What have we learned at EDULEARN16 conference?
Attending the 8th annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies on 4–6 July in Barcelona assured us that we are on the right track in developing our online learning initiatives. When last year we had an idea about increasing our capacities in this area, this year we can already see major results of our work that we shared also with other participants of the EDUALEARN16 event. We were also inspired by other professionals who want to make a real change in education all across the world. Together we reached the peak of Montjuïc, and got some great insights connected to our whole learning experience. Here is our story.
Montjuïc is a hill in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. You can access it by car, bus, aerial cable car or on foot. On our sightseeing tour the bus took us to this astonishing place where the 1992 Summer Olympics took place. The clear sky and the view over the whole seaside city with boundless culture and rich architecture reminded us the different nationalities that attended the EDULEARN16 conference. Over 700 delegates from 70 countries contributed to the success of the event.
The most inspiring speakers were Cliff Schmidt (Literacy Bridge, USA), who presented audio learning through the so-called Talking Book in remote villages, and Anne-Marie Imafidon (Stemmetes, UK), who spoke about the role of education in an inclusive innovative economy. Farmers living in extreme poverty in remote rural villages, and teenage girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe, who are inspired into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), benefit a lot from what they do. They really do want to make a change in education and people’s lives, which is the answer to the question of Antonio García from the EDULEARN16 Organizing Committee, who held the welcome speech, asking “Do we really want to make a change in education?”
The view from Montjuïc clarifies the geographical position of Barcelona: the Mediterranean see on one side and Collserola mountain range on the other, posing a challenge to the city how to handle its high population density of 1.6 million (within the city limits). Challenges can be seen also in education and learning. Many people learn in different environments (classroom, park, train, metro, library), set-ups (face-to-face, online), and with different approaches (flipped learning, blended learning, mobile learning, virtual learning, collaborative learning, personalized learning). This means that trainers and educators need to understand the various aspects in the learning process if they want to succeed in their role.
“When you design a course, know that you are designing for a bigger impact. But have an individual in mind,” Cliff Schmidt said. The conference gave a chance to understand the importance of knowing behavioral, psychological and other aspects that every learner faces, which is unfortunately often taken for granted. Knowing and using different tools (software, learning methods) is as important as knowing how students learn, perceive and understand the discussed topics, and what motivates them to learn. We are sure that an educator accepting this can conduct best learning initiatives – be it face-to-face or online.
The famous Sagrada Família is well seen from Montjuïc. It is all surrounded by cranes and craftsman, who are trying to finish Gaudi’s emblematic temple. The construction of this masterpiece commenced in 1882, and is anticipated to be completed in 2026. Our ‘construction’ of online learning initiatives started intensively last year. The foundation was set and the Online Learning Campus (OLC) was built. We delivered the first blended learning course, broadcasted first live-stream events, completed several webinars, and produced more than 30 videos on different CEF thematic areas which we shared in social media channels. We have also set up various segments to fit the online learning environment, which we now intend to upgrade.
EDULEARN participants from the USA, Abu Dhabi, the Netherlands, the Republic of South Africa, Portugal and elsewhere were amazed by our courage and skills to develop our own learning platform. “It takes a whole group of high-skilled professionals to do that,” they said. All through the conference we heard that people still use Moodle which is no longer considered to be the best Learning Management System (LMS) given the numerous new technological improvements and innovations. So where to go next?
The view from Montjuïc is fantastic and you could enjoy it all day but we continued the trip to admire also Sagrada Família from close. It is the same with every (learning) experience. You can enjoy it but then you need to move on to face new challenges. For us, it is to improve our online learning solutions so that finance officials in South East Europe would have a central place to learn online. We want to make a change in this segment of education and learning in our region, and we are happy to be part of the EDULEARN experience and to be able to incorporate new stones of knowledge and insights to strengthen our capacities.
Wikipedia. 2016. Barcelona. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona
Wikipedia. 2016. Sagrada Família. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia