The International Council for Open Research and Education (ICORE) is a new association bringing together interested experts and stakeholders from the fields of open education and open research. The association will be officially launched on May 16 in Rome (Italy) during the Learning Innovations and Technology (LINQ 2013) conference.
ICORE is a non-profit and requires no membership fees to join. Open to both representatives of organisations as well as individuals, it aims to promote open research and open education as a fundamental social objective. This promotion of these goals will be accomplished through the fostering of collaboration between relevant stakeholders in open research and education, such as national, European and international policy makers, researchers, educators of all levels, students, non-profit educational providers as well as commercial educational providers, among others.
The association's activities will include the administration of an online community portal for information exchange, the organisation of scientific and educational events (conferences, summer schools, etc.) and the establishment of creative partnerships between ICORE members to advance open research and open education internationally.
Interested applicants can register easily at the ICORE website, where the complete first public draft of the association’s statutes can also be found. Joining before the first official meeting of ICORE on May 15 allows new members to be recognized as co-founders.
ICERI2012 will focus on the presentation of innovative projects and open up a floor for to discuss the main aspects and the latest results in the field of Education and Research. The general aim of the conference is to promote international collaboration in Education and Research in all educational fields and disciplines. The attendance of more than 700 delegates from 70 different countries is expected.
Interculturality vs. ICT - María Elena Gómez Parra (Universidad de Córdoba) talks about the future of language teaching
María Elena Gómez Parra is the Vicedean for International Affairs and Institutional Relations of the Faculty of Education at the University of Córdoba, Spain. Her work is focused mainly on international mobility and she is the Institutional Representative of the Erasmus Programme of the Faculty (thus, responsible for the mobility of students, teachers and administrative staff). She also develops other international programmes at the Faculty, such as the exchange for teaching practices of students between the University of Birmingham and Córdoba, and a programme of international cooperation for students of Education with the Saharan refugees in the Algerian desert.
The Future of Education conference, in which she is participating as a speaker, has prompted us to ask María Elena Gómez Parra some questions about exactly that - the future of education, in particular langugae teaching and learning in the age of ICT.
eLearningeuropa.info (eL): Do you think the physical mobility of students is still important in a highly globalised and inter-connected world? What does first-hand real-life experience (as opposed to a virtual one) provide that a virtual experience cannot?
Mª Elena Gómez Parra (GP): Yes, I think physical mobility is important for students, and for teachers! Being able to experience life as others do is very important in a globalised world, where different cultures mean different ways of living. Think, for example, on food, weather, direct contact with teachers, tutorials, speaking and listening to other languages (and their registers) ... All things machines cannot offer and, I am sure, they will not do. In addition, I think physical mobility is also a must for those students who live with their parents in their home countries; going abroad will not only make them independent, but it will also help them to be aware of their own abilities.
eL: As far as second language didactics go, do you see a tendency you think will become the future of language learning?
GP: I think second language didactics should become more focused on strategies and real classroom techniques. Personally, I feel much better when I am given specific tools, resources and ideas that others have used and which worked! CLIL methodology, for example, is working on this, and I think many good examples can arise from that approach.
eL: What would you like to see happening in language teaching/language learning in the next 10 years?
GP: I hope teachers become more and more aware of meeting students' real needs to teach them useful language resources that then students can improve by using ICT (to work at their own pace) and by going abroad (to experience language and culture). I think the most useful way to learn a language is first to know the basic structures and vocabulary (an area where second language teachers are really useful). Then, students should practise them and put themselves to the risk (an area where we teachers are not so useful); finally, if students need to improve on certain areas (e.g. academic writing, technical vocabulary ...) specific courses on this can help a lot, once students have quite a good level on the second language (again, an area where second language teachers are really important). Following a different way is, for me, making a mistake.
eL: Will distance learning ever replace face-to-face learning completely?
GP: Definitely no, I think direct contact with the teacher will be important, no matter how advanced ICT are. Consider, for example, spontaneity in a second language class - sometimes it is a very rich resource for teachers which many of us use to get the best of our students. Also important is direct contact with students in tutorials: learning a second language is emotionally a hard test for many students, who feel really bad because they find themselves unable to express themselves because they lack certain words, structures, or just because they do not feel very confident on the pronunciation of a word. Emotional support by the teacher and direct contact is really important in such a situation.
eL: How, do you think, has the use of ICT changed the ways students develop their intercultural competences?
GP: I think interculturality is still an unresolved matter for ICT because, as I said before, many cultural things need to be experienced first-hand. For example, eating camel meat in the Sahara; being able to live (and study and then pass exams) at -20º in Poland, or dancing "sevillanas" in one of our Spanish 'feria' celebrations; all those cultural things are impossible to be experienced if you do not have the opportunity of living in that specific country. ICT has been really important for intercultural second language teaching as it allows teachers to offer a first approach of the kind of things students can find in another country; first-hand experience will do the rest.
(Interview conducted on 7 June 2012)
Dr Diane Boothe, Dean of the College of Education at Boise State University, is a speaker at this month's "Future of Education" Conference. eLearningeuropa.info has taken the opportunity and asked her some questions about the changing landscape for educational activities and English language teaching in the 21st century.
eLearningeuropa.info (eL): What do you consider to be the main differences between the American and the European model of learning?
Diane Boothe (DB): It is interesting that you ask about differences in "learning", as opposed to differences in "education". i believe that learning relates more to the ultimate outcomes of an educational system. American and European educational systems are both designed to prepare youth to function effectively within their greater cultures, with its social, economic and civic demands. I would propose that the American system has placed far more emphasis on learning to meet the economic demands of our society, while the European systems, giving some recognition to the economic, on the whole place much higher emphasis on social and civic learning-developing the skills to fit well within the culture as a whole. I am certainly not well-qualified to comment on the European system. Certainly the exams and preparation differ from the USA. The strategies for English Language Learning also differ and usually follow the requirements of the British system.
eL: I have read a quote from you in which you say about the changing educational landscape: "The biggest and most immediate change is the technology. It has opened up an international emphasis - the idea of a 'global society' - and the realization that we must look at education from a global perspective. (…)."
How do you think do the international emphasis and global perspective manifest themselves in the educational landscape of the 21st century? Do the new technologies affect how, what and where people learn?
DB: The relatively recent explosion of ICT has opened the world to almost anyone who wishes to explore it. Virtually any point on the globe is now instantly at ones fingertips, at any moment in time. This combined with the opening of portals to learning systems once maintained as private domains has completely altered the landscape for educational activities. Education, once locked within the classroom, at a prescribed moment in time, is now free to become an anywhere, anytime, activity, with the subject matter open literally to all. This will ultimately change the role of the "teacher" from one of provider of the new knowledge to that of coordinator, scheduler, integrator, and ultimately mentor, in a largely open learning environment, unconstrained by a calendar or a time schedule. We had best prepare ourselves now for this eventuality.
eL: How has this global perspective affected the TESOL market – both from a business perspective, but also from a technological point of view?
DB: TESOL was originally primarily an educational activity focused in the primary and secondary schools (with a small element at the tertiary level). But, in the past 20 years, it has grown into a major business activity on a global scale. The explosions of both international commerce and ICT have produced the need for a 'lingua franca" to allow efficient transactions in both. English has become that "lingua Franca", making TESOL a critical activity on many levels. One need only witness the ballooning of adult ESP learning activities, globally, to acknowledge and understand this.
eL: Is international cooperation and ICT in education the future of TESOL teaching?
DB: Absolutely! A recent study noted that English is the second most frequently spoken native language on the planet, with Chinese, Hindi and Bengali ranking 1, 3 and 5 respectively. It is important to note that English is the most common second language learned in most Asian non-english language speaking countries, and rapidly becoming so elsewhere as well. The educational demands created in these countries cannot be met with traditional methods. The numbers are simply too great to be met without strong international cooperation and a significant ICT component at work. The amazing growth of academic literature on ELL and ESP in Asia, and elsewhere, speaks clearly to this.
eL: What should be, in your opinion, the next steps to be taken on e-skills?
DB: We must work to improve the person to e-system interfaces, to improve the ability of e-systems to recognize metaphor, simile, nuance, and eventually even non-verbal communications. And we must elevate the awareness of those on the person side of the interface to the limits of comprehension and translation capabilities of our e-systems. We still have a long way to go to reach the level that contemporary science fiction would lead us to believe may be possible.
(Interview conducted 1 June 2012)
VIRQUAL has prepared a draft version of a guide or handbook. This guide intends to provide a general introduction to the topic of virtual mobility (VM) in Europe, contributing to Higher and Continuing Education Institutions which offer e‐Learning courses to implement Virtual Mobility in the framework of the European Higher Education Area.
The main aim is to help establishing a common understanding on possible organizational, pedagogical and technical approaches to the implementation of Virtual Mobility within the European Qualification Framework.
It intends to be a step‐by‐step guide that may be used by students, course developers or Institutions, to help them to achieve Virtual Mobility in a diversity of scenarios. When referring to Virtual Mobility in the context of the European Qualification Framework, we are aiming at extending the current Erasmus experience by intensive use of ICT. Virtual Mobility lacks several components of the physical mobility, of course, but can offer other dimensions, including different learning pathways, creation of virtual communities, collaborative projects, and international cooperation with a lower investment.
The consortium has collected 13 Case Studies from 8 different countries and that have used the guide and its annexes with real courses offered at present. In general the feedback received from the testers is that the document is useful but some changes and improvements must be done.
If you are interested to have access to this document and test it within your institution, please, contact the project via email to email@example.com and let us know. The more feedback we receive the better the final product will be. VIRQUAL will be accepting this type of contributions until end of September 2011.