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Alexandra Okada, Tuesday 11 November 2014

Dr. Izabel Meister, who was a PhD student in KMi in 2012, has just published a book about her thesis, which was launched today in Brazil.

Her thesis co-supervised by Dr. Okada - “The weaving of knowledge in social networks habitat of collective intelligences” – focused on social networks as a space of creation and acquisition of knowledge. She analysed some social networks in FaceBook and in the OER Tool-Library of the European Project: OpenScout developed by KMi team: Dr. Alexander Mikroyannidis, Dr. Suzanne Little, Dr. Ale Okada and Dr. Peter Scott. 

FOREWORD written by Ale Okada

“The third edge: knowledge in social networks” is an interdisciplinary book that points out the collective intelligence of social networks as well as the convergence and expansion of knowledge from the “Relevant Status”.

The curious title proposed by Izabel Meister is an invitation to reflect on the social network knowledge as a means of transcending the delimited boundaries via the third edge which leads to the break-up of delimited spaces. So, according to Foucault (1997:356) “a place without a place, that exists by itself”; refers to a space without space, or better put, a space of every space. In this sense, the author discusses contemporary knowledge on the web, based on the abundant access to, information and sources, in which the process of construction transcends the predetermined spaces and times that were established for this purpose. Here a third way flourishes, which invites us readers to think differently about the construction of knowledge of and within the social networks (Okada, 2014).

This work studies the interdependent processes in which knowledge is updated and expanded to connections between many participants, in a complex, chaotic and hyperdynamic way – aspects of the web and of the openness movement towards cyberculture studied by many authors (Castells, 2005; Jones, 1998). Nevertheless, “The third edge” proposes a different look at the emergence of collective intelligences which can be activated at any time and space as soon as they have been visualised by the “relevant status”, term defined by Meister as “due to its importance according to its utility, timeliness or meaning”.

Meister’s contribution offers us a valuable new outlook on Education and Cyberculture through the innovation of the process of construction of knowledge, which is based on her dissertation at Mackenzie University in São Paulo and the Open University in Milton Keynes (UK). At  the Open University, she worked at the Knowledge Media Institute on and with open search networks as part  of the Colearn project - Collaborative Open Learning (

In the three chapters of this publication, we can find the initial point of this research, the methodology of investigation and the conceptional and empirical principles of interactive, complex and chaotic culture, from which social networks emerge. Based on the interconnection of these three seminal references, we can consider the threading of web knowledge and the theory of Relevant Status explained in the last chapters.

This book is a source of discussion for many readers:

  • Creators, co-learners and network users in many fields, including individuals responsible for spreading knowledge and information on social media.

  • Researchers and webdesigners for educational learning that incorporate educational resources on the web and new media;

  • Academic researchers in the fields of formal and informal education, including Cyberculture, Online Pedagogy, Teacher Training courses including ICT and Colearn in the digital era;

  • Professionals interested in using social network for educational and/or organizational projects; 

The objectives of “The third edge: knowledge in social network” for all of us – participants, co-learners and co-authors of knowledge in 21st century Cyberculture – are:

  • Contributing to an understanding of contemporary education;

  • Considering that the social web is a space for the construction of knowledge;

  • Understanding that the social networks have different and proper processes of construction of knowledge, with specific issues related to Cyberculture and social webs;

  • Understanding that this knowledge can only be provided by a relevance in time, based on observed Relevant Status;

  • Acknowledging that this process implies  collective, collaborative and open intelligence;

  • Emphasising the fluid and transcendent aspects of the boundaries between work, culture, leisure and social fields.

When we drive our attention to the fragments of human knowledge within the sophisticated and complex virtual social networks, we shall have to consider the discussion proposed by this book and the invitation to contribute to the reflective discussion on the space of contemporary knowledge.  From here arises the opportunity to meet the Third Edge.

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Alexandra Okada, Thursday 30 October 2014

EDENRW8, which was held in Oxford on 27-28 October 2014, provided a good overview of the current state of online, open and distance learning in Europe.  This event was organised by Professor Antonio Moreira Teixeira, President of EDEN from the Open University of Portugal, and Professor Belinda Tynan, Pro Vice-Chanchellor on Learning & Teaching at the Open University UK, with official Rapporteur, Professor Tony Bates.

Ale Okada presented “Developing 21st Century Skills through Colearning with OER and Social Networks”. Her research focuses on COLEARN, an open research network constituted by communities of educators, students and researchers who have been participating in various OER international projects, including OpenLearn (2006-2009), OpenScout (2010-2012) and weSPOT(2013-2015).This study presented a group of skills that emerged in the COLEARN network during the production of the research book “OER and Social Networks”. The coauthoring process was based on colearning approach with OER and social networks. Her work presented in EDEN was also published in the book “Key competences for colearning in the digital age” by WhiteBooks Publishers in Portugal, which was launched during the event.

Almost 150 participants from more than 30 countries presented over 40 selected research papers. There were lots of opportunity for deep dialogues and feedback on our research through very interactive sessions: team symposia, ‘research-speed-dating’ papers, demonstrations, poster sessions, a connect lounge and informal sessions.

Tony Bates presented great comments during the workshop and in his blog, which were summarised below. Research on Open Education:

  • Most practitioners – instructors, teachers and computer scientists  – are unaware of the major research findings and best practices about online  teaching and learning particularly to the management of online discussions and   online course design   

  • Some mistakes being made through MOOCs:  unmonitored student discussion, the re-invention of the wheel through online courses for the masses, discovering what has already been known for many years: students like immediate feedback.

  • More and more instructors are moving into blended and hybrid learning, but are unaware of knowledge about online learners and their behaviour.

  • Successful innovation is more cumulative than “a leap into the dark”.  

The complexity of teaching and learning:

  • Learning is a process, not a product.

  • There are different epistemological positions about what constitutes knowledge and how to teach it,

  • Above all, identifying desirable learning outcomes is a value-driven decision

  • If we want to develop the skills needed in a digital age, the traditional lecture-based model, whether offered face-to-face or online, is inadequate.

  • Academic knowledge is different from everyday knowledge; academic knowledge means transforming understanding of the world through evidence, theory and rational argument/dialogue.

  • Learning is heavily influenced by the context in which it takes place: one critical variable is the qualities of course design; another is the role of expert teachers/instructors. 

  • These variables are likely to be more important than any choice of technology or delivery mode.

Some challenges for Researchers on Online teaching and learning:

  • Poorly funded by the research councils.

  • There are many different variables which affects learning

  • Most studies are small scale, qualitative and practitioner-driven.

  • Most research in online learning is published in journals that are not read by either practitioners or computer scientists  

  • Integration of research findings is difficult, although Anderson & Zawacki-Richter (2104) have done a good work

  • Online learning is still a relatively new field, less than 20 years old

  • Most instructors at a post-secondary level have no formal training in any form of teaching and learning  

Multiple audiences to be reached:

  • Practitioners: teachers and instructors

  • Senior managers and administrators in educational institutions

  • Computer scientists and entrepreneurs interested in educational services or products

  • Government and other funding agencies.

Next Steps:

  1. How best to identify the key research findings on online learning around which most experienced practitioners and researchers can agree

  2. The best means to get these messages out to the various stakeholders.

“I believe that this is an important role for organizations such as EDEN, EDUCAUSE, ICDE, but it is also a responsibility for every one of us who works in the field and believes passionately about the value of online learning”. (Bates, 2014)

Related Links:

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Alexandra Okada, Thursday 25 September 2014

The ENGAGE project meeting and the First Seminar on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Science Education was held in Paris at the “L’espace des Sciences Pierre-Gilles de Gennes” – ESPCI ParisTech during the 22nd  to 24th of September. This European event was organised by Alexandra Okada (OU - KMi) and  Matteo Merzagora (TRACES). There were more than fifty experts in RRI including Inquiry based Learning as well as more than twenty  leaders representing more than twenty five European projects. The aim of this seminar was to create an opportunity for knowledge exchange among FP7 and H2020 projects and experts that contribute(d) to connect Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE).

“RRI is an inclusive approach to research and innovation (R&I), to ensure that societal actors work together during the whole research and innovation process. It aims to better align both the process and outcomes of R&I, with the values, needs and expectations of European society.”

Some keys identified in the RRI approach are “Engagement”, “Gender Equality”, “Science Education”, “Ethics”, “Open Access” and “Governance”. Formal and informal education play a crucial role to mainstream these approaches in the scientific and social practices. By embedding the above mentioned areas in the teaching practices, we contribute to the shaping of the vision of science in future generations.

This is why several recent FP7 and H2020 projects (ENGAGE being one of them) put efforts in developing the links between RRI and Science Education (with a special focus on IBSE).

This event in Paris intended to identify existing specific expertise in other projects that are useful for ones’ own project, in order to avoid missing connections between people and projects.

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