eCultSkills at Glasgow Dialogue Day!

The 4th eCult Dialogue Day that will be held on 13 May 2015 in Glasgow, on the occasion of the EMYA – European Museum of the Year event, is under the motto: « Museums responsing to the digital world ». For this reason, eCultSkills representatives were invited to present the findings of the new job profiles in the cultural sector: Museum staff of the 21th century need more skills than before – the developed profiles will help cultural institutions to identify skills and competences and will give guidelines how to integrate them into their overall strategy. eCult Dialogue Days started 2 years ago with the purpose of bringing together two types of stakeholders usually not in « natural » interaction: technology developers and cultural heritage institutions. The success of the past events convinced the continuation of this series!
More info: 4th eCult Dialogue Day.  

Germany’s still struggling to get into the online education market

Periodically, I simply like to look for jobs in Germany. Not that I need one, but for projects in which I am involved, it is always interesting to see what is available, especially in regard to the various project foci. This time it was e-Jobs, like those whose profiles are being developed in the e-Virtue Project. Being located in Germany, however, I’m particularly interested in how the job market is developing in this sector, especially since the Germany economy, according to its politicians at least, is booming.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed again. I found listings for content developers, for example, in Germany, but at an English site, jobspotting.com. And I stumbled over a couple of online-language-teaching jobs at the German Craiglist site. Needless to say, this is a bit thin.

It would seem that both the Brits and the Americans are still leading the way in this field. Not only are wanted-ads more readily available and more easily accessible, there is a wealth of additional information available for people who are looking to perhaps get back into work or to change their career fields. One example, which I found particularly interesting was a site for work-at-home moms who might be interested in working even part-time. The information regarding the instructional designer was a good place to start thinking about possibilities, to say the least.

It is truly time for the German e-learning sector to get on board. If career information and job or career opportunities are to be found, they should, at a minimum, be found online.

e-Learning jobs … Indeed

Finding a job when you don’t have one is difficult enough, but I’m still waiting for more support from all the technology that is allegedly available to us.

Indeed is yet another online job-search portal, claiming of course to be the largest in the world, present in over 50 countries and available in 28 languages. When you simply go to the main site, you get redirected to the language of your local provider’s server. If you’re an English-only speaker in a foreign country, you might have trouble finding what you’re looking for. Technology that supports allows for user interaction. The ability to select one’s langauge of choice and country of choice would be a place to start. In this regard, the portal isn’t all that different than most portals I’ve seen.

Being interested in the state of available e-learning jobs in Germany, I simply punched in « e-learning » as my only search criteria. I was shown a list of over 750 jobs, which is actually very impressive until you take a closer look. There was a number of sales and marketing jobs included, but not necessarily with e-learning companies or directly related to the topic itself. There was also sound portiong of project-manager positions, also not necessarily related to e-learning, and, not unexpectedly, jobs for teachers and trainers in general were included.

While being fully aware that searching for anything can be an arduous task, I still think it’s a good idea to provide real support if you’re claiming to want to help. Better filtering, more options, readily available, and erring on the conservative side are all part of this. There’s a lot to be found on the portal, that’s for sure, but you still have to put in a good amount of effort to find what you’re really looking for.

eLearning Professionals

One of the most challenging aspects of professional development is making the right contacts and finding the help one needs when it is needed. As is so often the case in the online world, many sites simply fade, stop working or stop being supported. Unfortunately, the Internet never forgets.

One site online does hold out some promise of currency and activity, namely eLearning Industry. Don’t consider this so much an endorsement as a tip or pointer to something you might be looking for. In looking for information on « elearning Professionals », I came across a 25-page ebook on the topic, which looked as well as if it had been forgotten. It appeared to be about a year or more old, but there were a couple of hello-is-anybody-there comments as well. By shortening the URL, I got to the main site.

Here it looks like something is happening. Though a .com URL, it would appear that the real purpose of the site is to network, provide help and support and resources for anyone and everyone involved in the elearning enterprise. It will take a while to explore it all, but if you are on the lookout for something to help you career-wise or professionally, you may want to stop by their site for a visit.

Online Educa Berlin 2014 in review

Although not a huge fan of mega-conferences and trade shows, I have to admit that this year’s Online Educa Berlin was a refreshing change of pace.

Yes, there was a lot of the same, old same-old: the same large platform providers, the special tools developers, and a fairly wide range of public bodies all pushing the traditional theme of « more (technology) is better ». On the other hand, there were a number of presenters who were willing to take a more future-oriented approach and ask critical questions about just what we’re doing with all this technology.

No one was saying, « It hasn’t proved its worth, let’s get rid of it. » What could be heard, though, were questions such as « Are we using what we have effectively? » « Have we been missing something in our rush toward technological solutions? » « Is the purely technological answer always the best answer? » and the answer is simply « no ».

There are serious and important changes going on all about us. While some would maintain that the actual technologies are changing, it seems more to me that they are primarily getting faster and more detailed. It’s easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees. And while there has long been talk in educational technology circles that the learner is king, it was just this year that we started hearing — from some, not from everyone — just what that means. A few examples:

  1. In his opening keynote, Howard Rheingold not only differentiated between technologies and purposes (e.g., blogs for the individual voice; forums for a group voice; wikis for collaborative production) he went on to show how mind-mapping and other techniques are also available for collaborative work. Learning from one another; treating students as « co-learners » and his notion of « peeragogy » are having dramatic impacts on education in general.
  2. Mark Stevenson gave us a very entertaining talking-to. He correctly noted that we tend to see too many things too narrowly: we don’t have an energy crisis, we have an energy-conversion crisis; that learning is not a place, its a natural state of mind and goes on whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not. The shift occurring across the digital world in shifting power to the masses, but he questions whether we’re up to the challenge. Most importantly, he pointed out that humanity is by its very nature co-inspirational, and if we don’t soon understand what that means, we could be in for potentially disastrous consequences.
  3. This theme was picked up on and further developed by Stephen Downes, a long-time worker in the field. He broke it down into practical terms: being producers as well as receivers of knowledge and products, we need to reclaim our personal power. While the technological product-providers like to stress how their tools can personalize things, it is actually more important to recognize what is personal and allow the person to decide what’s to be done with his or her own contributions. We’ve turned the learning model on its head.
  4. That we tend to get things backward was also the point of Ola Rosling‘s plea for developing a fact-based view of the world. While we think things are getting worse, the data shows us that in general things are improving; we think sharks are killers but they kill so few people that it’s almost not worth mentioning. In other words, we tend to generalize where it is not applicable (from one’s own personal experience to the world at large) and exaggerate what we fear. His entertaining, practical portrayal of the Ignorance Project brought the message home.
  5. Jef Staes, finally, made a passionate plea for all of us to find our passion and talents and use those to steer our own learning lives. If we’re teachers, it’s our existential obligation to awaken our students’ passions and talents as well. Our current social, educational and economic structures serve primarily to drive our passion, talent, and creativity out of us, making us more manageable for those in charge. To his mind, this is why too much education and corporate training is simple ineffective. It’s time for us to take our fates into our own hands, exercise our own power and do what we each do best, because it is the right thing to do and it ultimately benefits everybody.

These are only four of the dozen or so talks and presentations I was able to attend, but there was a lot of challenge in each of these. Making things meaningful, not just technologically snazzy, is our current big challenge. Are we up to it?

e-Leadership for SMEs

On 20 November, the 4th Expert Workshop on e-Leadership for SMEs was held in Brüssel. Over thirty participants were informed regarding the results of the analytical study conducted by empirica as well as five innovative programmes developed by several European universities which were designed specifically to meet the needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises. The event was hosted by PIN-SME and moderated by Werner Korte from empirica.

The keynote talk was given by Matt Flanagan, Managing Director at BlueHub IT Consultants, a UK-based SME. He provided the participants with a number of valuable insights into the staffing and recruiting issues facing a fast-growing service company in the IT sector.

The programme demonstrations covered a wide range of education and training offerings. Andrea Carugati from Aarhus University presented a four-track/four-day program aimed at partner management, social media marketing, business analystics and managing growth. Kecheng Liu from the Henley Business School presented their five-day programme on leading one’s company to high-performance growth. A one-day course in didital innovation was presented by Silvia Leal and Jose Esteves from the IE business school. Valentina Ivanova from the New Bulgarian University demonstrated a complete series of e-leadership courses that could be mixed and matched with other offerings. Finally, Steven de Haes from the Antwerp School of Management showed how they are integrating coaching into their executive-management programme have developed a Digital Leadership Chair to promote a peer-to-peer learning platform. All programs have been or will soon be piloted. More results will follow.

The workshop was organised as part of the service contract « e-Leadership Skills for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (LEAD) » which as launched by the European Commission DG ENTR. LEAD is contributing to the « Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs » and as a contribution to the follow-up of the Commission’s Communication on « e-Skills for the 21st Century ». Further information can be found on the e-Leadership website.

eCult Skills Workshop at the Acropolis Museum

eCult Skills will present its five eCult jobs profiles on the occasion of the Winter Stage in Athens, organised by the eCult Value project. This high-profile event will take place at the Acropolis Museum and will bring together museum and technology representatives. The workshop of eCult Skills will be in the afternoon session.

For more information, please have a look at the programme

eCult Skills Observatory on-line

The eCult skills Observatory is now on-line. It is the compilation of all information interesting for jobs, skills and competences in the cultural heritage sector. Furthermore, it gives useful practical links to information on technologies, ICT strategies for cultural heritage institutions and news on technology and culture.
For more information, visit our website

Lanier: Who owns the future?

The virtual world is still one of the fastest growing that we experience. The pace of technological change and digital intrusion into our lives is starting to raise a number of important questions for all of us. Issues of net neutrality, data protection, data security, and how we feel about whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden are becoming ever more relevant.

It is precisely these topics that Jaron Lanier addresses in his latest book, Who Owns the Future? (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2013). Lanier is best known for coining the term « virtual reality » and has been an active participant on the bleeding edge of technological development for quite some time. He is anything but a technological luddite, but on the other hand, he’s not the sector’s biggest cheerleader either.

For Lanier, it is humans who direct the technology, not the other way around. We may be on the verge of giving up this key position, but abdicating our own responsibility for our own future may not be the most reasonable way to go. In a world of hyperbole and exaggeration, Lanier is a voice of balance and reason, and this why he deserves our attention.

Besides reviewing recent technological developments, Lanier’s focus is developing an alternate, plausible scenario for a more just and beneficial future, a program he terms « humanistic information economics ». He makes very clear that our current techno-economic model, one based on what he calls the « Siren Server »; that is, an information gatherer that, by attracting more information to itself, beats down and eventually eliminates all competition. In other words, it is a model that eventually shrinks the economy as a whole. Lanier, by his own admission, is seeking an alternative that will lead to a growing economy and a more just distribution of wealth for us all. And, he does this in a clear, easily understandable way, and with a healthy does of wit and humor besides.

Who Owns the Future? is an important book, and one definitely worth the time it takes to read it. As the old adage goes, « if you always think what you always thought, you’ll always get what you always got. » It’s time to start thinking outside the box, and Lanier’s book is a sound step in that direction.

Workshop on e-Learning in Wroclaw, 6 November 2014

The workshop on e-Learning, organised in the framework of the Lifelong Learning project eVirtue by the Economic University of Wroclaw, gave interesting insights into the latest trends of e-Learning. With regard to language learning, two approaches were identified:

« For e-Learning there is the tutorial and instrumental approach in using technology: for the latter, the teacher is still there, We do not need to use machine translation, computer is just a window to the outside world. There is little room for translation tools or voice recognition tool. There is a lot of it, though,  in the tutorial approach: in absence of a teacher and the community, the PC has to take over that role« , says Robert Debski, Jagellon University of Cracow.

More information about e-Learning role profiles.