syria and Jordan.
See my pictures.
I visited the Dokeos User Day.
I gave a seminar at our university about intellectual property and privacy in e-learning.
I had a paper and a presentation about ‘Choice for Dokeos – Strategic choice for and implementation of an open source e-learning platform’ at the ‘Third International Conference on Open and Distance Learning’ in Greece, Patras.
See also my Greece pictures.
I gave an invited lecture about ‘Open courseware and Open scientific publications at the Study day Free Software in education at the KU Leuven.
21/09/05 – 22/09/05
I visited the AV studio product days and seminars.
I gave a talk at the Dokeos developers meeting about ‘A general framework for roles and permissions in the Dokeos Learning Content Management System’
I defended my PhD, entitled “Contributions to Clustering and Feature Selection Methods for Clustering”. Soon my thesis will be online. So long, you can take a look at my my research Page or invitation flyer.
See also the report on the campus site.
I was elected as president of Boves.
Two of our research papers are published:
- F. Questier, R. Put, D. Coomans, B. Walczak and Y. Vander Heyden, The use of CART and multivariate regression trees for supervised and unsupervised feature selection, Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems, 76, 1 (2005) 45-54
- I. Stanimirova, M. Daszykowski, D. L. Massart, F. Questier, V. Simeonov, H. Puxbaum, Chemometrical Exploration of the Wet Precipitation Chemistry from the Austrian Monitoring Network (1988-1999), Journal of Environmental Management, 74, 4 (2005) 349-363
I gave an invited lecture about our ‘Generic portfolio system as part of the PointCarrï¿½e-learning platform’ at the Study Day “Portfolio use in higher education” of the Erasmushogeschool Brussel.
I gave an invited lecture “Open Source (Free) Software, Open Standards, Open content for education” at the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel.
The book “How open is the future? Economic, Social & Cultural Scenarios inspired by Free & Open-Source Software” for which I (together with Wim Schreurs) wrote the chapter “Open Courseware and Open Scientific Publications” was presented 3 feb. during the VUB Crosstalks – DISC release-event “The Future of our Digital Commons” in the presence of about 60 participants coming from various universities, from the industry and from European, federal and regional policymakers. (see Photo-Report).
One can order the book, or freely download it, as it is licensed under a Creative Commons license (as first Belgian book!)
I obtained a Silicon Graphics Onyx Extreme Graphics Supercomputer.
See my Unix computer collection.
The number of e-mail messages I receive has passed 10.000 per month. Most of it is spam, which is filtered by my spamfilter. Sorry if I don’t answer your mail. Try again, with a nice subject line and try to sound not too spammish
An article of mine has been published: F. Questier, W. Meeus, T. Derks, “Ontwikkeling en implementatie van een instellingsbreed studentenportfolio platform”, ICT en Onderwijsvernieuwing, Vol. 6, 2004, 97-116
20/03/04I recently contributed quite a few (Linux) HOWTO’s.
I gave a seminar about Open Source (Free) Software, Open Standards and Open Content for education. Due to success, this will be repeated 30/04.
15/12/03 – 29/12/03
I visited South India.
See the pictures.
I visited the Windows by Day, Linux by Night. (Note: I’m a day and night Linux and other Unices user).
Update of my Unix computer collection: I recently obtained 2 Sun Sparcstation 5 computers, a Sun Sparcstation 2 and Mass-storage, and a HP 9000/715.
I became the president of OSAB, my alumni association.
I visited the seminar “Portfolio in higher education” in Zwolle, the Netherlands.
I’ve got a new nice computer to admin at work: Dell PowerEdge 4600, dual 2.6GHz Xeon, 4GB RAM, 3×36GB SCSI 10000 rpm disks, 40-80GB Tapestreamer, Redhat Linux. We are going to use it for testing and developping e-learning environments.
I went to the demonstration against European Software Patents.
Due to disease, we had to postpone our Thailand & Cambodja trip
I visited a seminar “Learning Content Management Systems“, Amersfoort, the Netherlands
I visited the “Blackboard userday“, Alkmaar, the Netherlands
I’m co-organising an educational congress “2de dag van de onderwijsvernieuwing”, and giving a presentation about electronic student portfolio’s.
I’m just back from a small trip to Spain (which we won). We’ve got 233 pictures; lots of them quite gothic. I took my portable with me, so during the bus trip and the rain, I finally found some time for a major site update, and for publishing my photo-album (Thailand, Sri Lanka, …)
I visited a congress about Open Standards and Open Source Software in the Netherlands.
I started to work as an educational technologist at the VUB Educational Innovation and Educational Service Center
Start of this website