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Location: Meensel-Kiezegem, Belgium

Friday, May 20, 2005

Stakeholders Vision Round Table (1)

Four different aspects of eLearning were discusses during the morning plenary session:
Societies/Communities, Business/Industry, Education/Students and Government/Research.

*. Societies/Communities.

Jerome Binde (Unesco) and Luis Casas Luengo (Fundecyt) talked about the broader aspects of learning in the society at large and in communities. In order for eLearning to contribute to our society, we have to take care of e-literacy and upgrade our methods of teaching/learning. This double challenge complicates the useful adoption.

Bridges should be built between knowledge experts: not only schools and universities, but also libraries, musea and companies. Our impression of 'teaching' and 'learning' is overly focuses on 'formal, in-school teaching'.

*. Business/Industry.

Richard Straub (eLearning Industry Group) and Michael Repnik (LearnChamp Consulting gmbh) discusses their views about the state-of-the-art of elearning in the companies. The first speaker stressed that learning and other knowledge disciplines should converge, and that technology remains an issue (despite other opinions we heard at the conference). Investmenting in wireless and broadband technology is imperative.

Developing content in Europe is also a challenge, due to the fragmented market (languages/cultures) and the convergence of technologies which requires new business models. Richard Straub observed a strong bifurcation in the content market, where low quality, high volume, open content is fabricated by users themselves, whereas there remains a market for high-quality edited content by publishers.

The second speaker stressed the fact that small and medium sized companies (<250 employees) are not doing (e)learning. These small companies are a typical European phenomenon, and by forgetting these, we forget 99% of our companies. We need new networks to educate these companies, and need other/different/flexible content with simple technologies (a company with 3 employees will not buy a LMS, but still requires learning).
Supporting informal learning remains a challenge which is not obvious.

With regards to content, an interesting question came from the audience. We have lots and lots of content en Europe (publishers, broadcasting companies, music companies, librairies...), but opening this content, archiving, searching, accessing... is impossible due to various copyright, intellectual property and digital rights management issues. There is little or no political resolve to open up this content treasure.

[One interesting project is DARENET . The Dutch government is sponsoring an open archive for scientific publications. All (many?) research papers are freely accessible from all over the world. Innovative!]


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