Engagement data showed that only approximately one quarter of students accounted for almost all time spent in Schome Park. Frequency was associated with high levels of use of the wiki and forum. Evidence from self-reports and documentation on the wiki demonstrated very high levels of Second Life skills.
Knowledge age skills were assessed within a framework with four levels for four dimensions. In respect of Communication, all students who engaged achieved the first level and a substantial minority initiated and moderated discussions and/or organised events. In respect of Teamwork, tensions were evident early on; however, a substantial number demonstrated their abilities to operate at the highest level being actively involved in solving governance problems. With support students moved from hierarchical approaches to the formation of governance groups, each with department officers, thus furnishing evidence of distributed Leadership at level one. Evidence from a rich and diverse programme of events illustrates an atmosphere which fostered Creativity, permitting explorations, collaborations and the encouragement to risk mistakes.
Our experience suggests the importance of understanding the role of teachers in this kind of innovative environment, not as the possessors of relevant knowledge but as facilitators and promoters of a cooperative ethos. We conclude that, despite multiple challenges, there is evidence to support dramatic new possibilities for pedagogic redesigns. Students who engaged with the virtual island, the wiki and the forum demonstrated higher levels of the knowledge age skills of communication, leadership, teamwork and creativity.
The full text of this article is available in English and Spanish. The Spanish version is made possible our partner, the Organisation of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI). // El texto integro de este artículo está disponible en inglés y castellano. La versión castellana ha sido posible gracias a nuestro socio, la Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (OEI).
After presenting the different theoretical point of views on digital literacy we will present one best practice example: the European project SPreaD. By developing a toolkit on the management of digital literacy projects SPreaD aims at disseminating digital literacy all over Europe and to raise awareness on this important topic. The SPreaD toolkit gives useful hints regarding the development, coordination and financing of large scaled digital literacy projects. So far we have received very positive response to the toolkit from all over Europe.
Communities of practice (CoPs) can also become a powerful way for SMEs to innovate and develop new capabilities, as they consist of voluntary members who share similar challenges, interact regularly, can learn from and with each other and would like to improve their ability to address the challenges they face.
In this paper we first summarise the current training needs and learning methods used in SMEs, outlining the features of Web 2.0 that may be utilised to fulfil these needs. Then we discuss if Communities of Practice are a suitable environment for informal learning within SMEs. Finally we offer an example of how informal learning and CoPs can efficiently improve skills within SMEs.
The aim of the WoLLNET Project is to research, trial and develop a web-based, user-friendly Toolkit to enable employers, providers and unions to evaluate the impact of workplace basic skills training programmes on learning, and individual and organisational performance.
By basic skills we mean reading, writing, speaking, listening and basic mathematics skills at a level necessary to function and progress at work.
In particular there will be a focus on evaluating the impact of workplace basic skills training programmes in terms of accident reduction, improved customer satisfaction, retention of employees, improved internal communications, reduced absenteeism, improved health and safety, reduced wastage and the positive impact on meeting other key organisational objectives. Consideration will also be given to measuring the Return on Investment in workplace basic skills training.
Click on the links below to view the products of the WoLLNET project:
- a Research Report (PDF) containing a survey of relevant training impact evaluation methodologies and an analysis of consultations with stakeholders across project partner countries
- a web-based Toolkit to identify the impact of workplace training: www.evaluationtoolkit.com (Please note that you will need to have a username and password to enter the site)
- two additional commercial web-based Toolkits www.TrainingCheck.com and www.TrainingEvaluationPro.com
- the Report on Evidence of the Business Benefits of Workplace Basic Skills Training gained from trialling of the Toolkit
- the WoLLNET Dissemination and Exploitation Action Plan
- the Final Project Evaluation Report
- the Final Project Report delivered to the EACEA
Extracted from WoLLNET
Maja Pivec: "Games can be applied as a tool to foster various aspects of the life-long learning process"
Dear Maja Pivec, I am concerned about the matter of the structural design of educational games and very pleased to have the chance to ask an expert: how should the game be designed to make sure that the learner does not avoid some important educational contents by cheating?
How to avoid cheating? The game should, in the first place, be fun to play – and the interaction in the game should be more rewarding than the completion of the game itself.
Where is the guarantee that students won’t cheat? There is no guarantee. Also, in commercial games, cheat codes are available and popular. Cheat codes are included in the game to allow the developers to test and debug their code without having to play for hours to test enhancement. For example, a driving game may have a cheat code to repair damage, or a shooter may have a cheat code for unlimited ammunition. This allows the developer to test without having to be an expert at the game. These codes always find themselves posted on the Internet and are usually found by players wanting to experience the game in an easier mode.
When designing your own game, it is always a challenge to ensure that the game is linear enough to cover all aspects for learning, yet not so linear that it would restrict players’ further gameplay if they got stuck.
I can see that a video game is of great advantage to help integrate schools in the new digital era. But, for students, can you tell us in which way video games improve children's potential?
finateca (United Kingdom)
Many publications include research that details potential aspects of player computer games. For example, hand-eye coordination, spatial orientation, mental rotation, spatial visualisation (Tetris achieves these), spatial integration and mental mapping (3d maze games), strategies for dividing attention and multitasking (fps games), brain capacity improvement, problem solving, etc.
The games to train site is one of many sites where learning or training games for different topics are listed.
Dear Maja Pivec, I believe that games contribute to the creativity of learners. Do you think that creativity is important for the learning process? Could you give us some examples of these game-based learning projects? Thanks in advance.
Marta Casares (Spain)
Creativity is a basis for learning and forms many of the constructivist learning theories. Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, suggested that individuals are “creative” in specific domains. He suggested that providing students with ways to be creative allows them to find and solve problems and communicate ideas in various forms. Game-based learning is ideal for this. Some examples are described in Piloting New Ways of Learning and Education Arcade zooms in on games in the classroom.
There is a recent EU-funded project on the application of mobile phones and games for learning called mGBL – mobile Game-Based Learning.
Malcolm Gladwell, a writer at the New Yorker, said about the programme Sesame Street: “If you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.” Do you agree? Do you believe that this could also be applied to adults?
Pedro González (Spain)
I also believe that attention and focus on the topic are necessary for successful learning. However, there are other factors that influence and contribute to the learning process, e.g. arousing interest in the topic, interaction with the topic, etc., where games can be applied as a tool to foster various aspects of the life-long learning process. There are also many publications on immersive environments. Research shows that 3d games can create such an environment and that, when immersed, the player’s cognitive learning abilities are increased.
Games, play and playful interaction can successfully be introduced in all areas of (adult) learning, i.e. formal, non-formal and informal learning.
Dear Maja, thanks for answering our questions. Do you think that game-based learning helps the learning process to take place out of the classrooms as well, for example, at home? And do you believe that collaborative learning is possible in this type of learning? For instance, three children playing together with a videogame.
Octavio Giacomo (Italy)
Many multiplayer games achieve exactly this. Dungeon Siege One is a good example. Each player controls a different character and, in multiplayer mode, they must work together to complete tasks and advance levels. This promotes teamwork and fosters collaboration between children. Multiplayer online games also foster collaboration with many players participating solely for the social interaction.
Are there any examples of this kind of learning in Europe or in other countries in the world?
There are many examples of the application of games for learning in different areas.
One can decide to use “educational games” for learning e.g. Chemicus (by Heureka-Klett publisher; or TIVOLA for the US market), a puzzle-adventure game for the self-directed learning of chemistry. One can find an entire series of titles similar to Chemicus, e.g. Physicus, Hystorion, Informaticus, etc., by the same publishers.
One can also apply off-the-shelf games that cover various aspects of the learning issue, e.g.: Age of Empires for the introduction of ancient history, Jurassic Park covers the topic of dinosaurs, SimEarth or SimCity can be applied for ecology and resource management, The Sims is for social and behavioural sciences, etc., as outlined in the Edge Magazine Oct. 2004, issue 141.
There are also online games available. Several online games and case studies can be seen at the UniGame site.
I am the founder of the Kindersite project. Please could you evaluate the Kindersite within the format of game-based learning?
joelhjosephson (United Kingdom)
The SIG-GLUE quality stamp service is aimed at assessing the quality of learning games. The service started in May 2006. Individuals and companies can submit their learning games for an evaluation process. The term “learning games” is used for games that have an explicit learning purpose and can be used, adapted and adopted for supporting, improving and fostering learning processes within formal, non-formal and informal learning scenarios.
Access the web site to see more details about criteria, submission, the evaluation process and benefits of the quality stamp.
Dear Maja, I'm very interested in games for learning, in order to support constructivist learning. Do you know an interesting software tool for making games? Thank you very much.
“Gamemaker” is a good example. It has a free version and a registered version with many tutorials included.
For the more experienced, there is “torque” from garagegames. This is a commercial engine with 2d and 3d versions, as well as an educational pricing structure.
Both products are very good and produce good quality output; however, you still need to foster the idea and develop the gameplay design before you start.
I read an article that stated that game-based learning is negative because children get used to working in unreal situations (fun, games) that will not be the case when children grow up and work in a company. What do you think?
Lucie Smith (Ireland)
Despite having fun and playful interaction in games (though I personally don’t see why fun and play should exclude learning) games can cover different learning objectives and contribute to various learning outcomes that can also be applied in the professional world.
For example, when playing multiplayer games, the social aspects of these can contribute to the acquisition of numerous skills relevant to professional life, e.g. team work, communication skills, digital literacy, etc. Also, today, many digital games do provide a real-life situation. Simcity is a classic and often used to teach economics. Microsoft’s Flight Simulator is also true to life. Achieving a balance between fun, gameplay and learning is a goal that many developers have yet to achieve.
Online Educa Berlin 2006 organises a round table discussion about the purpose of games in learning, quality issues and theoretical foundations of games design and development on Friday, December 1. To read more please click here.
Call for Papers: SIG-GLUE Special Issue on Game-Based Learning - British Journal of Educational Technology. The SIG-GLUE editorial board would like to invite researchers, practitioners and game-developers interested in the use, or potential use, of games in adult educational settings to contribute to this special issue with articles reporting original research and current developments in the area of game-based learning. To read more please see the PDF on the right-hand side resource area.
The Child ICT Pages (CHIPs) project has now placed the first examples of Best eLearning Practices on to its website
The Best Practices are focused on primary education (6 to 12 years) and have been accumulated as the:
- Easiest to duplicate
- Most effectivec
- Most enriching
- Best methodology
from the many examples that have been submitted to the project.
These examples were analyzed by academic and eLearning experts and are considered to be the best in Europe. The Best Practices are based on sound and tried methodologies that have been used within a National, local or school environment. They cover a number of different subjects and skills. These Best Practices are not results based but offer your school and authority a way to duplicate existing experiences to arrive at the best educational result.
You can access the website from the link http://www.chipsproject.org and view the best practices by clicking the ‘Best Practices’ link in the left menu. You do not have to register to see and copy the Best Practices.
Full information about the project and the partners can be viewed on the website.
On the other hand, lifelong learning enables the possibility of achieving competencies that are needed in personal, public and professional spheres. A Recommendation prepared by the European Parliament notes that people and their competencies are Europe’s most important asset for growth and employment. Therefore, access to all eight competencies can be ensured through lifelong learning.
Among the eight key competencies presented in the Recommendation are “digital competence” and “learning to learn”. Digital competence is defined as “the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication”. Besides the basic ICT skills, it involves being aware of the nature, role and opportunities of IST in everyday contexts. Learning to learn involves the whole process of learning from organising one’s own learning and recognising learning needs through processing and assimilating new information and skills to applying the gained knowledge and learned skills in different contexts.
If you want to know more, you can read these selected articles published earlier on the elearningeuropa.info about competencies, e-skills and e-learning.
Michelle Selinger, Education Strategist at Cisco Systems, writes in her article about workforce development involving both private and education sectors. Blended and e-learning can be part of the solution when training needs to be more targeted and focused. She writes: “e-Learning implies a degree of digital literacy, and it is the duty of every employer to ensure that employees have the necessary skills to undertake e-learning”. Read the whole article, entitled “Workforce Development and Access to e-Learning” (de es en fr it pl). Original publication date 5 January 2005.
Tapio Varis, Professor in Media Education and UNESCO Chair in Global e-Learning, states in his article that “the new learning possibilities require new literacies and e-learning competencies, which are central challenges”. He introduces different components for teachers, students, employees and citizens to enhance their knowledge and critical thinking skills. Read the whole article, entitled “New Literacies and e-Learning Competencies” (de en es fr it). Original publication date: 30 April 2005.
The Education Department of Flanders (Belgium) has identified some 70 competencies to be achieved by primary education students. According to the department, the competencies “…enable pupils to use the possibilities of ICT in a functional way so that their own learning process is backed up and reinforced.” Apart from the learning process competencies, which are the core of the ICT competencies in primary education, “technical and operating skills” and “social and ethical competencies” are presented. Read the whole article, entitled “ICT Competencies for Children in Primary Education” (en de es fr). Original publication date: 28 June 2004.
Kathy Kikis-Papadakis, researcher at IACM, Greece, presents in the article a guide for secondary school teachers about the skills required to achieve a number of basic e-competencies. Read the whole article, entitled “A Practical Guide to Implement e-Competencies at School” (en de es fr it pl) Original publication date: 25 February 2005.
Anja Balanskat, Policy Analyst at European Schoolnet (EUN), summarises in her article the main findings of EUN’s report concerning ICT related training and assessment for teachers in sixteen European countries. Read the whole article, entitled “Assessment schemes for teaching ICT competence - a policy analysis”. Original publication date: 16 September 2005.To read more about e-Skills and e-Competences, we recommend to visit the Cedefop's e-Skills portal.
Collaboration and interaction are key aspects for the smooth running of the company. Information and communication technology (ICT) continuously generates new tools to speed up data transmission and communication. Work practices, and the means to accomplish them, are changing rapidly and the best way to support individuals and organizations is by providing continuous learning.
Learning at work refers to action in which learning and working are related. Traditionally, learning at work has been regarded as getting to know work tasks. Currently, as work practices change so rapidly, it can be said that the demand for learning at work is continuous, and it lasts throughout an entire career. E-learning methods and tools have been adopted for this purpose in many companies.
We have compiled some articles published earlier on the elearningeuropa.info portal related to this subject. You can read case studies and more general points of view about the use of e-learning in vocational training.
Pekka Tenhonen, of the Åbo Akademi University, writes in his article about European employers’ views on graduates’ ICT skills. In general the interviewed employers were satisfied with the ICT skills most needed in the working context: text editing, spreadsheets, e-mail and the Internet. The use of e-learning varied in the research according to the size of the company; large companies were already applying it more than small companies and therefore graduates with e-learning skills had an advantage in this respect. Read the whole article: European Employers are Satisfied with Graduates’ ICT Skills (en, fi, sv).
Sergio Vásquez Bronfman, professor of the ESCP-EAP (European School of Management), describes the e-learning programme of one of the largest banking companies in Spain, La Caixa. The “Virtaula” programme started in 2000 training new employees. However, the successful implementation and positive results has led to including a larger target audience and to increasing the learning tools. Read the whole article: Virtaula Caixa Case Study (de, es, en, fr, it).
John Munro, of the University of Sterling, describes a case study which applies e-learning in a work-based setting within a medium-sized engineering firm based in Central Scotland. One of the objectives of this initiative was to develop an interest in lifelong learning. However, the results reflected some common problems, such as time and workload pressure although providing learning is regarded as important. Read the whole article: The Experience of a Work Based Learning Project Using e-Learning (en).
Richard Straub, director of the e-learning solutions of IBM Europe, assures us how e-learning “is an efficient and cost-effective tool for fostering workforce development”. Therefore e-learning can play a significant role when building the Knowledge Society and is a key driver of European competitiveness. Read the whole article: e-Learning – a driver of European Competitiveness (en).
Vocational training, Blended learning
Carsten Gydahl-Jensen, project manager of SIMTECH, writes about one concrete example of vocational training and e-learning: the online training organised by the Danish Meat Trade College to build the capacities of staff in the pork industry. Students are faced with precisely defined learning goals, electronic learning and multi-media presentations. Read the whole article: Blended learning in the meat industry: a training course using e-learning to qualify staff to work in meat processing (en).
A Minerva project called iColl, is applying innovation in an international business studies curriculum through cross-cultural collaboration. The participants, future managers, operate in a networked learning environment and are carrying out a collaborative project on aspects of innovation. Read the whole article: iColl brings innovation to manager training through collaboration (en).
Need for Virtual Mobility
But what about the remaining 80% of students: those students who do not have an opportunity to participate in Erasmus for social, financial or other reasons? Here too there has been tremendous interest in the idea of Virtual Erasmus or Virtual Mobility schemes, interpreted to mean educational opportunities that are no longer location dependent and allow for collaboration with foreign students and teachers. Opportunities where learners are able to take courses independently of their physical location, be it in their homes, their places of employment or while staying as an Erasmus student at a host university and taking a course from the home university or a third university. Virtual Mobility is enabled through the use of Information and Communication Technology supported environments that include for example videoconferencing, live streaming, collaborative workspaces, and computer mediated conferencing.
Types of Virtual Mobility
Virtual Mobility can be interpreted in many ways, and the European Commission, as well as national agencies and individual institutions have actively promoted Virtual Mobility for some time, mainly through the financial support of projects within the SOCRATES/Minerva programme 3 and the eLearning programme 4. Virtual Mobility can include
- Students taking courses at foreign university while staying at home and vice-versa
- complementing the existing physical Erasmus exchange programmes with virtual elements in the preparation and return phase (student selection, language preparation, assessment from a distance, etc.)
- virtual internships in companies abroad
- guest lecturers from foreign universities virtually presenting their lessons to students in other universities
Virtual Mobility of teachers and students enables them to benefit linguistically, culturally and educationally from the experience of other European countries and of their (academic) fields of study. Both students and teachers will develop the necessary skills needed in working life where internationalisation is becoming increasingly important.
It can create a sense of European citizenship in teachers and students who learn to work together in crossborder teams. Furthermore, virtual mobility enables European wide exchanges for all those not able to benefit from existing face-to-face programmes, due to social, geographical or other reasons
At the institutional level, virtual mobility initiatives enhance sound competition between institutions and thus contribute to the competitiveness and attractiveness of the educational offer. It provides an enrichment to the regular educational environment of all institutions
Promotion of Virtual Mobility
One of the several innovative projects in the field of Virtual Mobility is the REVE project, supported by the eLearning Programme of the European Commission and coordinated by EuroPACE ivzw. REVE aims to implement real virtual Erasmus schemes in traditional universities and is also developing the necessary support services around it. Find more information about REVE at http://reve.europace.org/
However, a coordinated promotion of pioneer activities in the field of Virtual Mobility often lacks and key outputs, results and experiences of pilot projects remain unknown to the target community. As a result, many virtual mobility activities, organised by few early adopters, remain isolated cases and are often considered a nice 'add-on' to a regular course as opposed to being an integral part of it. This attitude towards Virtual Mobility is a hindrance to large-scale collaboration on a European level amongst Higher Education institutions, their staff and their students. In response to the lack of coordinated promotion, the Being Mobile project was set-up. Being Mobile recently started as an Accompanying Measure of the Socrates Programme and wishes to raise awareness about how European cooperation in education can be heightened through Virtual Mobility. Therefore Being Mobile will manage a targeted dissemination activity, in the form of a workshop, a conference, a publication and a website where all initiatives in the field of Virtual Mobility and their outcomes will be promoted. Find more information at http://www.being-mobile.net
- "The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge", in COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION. Brussels, 05.02.2003. COM(2003), 58 final. (PDF file)
- Minerva Website of the European commision: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/socrates/minerva/index_en.html
- eLearning initiative of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/education/programmes/elearning/index_en.html
Does this mean that the 21st century will see the development of societies of shared knowledge?
As underlined by the UNESCO World Report Towards Knowledge Societies, coordinated by Jérôme Bindé and published with the Tunis Summit in view, there should be no excluded individuals in learning societies, for, knowledge is a public asset that should be accessible to all. Knowledge has two remarkable qualities: its non-rivalry and, once the period of protection under Intellectual Property Rights has lapsed, its non-exclusivity. The first illustrates a property of knowledge already highlighted in the observation of Jefferson: “He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” The second signifies that anyone can make free use of knowledge belonging to the public domain.
There is a clear awareness today that the development of societies predicated on the sharing of knowledge is the best way of waging effective war on poverty and forestalling major health risks such as pandemics, of reducing the terrible loss of life caused by tsunamis and tropical storms, and of promoting sustainable human development. For new modes of development are today within our grasp: these are no longer based, as in the past, on “blood, sweat and tears”, but rather on intelligence, the scientific and technological capacity to address problems, intellectual added value, and the expansion of services in all sectors of the economy, which should be conducive to civic development and, in response to the risk society, the growth of a forward-looking democracy.
However, five obstacles stand in the way of the advent of societies of shared knowledge:
- The digital divide: no connection means no access. True, the number of Internet users is increasing all the time, having reached close on one billion. Yet two billion people are not connected to an electricity grid and three-quarters of the global population have little or no access to basic telecommunication facilities.
- The cognitive divide, even deeper and much older, constitutes a major rift between North and South, as it does within every society.
- The concentration of knowledge, particularly high-tech knowledge, as well as large-scale scientific and educational investment, on restricted geographical areas, reinforcing the brain drain from South to North as well as North-North and South-South directions.
- Knowledge exists to be shared; but once it is converted into information, it has a price. How is the necessary balance to be struck between the universality of knowledge, implying accessibility to all, and respect for Intellectual Property Rights?
- The development of societies of shared knowledge is today hampered by the deepening social, national, urban, family, educational and cultural divides affecting many countries and by the persistent gender divide reflected in the fact that 29 per cent of girls on the planet do not attend school and that women are under-represented in the sciences.
To overcome these obstacles, the nations of the world will have to invest massively in education, research, info-development and the promotion of learning societies. What is at stake is the destiny of every country, since nations that fail to invest sufficiently in knowledge and quality education and science jeopardise their own future, running the risk of finding themselves drained of vital brainpower.
What are the practical solutions proposed in the report “Towards Knowledge Societies”? Here are some examples.
Invest more in quality education for all to ensure equal opportunity. Countries should earmark a substantial share of their GNP for educational spending; donor countries should raise the percentage of development aid intended for education.
Governments, the private sector and social partners should explore the possibility of introducing progressively, over the 21st century, a “study-time entitlement” giving individuals the right to a number of years of education after the completion of compulsory schooling. This way, everybody would have access to lifelong training and would be given a second chance in the case of having left school early.
While increasing investment in scientific research and in quality research geared to future challenges, there is also a need to promote practical and innovative approaches to the sharing of knowledge, such as the collaboratory. This new virtual institution, telescoping laboratory and collaboration in one word, enables researchers to work together in crossfrontier scientific networks. This innovation, to which we owe the deciphering of the human genome, could change North-South relations in the scientific field and curb the brain drain.
There's also a need to promote linguistic diversity in the new knowledge societies and turn to account local and traditional knowledge.
But can the South afford knowledge societies? Are they not a luxury reserved for the North? One could of course reply by paraphrasing Lincoln: “If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance!”
Should we not draw the lesson from the success of many countries in the world? Some have invested massively over several decades in education and scientific research and have succeeded in substantially reducing absolute poverty. Certain have already overtaken many rich countries in terms of their per capita GDP. Others, which were already among the most advanced countries, have further boosted their chances globally, while continuing to raise their level of sustainable human development.
Can it be said that a world that now devotes a trillion dollars annually to military spending lacks the means to promote knowledge societies for all? Substantial funding for education and knowledge could also be released by bold reform policies aimed at reducing non-productive expenditure, improving the efficiency of public services, streamlining bureaucracies, eliminating ineffective grants and combating corruption.
To meet the challenge of a world deeply divided by disparities of all kinds, and to address the contradiction between the global nature of our problems and the partitioning of knowledge, there is no alternative to knowledge sharing. To paraphrase an African proverb, knowledge is like love — it is the only thing that grows by being shared.