Recent studies on accessing educational content – WS 11 2021
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COVID19 has highlighted and reinforced inequalities in our society whilst introducing new challenges. Schools and universities are particularly affected by these changes, both in lacking equipment and teacher skills to bring all content online. The lack of professional training to develop digital teaching skills makes it harder for teachers to deliver lessons from a distance and for pupils and students to learn. E-learning systems are not standardised and neither is educational material that is shared on these systems. The structure of learning courses is often modelled after a formal education curriculum, which provides no accommodation for the new interactive opportunities. The lack of standards and regulation for interoperability severely limits the usability of existing digital learning platforms for individual knowledge management by learners. Much of the material is already in corporate walled gardens coupled with expensive licensing and tracking of users. Compounding to these challenges is the lack of high-speed or low latency Internet connectivity which introduces a limit to the audio-visual or augmented reality opportunities that remote learning could enable. But work is taking place to find solutions!
Right now we are facing a lot of practical and societal challenges in e-learning. Many of these challenges are reflected in the state of the tech industry and infrastructure on which e-learning relies upon. When is this technology helpful? When it's a hindrance? How can we do better?
The session will include in-depth discussion on the state of e-learning industry as a whole, questions of knowledge management and accessibility, digital autonomy, digital literacy, as well as tools and best practices both educators and learners can employ for more efficient and engaging learning experience. We will discuss standards, implementations and interoperability of a variety of technologies, as well as new and long-standing challenges.
- Opening word from the organizational team to introduce the audience to topics and invite dialogue (~5min), introducing key speakers;
- Interactive dialogue session with the audience (10-25min);
- A series of lightning talks from key speakers (5 minutes each, 30-35 minutes);
- Dialogue and Q&A with speakers (30-45min).
- Platform for open multi-lingual educational courses;
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for teachers and educators
- How to empower young people to understand and disrupt online hate (MOOC)
- MOOC for teachers and educators by The European Schoolnet Academy
- LMS LTI (learning tools interoperability standard)
- IMS Learning Resource Metadata Best Practices Guide
- https://drawabox.com/ - an example of a free course on art fundamentals, curated and governed entirely by the community
- Ethical licensing - with software and content being one of the fundamental building blocks of e-learning, it’s very important to look into software licensing strategies that address ethical concerns and provide ways of enforcement for ethical norms;
- Cryptographic Autonomy License - one of the best examples about software license enforcing respect of digital autonomy and personal data rights on a software infrastructure level, while still using existing legal language.
- Pandemic sees growth in study signup - the OUBS, strategically committed to distance learning, analyses the effect of the pandemic.
- Alex Culliere
Organising Team (Org Team) List Org Team members here as they sign up.
Subject Matter Expert (SME)
- Olivier Crepin-Leblond
The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.
- Alex Culliere
- Roberto Gaetano, EURALO
- Kathrin Morasch, Better Internet for Kids | Youth IGF Germany
- Sabrina Vorbau
- Oliana Sula
- Vladislav Ivanets
Rute Baptista is a Pedagogue and currently acts as the Professional Development Manager, in Brussels, in eTwinning project, from European Commission. She works closely with hundreds of thousands of teachers from 44 countries, supporting, coordinating, and managing online and face-to-face professional development opportunities. Rute also works as a pedagogical consultant and project manager to a consortium of Ministries of Education, European Schoolnet, based in Brussels. For 8 years and until 2012 Rute Baptista has worked in the Portuguese Ministry of Education dealing with European Projects and ICT in Education having collaborated in several projects and initiatives on this topic, at the national level. Rute is a Teacher Trainer and trains trainers in private companies in Portugal. She holds a degree in Pedagogy and is specialized in curricula development and project coordination.
Alex Culliere is a software engineer from Helsinki who specializes in the development of learning and knowledge management solutions. He has been deeply involved in the development of e-learning tools since 2013 with John Wiley & Sons Inc, as well as conducting his own research in learning tools interoperability, standardization, best practices, and methodologies of effective self-teaching. As a member of the Organization for Ethical Source, Alex is also working on licensing strategies for the protection of digital autonomy and rights of e-learning users.
Alex Culliere and Roberto Gaetano
Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.
Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes
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- dates for virtual meetings or coordination calls
- short summary of calls or email exchange
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- We should develop a culture about tools that can be adapted to optimise e-learning. The criteria of validating the use of a certain tool should include self-determination, digital autonomy and ethics, and human rights. Pedagogical objectives and the learning moment are also important factors in choosing a tool.
- It is important to note that digital should adapt to the learner’s needs, not the reverse. Tutors and facilitators should have the skills to navigate through digital and choose the best tool for their learners.
- Education needs to evolve in terms of content, but also needs to safeguard the public values that we want to transfer. We need to ensure that we safeguard those public values and that they are not manipulated by e-learning platforms and their embedded values. We need to ensure that the tools do not inherit the bias of the industry which developed the software.
- We need to build in the respect for digital autonomy of people in the foundational structure of the tools used for e-learning. We need to ensure that the tools accommodate insecurity about our data, insecurity about our learning process, loneliness, lack of socialisation, and lack of interoperability with other tools.
- It is of essential importance to have a tool that makes the discovery of educational content easier for teachers and students regardless of the platform on which the content is hosted.
Find an independent report of the session from the Geneva Internet Platform Digital Watch Observatory at https://dig.watch/resources/recent-studies-accessing-educational-content.
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>> MARCO ZENNARO: Okay. So welcome, and I think we can start our workshop number 11. Let me share some slides with you. There you go. I hope you can see my slides right now.
So we’re in workshop 11, which is about “Recent Studies On Accessing Educational Content.”
And there’s some session rules that I want to read out to you. Please enter your full name. If you have a question, please raise your hand using the Zoom function. You will be unmuted when the floor is given to you and when speaking, switch on the video, please. State your name and affiliation and don’t forget that the chat will not be stored or published anywhere. And do not share the link to the Zoom meetings, not even with your colleagues.
And now, I think I can give the floor to Roberto who is going to introduce the speakers.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Marco.
So I’m Roberto. And I will be the moderator for this session. I see one of the speakers is not connected yet. I can start anyways and say a few words about what we are trying to achieve with this session.
So as you all know, the COVID has pushed very much the user the online media and that has affected a lot the programs and the training institutions. Some institutions were already doing some remote learning and were prepared but the vast majority had to instantly find, change their pattern. That was a paradigm shift for a lot of organizations.
And this has brought to light some of the problems. eLearning systems were not standardized. There are a lot of differences in the way different institutions had operated their online activities, have moved online the activities. And a lot of the teachers, the academic bodies was not fully prepared to do this immediate switch. So those are – these situations have brought also some practical and societal challenges, and this is what we want to discuss in this session.
The ready of the organizing committee was to have, of course, speakers that can authoritatively bring a certain point of view, but we also would like to involve very much the audience because probably each of us have a personal experience about eLearning and about moving to online media due to the pandemic.
So this is basically the layout of the session. And I don’t know if Alex who is the co-coordinator of this session wants to say a couple of words. Otherwise, I will invite the first speaker that is due to start to speak. Alex, do you want to say a couple of words or do we go to the speakers?
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Yes thank you so much. Thank you so much, Roberto for introducing the session. So today, we are going to have two key speakers, including Rute Baptista. Thank you so much for joining us today, and myself. So at any point – at any point, we want our audience to feel that they can engage in discussion and participate in the dialogue. We are here to focus on the dialogue and we want to avoid maintaining long monologues between the key speakers.
So if you have any questions or would like to provide your own input, feel free to raise your hand and we’ll give you the stage for a while.
So thanks. I think we are proceed now.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Alex. So you have the floor for your presentation.
>> RUTE BAPTISTA: I’m very happy to discuss with you something that is close to me, which is training the teachers. My name is under European Commission and I’m not under European Commission. I work for the European School Net. I’m a professional development manager and my main area of work is to develop educational content, of course, the online courses, face-to-face courses in the training of teachers and the continuous professional development of teachers.
There were a few, I think better than giving a speech of certain methodologies and theories going around, I think it’s more – it’s nice token to comment on what was said in the beginning and introduction of this session. So if you allow me, this is supposed to be a dialogue. So please interrupt me if some of my points disagreeable or disruptive.
I have a feeling that we are stuck in times in terms of professional teachers and adults. I also work with adult training. And I worry a lot when we hear keywords as standard and switch, talking about digital education or digital resources.
I have been working in this area for 20 years and we always talk about the same terms. We want to analyze a bit on what happened or what was brought up due to the pandemic situation. I think the pandemic just showed – just revealed what was already there. So the needs to act and the need to transform immediately. I have been working in this field for 20 years and the conversation is always, always the same. I think the pandemic was just an ignore. You know, just a trigger to actually act towards a change that was happening throughout the last 20 years. This is my personal view. I don’t know if everyone agrees with me. If someone disagrees with me as well.
And this comment is related to the switch that was referred that needs to happen. Yes, that switch needs to happen very quickly on our minds but I’m actually super happy. I don’t know if Angela Capezzuto is here or not. I do work with her in certain projects. I know a lot of people are around that already did that switch. And what I experienced during the pandemic is that there’s a group of people that didn’t need that switch. And it was super easy to adapt when the situation arose.
So the switch needs to happen in general terms, indeed, but there are a lot. People who are already – were already prepared. They easily adapted. They easily implemented what they knew already because in my perspective, it’s not us that need to adapt to the digital. The digital needs to adapt to us to our needs.
So if you know how to handle this, how to handle this approach to the digital, and how to manipulate the digital tool, according to the needs that we have, then it will be much easier to adapt, because we will know where to find the things that we need to do, to use to do what we have to do in terms of preparing the educational content and in terms of creating and designing different thanks.
I’m a mom as well. I also saw the struggles in the school, in my son’s school. And I was – I was really worried that – this is just closing my initial point. I was really worried that this was still a concern, how can we implement lessons at distance and we are in 2021 and we still don’t know how to do this. Then what needs to change? What mind shift needs to change. What are we doing wrong in terms of training teachers or training adults? What are we doing wrong? What do we need to do to actually implement this shift.
And for now, I will leave my points here. Maybe we’ll continue the conversation, Alex. I don’t know what you think.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Okay. Thank you. First of all, you are very welcome with disruptive messages. I came here with a similar mood as well.
>> RUTE BAPTISTA: It’s refreshing to hear that somebody is talking about the state of us being stuck in time.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: First of all, I completely agree that most of the problems and interests that we experience with online education right now are problems that have been here all along for a very long time. And what COVID pandemic actually did, it was making these problems more apparent and more immediately painful.
First of all, I’m Alex Culliere, I’m a software engineer based in Helsinki. I have been involved in software development since 2013 and I specialize in learning management systems and I have been doing this for four years and then I have been doing a lot of projects for data portability over here in Helsinki. And also I’m right now conducting my own research into digital tools and interoperability and personal knowledge management and intellectual knowledge management for ethical source. So here’s my background, roughly.
So in my opinion, a lot of the problems that we experience right now, they are only loosely related to standardization per se. And there are more systemic problems that we have in online education as an industry. So, for example, a lot of online sources, especially the ones targeted at adults are often designed to mimic in their structure, a typical university curriculum, which means that they provide heavily curated content in a centralized manner. Which – which is often by access rights. So if I’m going to enroll in a professional course, and my enrollment ends, because I no longer have access to the things I learned. I lost the source.
A lot of eLearning are world gardens. We bring a lot of assumes requirements for university curriculum as well, speaking of a requirement for dedicated space and dedicated site for learning, which in the form of remote learning or online learning more often than not becomes a luxury for people. Imagine a family that has only one home computer, and let’s say a father and a wife and a son, they have to attend their sources. The son and the wife is taking some sources for professional growth and they have to basically share access so their own respective learning resources and manage their own time, which times is very hard to pull off.
And all of that is happening because traditional curriculum assumes dedicated space and time. When we move to remote learning, it suddenly happens that educational institutes are not able to provide dedicated space and time. We expect learners to provide it for themselves. And I’m mostly interested in the research on teaching and self-teaching methodologies that recognizes especially in adults, most learning activities actually happens outside of the classroom. And I’m interested in learn bridging the gap between learning gadgets.
It would maybe me as a learn able to have a constant and persistent point of reference to all of the courses and all of the learning that I have done online so I can go back and refresh and assess my own expertise time after time.
Another problem that comes with traditional learning curriculum is that most – most of it is assessment driven. It’s something that we call assessment driven education, where we are not learning as means of practicing some sort of a skill, or relaying some sort of knowledge but we are learning to pass a test, pass an assessment or get a good grade, which is – which works a lot of time, but it kind of incentivizes quick and intensive bursts of study before the assessment that can lead to a person completely forgetting what they were supposed to learn after the assessment has.
So these are systemic problems. Some are economic by nature. I’m speaking of the fact that a lot of – a lot of learning tools and learning management systems that we use right now are proprietary systems, that are developed by for-profit companies, and they do not disclose their source code. They do not disclose their operating policies, at least in a transparent manner more often than not. The fact that we tries to adopt our teaching and learning methodologies to an online remote environment, and it doesn’t translate very good.
So I’m interested in discussing possibilities to improvement in these systemic issues first and foremost.
And that’s all for me. Thanks.
>> RUTE BAPTISTA: When you talk about the standardization of the system, the trend is to mimic what is done in the physical space of learning process, whatever that is, for adult learning, even for teachers, the teachers with their students. I think everywhere, what people do is to do what they know and they just mimic what is happening in the physical space. And actually, we have been working and learning, of course being and developing much more on what is blended learning and how that can be improves in what we do already. And indeed, there’s a discussion if the standard is really the way to go. Also if we do the individual learning, how can we do this in the digital if we keep standards. So this discussion happens in the physical. I wanted to add this to the discussion, how can we have an individual path and individual personalized path which is two different things, of course and also a digital environment? I know that there are certain tools already, some AI tools that are developing that I know certain tools and I will not give publicity.
More important with the important of inclusion, how can we address the social issues. So how can we promote collaboration? How can we promote social interagency? How do we make sure that everyone has the same access? Maybe due to the issues that you raised, Alex, like only one computer at home. Maybe there’s some people that don’t even have the computer or not – don’t have a good connection. I experienced that with the parents in my son’s class.
That was a struggle. They didn’t have the connection either, not just a computer. So connect with the social problems. How can we overcome that point this it’s not just the design, not just planning of online learning but it’s also the social issues that are connected with that and the personalization and individualization of learning. So I wanted to fire a little.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: I think, Roberto we can get back to these points after we give the floor briefly to Adrijana, maybe we can give her five to seven minutes.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Well, normally this is done at the end of the session, because she has to sort of summarize what the discussion was, and report the points so we will have to make sure that we leave five to ten minutes for her. Right now, I still don’t see the other speaker, Angela –
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Sabrina recently messaged that the second speaker will not be able to join us. So we will have to proceed as is.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: No problem. We wanted in any case to involve also the audience. So I – I would like to make a couple of comments, and then I would like to have the people in the audience to intervene and to talk about their experiences because this is more of sharing of experiences rather than having only people I would say speaking officially. I wanted to as raise another couple of aspects of the problems we have with eLearning.
Sure. We have inequalities because what has already been said. Sometimes there’s no – not enough computer capability in the homes or the connection and so on. I had a personal experience with a cousin of mine. He sent me one picture of a kid that was outside in the rain with an umbrella and with a computer with a laptop, and he said, here, this is my son. We don’t have Internet at home. And so he’s in a public place trying to connect to the school. And that public place was the only place they had the section. It was actually not – there was no roof.
So I think there are a lot of people I lot of Sides have been put in stressful situations to do their learning at a distance.
Another point I wanted to raise is that there is school and school. A few months ago I visited in Trieste, and it was already – it was actually in a moment in which the pandemic was not striking very hard. But shortly after, we had had the second wave here.
This professional school had a very specific problem. Distance learning and online learning was possible, but a lot of the program was with interaction with labs and things. So it was extremely challenging for them to provide a complete learning experience to the students without having the possibility for the students to physically be on – on a machine or in a laboratory see the results of the test, on the machines.
I have invited this person who is responsible for this school to come and speak, but unfortunately, he was unable to do that, but still, I think that this is a very serious issues, of course other fields of study are easy to move in a completely online environment, but we have those sort of difficulties.
This said, I would invite some people in the audience to talk about their experience. Feel free to raise your hand.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: You can raise your hand in the reactions portion of Zoom. And it works like this. Just in case anybody is using – is not used to use Zoom.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: While I rate for hands to be raised.
I don’t want to monopolize the conversation. Let me raise another point while we wait for comments from the floor. We have touched on standardization. One of the issues that I see is while I have gathered a bit of information about how different learning – different schools have approached the problem. They were mostly left by themselves in order to – to choose how to – how to do their – their learning.
Besides choosing the platform, whether it’s Zoom or something, but there is no – we don’t have a developed culture about tools that can be adapted to optimize eLearning. And I wonder whether – whether this is a field where we have also opportunities.
I believe that even when the pandemic will be over, that in any case, we are going to use online learning because of the possibility that it gives in certain situations, when physical presence is not possible. So now we were all taken by surprise by this pandemic, but I wonder whether certain tools that will be specifically adapted for optimizing distance learning will be developed in time so that organizations, schools or universities could be more effective in their online curricula.
Anybody from the floor willing to provide your impressions, your experiences in terms of eLearning?
Alex, please go ahead.
You are muted.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Yes, sorry.
So while we are while the audience is getting ready to participate. I wanted to touch on another subject that was raised by YOUthDIG. They were talking about digital self-determination, ethics, conduct and human rights and the relationship of everything in that scope with the platforms with online platforms so the problem of choosing the correct tools to optimize our learning for eLearning context, I think should consider digital self-determination and digital autonomy and ethics and human rights as one of the criteria of validating the use of a certain tool.
So I wanted to ask Rute, if you can basically share the process of choosing – of choosing a tool to facilitate online learning because you work with teachers a lot.
Do you recommend certain tools and how do you base your recommendation, and what gets in the list of recommended tools and what does and why?
>> RUTE BAPTISTA: There’s no magic recipe. This was first point I made in my initial speech, that we need to see the needs. So we need to see the learners’ needs, whether it’s a kid or an adult. We need to see the learner’s needs. For instance, if we want them to collaborate, then we need to find a tool that allows the collaboration, meaning the exchange, the building together – yeah, the different actors in that learning process.
So it is strongly connected with the pedagogic directives. And it’s strongly connected with the purpose of that moment, the learning moment there’s no magic recipe.
If you want to give me some certain topics or bullet points on how to choose the tools. First check the needs of your learners, then your pedagogical objectives and then you choose the tool. And then. And, of course, the teachers usually go for fee tools because, well, that’s the reality. That’s it.
But then with free tools maybe they don’t find exactly the full set – this is what I find with the teachers. Sometimes the free tools don’t offer the full set of functionalities that they need and then they have to compliment with other tools and then this brings another problem, which is the variety of tools that they can use and it’s sometimes – it’s counterproductive because then they feel lost because it’s so many tools and then they cannot handle it. So I think it’s also – we need to – and this was another point that I wanted to raise about the digital skills.
What do we mean by digital skills? Do we need to manipulate the tools? Or the digital world? That has to be clear. A lot of teachers think I have digital skills because I do know how to handle, I don’t know – well, Zoom, for instance, not to publicize any other tool.
I think some people may confuse digital skills with the ability to use a certain tool. Yes, that’s a skill for me, digital skill is the ability to actually navigate through the digital, choose the best tool for me and for that purpose, choose a tool that makes them comfortable, okay, because in the learning process and in a learning moment, the tutor or the facilitator needs to be comfortable with the tools that they have their hands.
And choose a tool that I can manipulate, according to what I need. Because it shouldn’t be the digital manipulating us.
It should be the other way around. So that would be my mine points, without giving any magic recipe.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you. I have four hands in and I hope I get them in the right order. I have Erik, Valensiya, and then Auke.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you, Roberto. This is an extension of Alex’s remark just now. If we, of course, teachers go for platforms and go for the cheapest, like Rute just said.
The problem, of course, is that inherently in the software of those platforms, there are values embedded. And those are the values of the developers, perhaps, sometimes cental. Sometimes on purpose. And I think that one the important things in education nowadays is that education is needs to evolve in terms of content, but it also needs to safeguard the public values that we want to transfer, right?
These are different in Europe than they are in Asia, than they are in Africa. And I think we need to retain those public values and even inside Europe, right, they are different in different countries.
So I’m very worried about the whether we are capable of those public values and will not be manipulated by the platforms and their embedded values this there. And that ranges from the ethical that Alex mentioned, but the ranges to the cultural. There’s cultural prejudice in software. How do you avoid this happening?
This is one the things that drives me very much towards open source software because at least, you can verify what’s in there. You can adjust it to the needs in your country, et cetera. But all in all, it worries me that, you know, our values under attack in education, certainly because due to the pandemic and the incredibly fast move to online and people don’t have a real option to think about it more carefully.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Next is Katarzyna.
>> PARTICIPANT: You can call me Katarina, but in Polish, it’s Katarzyna. I would like to talk a bit about my experience of being a teacher. I have the opportunity to teach adults and also children. And I must say when it comes to online learning and online teaching, being an adult, it’s so much easier. Because to be honest, adults, they mostly learn for themselves and they often choose additional tools to learn.
And when I teach sometimes, it’s enough for me to scan something from a real book and to send it to them and they are going to do it in their own time.
Then when it comes to children – and I had a wonderful group last year of four 10-year-olds trying to learn some English. And to be honest, the lack of interaction was horrible.
And I knew that they are getting bored, it’s at Rute said. I was choosing the free options and the free platforms and then I could choose from different options, but still, I feel the need of one tool where I can interact and where I can work on different types of skills, which I can build in my students, whether they are children or they are adults, they are students, whatever. I don’t really care. Where I can, I don’t know, make them also interact with me through this place form, and unfortunately, I feel a big, big lack of it.
And for me, at the end of the school year with my children, my own, I must say that I saw that they are not positively thinking about the future of learning. They are bored, unhappy, even depressed. They cannot wait to come and to see me in person. And I think that, for me, even though we are talking about platforms and other things, I think that the psychological part of teaching children, and young adults is very important because they are not gaining those social and – those social skills which they need while they are learning online, and we don’t really know how to solve this problem.
Because when someone is, I don’t know, 30 or 35, it’s not a problem. They look in. They call me on Skype and they say, okay, the next hour is for us. But when it comes to children, they want to see me. They want to touch the paper. They want to – they want to, I don’t know, read something, write something, they want me even to point a finger to something. And I think that they feel very alone. Thank you.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Katarzyna.
Valensiya, you have the floor. And then Auke.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you for the very engaging conversation so far. I’m Valensiya, I’m working for the International Federation of Libraries and Institutions and he wanted to briefly follow-up on some of the points that I have been raised and resonated quite a bit with the experience of the library field. So this shift to digital, has, of course, also been linked quite – in no small part to questions around access to educational materials I believe. And this feeds into questions – for instance, differences around pricing for access to physical as opposed to digital learning materials. These may be different. The rules for landing, for physical and digital materials can also vary depending on the country circumstances.
And this is a question that I think is linked heavily to questions around equity. So who can access quality content, when is it available? When they access content that’s best united for their purposes. There’s some way that libraries – for example, school libraries, academic libraries have been seeking to address these, whether it’s more into investing in visual collections where possible advocating for additional educational resources which is linked to the point that we heard regarding open source materials too.
So I think this sort of links to the point that Alex has touch upon, regarding world gardens. So I just wanted to ask if we do have the time to elaborate a bit more, Alex? What are the problems and what have you seen and so on. Thank you.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Valensiya. I would be inclined to give the floor first to Auke for his comment, and then to Alex for providing the information that you have requested.
Auke, you have the floor.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you very much, Roberto. My name is Auke Pals. Thank you all for your contribution and I really – the point of Kata –
>> You can just call me Katarina or whatever. Whatever in your language is this name. Thank you.
>> PARTICIPANT: Thank you, Katarzyna. The thought of having one tool to serve students and to serve education. And from my perspective as a former student and also part-time teacher, it would be great having one tool. One tool serving everybody and also just getting all the tools and all the subjects that you teach into one platform, and one portal.
However, this also kind of contradicts with my view that technology should serve the user. And technology should serve the user and consumer instead that we as consumer, users try to adapt with the technology that has been created.
So, for instance, if we want to use one tool for the entire world, and that’s also maybe a point that Eric just made, is that we are adapting to the tool that we are using. And not – that’s not really what we want, because of the subject and even the method of a teacher can totally be different from other teachers. And we – yeah, we want to – or in my view, in my – I want the technology to serve the user instead of we adapt to the system.
Yeah, that was just a remark I was trying to make.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Auke.
Alex, you have the floor and then I have Goksel for a comment from the audience. I have notified that we will probably overflow a few minutes because we also need then to give the floor to the reporter. So Alex, if you want to –
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Yes, thank you so much. I was planning to engage with the audience and ask some questions to Katarzyna, and perhaps we should listen to the last question from the audience so far before I go forward.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Excellent.
Goksel, again, I hope I pronounced it correctly. You have the floor and then – and then Alex and then the summary.
>> PARTICIPANT: Yes. Thank you. I’m Goksel. I would like to highlight the problems that occur when you are a disabled person. Online education can be a nightmare sometimes because I can’t use my fingers very well. When I turn to an international example, I had many difficulties. Describing your disabled identity is an issue. They ask for many medical reports to send them, and – and then later, I might need that personal assistant with me to be able to attend the exam. You know, it’s hard to describe this to an online platform. It’s another problem and you have to find a personal assistant and you are facing with some security issues, they say, he might help use something like that, maybe your personal assistant shouldn’t be a helper for you, for example.
Also, in my university education, suddenly they jump into online education and, again, my examinations were too much nightmare for me. They made lots of exams, lots of things to be done on your own, and for my disability, and I don’t have a personal assistant. My parents don’t know how to draw a graph for me, for example. I would need a need for a personal system. It was so frustrating for me. I couldn’t handle it on my own.
I would like to say this because it’s an important experience for people with disabilities. Thank you.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Goksel. Indeed, it is an important issue, the one that you raise. Shall I give the floor to Rute for the final comment before going to Alex?
>> RUTE BAPTISTA: Yes, thank you. It’s just really a final, final comment. That – and thank you for the last intervention. I really appreciate it, because it was connected with what you wanted to say on values as well. Thank you, Erik, for commenting on that and Katarzyna to say that the students feel alone. I think that’s a very key point. I don’t – I don’t believe that the adults also don’t feel alone. They just don’t show it as the kids show it.
I think adults feel alone and I think the values is a key element that we all should worried when we talk about online education.
And most importantly, is that – more important than digital skills, we should promote critical thinking, because then we can definitely sit and properly think and evaluate, where are we replacing the digital by human skills?
So that’s my main point. And thank you for the invitation today.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you. Alex, you have the floor.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: I will briefly express the vision that I have gotten from the input from the audience and then I will ask a couple of questions to the audience to specific members of the audience because I would really like to hear your input on some of the issues we have raised. We have barely scratched the surface of the problem, I think, but we can pinpoint some of the main – some of the main points of interest in this discussion.
And the first point I would like to mention was raised by Eric, is retaining values and bias in software. So the software inherits the bias of software developers and it also inherits the bias of the industry in the context of which the software was developed. So we are talking about – we’re talking about questions like diversity and inclusion and development – in development teams. So – so we can be sure that the tools that we are using by our develop – are developed by people of diverse backgrounds and diverse cultural backgrounds. So our software can accommodate a variety of problems, a non-diverse team would have trouble accommodating and even mentioning.
Also, it touches briefly on, in my opinion, on the question of ethical licensing. Right now, when we’re talking about open source, most open source licenses, they are only concerned about retaining a right of a software user to modify and redistribute software. There’s a kind of hard rights in terms of – in terms of software usage, but they have absolutely no guidelines in terms of ethical usage of the software and we already see in software industry, this becoming a major problem which is why organizations like organizations for ethical source were established to alleviate this problem and address it properly.
Also, it brings me to the question of digital autonomy and digital rights.
If we want our software, if we want our tools to be what they are, tools, that serve us, people, and not us people serving the tools, we need to build in the respect for digital autonomy of people in the foundational structure of these tools. So if we are – if we – if we as people as learners and teachers experience problems like insecurity about our data, insecurity about our – about our learning process, loneliness, lack of socialization, lack of interoperability with other tools, we have to first of all, make sure that the tools that we are using are designed from the ground up to accommodate these needs.
So perhaps we are talking about peer-to-peer technology or federated technology, kind of like social networks that are – that are used in Fediverse, where each person can feed up their open source Twitter and make sure that all data that they have generated, are stored on their cloud and they can provide white lists and block lists to express agency in forming the informational bubble that is around themselves.
And that brings me to the question that I wanted to ask. The first question is – I would like to ask Katarzyna and you said online tools, teaching adult and children. I wanted ask, do you have dedicated time to teach your audience how to use these tools? And if you do, how does it usually go?
>> PARTICIPANT: I don’t. Thank you for the question, first of all. Well, you know, as a tutor, I am basically, teaching extracurricular, yes? So this is not like basic education. So I am trying to accommodate to the tools that my students already have.
Yes. So, for example, for school children, this is a solution by a Big Tech company, which they have at school. Yes? And for me, teaching a foreign language, it’s impossible. It’s because it’s not enough interaction. But this is easier for them.
When I try with different tools, then I have different voices. Like, for example, oh, I’m sorry but I can’t use this, but the other ten people can. But I can’t. And then on the other platform, I cannot use this, but other ten people can.
So that’s why my need is for one unified platform. Not international, not for everyone, but at least some solutions which will give the possibility to teach different subjects as Auke said. Like in one solution, solution one, platform one program, one source, whatever, that I don’t have to, like, change all the time. And not to make my students and not to make actually my consumers, yes, to be dependent on different types of platforms. When it comes to adults, it’s a little bit easier, but they also opt to choose more known technologies, yes.
So, no, I don’t really have time to do it.
I have to do it in a very brief time, when I have a new idea, it’s just like five minutes click here, click there. And it would be great if I had one solution, where I can teach all of them to use it at once.
So that’s for me. Thank you very much.
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Thank you very much for your input.
And the elaboration of world gardens. I will do that, very, very quickly. So world gardens is essentially a software and hardware ecosystem that’s constructed by a for-profit company for the purpose of retaining their user base. So if you are a for-profit company, you are developing a learning tool. You want your clients, your teachers and learners to stick with your tool and stick within your ecosystems. You can extract more profits.
That, unfortunately is a very natural side effect of for-profit development and it is actually one of the reasons why we don’t see wide standards of learning tool interoperability. Why can I not use this tool that I’m already using to access the content from another tool.
For example, hey, I want to incorporate parts of free to access Cousera course, in my learning curricula. Why do I not have any way to integrate with these platforms and to borrow their content other than just sending links to my students?
There are already developed standards for doing that.
But the for-profit model that’s adopted by the majority of learning management solutions and learning tools and Big Tech is not incentivized for adopting this. They are more interested in retaining their user base, more or less. This is my experience, at least.
So another point is access to educational content.
I believe that it is of essential importance to have a certain tool that makes the discovery of educational content easier both for teachers and students regardless of the platform on which the content is hosted.
So this is something that I would like to mention. This is something that I’m working on with organization for ethical source as well.
Another very important point that I wanted to address was raised by Goksel. I hope I pronounced your name correctly, accessibility. There are standards for accessibility in online learning tools. For example, there’s US-based 508 compliance. And all of the major learning platforms they are striving to be 508 compliant but it strives for visually impaired or audibly impaired. It does not address the social aspect of accessible learning, such as your experience for a need for a learning assistant is left unaddressed in these standards and in these forms. So perhaps we should come up with a list of recommendations for social accessibility as well. So people like you could reach out and get assistance when they need it.
So this is so far everything that I would like to – everything that I would like to address from the points that have been risen from the audience. As a finishing wrap-up. My personal vision for a better set of learning tools would be learning tools that are opened by nonprofit organizations, kind of like a grass roots movement of people who are interested and that – wore interested in facilitating better learning experiences.
In collaboration with students and teachers that provides access to learning content and tools that exist out there so we can utilize everything that we have been able to come up with, up until this point but also provide ways to share learning content and share knowledge in between students and teachers.
I’m talking about the ability to ascertain your personal notes and your personal contacts into learning tools and articles and have them shared in accessible and in easily discoverable way.
Because discoverability is another main pressure point that we should probably talk about. Most of learning materials that we have right now are – most of the time they are accessible search engine, and search engines is its own tool that have its own biases and sometimes something that you potentially need would not come up in the search results. So there should be another way to discover content in a personalized manner that, well, I think – I think it’s enough of the idea.
So I would like to give the stage back to Roberto because we are five minutes past the finishing line of our session. I think we can stay for a little bit longer.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you. I have communicated to the Secretariat that we would overflow, but we should – we are supposed to finish by 11:45. So we have the last eight minutes for Andriana for the findings or the messages that we can take from this session.
You have the floor.
>> Thank you very much, Roberto. Before we start, can you hear me properly?
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Yes.
>> There’s a fan working in this room, it’s 37 degrees in Belgrade. If I turn it off, I will melt. If you can live with this message keep your silence and any kind of editing and tweaking and suggesting the different words can be done after EuroDIG is over on the commenting platform.
If you absolutely object to this message that I have written and you don’t want it at all, you don’t think it reflects the discussion, then we can scrap it.
Message number one, we should develop a culture about tools that can be adapted to optimize eLearning, criteria of validating the use of a certain tool should include self-determination, digital autonomy and ethics and human rights. Pedagogical objectives and the learning moment are also important factors in choosing a tool.
I will now give you a few seconds if someone objects very strongly, please let me know.
I think we can go to message two. It’s important to note that the digital should adapt to the learner’s needs not the reverse. The tutors and the facilitators should have the digital skill navigate through the digital, choose the best tool for their learners and choose a tool that they can manipulate to their needs.
All right. I hear no objections.
Let’s go with message three. Education needs to evolve in terms of content but also needs to safeguard the public values that we want to transfer. We need to ensure that we safeguard those public values and that they are not manipulated by the eLearning mat forms and their embedded values. We need to ensure that the tools do not inherit the bias of the industry, which developed the software.
While I wait for your reaction. I’m actually an employee of the DiploFoundation and we have been at online learning since 1994. So we decided to develop our own platform. It’s solves the problem of the bias but it’s very resource training and we did contemplate having another platform, something that is more widespread like Moodle and we decided that we will keep ours because it definitely works for our needs.
No objections to this message?
Let’s move forward. We need to build in the respect for digital autonomy of people in the foundational structure of the tools used for eLearning. We need to ensure that the tools are accommodating insecurity about our data, insecurity about our learning processes, loneliness, lack of socialization, and lack of interoperability with other tools.
Okay. I can see nods. So let’s move forward.
This is something that Alex said at the very end. It is of essential importance to have a tool Ma makes discovery of educational content easier, both for teachers and students regardless of the platform on which the content is hosted.
Okay. I can see nods again. That will be all from my side.
Once again, EuroDIG will provide the details about the – more fine tuning of messages that will – that will be possible after the – after the conference is over.
Back to Roberto.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Adrijana, excellent reporting.
Alex, I see your hand up. For a very short comment before we close?
>> ALEX CULLIERE: Yes. Thank you. Am I unmuted? Yes, I am. So I just wanted to say that with our work at organization for ethical source, we are working towards a prototype of a very lightweight tool that we’re trying – with which we are trying to address most of these issues. So I would really like to collaborate with – potentially with awful you, so if you – if you are interested in it, please reach out after the session so we can exchange contact information.
That’s all. Thanks.
>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Thank you, Alex. And so that’s the end of the session. Thank you, everybody, for participating. Speakers, audience, and reporter and everybody. And I give the floor back to Studio Trieste for this session.
>> MARCO ZENNARO: Thank you. We are in a coffee break up to 12:15, where we will have a workshop number 8 on international access to content and sensitive data. So have a good coffee break. Bye from Trieste.