Chronicle of 1st D-TRANSFORM Leadership School – Day 1 (Nov. 14th, 2016)

by Jean-François Colas, UOC Doctoral School

On the afternoon of its first day, the 1st D-TRANSFORM Leadership School—hosted by The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and aimed at preparing Higher Education leaders to become the change makers of the university of t omorrow—imparted its Opening Keynote and its first Working Session.

After being welcome by UOC’s President Josep Planell and Vicepresident Marta Aymerich, the about 40 attendees shortly introduced themselves.

In her Keynote entitled ‘The opening up of education and the modernisation of higher education agend a in Europe’, Andreia Inamorato dos Santos from The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC; Seville) first explained how much research at JRC on Open Education is in Europe’s Agenda and that although there is no shared understanding what Open Education means, a broad working definition, bridging formal and informal education, should be adopted. Open Education is about Opening up Education, modernising and innovating our HE systems in Europe through the use of digital technologies and is not only (or not just) about MOOCs and OER. Most higher education institutions in Europe do not seem to have an Open Education strategy. Thus, to support them, the JRC designed the ‘OpenEdu Framework’ a hands-on tool helping to make strategic decisions on Open Education. After mentioning other elements of the OpenEdu Project such as OpenSurvey and OpenCases, the presentation ended on the OpenCred initiative aimed at supporting learning recognition in Open Education. Again, terminology is important for distinguishing Credentialisation from Recognition of Learning Outcomes. In the discussion that followed the keynote, it was emphasized that universities should do more than simply include isolated experiments in their activities by truly embedding Open Education in their overall institutional mission.

The Working Session entitled ‘Millennials and strategies (profile, content consumers and cyberculture)’ was aimed at debating on the latest thinking on millennials, digital visitors and digital natives and to build this knowledge into revised strategies for teaching and learning. First, Elena Neira (La otra pantalla/UOC) began by exposing who the millennials are and how they are. Her view of ‘Digital Natives’ with a millennial mindset was discussed by Steve Wheeler (Plymouth University) who argued that habitual use of technology develops digital skills regardless of the age or birth date of the user; therefore the term ‘Digital Residents’ should be preferred. Ismael Peña (UOC) who moderated the session organized a dynamic activity where attendees expressed their positioning with regards to question on strategies by moving to one of four distinct quadrants in the room. For example it was asked ‘who decide what has to be learnt?: the system or the apprentice?’, ‘Knowledge must be social or institutional?’, or ‘The main barriers to open education are institutional/individua l or pedagogical/technological?’. This dynamic sparked interesting reflections. For instance, it was suggested that whereas most millennials are technologically skilled they are not so qualified for navigating the open oceans of information and that e-teaching should be a prerequisite for e-learning.

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