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2 December 2004 / erikduval

Online Educa opening session

Am at the Online Educa conference in Berlin. I am obviously not alone: there are more than 1700 registered participants, from more than 60 countries here.

In the opening session, Tayeb A. Kamali from the higher colleges of technology in Abu Dhabi, talked about their high tech campus. His slogan: EFFORT, as in Enable, Focus, Follow up, Online, Re-view, Team approach.

Nancy DeViney from IBM Learning Solutions made some good points in her clear presentation. A first important focus was on learning as an enabler of transformations for organizations. Among the challenges she identified:
– Establishing learning accountability: define and measure success;
– Aligning with organizational goals and priorities;
– Harnessing technology to enhance learning in an open, scaleable, flexible infrastructure.
Mobility and self-employment are leading to an “e-lance” economy. Still, most budgets are focused on formal rather than informal learning. In the IBM workplace system, relevant learning can be served up on the side while the employee is working on a task. Learning can also connect employees better with suppliers and clients.

I found Robert Caillau‘s presentation a bit hard to follow. He offered some interesting nuggets, but I am not sure I picked up the thread of his presentation. Robert feels that the Web is splitting into independent communities and services. Taking a step very much backwards, Robert observed that evolution is governed by precise laws, but that any run is different and leads to different results. Even though income has gone up for 150 years, life satisfaction has remained stable. Robert reminded us of the Internet slogan that “We don’t believe in kings, presidents and voting, we believe in rough consensus and working code”. (Can someone point me to a source for this?) He wondered whether we are reaching the limits of complexity we can understand? Maybe the web is using us to get built?

Finally, Nicholas Balachieff gave a passionate and charming speech, but, again, I didn’t really get the essence, I am afraid. My battery went dead, so taking notes was challenging, and Nicholas was under time pressure that made it difficult for him to clearly develop his points. One of the things I did get: knowledge is not a static thing. Another one is the following contraditcion: when we try to hard to make students learn what we want them to learn, they run away. When we leave them alone, they do learn, but maybe not what we think is relevant for them. I am not sure what Nicholas’ solution to this problem is, but it is worth reflecting on…


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