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Engaging global youth through innovation design challenges

Note: Education Futures is on a reduced publication schedule for the summer, and will return with its regular schedule in mid-August.

Slides from Saturday’s talk at World Future Society‘s World Future 2009 conference in Chicago:

Destination Imagination is the world’s largest creative problem solving program for kindergarten through college-aged learners. DI participants develop life skills while solving challenges through their unique, hands-on experiences in the sciences, technology, mechanics, engineering, theater, improvisation, goal setting, time and budget management, team building, and leadership. The University of Minnesota’s Leapfrog Institutes builds positive futures for human capital development through the infusion of creativity and innovation in education. DI’s collaboration with Leapfrog Institutes extends the organization’s creativity and imagination program with knowledge construction, innovation, and active futuring components.

"Innovation in the field of innovation"

I received feedback from several readers that Arthur Harkins’ reasoning for why we need to Leapfrog might seem a bit too Machiavellian — “us versus them.” I therefore hope everybody will enjoy the contrast of perspective in this next video.

In early November, we had an opportunity to interview Jutta Treviranus, director of the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto. Her approach to creating sustainable innovation is somewhat different. Instead of relying on competition, we can operate on an assumption of collaboration for innovation, creating win-win scenarios for all.

The “king of the hill, competitive” type of thinking, Treviranus argues, is contributing to the modern world’s problems. To get past this, she declares we need, “innovation in the field of innovation.” Brilliant!

More in the video:

E-competencies: Building human capital for the 22nd century

Upcoming event:

October 31, 2008

Mexico City, Mexico

Conference website: www.e-competencies.org

The Knowledge Society demands that we leapfrog ahead in our education systems, build a new digital literacy, and improve soft skills (creativity, innovation, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, among others) that could help all 21st century citizens become productive, effective knowledge workers. Educators, policymakers, business leaders, parents, and youth must identify and develop new sets of e-skills and e-competencies to help youth succeed, and build a capacity for success toward the 22nd century.  The purpose of this event is to identify, project and discuss the e-skills and e-competencies required for success in the 21st and early 22nd centuries. This event will explore, gather and analyze relevant experiences in training and development of e-skills throughout North America.

The activity builds from the collaborative work of scholars from FLACSO-México, the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto.  This public session invites thought leaders and innovators in the development of the e-skills to share their work and experiences. Guest presenters will be invited to participate physically or virtually, and all presentations will be recorded, translated into Spanish and English, and available for viewing online and discussion.

This event is funded through the support of PIERAN, the Interinstitutional Program for North American Studies at El Colegio de México, and the collaborating institutions.

This is not your typical conference!

To facilitate focused discussions and innovative approaches to dialogue on e-competencies, the organizing committee has established the following rules:

  • No presentation may be longer than 10 minutes (this is the maximum length allowed by YouTube, and will be strictly enforced).
  • A maximum of four PowerPoint (or similar) slides will be allowed.  It is the presenter’s responsibility to ensure both English and Spanish versions of their slides and any accompanying materials are available.

In addition:

  • There are no registration fees for this conference!
  • Although in-person presentations are encouraged, presenters may participate virtually (via Skype or Adobe Acrobat Connect) or in-person.
  • Participants that find it difficult to participate via live video or in person may contribute a pre-recorded YouTube (or similar) video to be shown during the event and made available in the online library.
  • Presenters and participants from throughout the world are invited.
  • All participants will be invited to continue our discussions online at this conference website and elsewhere.
  • All conference products will be made available for further dissemination and development through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

To submit a proposal, click here. (Deadline: September 26, 2008)

More information at the conference website: www.e-competencies.org

TelePresence: The near future of collaboration and cooperative learning?

Guy Kawasaki???????? ????? ???????? tweeted this link, and I could not resist the urge to share:

The ‘Cisco On-Stage TelePresence Experience’ was an ambitious collaboration between Cisco and Musion Systems, which took place during the opening of Cisco’s Globalization Centre East in Bangalore, India. Musion seamlessly integrated their 3D holographic display technology with Cisco’s TelePresence’s system to create the world’s first real time virtual presentation.

How cool would it be if we were to connect classrooms with this technology and seamlessly allow students around the world to share and learn from each other?

Make sure to watch the Cisco On-Stage demonstration video at the Musion website.

What do you think?

Charles Leadbeater, Debbie Powell and Tim Cowie assembled a short video based on Leadbeater’s We-think book, which “explores how the web is changing our world, creating a culture in which more people than ever can participate, share and collaborate, ideas and information.”

(Thanks to Cristóbal Cobo for the link.)

m-learning in Open Seminar 2.0

[Cross-posted from e-rgonomic]

Special thanks to John on showing how a paper cup is a technology (see post). Here is a small demonstration of the Open Seminar 2.0 conference and the emergence of M-Learning (mobile learning) era. This is a success story for the intelligent use of domestic mobile ICT and education. [Idea: Edwards Bermúdez]

marduk.JPG

[Marduk in his impressive connections tower in the middle of an English-Spanish conference: USA, Ecuador and Mexico]

Open Space Technology

Directed by a Twitter update, I landed on the PF HYPER blog… which directed me to a Wikipedia article on Open Space Technology:

In Open Space, a facilitator explains the process and then participants are invited to co-create the agenda and host their own discussion groups. Discussions are held in designated areas or separate rooms known as ‘breakout spaces’ and participants are free to move amongst the discussion groups. Each group records the conversations in a form which can be used to distribute or broadcast the proceedings of the meeting (in hard copy, blog, podcast, video, etc). Online networking can occur both before and following the actual face-to-face meetings so discussions can continue seamlessly. In a multi-day Open Space, participants have the opportunity to announce new discussion topics / late-breaking sessions each new morning. At the end of the day (or 2 days or 2.5 days) the full group reconvenes for comments and reflection. This helps participants to re-engage in the full group over the duration of the meeting.

Holy cow! That sounds a lot like open seminars/co-seminars — but with a problem-solving or conference-type focus. Open seminars and Open Space might have a lot to learn from each other!

University-Industry Collaboration (Part 2)

Yesterday, I talked about all the good things that are said to be brought by university-industry collaboration. There is, however, other side of this seemingly almighty strategy.

Well, “other side” might be a bit too exaggerating. But there are some things we have to keep in our mind when we discuss university-industry collaboration. What I am going to talk about below applies not only to Japan but also to any countries in which university-industry collaboration takes place.

I say, it is necessary for us to consider possible dangers and negative outcomes in university-industry collaboration.

First of all, universities should consider that industrial interest which mainly focuses on near-market research and the aim of producing profit should not become the only priority of university at the expense of long-term orientation and basic research. In other words, money-generating research should not be always prioritized over fundamental or unprofitable research. This could put the fundamental philosophy of academic freedom in danger. There is also a danger that industrial requirements may jeopardize university’s initiative in building research themes. This is because private sectors place the utmost interest in making profits, and not necessarily purely academic intellectual exploration. Therefore, projects that are funded by private sectors may end up compromising universities’ academic agenda in order to comply with industry’s requests.

That is to say, university-industry collaboration has the inherent danger of allowing market criteria to dictate the paths of scientific inquiry.

When all is said, I would like to recommend a strategy to mitigate the possible dangers from university-industry collaboration.

First, it is crucial for universities to balance between innovation/technology-orientated research, and fundamental academic research and teaching. In other words, curricula should not favor only those studies with industrial cooperation. For instance, those disciplines that do not have much industrial needs, such as English, Philosophy, and Japanese literature, should be treated as equal as industry-related disciplines such as biochemistry, biotechnology, and aerospace-engineering.

Additionally, I suggest that Japanese universities introduce multiple major system which allows students to major more than one field of study or have minor. Though multiple majors are common in the U.S. , such systems are extremely rare in Japanese higher education. I think completing more than one major will provide students an advantage in today’s uncertain job market.

I know that university-industry collaboration brings many benefits to the society. Instead of completely agreeing with the idea, however, I just wanted to play devil’s advocate 🙂

University-Industry Collaboration

In Japan, promotion of university-industry collaboration has been a key topic at many levels since the early 90’s, and especially since 2004 when all the former national universities became semi-privatized.

With this drastic reform in Japanese higher education in 2004, Japanese former national universities need to be transformed into a new mode of knowledge creation. With the increased autonomy in each university, now it is much easier for individual universities to seek cooperation with industry. Indeed, it is said that this reform was first proposed to make this collaboration easy (Prior to the privatization, professors at national university were civil servants and thus were not allowed to work elsewhere).

In the industrialized countries, technical innovation has become the main force for competitiveness. This results in a much stronger participation of industry in research and development (R & D). In industrialized countries, the participation of universities in R & D projects for industry has become key activity. Though in Japan, this trend is also apparent with 67% of research being financed by big companies, traditionally most of these universities have been the private ones.

Now under new regulations, newly privatized former national universities have a freedom to participate in this university-industry cooperation. Not only does university-industry cooperation will lead to a creation of knowledge-based society, this strategy could result in a win-win situation for both stakeholders, university and industry.

First, Japanese national universities can now target research and education to actual needs of the society which will strengthens the position of the university in the society and bring financial benefits. Also, they can mitigate their newly added financial constraint from not receiving subsidy from the Ministry of Education. Through university-industry collaboration, universities can use companies’ resources and expertise which may be up-to-date than those found in their universities.

And last but not least, universities can finally develop skills and resources for transferring research results to end users. Traditionally, knowledge generated in universities tended to just sit in an ivory tower without being utilized in a real world. Through university-industry collaboration, universities can learn the strategy to convey their newly generated knowledge to the society.

There are many benefits for industry as well.  First and foremost, they can obtain top-notch information on recent developments in science and technology.  Having direct access to research results will enable industry to develop more competitive products and services.

Sounds wonderful, right?  Yep, this university-industry collaboration seems as though it could be a panacea for everyone and everything.  It is actually a pretty good deal.

But! (and there is always “but”)  there are a few things that we might want to be careful and keep in our mind when promoting this strategy. 

I will talk about those points tomorrow… 

China: The phantom menace?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a discussion paper, “British Universities in China: The Reality Beyond the Rhetoric,” published this month by Agora, a British organization focused on higher education. Paul Mooney writes in the Chronicle:

Ian Gow, an expert on Asia and former provost of the University of Nottingham at Ningbo, China, expresses similar skepticism toward dealing with that nation. British universities “must stop pussyfooting around this aggressively ambitious country,” he writes.

“Make no mistake: China wants to be the leading power in higher education, and it will extract what it can from the U.K.,” writes Mr. Gow, who now heads the business school at the University of the West of England.

Mr. Gow also describes the challenges of working in China, including finding high-quality staff members, the lack of “enabling regulatory frameworks” for joint ventures with foreign institutions, and partners that are constantly changing their terms.

I have no doubt that China wants to become the preeminent global power in education in 2050. They have the will and the investment capital to build fine institutions. I have doubts that they will achieve it, however. Their strategy to import technologies and ideas from abroad is somewhat flawed. Rather than piggybacking on ideas generated elsewhere, should they not instead leapfrog the competition to create knowledge spaces that are both indigenous and world-class in quality?

Perhaps non-Chinese universities need to assert themselves better and renegotiate their terms of cooperation with Chinese institutions. But, does this need to be a priority? If China is in a state of continuous catch-up with their foreign competition, what harm is there in collaboration?