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An Education Future Glimpse From Spain, Norway & Germany

Online Educa Berlin happened Dec. 2-4. Image By Paul Glader

BERLIN – What will universities look like as this century progresses?

That was the question to a panel at Online Educa in Berlin this past Friday. They didn’t really have an answer to that question. But they presented some research that shows where trends are heading. Here are the highlights from the three presenters from Norway, Spain and Germany.

Hilde Ørnes, a senior adviser at Norway Opening Universities, conducted research about online learning in Norway, use of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) in education and where the universities are headed (study from March to April of this year, surveying 2,246 students, 740 academics, 151 administrators). Here are some of the findings:

  • Students used computers 3.1 hours on average per week during organized teaching time in 2011, up from 1.7 hours in 2008.
  • Students used computers 15.9 hours on average for studying purposes per week, up from 9.4 hours on average per week in 2008.
  • Students used computers 13.8 hours on average during free time per week, up from 10.4 hours per week on average in 2008.
  • 90% of students feel digital tools/media are important academic aids.
  • 3 out of 4 prefer education involving ICT. Only 4% prefer no use of ICT in education.

Tools and resources used most for studying: Daily/weekly

  • Learning management systems 95%
  • Search engines 91% (e.g. Google).
  • Email 85%
  • 66% use power point slides
  • 57% use social networks like Facebook
  • 36% use internet and mobile phones related to studying activities.
  • Only 9% of students contribute in online discussion forums related to studying
  • Only 5% use film or instruction videos
  • 2 to 5% contribute to blogs or wikis
  • 3% use digital tests
  • Digital games and virtual worlds like second life are hardly used. No change since 2008.

What do they expect:

  • 61% foresee flexible educational programs.
  • 56% expect to gain ICT competence to suit the workplace.
  • 82% believe ICT makes collaboration with other students better.
  • 79% say ICT makes it easier to complete studies.
  • 74% say it gives freedom to study when/wherever they want.
  • 71% say it is simpler to be in touch with academic staff.
  • Only 31% of students say ICT can be distracting.

 What opportunities do academic staff believe technology contributes to?

  • Easier communication with students: (82% of administrators v. 78% of teachers).
  • Improved flow of information ( 69% of administrators, 70%of teachers).

Dr. Ingo Rollwagen is a senior analyst in Deutsche Bank Research, the think tank of Deutsche Bank, where he covers trends in education systems and the emerging education and knowledge business. He also teaches at Technical University Berlin.

Dr. Rollwagen said that comparing Norway to Germany shows that “In Germany, we are far, far behind” in ICT technology when it comes to learning. There is “lots of variation going on.”

ICT investments by universities is expensive and it involves a set of categories ranging from hardware, software, data, web, mobile. “Mobile is the frontier we are now seeing,” he said.

He said that established technologies like whiteboards are starting to take off in sales. The idea of a whiteboard or “Schultafel” (in German) started in 1965. Then Smart Tech Inc. made an interactive whiteboard in 1991. In 2008, 1 million smart boards sold. “In 2011, we have 6 million,” he said. “It is really going up.”

The key, he says, for technologies like whiteboards is for institutions to train faculty and teachers on how to use the technologies effectively in a classroom.

“Do universities really prepare students for 21st Century society?” said Iolandia Garcia Gonzales, at the University of Barcelona and the Open University of Catalonia looked at new trends of higher education in Spain. “We have heard that students are 21st Century natives while the universities are immigrants.”

“Many European universities have been involved in the process of change in recent years. Sometimes the changes haven’t been made with the necessary reflections,” she said. “Many universities are dealing with a shift from face to face to blended models.”

She said Spain shows a growing interest in open and social learning. She and her team are still analyzing results from their survey of 1,068 students from five universities in Catalonia. But preliminary results show:

- 73% have a pc. 89% have a laptop. 62% both. 15% take laptop to their courses.

- The most used technologies in education: virtual campus is high. Internet searches high. Multimedia presentations high. YouTube high, video and audio clip, google docs, wiki, forums, blog, digital photo, social networks.

- The least used technologies in education: mp3, mp4, chat, games, mobile phones, info repositories, web quest, interactive whiteboard, podcasts… last Second Life.

“The high rate of social networking (in education use) is one of the surprises,” she said.


by paul (dex) via Flickr under Creative Commons


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