On the latest trends in educational technology

The eLearn Center participates in Dxtera and attends Educase 2018 in Denver

By Núria Domènech and Francesc Santanach

Introduction

Last October, some members of the eLearn Center traveled to the United States to attend the EDUCAUSE 2018 conference in Denver, Colorado, which is the largest conference about educational technology for universities and higher education institutions.

As part of the pre-conferences, Dxtera institute, organized two of its annual meetings, the Advisory Board and the Technology Council, and also an open session to gather ideas and new projects called Next Generation By Design symposium series. This last session is itinerant and it’s being repeated in different parts of the world, the most important being held in Barcelona and organized by the UOC. Francesc Santanach, representing the eLearn Center and the UOC, participated in the three sessions.

The UOC is a member of the Dxtera initiative for more than a year. This initiative is a consortium of universities and educational institutions that promotes educational innovation projects, focused on fostering change and the adoption of a new generation of technologies that allow a more integrated and effective use of the data with the aim of improving the performance and the educational possibilities of the students.

By Francesc Santanach   

Chronicle

Going to a congress in the United States is an experience on a largescale. Is no a cliché to say that everything is served in large proportions, there. Congresses are not an exception. Hundreds of meters of carpeting and agendas full of decisions to make, with a constant supply of approximately 12 concurrent sessions. Watch the agenda, decide, repeat.

Only by reading the titles of the sessions it could be understood that many talks shared their focus: talking about the areas of work that are a global tendency and that shape the nucleus of interest of educational technology.

For example, this year’s Educause has reflected on the impact of the role of the IT in the success of the student, an impact that traditionally has had inefficiencies due to complexity issues – integration in multiple platforms -, redundancy or overlapping of tools within the same campus and costs. This links to the lack of integration and scalability. Educause has tried to explain, through cases of success, how can an institution ensure that the new initiatives connect properly to the existing infrastructure and can be deployed to a whole campus.

Another topic that is already a classic is the treatment of the data, the amount and quality of data generated through the student’s interaction. In this area it has been explained how having integrated systems can help institutions to obtain well-structured data for decision-making at all levels and to offer a personalized experience for students.

And speaking about students, during the conference I have heard in many sessions about the nature of the new generation of them, generation Z, a social mass that no longer remembers a world without internet because internet has always been there. A generation that represents the future of the workforce and that are the consumers of our “educational products”, young people with an entrepreneurial profile, permanently connected and with resources of all kinds always at hand.

To end, we must mention the ubiquity of artificial intelligence and virtual reality as  indispensable technologies in the present and future of education. AI with a focus closer to the tutoring and accompaniment of the student, although we have also seen teaching applications in the assessment. The VR, on the other hand, is considered an instrument to bring the student to where he cannot arrive by himself because the learning experience is too expensive, dangerous, strange or remote.

Three days and thirteen conferences later, I can conclude that I did succeed in the choice many times and perhaps  less in others, but the overall assessment of the congress is very positive. It is also important to add that Educause is much more than an auditorium in where to listen to, it is an opportunity to meet professionals, share experiences, find new synergies and, ultimately, get out of our day to day life.

By Núria Domènech

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Núria Domènech
Communication expert, she took the leap to the digital world in 2008 when she joined a new web business to run the Communication and Contents department. There she had her first contact with project management, managing new online developments with multidisciplinary teams. From this experience on, she has worked for several e-commerce platforms and, since 2015, she has been dedicated to the direction of formative projects in Oberta Publishing - eLearn Center (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), specializing in digital products.
Francesc Santanach
Francesc Santanach holds a degree in Software Engineering by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). He works as an eLearning Specialist & Software Engineer at the eLearn Center in the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). He directs national and international projects in the field of educational content, tools and standards for electronic learning, such as SCORM and IMS QTI platforms, videoconferencing, audio and video blocks, 3 Entorns D and integration and interoperability services based on IMS LTI and OKI OSIDs. He has also been a researcher in the field of e-learning, the author of didactic materials and tutor in the UOC.

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