Online Educa 2006

The 2012 participants in Online Educa come from 92 countries. Last night’s Speaker Reception was great for reconnecting with friends from Germany, U.K., France, and elsewhere, many of them people I see but once a year at this gathering. This is my fifth time here.


BlackBoard is picking up the tab for an endless flow of wine and hors d’oeuvres for the speakers. The BlackBoard name and logo are all over the lanyards that hold our badges. BlackBoard’s European chief tells me people have totally misinterpreted the lawsuit arising from their patent. He says it doesn’t cover the LMS. It’s very specific. I suggested BlackBoard hire a Robert Scoble because the word in the blogosphere is that BlackBoard is unreasonably and unethically taking advantage of the broken U.S. patent system. Some participants refuse to wear the BlackBoard lanyard in protest.

Berlin is enjoying record high temperatures. Wunderbar! It feels the same as San Francisco this time of year.


Prenary Session

Online Educa is branching out to Africa, this year Addis Ababa, next year Nairobi. The first speaker is the Kenyan minister of higher education. David Siele. Only 20% of the country is on the national electric grid. About 500 secondary schools out of 4,000 have computers. Have to develop courseware in Swahili, African history, geography must be developed from scratch. If you think your eLearning initiatives aren’t up to speed, be assured that it’s nowhere near as challenging as the situation in Kenya.

George Siemens, Knowledge and our Structures of Learning. A knockoff of an LG phone appeared in China before LG got to the market. What a world, where the competition comes out with your product before you do.

* “The dogmas of the quiet past of inadequate to the stormy present.” Lincoln.

* We create things together now. BBC: Your News. Blurring of boundaries. Clown on the stage merging with the students.

* Knowledge no longer fits in any individual’s heads. I store my knowledge in my friends.

* We favour simplicity over accuracy. In the face of complexification, each of us boils things down to essence.

* Recombinant education. RFID puts us all on the net. “Thumb Generation.” (There are 2 billion phones in the world, 750 million PCs. If you aren’t thinking mobile, you’re going to be out of a job.

* Product. Fixed. Doesn’t work when change is rampant. We need ways of coping with knowledge, not courses which become obsolete. Education must be a process, not a product.

* Information asymmetry. Doctors no longer have the secret knowledge. But abundance is a problem.

* Pattern recognition. Tag clouds. 43 Things (content) becomes a conduit to conversation.

* Courses for stable knowledge. But our knowledge no longer takes the shape…now it’s complex adaptive knowledge.

* New spaces and structures. Networks. DNA is a function of networks. Networks unattended to in the soft environment. Ecologies are the space that enables networks to take place. As soon as we talk about networks, we need to think systemically.

* Continuum of knowledge and learning. Non-binary.

* Fostered transformation. Thinking and reflecting on continuous experimentation and reflection. Learning impacts every thing we do in life. Learning is everyone’s business.

Jean-Michel Billaut, BNP Paribas. Recently named Chevalier de l’Legion d’Honnneur. How many in the audience have a fiber optic connection to the home? A fellow from Zambia raises his hand; no Europeans raise their hands.

* Revolution 3.0. Rev 1.0 agriculture. Rev 2.0 industrial. Rev 3.0 technological (nanotech & robotics & renewable energy & synthetic). Between 2 & 3 are printing and then the net. Broadband net is where it’s going.

* The problem for education is that we need more neurons; we could ask God. More practically, we can build interactive 3D applications. Broadband is necessary to deliver this. By 2010, 60% of Japanese homes will have fiber optic connections that connect at 1 gigabyte/second.

* Just as FDR electrified middle America, Billaut would like us to spread a superfast network connected to all of the world’s knowledge.

[email protected]

Roger Larsen, founder and CEO of fronter, leader in collaborative work environments in Norway. In contrast to the first speaker, every school in Norway has broadband and every student has one computer or more.

* Learning, collaboration, personal work, publishing, content management all integrated into fronter. 2,000,000 licenses sold. 290,000 logins/day.

* ’94 webpages (homemade systems), ’97 LMS (shrinkwrapped), 02 managed learning environment, 04 PLE (personal learning environment), ’07 collaborative work environment. Browser-based apps.

* Roger can’t get a net connection and he wants to demo web software. Online Educa?

* Collaborative working environment. Rich tools (|| desktop apps), virtual workspace, underlying platform. Roger thinks the computer unnecessary.

* Open Source 2.0 – open tech, open stds, open integration, pedagogy, development, innovation, guarantee. LAMP.

* Knowledge should be free. It belongs to all of us. A European road sign with a red line slashing through the word patent appears on screen. I applaud. The crowd joins in.


1. How deal with increasing complexity?
2. Implications of deeper divides?
3. How will be work collaboratively?
4. What infrastructure is required?

George Siemens and I cut out for lunch at the Bavarian restaurant in the Europa Center. I’m tapping this out in the press room and will soon be dodging back into sessions. Forgive the typos and disconnects. More later.