18 December, 2012

In the spotlight

Student Abigail van Bercheyke found herself an internship in New York City, the very first student of the school of social work to do so (as part of her studies in Cultural Social Work / CMV). Although the road to New York was paved with obstacles, taking a lot of  time, it's obvious from the picture that it has been worth all the effort.
The following is a short post that was published in the BCS newsletter; may it inspire other students to take similar steps.
“I am happy to be at Brooklyn Community Services because it’s in Brooklyn, which is so vibrant and diverse. It reminds me of Rotterdam, where I attend University .” -Abigail
As a student at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands studying to be a social cultural worker, Abigail was seeking an internship in New York City. A Google search led her to BCS.
Abigail feels her connection with BCS is a perfect match. She has been to NYC twice before and Brooklyn is her favorite borough.
Abigail’s final research paper at Rotterdam University addresses youth issues, and she is excited to be working with the Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service. Abigail also enjoys being able to tap into her creative abilities by designing flyers for the volunteer program and helping out in the External Relations and Advancement Department.
“If you are a person who likes to do a lot of different things, BCS has a lot to offer. Because of the many of programs you can volunteer in different kinds of ways, which makes the work interesting and enjoyable” -Abigail.

12 December, 2012

Learning without boundaries after 2013

What does learning without boundaries after 2013 look like? This was the theme of a conference that was announced a few months ago by the Dutch National Agency for Lifelong Learning. Looking back, I am glad I persisted in my attempts to attend it. Due to circumstances I had to enroll later than I wanted to, only to find out that even the waiting list was full for this free event. Undauntedly, I decided to turn up any way, expecting not to be sent home as I had come all the way to the venue. And indeed thankfully I was admitted approximately half an hour after the start. Having missed the first inspirational presentation I landed immediately in the elevator pitches for the upcoming round of workshops. A new format that worked very well as it gave a better than usual insight into what the different workshops entailed. From prior experience at other conventions I know workshops do not always turn out to be as the abstracts or written announcements suggest.
The focus for me this time was on the latest regarding virtual mobility, virtual teamwork and open course ware and I took away a lot from the sessions. One of the sessions led by Willem van Valkenburg (from TU Delft) showed this self-explanatory video to demonstrate why open education matters:
Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

This reminded me of a video I saw about 5 years ago under the title of Shift happens and which has since been updated a few times, the latest version here:

Crucial message for the education sector : "We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist ... using technologies that haven't been invented ... in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."
One of the intriguing issues that came up during the workshop was: what is the surplus value of a university as we all know now that a university does not have the monopoly on knowledge any more....That really makes you think, doesn't it. Our workshop leader remarked that at the moment many boards of directors at universities are discussing the increasingly popular phenomenon of MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses and what impact that will have.
A recent blog even calls 2012 the year of the MOOC and puts the question: "“Will MOOCs spell the end of higher education?” Doomthinking like this however is not new. Already in 2003 I read somewhere that it would be game over for the higher education sector within the decade. I believe there is still plenty of room for play, but it's crucial to keep paying attention to the rules that are changing all the time, stay on top of the trends and adopt adaptive strategies. As an article in the Chronicle already seemed to suggest at the start of 2012: digital badges could well become the successor of  credits, fascinating !
The other workshop focussed on blended teamwork and dealt with practical points of attention to any team that collaborates at a distance, based on their own experience of working together as a European team on a virtual handbook. One of the questions that was put to us was: how do you build up trust in your online team ?
All in all, the conference was a pleasant experience, not in the least because it put the spotlight on the way young people view and experience education and life at the moment, and most of all because it meant chatting and discussing issues with like-minded people, who can look beyond boundaries, very refreshing.
More about MOOCS on Willem's blog here and a learner's reflective perspective here. And these are the recommended steps for students to make a MOOC count taken from Inside HigherEd.