Yesterday we were discussing our 3 years project work and our final results with Vladan Devedzic, Graham Atwell and Martin Majek, our Porject officer from the European Commission, in our final review meeting.
The presentations and discussions went extremely well, we got very constructive comments and officially finished the EC-funded period of the iCamp project very successfully.The whole iCamp team is very proud of this great feedback that we got and we are all committed to continue this work in one or the other way.
The review was performed in a very “iCampish” way: Graham was twittering during the meeting and collecting also questions from the wider audience on the Web. Antonio Fumero was broadcasting part of the event live. Probably the first EC project review with so much live presence on the Web!To get a short summary of our project so far, here is the executive summary of the final public report: An Open Virtual Learning Environment for Europe’s Higher Education Driven by continuous socio-economic changes, such as the increase of knowledge intensive jobs or the demand for new skills and competencies, iCamp started over 3 years ago with the vision to create an open virtual learning environment for specific competence advancements. An additional motivation for the project has been to contribute to the establishing of an inclusive information society in an enlarged Europe. During the course of the project the research team in iCamp followed a design-based research approach with a strong focus on designing for real life trials, getting feedback from practitioners and feeding this knowledge into advanced pedagogical concepts and new technological developments.
An educational intervention model
The educational work in iCamp started out by defining a conceptual framework to describe activity patterns and intervention strategies for facilitators along the contextual constraints of cross-cultural collaboration in digitally mediated environments. Facilitators were intervening into current teaching and studying practices with the aim of advancing competencies in certain areas of challenge, namely self-directing personal learning projects, collaborating with peers and social networking.The final educational intervention model that is heavily based on the experiences from the field studies describes strategies as to how facilitators may intervene in order to advance competences. The iCamp educational intervention approach can now be applied within a certain range of convenience.
Social Software Technologies for Higher Education
With regards to the technological advancements the main focus in iCamp has been set on social software technologies and its usage and adaptations for specific educational needs.A set of tools, including ready to use elements, up to rather experimental technologies that need further research before they can be implemented in practice, have been developed. The iCamp team has committed itself to an open source policy and has published all code developed during the project under creative commons licence at Sourceforge.Finally, from the practical experience of applying innovative pedagogical intervention strategies in combination with social software technologies we derived a handbook that is mainly targeting educational practitioners in higher education.One of the main strengths of iCamp has definitely been the large fieldwork that was performed during the three years and that made us aware of current highly restrictive institutional policies with regards the use of technologies. Such restrictive polices are hindering factors when it comes to educate autonomous and self-organized citizens. The democratization of institutions remains an important move that we need to take in Europe and we believe that the iCamp approach may be one small step in this process.