Thursday, December 08, 2005

14. Web 2.0 and Future Education

In the dark, as it is not advertised, a new phenomenon is rising in cyber space: Web 2.0. Coined by Tim O´Reilly in 2004, the concept of Web 2.0 has clearly taken a foothold with 9,5 million citations in Google in September 2005 and 240 million citations only two months later. This article presents seven characteristics of future education based on Web 2.0 technologies to be further explored in seven articles to come.

What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is a term describing an ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. What we are seeing is a new wave of Internet development offering a more dynamic online experience at low cost, using established software tools. By the way, thanks Keso, whoever you are, for offering your photo above for free at Flickr, one fine example of a Web 2.0 company.

Exploiting the value of sharing
Web 2.0 companies exploit the value of sharing and find alternative business models to earn their living. Flickr, for example, was sold to Yahoo with the business case of drawing more visitors to and their commercial advertisers. E-bay buying Skype was motivated by a similar logic. So instead of selling a product, Web 2.0 companies offers participation for free (at least for basic functions), building value by attracting a crowd for companies selling services and products or private donors wanting to see this happen, for example a Wikipedia. In my view, the need for personal recognition in a mass consumer society is what ultimately supports this change, at least from an end-user perspective.

Google, the next Microsoft?
Another example is, of course, Google, offering free services supported by advertising, a very different way of doing business than Microsoft. Google gives up on the big customers (initially) and go for the 80% whose needs are not met. In return of giving up something expensive and considered critical (Google´s search function), they got something valuable for free that was once expensive, as marketing on the web. Through customer-self service (Google Adsense), Google reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the centre, to the long tail and not just the head. The future norm is predicted to be just this: tapping into applications as services over the web, rather than using pieces of software loaded on computers.

Front figures on the web
Other successful companies in the Web 2.0 spirit are:, Skype, e-bay, Amazon, Apple, along with a number of start-ups offering various tools of participations, such as:
i) writely - using the web as a word processor
jotspot - co-creating web-pages, also known as wikis
blogger - enable private web logs, or blogs
flock - free, open source web-browser
fon - sharing wifi broadband access
vi) - social bookmark management, also known as tagging

Seven core competencies
Tim O´Reilly identifies
seven core competencies of Web 2.0 companies:

Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
2) Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
3) Trusting users as co-developers
4) Harnessing collective intelligence
5) Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
6) Software above the level of a single device
7) Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

Seven characteristics of future education
How are schools and universities to adapt to the influence of Web 2.0 technologies, manifested through an increasing student usage of these technologies outside the classroom for social networking, information gathering and value creation? In light of the seven core competencies identified by O´Reilly, I believe more attention has to be placed on helping students co-create:

1) Student driven educational services converting
students/employees into customer driven content providers rather than teacher driven content receivers, using Web 2.0 technologies to offer educational services, financed through Google Adsense, to potential customers world-wide.
2) Professional networks of trust enabling greater outreach and feedback on the use of student core competencies, with trust as the unique, hard-to-recreate asset, and increasing network value as more people join in.
3) Tailor-made learning modules adapted to the needs of identified customers students are trying to help, thus having people outside the classroom as co-developers of course content when defining what students need to know.
4) Share points of knowledge exploring new topics through collaborative learning, using Web 2.0 technologies to build common understanding through developing the collective intelligence of a web community, for example tagging and wikis.
5) Niche products and services for specialised market needs and test them in practice, as part of their educational program, developing their own customer self-service applications for real problems, drawing upon existing Web 2.0 technologies to administer their services.

6) Integrated educational packages that brings on-campus education into the streets, like pervasive gaming where computer games are played in reality and not sitting in front of the computer, using mobile technology as well as positioning and sensors. For example making the City as Theatre or Nature as Laboratory.
7) International development clusters where core competences in one part of the world tackle mass markets needs for low cost products in another part of the world, like
Design that Matters with its worldwide system enabling the citizen sector, university students, and businesses to jointly innovate for social change.

Creating conditions for open innovation
The trick for organisations seems to be to have external persons complement internal efforts of applying core competencies in practice by establishing a web platform for
open innovation. If successful, a number of specialised services will arise that uses the organisation’s core data, thus creating a better position to fight off competition and attract new partners.

Coming up
For more on the seven future forms of education outlined above, follow this blog. The next one coming up is: "1) Scalable educational services".

- Nutall, C. “Way of the web: start-ups map the route as big rivals get Microsoft in their sights”. In Financial Times (2005-11-17), pg 11
- Torstensson, H. “Därför ska du göra din sajt till en plattform” [That´s why you should make your site into a platform]. In Internet World(December 2005), number 10, pg 63

Friday, November 25, 2005

13. Learners as entrepreneurs

One way to foster passionate learners is to think of them as entrepreneurs. As such, there are certain driving factors that need to be in play in order for them to operate properly.

Driving factors for entrepreneurs*
Motivation is one driving factor, propelled by the:
Need for achievement;
- Desire for independence;
- Wish of better working conditions;
- Longing to act like entrepreneurial their role-models;
- Thrill of risk-taking.

An enabling environment is another driving factor involving, for example:
- A vision or sense that motivates the initiator to act;
- Skills and expertise including present know-how plus confidence to be able to obtain know-how needed in the future;
- Expectation of personal economic and/or psychological benefits;
- Access to digital tools of participation;
- Conditions and policies providing comfort and support.

Naturally, the importance of these factors varies for each learner and learning situation. Nonetheless, raising awareness of the driving factors, in-group or on a one-to-one basis, helps boost motivation and identify deficiencies in the enabling online environment.

Need to involve risks
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by default. Oddly enough, taking risks when converting passion into new possibilities seems to lower the risk as successful entrepreneurs generate more options for themselves than risk-avert people. Could it be that risk-averts are the real risk-takers, as the former are more vulnerable to change than the latter? Change being the only thing we know for sure will happen.

If we are to learn from entrepreneurs, a passionate learning environment needs to involve risk at some level, real or imagined. Not forgetting that passionate learning, just like entrepreneurship, can hardly be taught, as the founder of Body Shop Dame Anita Roddick in the picture above claims. What is possible, though, is to strengthen the enabling learning environment.

Learning about the rules of the game
Viewing online learning educators as first and foremost providing an arena for learners to expand their zone of influence, the challenge is to motivate the learners to not only invest their intellectual capabilities, but also their social being and economic resources, converted into time units, to create opportunities beyond the online classroom. In other words, enthuse them to take risks. In its most straightforward form, it is about inspiring learners to formulate, ask and reformulate, questions that help them learn the rules of the game you want them to play.

Learning as an entrepreneur is to take a personal responsibility in making your passion become your guiding star, drawing energy from your inner self and view slip-ups as an valuable learning opportunity. In fact, “the road to success is to double your mistakes”, if we are to take the advice from the founder of IBM.

* Shane S, Korvereid L, Westhead P. The Quest for Holy Grail: Looking for a Universal Theory of the Motivations and Environmental Influences that Promote Entrepreneurship. Working Paper No. 3024/1991. Bodö Graduate School of Business, Nordland University Centre. In Lordkipanidze M, Brezet H, Backman M. The Entrepreneurship Factor in Sustainable Tourism Development. Draft paper. International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University.

Friday, November 11, 2005

12. Tools of participation

”Tools of participation – that is the new economy. You cannot package an authentic experience. You set the stage and let people script their own dramas.”

Word of mouth only
Those are the words of David Batstone
, an american business entrepreneur, professor and journalist, I heard speak at the SIME ´05 conference. With the Internet we are moving away from information society, dominated by top-down mass-market approach, to an interaction society characterised by participation. Tools of participation are enabling this, expanding rapidly by word of mouth only. In fact, many of the highest valued brands today are not doing any marketing at all. They let the users do it for them.

Creating economic value
David Batstone writes: “The online world, in my humble view, has tapped out its usefulness as a static kiosk. Yes, it's a terrific reference librarian, retail outlet, and one-stop data shop. But the next quantum growth for the Internet will arrive with participation technologies that give us the tools to transform our lives. In truth, the Net as a communications platform has been my sense of its real potentiality all along. It is the first glimpse of an emerging economy. You give me the tools to make my own personal history, to change my life, to feel in a new way, to participate in something authentic, you will own a piece of economic value.”

Examples of enablers
The open source model used for Linux is well known. Over 20 million programmers are jointly developing code together. The free Internet telephone software Skype, with 200 million user (Nov, 2005) and the search engine Google
are other tools of participation. “Internet is reducing the transaction costs and entry barriers in all industries”, says Andrew McLauchglin, chief policy officer of Google Inc. This gives rise to hyper competition, but also enables smaller brands to sell their products. For example, over 700 000 people selling goods and services in the US have e-Bay as their main source of income. CDBaby has enabled some 400 000 independent bands to sell their music.

Online social networking
Other tools of participation are CIWI and Open BC
enabling social networking on line. OpenBC has some 650 000 members mainly in Europe and Asia, available in 16 languages, enabling the members to not only keep track of what their contacts, and their contacts contacts, are doing, but also where they are at a specific moment in time. Speaking about social networking, the online community Lunarstorm is in fact the largest city in Sweden with 1.2 million users, representing 75% of all young kids in Sweden. With 1.3 billion web pages linked to every month, it is as big as the largest online newspaper in India. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit has over 800 000 articles in the US only. Habbo Hotel, a virtual hang-out pixelized as a 5-star luxury hotel, engage 5 million users with an annual turnover of 40 million euros.

Click on the title of this blog (“12. Tools of participation”) to read the whole article by David Batstone

Sunday, October 30, 2005

11. Multiple use of live chat

Live support through online chat is a feature on the rise. According to an Andersen Consulting review, 62 % of Internet consumers said that if live online customer service were present, they would purchase more products online. What can we learn from this when it comes to higher education?

One advantage is related to student enrollment. When more and more educational institutions are competing for the best students, answering questions from potential students in real time instead of via e-mail could make a difference. Easy access to someone behind the scenes could also reassure those who have opted for a program that they made the right decision. But then, isn´t this creating more adminstration than reducing it? From an inside-out perspective it certainly is. Students are demanding and it is best to keep them at arms lenghts.

In an online environment, however, the on-campus benefits of socialising off-hours are not there. More effort has to be invested in attracting and keeping the students on track. Fast feed-back is one feature to ensure this. Setting up fixed office-hours, for example, for live chat support means no major changes to present working routines, as you are able work with your computer while waiting for an incoming chat. This highligts, however, the need to organise all relevant student information in an easy accessible way, so that any member of staff can be available for a chat at given time-slot. With all basic information present online, it is not a matter of repeating the same answer all the time, but actually building a relation with future students, who in turn may act as ambassadors to attract other students. Perhaps a role to be played by former students, the alumni?

This, is the outside-in perspective. Lund University is actually doing a similar thing by offering future students access to a web-ambassador. They are still at the e-mail stage though...

Ps. Try Live Chat for yourself by downloading a demo version of Bold Chat or Provide Support. Ds.

Friday, September 30, 2005

10. Trimming CIU program

On September 6th CIU arranged a breakfast seminar for its network members on the experiences of using distance education in their cultural youth exchange program with Costa Rica. t42 Distance Education was invited to address three questions, see below.

What were the added values?
The distance education course forced the organisers and participants to relate, and interact with, a shared framework or mind-set. The purpose being to help local entrepreneurs support a more sustainable tourism. Placing this framework on a web-based educational platform accessible at all times, at least in theory, made it a focal point regardless of geographical boundaries. Although Internet access was low, preparing, supporting and working with the booklet version of the course, raised a number of issues to be dealt with. A process that deepened the cooperation between the project managers in Costa Rica and Sweden, brought new dimensions to team couple relations, strengthened relations with the municipality hosting the program and built a bridge between University and society.

The main added value was the sense of reciprocity it developed as the parties involved had to learn from each other in order to move the course forward, covering aspects such as guiding ideas, methods, tools and organisation. Aspects that in turn form the foundation of a learning organisation.

What made it work?
Factors contributing to the success of the program include high quality tutors, interest for sustainability issues, the problem-based learning method and the communication aspect of the Internet.

The tutors were vital for the end-result, as they lead and coach the participants, as well as sell the idea to the municipality. The sustainability issue seemed to attract the participants, although it took some effort in converting the abstract words into something tangible in their immediate surroundings. The problem-based learning method challenged the students to formulate their own questions, rather than trying to remember the ideas of someone else. Using the Internet for chat conversations on the web-based educational platform, enabled participants and resource persons to meet up on either side of the Atlantic in real time.

In sum, the course tested and improved the participants´ leadership abilities, awareness of sustainable development challenges, ability to learn-how-to-learn as well as handle digital working tools.

What can be improved?
The CIU learning-by-doing approach strengthened by the problem-based learning method has great advantages of increasing self-awareness and providing tools for approaching real-life unstructured problems. Although it encourages the participant to dig where he/she is standing in terms of level of understanding, the more confident student will always have an advantage over the less confident one. This confidence, however, is not only a matter of obtaining good grades at school, but also being used to non-hierarchical teaching methods or not. To overcome communication barriers due to different levels of pre-knowledge, more training is needed in the beginning of the course, especially for the tutors. Not only understanding the method in theory, but having the opportunity to try it out in practice before meeting the participants.

There are a number of improvement possibilities related to the host community. A major challenge is to find ways of integrating the course more closely to the core of the cultural exchange program. Perhaps by focusing more on trying a project idea in practice provided by the host community, rather than identifying it in the first place. This could be one way for the participants to faster work their way into the community and add value for the local entrepreneurs.

It was noted that in Costa Rica the lack of information caused difficulties. Interesting enough in Sweden the situation was the opposite. Here, information surplus caused new problems. The lesson to be learnt is that access to information is not a solution in itself. Evaluating the information and turning it into something useful is what counts in the end. Still, given the limited time the participants have at their disposal, providing a reference case study could be one way of lowering the level of initial frustration and injecting a bit more confidence in the learning process.

Finally, technological barriers are still an issue. Internet access meant some six hours journey in Costa Rica. Still, the situation in Sweden was not considerable better, as access to public computers is limited and Internet cafés are not an option in small towns on the countryside. Preconceived assumptions need to be challenged, again and again.

Monday, August 29, 2005

9. On ICP-course development

Here follows my answers to Jordan Gold, Canada, former staff member at Global 100, regarding his thesis for a Master in Environmental Management and Policy at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University. He defended his thesis "Design and Use of E-Learning to Accelerate Progress Towards Sustainable Development: A Case Study" on Sep 27th.

The answers are related to the second round (2003-2005) of developing and running the Introduction to Cleaner Production and Sustainable Development (ICP) distance education course for Lund University as independent consultant. The first round (1998-2000) was developed under the leadership of Professor Don Huisingh.

1. Do you feel like you had the necessary resources to develop and run the course in the best way possible?
The approach we have taken for the ICP course is to focus on human interaction by engaging non-paid former ICP-course participants, IIIEE Alumni, IIIEE researchers and other experts in the environmental field. Spending more time on people than technology is cheaper and, in several cases, has lead to fruitful follow-up projects. This increased the efficiency of the limited resources offered to run the course.

2. What have been the biggest mistakes made during the development and running of the course?
The biggest mistakes have been to underestimate the time it takes to build a functioning web-community, when you add all the bits and pieces of booking external resource persons, communicating dates to the course participants, adding news features and making assignments self-explanatory with templates and links. On the other hand, this “mistake” of investing a lot of time in the course is what contributed heavily to the good end results.

3. What have been the biggest surprises during the development and running of the course?
The biggest surprise is that it actually works to run academic courses globally on the web, without ever meeting face-to-face, attaining similar academic quality and level of interaction as on-campus courses. The overwhelming positive responses from some of the course participants are always a pleasant and welcome surprise.

4. You said that you have had trouble finding the right pedagogical approach, which will work in distance learning. What have you found does not work? Have you determined what does work best?
What works is supporting experience sharing among the course participants. What does not work is to assume that as long as the course content is interesting, the course will run by itself. As course administrator you need to “sell” the course to the course participants again and again, combining challenging task with encouraging words and building personal relationships with each and every one.

5. Have you ever had problems with interaction between tutor and student, student and student, etc.?
There have been a few misunderstandings, but nothing that could not be sorted out. Normal courtesy is an effective medicine. Moreover, course participants are more often than not aware of cultural differences and try to first understand and then judge. There was a case back in 1998 when I did give a blunt statement on a student report that caused some tears, as this middle-aged woman, it turned out, was on sick-leave while recovering from a period of heavy stress. We worked it out, though.

6. How do you find balance between controlling the course as a teacher/tutor and in giving the learner the space and freedom they require?
Teachers often offer their courses in a way that reflects their own thinking, and tend to favour students who think like themselves. Therefore, what does work is to provide a wide variety of ways to interact with the course material, such as electronic discussions, open-ended assignments, specific reading assignments, one-to-one conversations, traditional exams, field studies etcetera, and giving them equal importance. Catering for different learning styles increases the chances of finding at least one favoured way for the student to engage in deep learning.

7. Do you determine what knowledge and skills the students have before they begin the course?
As the ICP-course is an introductory course, and the idea is for students with varying background to learn more about preventive environmental strategies, the level of knowledge is set to at least two years of full time studies at University level. Most course participants who complete the course, however, are already working with environmental issues as professionals, researchers, volunteers or last-year university students.

8. What kind of feedback is provided to the student and what kind of feedback do the students provide to the teacher (feedback i.e. guidance, answers, input, etc.)?
The ICP-course include various forms of feed-back: personal e-mails with the course co-ordinator, two electronic forums and a specific electronic chat hour each week, along with team work that course participants arrange themselves through a rotating chairperson.

9. Are there any sections of the course, which the students do independently, or are most of their actions interlinked with the tutor and/or the other students (i.e. some e-learning programs are simply the student and the computer; a.k.a. standalone format)?
During the first 10 weeks, the students complete 14 learning units organised as predominantly self-study. This is followed by a home-exam. Those who pass the exam are allowed to continue with the teamwork and project work. This is one way of offering the course to many while spending precious teacher/tutor time on the students most likely to pass the course.

10. Would you ever give the course in a standalone format?
No. If so, it would be designed in a different way.

11. In the course, do you discuss the difference between single-loop and double-loop learning?
No, I do not discuss the difference in the course, but I use the loop-concept when building some of the assignments.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

8. How to work virtual networks

Workshop presentation on the use of distance education at the IIIEE Alumni Network Conference (May 21st), Lund University, Sweden.

iiiee building, Lund University

Working our personal networks is something we all need to improve to create the change we want. A useful perspective in this context is to understand organisations as a social construction or a story we tell and re-tell. How we perceive an organisation and its future is actually what it becomes, like a mental film that directs our intentions and emotions.

Here, the art of formulating constructive questions is in itself an important change factor. It steers our focus when searching new information to act upon. Information that refines the story of what the organisation is all about. In turn, building and maintaining a powerful story supporting the mission of an organisation calls for more effective forms of experience sharing, using the Internet as a communication tool many-to-many, rather than just one-to-many. Framing it within a distance education course is one way of doing this.

Now, if experience sharing is important, how to promote the virtual networks supporting it? In other words, what gives life to a distance education course? The following account is based on experiences from the ICP-course presented in “5. ICP course in 52 countries”.

1) Personal motivation
Motivation fuelled by accessing a virtual arena that is global in participant outreach matching the global scope of the ICP-course. An arena that converts passion into concrete action, opens up for new forms of alliances outside the course curriculum, and is used for in-house competence development.

2) Experience sharing
Sharing ideas on-line in an electronic discussion forum or chat is more personal, constructive and democratic than most participants imagined. Personal as written text can be very personal. Constructive as questions and answers builds a common understanding through reflection. Democratic when ´one person-one voice´ is practiced in reality, as everybody is able to write comments at the same time.

3) Course administrator
The administrator’s role in distance education is to provide a functioning web-technology, web-pedagogy and web-instructions. The web-based educational platform has to be reliable, with an intuitive self-explanatory user interface. The web-pedagogy has to allow for different learning styles. The web-instructions has to be clear enough to stand alone, with all course information accessible 3-clicks away, and stress the point that the team is the participant’s greatest asset.

4) Course content
The course content is important, but not the most important driver for completing a distance education course. Presenting the content has to be done in an inspiring, practicable and chewable way. Inspiring as to provide a movement and direction when filling the gap between the present and a desired future. Practical as to answer up to the key question for the participant: what is in it for me? Chewable as to use the Internet as a communication tool rather than information dissemination device.

What does not give life to a distance education virtual network?
Naturally, this is a large question. Sticking to the four aspects presented above, I would say that lack of personal purpose, collaboration possibilities, supporting organisation and inspirational material are crucial elements to take into account and deal with.

Working virtual networks is vital for building a learning organisation. Read more in the coming follow-up article on the IST-course presented in “3. Sustainable tourism in Costa Rica”.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

7. Inspired by social entrepreneurs

What can we learn from social entrepreneurs when supporting collaborative learning at a distance?

Making a change in the world, something to be remembered for, however big or small, is an underlying driver we all share as humans. A motivator the accessible, non-hierarchical, Internet is especially well suited to serve as a mean to an end. Here we have a lot to learn from social entrepreneurs, like these people of the non-profit Ashoka organization offering “market solutions to social problems”.

Distance education from this social entrepreneur perspective is about supporting change makers to join in and share experiences with the goal of promoting social/environmental innovations for the common good. A kind of joint effort to improve our social software, just like the non-profit open source initiative improves technical software:

“The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.”

The idea of open source is similar to the idea of open innovation, where research results are licensed out to other firms who take it to the market, creating a win-win situation. In turn, the
open innovation paradigm creates a new arena for social entrepreneurs, who may act as laboratories to test real services on real customers before implementing it on a larger scale in organizations and nations. Something that may be even more useful than hypothetical market research, according to Chesbrough. Some established actors may see this as a threat, others see it as an opportunity to unleash the potential of their co-workers and reach/create new markets. Here, collaborative learning at a distance can play a vital role by forging new partnerships in fluid and vibrant web-communities.

What makes these web-communities prosper, in my experience, is very similar to the mechanics behind how social entrepreneurs engage the hearts and minds of their co-workers with barely any resources but their credibility, social capital and shared commitment. If positive change is the goal, then e
ducating new social entrepreneurs, and having more seasoned social entrepreneurs act as facilitators in distance education courses, is one inspiring road to success.

Examples of open innovation:
- ...and sustainability: DElabs.
- ...and social entrepreneurship: Promsing Practices in Afterschool (a 3 billion dollar industry in the US)

Monday, April 25, 2005

6. Learning together for a cause

On May 2-4, the yearly “Dare to Be Your Own” (Våga vara egen) event will take place at the Älvsjö trade fair in Stockholm, Sweden. High school students from all over Sweden competes for the best Young Entrepreneur company 2004-2005. The idea is to start, run and terminate a company during one year as part of their school curriculum. The energy, engagement and creativity these young people demonstrate are what entrepreneurship is all about: realize an idea to the benefit of themselves and others.

In Sweden where youth employment is soaring, where the employment rate among people capable of working is extremely worrying and a well functioning national integration policy is frightfully absent, entrepreneurship is a key area to prioritize.

Entrepreneurship, however, is not only about making money, although this is a precondition. All over the world a new civil sector is growing up between the public and the private. A sector that is driven by social entrepreneurs who are able to find new models to create wealth, social well being and safeguard the environment. Here is a possibility to work for what you care about, with what you are good at and enjoy doing, every day, and make a real difference. One example is Björn Söderberg, nominated the Best Idea Driven Entrepreneur 2004 by the Swedish Federation of Private Enterprisees for his company Watabaran in Nepal, selling designed Christmas cards made of paper wastes.

What we see emerging is something that resembles a market economy of social ideas. During the 1990s, the civil sector grew by 60% in the United States and some estimates hold that that there are 2 million citizen groups of which 70% has emerged during the last 30 years. Moreover, international civil organisations has increased from 6 000 to 26 000 during the 90s. Global initiatives created to meet social problems as environmental destruction, entrenched poverty, health catastrophes, human rights abuses, failing education systems, and escalating violence. Initiatives coordinated via Internet accessible from all over the world with people self-organising faster than companies and government traditionally serving them, as pointed out in the 95 thesis of the Cluetrain manifesto. A collaborative learning process for a cause where distance is no barrier.

Society profits from entrepreneurship. The young people who competed in last weeks Young Entrepreneurship event ”Dare to Be Your Own” should not be just a fresh wind. They should rather represent the norm in a society where building companies and entrepreneurship are seen as invaluable elements in building our common civil society.

Read more
- Ung Företagsamhet (Young Entrepreneurs) (In Swedish only)
- Watabaran, an ethical business in Nepal
- Bornstein, D., (2004), ”How to change the world – Social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas”, Oxford University Press

Monday, April 18, 2005

5. ICP course in 52 countries

Ensuring environmental sustainability is one of UN´s millennium development goals, which 191 UN member states have pledged to meet by year 2015. The primary agent for transformation towards this end is education, as declared in the UN Decade for Education on Sustainable Development (2005-2014). "Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, it also provides the motivation, justification, and social support for pursuing and applying them."

One example of IIIEE´s outreach activities is the distance education course “Introduction to Cleaner Production and Sustainable Development” (ICP). During the past 18 months, some 267 course participants, or change agents, from 52 countries have been registered on this 20-week part-time course qualifying, amongst other things, web-tutors for the IIIEE Young Masters Program (YMP).

The ICP-course is a living example of entirely on-line collaborative learning. These change agents learn to know more about preventive environmental strategies. They learn to live together (in a web-community) by approaching an ill-structured real-world environmental problem on sustainable tourism. They learn to apply their skills in practice by doing an initial environmental review in a small organisation of 5-50 employees, thus contributing to raised environmental awareness in the local community.

Strengthening change makers far away is made possible by a web-pedagogy that facilitates learning to know, to live together and to do. Ample evidence suggests that this strengthens the course participant’s own willingness to learn to be in conjunction with the sustainable development principles, as demonstrated in the ICP-course evaluations:

Final evaluation (June 6th), 2004
Final evaluation (January 12th), 2005
- Mid-term evaluation (April 19th), 2005

Read more: Eneroth, C. (2000), e-Learning for Environment, IIIEE Dissertation 2000:8

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

4. Electronic chat with potential

Malin Hydén & Carl Eneroth

Prejudice tells us that communication via an electronic chat is needlessly complicated, confusing and not suited for learning. In reality, however, the chat is an important tool for collaborative learning at a distance. This is a conclusion a major Swedish insurance company drew from educating web-coaches on their educational platform.

Can a web-based education portal strengthen the course participant’s personal relations? This question was presented to a number of future web-coaches at a major Swedish insurance company t42 worked with in the autumn of 2004. Most of them answered no. The general perception was that communication on the Internet brings about superficial relations or no relations at all. The question is important, as the contact between the course tutor and the participants plays an important part in motivating them for further learning, especially when it comes to distance education.

After a t42-led education at a distance, the web-coaches were asked the same question again. Now, more than 60% of them had radically changed their mind. The course participants had basically reassessed the tools for communication presented on their web-based educational platform, in particular the chat. From being considered as a complicated and unnecessary way of communication, the written chat was viewed as an important tool for personal networking. Several even saw the chat as the most important tool on their educational platform, and suggested other ways of using the chat:

- “I could be a resource person to invite to a chat and share experiences in my field of knowledge”.
- “We (course participants) could become more aware of each other and solve tasks together”.
- “It (the chat) can replace some meetings with our sales staff and thereby save travel time”.

A chat can be used for formal learning, when the web-coach with different methods guides the conversation towards a specific goal, but also for informal learning where the participants are given the opportunity to more freely discuss, find solutions and in other ways share experiences. The written chat, thereby, becomes more personal than many are inclined to believe.

t42 Distance Education
TeaForTwo (t42) is a consultancy focused on distance education and collaborative learning on the Internet. T42 offers to companies to educate their educators. These web-coaches learn to support the group dynamics in a distance education course and formulate constructive assignments. Malin Hyden is a t42 partner with long experience of corporate e-learning.

Read more: Eneroth, C. & Hydén, M.
- Chatt - en outnyttjad potential i distansutbildning (April, 2005), Frukostklubben

- Innehåller är inte allt (October, 2004), Frukostklubben

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

3. Sustainable tourism in Costa Rica

A method well adapted to the coaching principles mentioned in "2. Coaching on the web" is problem-based learning (PBL). This is a approach to learning where the problem comes first and the knowledge is developed as a consequence of trying to solve the problem. A typical starting point for PBL is a picture, analysed in small discussion groups. For example, how would you start analysing this picture from a sustainable tourism perspective?

Kids floating in Manila Bay

A mid-term student evaluation from the CIU/IIIEE/VIDA/t42-developed distance education course: "Introduction to Sustainable Tourism", using the revealed some interesting aspects on what worked and what could be improved. The distance education course was presented in rural Costa Rica for a group of 14 Costa Rican and 14 Swedish youth and facilitated by 4 tutor using the problem-based learning method at a distance (PBLd). The purpose of the course was to help local entrepreneurs support a more sustainable tourism.
What worked
- Contributed to increased awareness of sustainable tourism, and that there are problems in the host community that really needs to be addressed.
- Contributed to increased understanding of specific focus areas in the host community, such as hotels, pineapple industry or contamination of rivers.
- Provided a tool for autodidact learning to observe and explore several aspects in the local community, in addition to creating ideas for the community to develop themselves.
- Contributed to increased awareness in the local community of how to improve their own living environment, besides promoting what is already being done.
What can be improved
- Provide more examples on sustainable tourism more directly linked to activities in the host community, in addition to clues on what kind of sustainable tourism problems to work with.
- Explain more clearly that the very idea of PBL is to both define questions and find answers, which involves time-consuming detective work and independent thinking.
- Provide more help when introducing the web-based educational platform to the students and facilitators.
- Involve more external resource persons to help with contacts and content, in addition to work more extensively with solutions to identified problems in the project work.
The group as whole worked with the following projects in Costa Rica:
- Food farms (fishery and coffee plantation)
- Natural reserve (trekking, plant-a-tree, marketing)
- Pineapple industry (river contamination)
- Hotel industry (waste management)
Concluding comment
Reoccurring problems identified are time limits, language barriers, difficult course material, lack of tourism activities in the host communities and lack of support from resource persons. On the positive side is the well-cemented belief that sustainable development is a good thing and that the course has great potential to tackle this issue if the conditions are right, such as existing tourism activity in the host community.

- SanDiego State University - Problem-based learning

Thursday, March 31, 2005

2. A powerful new conversation

What we are seeing is a new powerful global conversation, where people are using the Internet to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. Take Kazaa, for example, the free music sharing software with some 250 million users, or Skype, the free Internet telephone software downloaded by 80 million individuals. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter - and getting smarter than most companies, as outlined in the Cluetrain manifesto. This goes also for traditional educational institutions who increasingly have to adopt to more flexible and globally networking forms of life-long learning enabled by digital media.

Taking it one step further: coaching on the web, is that possible? Definitely. But then, it depends on how you define coaching. I share Karin Tenelius view that coaching is not good advise, pep-talk, positive thinking or providing ready-made solutions from someone who is more experienced. The purpose of all coaching is to provide the one you coach with insights that in turn generate new action, enable access to his/her own energy and will-power, and discover new possible solutions to a given problem. The job is not to convey expertise in other areas than coaching. It is about changing the perception of how the person being coached views his/her own barriers and possibilities by clarifying this viewpoint and outline its consequences.

Coaching on the web is just another way of facilitating positive change, using digital media. It is a skill to be learnt through practice, however, just as any technical devise we now take for granted, like the telephone, fax machine, mobile phone, e-mail, Internet...Technology or artifacts that are materialised forms of our language and thinking and feelings. Interactive artifacts to help us generate reflections, and work with them. Digitial media is becoming an extension of our senses. It arouses our emotions. More and more, individuals will use creative digital tools to form and shape their own experiences in a pregnant way without taking the detour via the mass media industry. People, in the end, will support what they help create.

Karin Tenelius,
Sagt blir gjort: "Coaching - Konsten att väcka den osynliga kraften" (in Swedish)
- Benyamine, I (red),
Share Studio Stockholm: "Reflektion och gestaltande i delade kunskapsrum" (in Swedish)
- Hargrove, R: "
Masterful coaching"
- Cluetrain manifesto

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

1. Welcome

Carl Eneroth

A warm welcome to this blog on web-pedagogy for educators provided by t42 Distance Education. Here, you will find ideas, methods, tools and links on how to promote a positive change using digital media in your organisation and/or with your target group. Please feel free to comment on any input or send me an e-mail at:

Ps. For any links on this web-site, please click on "Back" in your browser to return here again. Ds.