Tag: ICT & technology

Review: How emotions and gender can avoid the ‘echo chamber effect’ on web systems?

Filipa M. Ribeiro  (University of Porto)

Filipa M. Ribeiro
(University of Porto)

Social network analysis has emerged in recent years as an important tool for examining social phenomena. In this review, Filipa M. Ribeiro, PhD researcher and science writer from University of Porto examines a recent dissertation on social network analysis that amongst else provides suggestions to how one can use social data and avoid the so-called echo-chamber effect. 

At a first glance, the dissertation entitled “Emotions and Recommender Systems: A Social Network Approach”, by Carlos Figueiredo from the University of Austin, Texas,  does not seem to relate to other fields than digital media. However, his research and considerations on the use of massive social data is useful for all fields, particularly education related fields as it deals with the current threats of using massive quantities of social data and social networks.

But first things first and let’s summarize the main strong points of this research work. First, the topic about the emotional implications of recommender system is of central importance to digital media and communication.




News: Widespread digital illiteracy according to new EU data

computer-music-video-1368999-mRecently, the Commission published some recent data related to digital literacy in the EU, indicating their widespread concerns for digital literacy across Europe, where it is argued that almost half (47%) of Europeans have insufficient digital skills.

Some of the key points highlighted in the memo are the following:

  •  37% of households without a broadband subscription say that this is because of a lack of skills, compared to 26% who cite equipment costs as a barrier.
  • 40% or more of the population in some EU member states have no digital skills (Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania), meaning large groups in Europe remain digitally illiterate.
  • Up to 85% of the overall population and 83% of the workforce in some Member States do not have the digital skills they need.
  • The 11 Member States where more than 50% of the population has insufficient digital skills are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. 

The lack of general digital skills and also trained professionals in the area of ICT is a concern for the Commission, as some of their forecasts indicate that there will be a shortage of about 900 000 skilled ICT professionals by 2020.




2013 in review – Hedda podcasts and other available seminars and lectures

2013_2We continue our annual review of the yearly entries on the blog. In the first post we looked at the guest entries. In this second post we will focus on the Hedda podcast and varous other audio and video materials. Part three that will be coming up later will focus on Hedda news from 2013

Hedda podcasts in 2013

Our first podcast of 2013 was published in January and was number 37 in our series. We interviewed Dr. Don F. Westerheijden, who is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in University of Twente in Netherlands. In the podcast we discussed some developments in quality assurance in the Netherlands, after a large scale public scandal highlighting doubts over quality in a number of Dutch higher education institutions.

In episode 38 of the podcast series, we talked to Drs. Frans Kaiser and Elisabeth Epping about the U-Map project, a large project examining horizontal diversity of higher education institutions in Europe and beyond, and to develop a classification of higher education institutions. The project is currently still in demo-mode, so the podcast will provide you with background information about the project. Drs. Frans Kaiser and Elisabeth Epping both worked at the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) in University of Twente in Netherlands.

In our next podcast, we talked to Professor Isa Jahnke about ICT in higher education, where we in particular focused on digital didactics and some of her recent research on working with technology in higher education. Isa Jahnke is a Professor in Interactive Media and Learning (IML) at Department of Applied Educational Science in Umeå University, Sweden.




Guest blogger: Who is open education for? OER, MOOCs, and their subjects

Jeremy K. Knox  (University of Edinburgh)

Jeremy K. Knox
(University of Edinburgh)

In this guest entry, Jeremy K. Knox from University of Edinburgh examines the current open education resources (OER) and MOOC trends and some of the competing assumptions behind these developments. Furthermore, he highlights two important considerations this can have for educational research in the future. 

Jeremy K. Knox is currently working towards his doctoral degree at University of Edinburgh at the Moray House School of Education. His research interests are focused on critical posthumanism, and the relationship between current educational epistemologies and methodologies of educational research and digital culture.

Check also his personal blog where he writes about technology, culture and learning.  

‘Open education’ has emerged as a loosely defined, but influential theme in higher education, shaping institutional strategies and prompting major international policy. Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have surfaced at the vanguard of a movement that appears to be establishing itself around a call for widespread institutional transformation, driven by new digital technologies and premised on the idea that higher education is in ‘crisis’.

However, while gaining considerable influence, the idea of ‘open education’ remains significantly under-theorised, and themes of economic benefit, teaching efficiency and learner emancipation are tending to dominate the discussion. While important, these interpretations overshadow considerations of the ways that OERs and MOOCs are involved in shaping the learning subject. In other words, how is the practicing of open education implicated in the formulation of particular ideas about what it is to be human, and what does this mean for the project of education?

Since being formalised in 2002 by UNESCO, the loosely defined OER – used to classify any educational material that is made freely available online – have risen in prominence, recently inciting a public consultation from the European Commission on “Opening up education” (2011), and attracting significant research funding for the Open University in the UK, to the tune of $1.5 million from the Hewlett Foundation (Open University 2012).




Guest blogger: MOOCs, mom and me

Irene Ogrizek,  Dawson College, Montreal

Irene Ogrizek,
Dawson College, Montreal

Irene Ogrizek teaches English literature at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec, and has developed online testing in platforms such as WebCT and Moodle. Furthermore, she frequently writes about education and digital technology on her own blog. In this commentary on the developments around MOOCs, she shares a rather personal story that offers some critical remarks on the current MOOC trends and concerns related to potential future impacts. 

Lately, I’ve been writing about MOOCs from a critical perspective, and that perspective has evolved from knowledge I’ve gained in both my private and professional lives. As one of my department’s fast adopters, I’m not opposed to using the internet as a teaching tool. However, it’s precisely my experience with online education that has me worried about the rhetoric I’m hearing from MOOC enthusiasts.

To manage cravings, recovering alcoholics are often told to “play the tape to the end.” It’s an exhortation to consider the entire experience, consequences included, of starting at one drink and ending at twenty. That’s good advice for those of us who aren’t addicted too: when possible, thinking a process through to its natural outcome is useful. MOOC enthusiasts, I suspect, are not playing the tape to the end, creating a worrisome disconnect between shortfalls in a student’s education and in the cost this can have for the rest of us.




Hedda podcast: Digital didactics and learning with technology with Prof. Isa Jahnke

Episode 39 of our podcast series features Professor Isa Jahnke from Umeå University in Sweden. In the podcast she sheds light on her recent work on interactive media and learning, as well as the concept of digital didactics in higher education.


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Professor Isa Jahnke (Umeå University)

Professor Isa Jahnke (Umeå University)

Isa Jahnke is a Professor in Interactive Media and Learning (IML) at Department of Applied Educational Science in Umeå University, Sweden. Her background is in sociology (advanced role theory of socio-technical systems), digital didactics (Hochschuldidaktik) and academic development. She has her doctoral education from Dortmund University where she focused on Informatics & Society. She has later held positions at University of Ruhr-University of Bochum (Germany), University of Colorado at Boulder (USA), University of Dortmund (Germany), and she became a professor at Umeå University in 2011.

Her current research is focused on iPad-Didactics & digital didactical designs, Digital Didactic Design (digitale didaktische Gestaltung) both in schools and higher education.




Apps on higher edudcation: statistics, info, rankings

As smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly commonplace, we thought it might be cool to examine some of the apps available that are relevant for higher education. We include apps related to various available large scale statistics, rankings, and other information about higher education. Excluded this time are apps that are specifically targeted towards students and instructors, such as various learning and time management apps.

World Bank EdStats DataFinder 

Overview and usefulness: The app allows you to sort the data according to country, topic and indicators, in addition to the option to create advanced queries. The countries can be viewed in terms of alphabetical order, regions, and economic development. It is possible to customize the reports based on selected indicators and createvisualisations, in addition to saving these for later viewing. The app is free, and the amount of data available is massive. The statistics cover 2,000 indicators for more than 200 countries.

Drawbacks: Only availabole for iOS for the time being.

THE World University Rankings 2012-2013

Overview and usefulness: An app that visualises the data from the recent Times Higher Education rankings for 2012-2013. In addition to the overall rankings, there is in-depth data per institution. The mapping tool shows the best universities in a gegraphical overview. Overall, easy access to the recent rankings and also allows for customization options.




Tweeting at conferences – opening up the debate or dumbing down research?

Hedda associate Mari Elken examines the recent “Twittergate” debate about live tweeting from conferences and appeals for less evangelism and more common sense and courtesy in deciding what is appropriate.

A few days ago, a debate blossomed up about live tweeting from conferences in Twitter following the tag #twittergate, a number of quite strong opinions were voiced from both sides. From seeing Twitter as a natural means of sharing information, to seeing it as a threat to the knowledge sharing taking place in conferences.

The debate was also picked up by Inside Higher ed, who further had gotten comments from academics both supporting tweeting and further those who see it either as unnecessary, or further, having a self-promotional agenda.  While some argue it is a generational difference, others see it as a principal difference on how academic work is perceived and what is considered as public knowledge.

Further, a number of bloggers and active Twitter using scholars have come to the defence of tweeting, arguing for a set of good practices, one of them seeing live tweeting asan act of love, an incredible source of intellectual, technical and professional satisfaction and an incredibly gratifying, productive way of contributing to my academic community“. Now as this does sound quite altruistic and glorifying, it is perhaps not surprising that this advocacy comes from a scholar who focuses on digital media and online journalism. However, the main essence of the point, that Twitter and social media can function as a means to share knowledge shouldn’t be overlooked. The question is how this sharing should be done?  




Massive open online courses (MOOCs) – time for takeoff?

In the last two years, a number of various MOOC platforms have been introduced and received a significant amount of attention in higher education news outlets. The big “bomb” arrived in the end of 2011 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that they would start broadcasting a portion of its courses for free, openly on the internet – the MITx initiative. By now, the MITx has led to the development of edX that includes courses from MIT, Harvard and UC Berkeley.

In April 2012, the big buzz word was the Udacity initiative led by Sebathian Thrun and now the newest MOOC initiative is Coursera, which is based on courses from a number of universities from US and Europe. In addition, there are providers such as Khan Academy, Minerva and others.

The fact that edX and Coursera also offer courses that are produced by specific and highly recognized universities further provides some sort of quality assurance stamp to these initiatives. Coursera has requirements about high quality courses written into the contract with the particular university – albeit in a very general manner. However, one could argue that in a context where these courses are available for scrutiny by all universities have a strong incentive  to have strong internal quality assurance routines.




Hedda podcast: Social media and new modes of learning with Dr. T. Andrews

We continue our thematic week with episode 34 of our Hedda podcast series with a focus on social media. Dr. Trish Andrews reflects on learning in the context of social media – does social media change how we learn and how fundamental is this change? She further reflects on the concept of m-learning and the role of informal learning in relation to social media and gives some reflections on the new challenges for higher education.


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Dr. Trish Andrews (University of Queensland)

Dr. Trish Andrews is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education with the Teaching and Educational Development Institute (TEDI) at the University of Queensland. Her career in education has spanned over three decades and she has worked at all levels from early childhood through to post-secondary and higher education.

Dr. Andrews has a particular focus on integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into teaching and learning activities in higher education environments and has had extensive involvement in the design and support of innovative learning spaces at the University of Queensland. She  has also been presented with two UQ awards for programs that enhance learning (2009 & 2010) and has also received Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) awards for programs that enhance learning in 2010 & 2011.