Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Insight from an Undiscovered Source – and a Pleasant Surprise Coming From It!

Every now and then one discovers something new and exciting amongst the welter of information, and opportunities that exist in our whirlwind world of e-learning. Sometime in late Spring 2013 I was surprised to be invited to speak at an international learning conference focusing heavily on the role of the MOOC in economic re-generation and empowerment.

“Not my topic” was my first thought but conversation with the organisers gave me insight that my lifelong passion for breaching the divide between education and the workplace was indeed relevant.

So it was that I found myself in Athens, the ancient seat of learning, in October 2013 for GUIDE Association’s VIth Conference. Never heard of GUIDE? Neither had I until this interaction!

The GUIDE Association is run out of University Marconi in Rome and is a global initiative of academics from 120 universities in 50 countries (mostly away from the mainstream) sharing ideas about the future of especially HE and its role in developing young people with skills for 21st century. Athens was about the potential that MOOC’s offer for transforming and re-aligning workplace preparation. It was refreshing to hear academics linking with policy creators and linking with the world of work to highlight successes and find ways forward as the world copes with and emerges from austerity.

The Athens meeting provided me with new avenues of thought – two of which have featured in my monthly column as EMEA Reporter for Mustafa Nasareddin’s incredible vision for and leadership of a national flipped classroom initiative from as far back as 1998 has transformed the skillbase, economic potential and female emancipation in the tiny country of Jordan. GUIDE’s own initiative to create one of the first portal of MOOC’s is an amazing idea, Know it All, presented in a really energizing way by Krista di Eleuterio (GUIDE Association International Relations Office) that I am told is now leading to even bigger linkages.

So to shift forward to 2014 and GUIDEs next venture is to another ancient seat of learning, Gauatemala, where the organization is seeking to provide stimulus to Central and South America – running a conference at the invitation of universities in that region.

The VII International GUIDE Conference "Culture in the Midst of Global Modernization: The Role of Distance Education", to be held at the Universidad Panamericana (Guatemala City) on April 10-11, 2014. The discussions will aim to analyze the different solutions developed by each country as a result of the combination of modernization and technological innovation.

Education systems all over the world have had to contend with globalization and international competitiveness, all while trying to preserve their own cultural identity. The Conference aims at analyzing the different solutions developed for integrating the use of new technologies and models into the higher education system, based on the specific characteristics and cultural context of each country.

The conference will address the following topics:
bullet Distance education: A strategy for development
bullet Distance education in the global and local workplace
bullet Quality assurance as a key to accessing the international educational system
bullet Technological and pedagogic innovation and its social implications
bullet Vices and virtues of the application of OERs and MOOCs in formal education (in collaboration with the OpenCourseWare Consortium)

Among the keynote speakers:
bullet Prof. Alessandra Briganti (General Secretary, GUIDE Association, IT)
bullet Magister Mynor Augusto Herrera Lemus (Rector, Universidad Panamericana, GT)
bullet Prof. Mandla S. Makhanya (Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of South Africa, ZA)
bullet Dr. Larry Cooperman (President, OpenCourseWare Consortium; University of California, Irvine, US)
bullet Dr. Guia Venturoli (Marconi University, IT)
bullet Dr. Jucimara Roesler (Universidad Tiradentes, BR)
bullet Dra. Katherina Edith Gallardo Córdova (Tecnológico de Monterrey, MX)
bullet Ing. Nidia Giorgis de Orozco (Educ@l, GT)
bullet Dr. Alba de González and Magister Miguel Ángel Franco (Universidad Panamericana, GT)

Virtual Open Conference
As part of its commitment to open content knowledge sharing, the GUIDE Association will videocast the Conference’s main sessions and is extending the opportunity for virtual presentations to its members and a selected group of experts and researchers.

I am privileged and excited to be participating again and I will have the opportunity to talk from the workplace viewpoint about issues in measurement, compliance, accreditation and assurance. That thinking will merge with work I am doing with Nigel Paine, spearheading the UK’s Learning and PerformanceInstitute’s International Thinktank work on creating effective learning interventions in different cultural contexts.

I am excitedly looking forward to finding more mind-bending and un-sung successes in e-learning from places I might, in my ignorance, have never thought to look!

If Guatemala yields even a fraction of the insight and ideas that came from Athens I will be returning home really excited and looking forward to November when GUIDE VIII will be hosted in Brazil – salivating at the thought of it!. 

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