After a two year break, I attended the Online Educa Berlin conference. The conference is still going strong. This year the event drew more than two thousand well-informed professionals from 80 countries, and the arrangements were again excellent.
|Over 2 000 e-learning professionals gathered at Online Educa Berlin. The traditional OEB debate asked whether students should reduce their reliance on social media. There were fewer Finns than usual; the only exhibitor was Tuudo.
Creative solutions and participation in change
The keynote speakers were Aleks Krotoski, Abigail Trafford and Pasi Sahlberg. According to Aleks Krotoski, we have shifted in education from top-down storytelling to participation and personalization. In society, there is a constant struggle about who will be heard and who is able to participate. Abigail Trafford wondered how people’s longevity affects society. Elderly people are studying and working longer; their strategic skills are better than those of younger employees and should be utilized at work. Learning should be part of all life stages.
Although I’d heard Pasi Sahlberg’s presentation before, it was the most interesting one here. Sahlberg spoke about the success factors of Finnish education: equality and the university training of teachers. In the future, according to Sahlberg, the core of teaching should be creativity, problem solving and empathy – the human skills that smart devices lack.
The OEB debate – great infotainment
My constant favorite among the Educa events is Thursday night’s OEB debate. This year, teams argued whether students’ dependency on social media should be reduced. The debaters Marc “Digital Native” Prensky and Claire Fox opposed the idea, while Joe Edelman and Julia Hobsbawn defended. As usually, a lively argument, especially given Julia Hobsbawn’s outstanding debate skill. Thanks to her, the vote of the winner ended almost to a dead heat inspite of social media friendly audience.
Challenges of open sharing
The seasoned guru Stephen Downes continued to advocate persuasively for open materials and learning environments. According to him, the creation process of traditional textbooks is too slow, and vendors of closed platforms think primarily of their financial interests. In my own session, I also talked about open publishing and the diversified use of social media channels in eductional communication. In the discussions that followed, it became apparent how difficult the publicity related to open publishing is for education professionals. Our e-problems seem to be still mainly cultural, not technical.
This year, Online Educa provided more space for joint discussions, with the length of presentations shortened accordingly. I think this arrangement works well and reflects the lines of online pedagogy.
|Participants in my session. The presenters: Gordana Benat, me, Marit Nieuwenhuys and Vasilis Tsilivis; Nives Kreuh chaired. The largest groups were the Dutch and the Danish; with Marjaana Kareinen we wondered about the small number of Finns.