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Brainless genius

By: Kari Olstad

A brainless crowd is a scary thing. Photo by  sookie/
A brainless crowd is a scary thing. Photo by sookie/

I was 12 when Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to scare the living daylight out of us with ‘The Terminator’, and old enough to not be very scared seeing ‘The Terminator II’ seven years later. Still, one thing was just as spooky in the sequel; the way the robots scan their targets and get all sorts of information about them. Today that is not science fiction anymore, it’s Google glass.

Information is power, and it doesn’t have to be exclusive. The first one to use smart glasses to sparkle at social events will have an advantage. Wouldn’t you be very flattered if a person is interested enough to remember everything you tell him? Wouldn’t you be freaked out if he also remembers all those things you didn’t tell?

Information is available to us all. (And by “us all” I am of course referring to people in countries who aren’t actively restricting access to this information or areas where infrastructure is so poor that information is unavailable for practical reasons.)

I was teaching a group of teachers (I will not say what level or country) whereof most were not very tech-savvy (neither am I, to be fair). Some of them complained that with everything so available on the internet, there would be no need for basic knowledge anymore. So I gave them a challenge: Who is the first to tell me if the name of the president of Barakasthan using the most efficient search on internet, and why has USA just banned trees in parks within all city borders? No one even raised an eye brow, much less a hand. They just went to work –and by work I mean Google. (If you plan to Google this yourself, let me save you the trouble: This is total bogus, and I was thinking it would trigger at least a small “huh?”.)

Consider this total ,and general, lack of awareness and mix it with the naivety with which we create a digital presence, and it is time to be scared again; good old fashioned eighties style horror movie scared. Especially when reading articles like these:

Because the scary thing is not what is out there, it is how we process it.

Will we be like the robots of the Terminator movies, reacting to whatever information that pops up in front of us? Have access to all kinds of information, but be unable to choose, unable to use the information wisely, to use it ethically, to use it even remotely critically?

Post-poster reflections

By: Kari Olstad

FuNKon14 is behind us, and I am already looking forward to FuNKon15, because I really enjoyed this conference a lot!

Ok, admittedly I was more than a little involved in putting the program together, so the excellent talks and presentations came as no surprise.

Still my favourite was the poster session featuring FuN members’ development projects.

The projects were described in text and pictures on the posters, and then we would stroll around, reading and learning, sipping coffee, and asking questions to the poster presenters. Some of the posters had quite a professional lay out and were printed on glossy paper; others were hand-made with glue stick and felt tip pens, and they all told interesting stories.

Just a few years ago, online learning resources and systems were developed for personal computers only, but people today are constantly logged on. To be able to learn on your mobile phone just makes learning more accessible, this again might make more learning happening. How to learn when you have reading challenges or Norwegian just isn’t your first, or even second, language? Breaking down the content into manageable pieces and making it relevant to daily situations is one way. Online learning might not seem like the best option to learn practical skills, but it is absolutely possible with the right learning resources. And why should the quality of your education depend on you living close to a skilled tutor?

The 12 posters presented at the conference addressed these challenges and more. The results we saw will benefit students of different ages, abilities, education levels and life situations. This isn’t enough to save the world –but at least it’s improving it.

And just to emphasize that the future was happening right in our poster room; we had Samsung with Oculus Rift, 3d-nordic printing 3d stuff and prof. Isidro Delgado from the La Salle University letting people play with his gadgets, like Google glasses. Why not have a little FuN while learning?

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Forsker advarer mot å kutte støtten til nettskolene uten å kjenne konsekvensene


I et debattinnlegg i, under overskriften «Ikke kutt nettskolene», skriver NIFU-forsker Cathrine Edelhard Tømte at vi ikke har oversikt over dagens tilbud av nettbasert utdanning i Norge, og derfor ikke vet hva effekten vil bli om man kutter støtten. Dette er et viktig poeng; det er ikke risikofritt å kutte utviklingsmidler slik regjeringen nå har foreslått.

Edelhard Tømte skriver at nettskolene sitter på relevant og viktig kompetanse innen nettpedagogikk og at også UH-sektoren har erfaring med dette, og at i samarbeidet mellom gruppene ligger det et stort utviklingspotensial i kompetanseutvikling.

Forskeren peker på flere områder der vi mangler kunnskap om både direkte virkninger, og ringvirkninger av nettskolenes arbeid, og konkluderer: «Det vil være uheldig å legge ned nettskolene uten å ha undersøkt hvilke deler av terrenget disse dekker og kan dekke

Look to Scotland

Delegates from Norway, Denmark and Sweden visiting University of Highlands and Islands in Perth.
Delegates from Norway, Denmark and Sweden visiting University of Highlands and Islands in Perth.

A small delegation of eight Danes, four Norwegians and a Scottish Swede went to Scotland, just four days after the historic “No”. The field trip had be planned long before we were aware of the independence referendum, simply because we thought the Scots might have a thing or two to teach us about education.

One of the first thing to be noticed was that the Scots seemed to share a more flexible definition of “flexible education” than I have been doing so far. I am used to thinking of flexible education as teaching and learning that is detached from the traditional boundaries of being in the same place on the same time, and also being able to study full time or part time. In the universities we visited, flexible also included recognition of prior learning, work based learning, being able to enter learning without fulfilling formal requirements and taster courses.

Scottish Centre for Work based Learning was a good example of this. A part of Glasgow Caledonian University, it provides courses, training and education in close cooperation with employers and organisations, providing just-in-time learning that can also result in academic degrees. Engaging in learning contracts with every student, the centre develops study programs that let working professionals get academic credits while developing very relevant skills in what they think useful, even having the option to have work projects as their assessment.

Other great places to visit were the University of Highlands and Islands and the University of Edinburgh. Both demonstrated successful implementation of flexibility and technology enhanced learning, brining quality education to larger groups of learners. Two things they had in common to explain their success were thoroughness and professionalism. The development was secured with the senior managers, who were not afraid to dig in and get their hands dirty, so to speak. When pedagogical staff were motivated to go digital, they were supported both technically and legally. The universities didn’t just have visions; they had professional project management and change management. They were willing to spend the time and money necessary. For them “moocs” and “flexible education” became a part of “how we do things around here”, not just icing on the cake.

The people we spoke to all thought there was a new wind blowing; teachers are sharing and collaborating more than they used to, not only because they have to, but because they want to. Maybe they define themselves as context rather than content. This might very well increase the quality of education. It is even a viable business model.

By: Kari Olstad


Regjeringen gir tilsvar på OECDs rapport om kompetansestrategi

For et halvt år siden stilte OECD sin diagnose av det norske kompetansesystemet, og torsdag 4. september kom resepten da strategirapporten ble presentert på Freia sjokoladefabrikk.

OECD-direktør Andreas Schleicher la fram fem tiltak som svar på det som er framhevet som Norges hovedutfordring: at vi har for store ubrukte ressurser. Vi får ikke ut kompetansepotensialet i befolkningen.

De fem viktigste tiltakene OECD anbefaler Norge å iverksette:

1. Utvikle en nasjonal kompetansepolitisk strategi

2. Lage en nasjonal handlingsplan for etter- og videreutdanning

3. Styrke sammenhengen mellom utvikling av kompetanse og økonomisk vekst

4. Utvikle et helhetlig system for livslang karriereveiledning

5. Styrke insentivene for at flere skal jobbe i yrker med mangel på arbeidskraft

Etter- og videreutdanningssystemene vil møte mange utfordringer både når det gjelder kapasitet og infrastruktur. Fleksibel utdanning Norges medlemmer har viktig kunnskap og erfaring som trengs for å være med på å bygge opp et godt system, og de kan bidra sterkt til handlingsplanen som nevnt i punkt to.

Norge skal vokte seg vel for å ta snarveier for å løse kapasitetsproblemene. Kvalitet koster, og ingen er tjent på kompromisser på det området. FuN bør derfor  være en av premissleverandørene for et etter- og videreutdanningssystem som faktisk fører fram mot den kompetanseutviklingen Norge etterspør –nå og i framtiden.

Kunnskapsministerens innlegg fulgte OECD-direktørens, og Røe Isaksen lovte at Regjeringen Solberg skal være den første regjeringen som legger fram en samlet kompetansepolitisk strategi i samarbeid med sentrale aktører og interessenter for å styrke økonomisk verdiskapning, konkurransekraft og produktivitet, men først og fremst er det en strategi for å investere i mennesker.

Se hele innslaget.

Les kommentaren fra Virke.

Jeg er blitt en ivrig moocer

Av: Kari Olstad

Jeg moocer på Coursera og FutureLearn, og gleder meg til å gå løs på Canvas. Erfaringen med kvalitet så langt? Høyst varierende, fra et av de beste kurs jeg har tatt til følelsen av at jeg egentlig ikke har tid til å kaste bort så mange timer av mitt liv.

Om kvalitet skal måles etter læringsutbytte, var den beste moocen også den mest krevende. Gode videoleksjoner var supplert av omfattende skriftlig materiale, og oppnådd kunnskap ble testet underveis, ikke bare i form av selvrettende tester, men også obligatoriske skriftlige oppgaver med kameratvurdering. Meget lærerikt, men krever også en streng struktur. Tidsfristene er, og må være, fullstendig rigide. En normal norsk påskeferie var nesten nok til å velte det åtte uker lange opplegget.

Jeg vet hvor mye innsats læring krever, men jeg er ikke noe mindre glad i snarveier for det. Det får jeg i mange moocer. Korte greie videoer og skriftlige oppsummeringer på under 300 ord. Ikke-obligatorisk lærestoff hopper jeg greit over, hvis testene er så enkle at minimum er nok for å få full pott. Jeg er tidvis en lat, liten moocer, men vil skrekkelig gjerne bestå kurset.

Det er svært ressurskrevende å lage virkelig gode moocer, kurs som faktisk fører til det læringsutbytte man er ute etter. Kurs som ikke lurer deg til å tro at du har oppnådd mer enn du faktisk har. Utdanningsinstitusjoner trenger pene tall –en måte å få det på er gjennom gode studentresultater, og gode studentresultater kan du blant annet få gjennom Fjordland-moocer.

For meg er mooc ikke metoden jeg ville valgt om jeg skulle omskolere meg til noe helt nytt, eller gå i dybden på fagområder jeg har kompetanse i, men jeg synes det er en mye bedre, og ofte mer underholdende, bruk av kveldstimene enn å se på serier på Netflix.

Vi mooces!