Report on the ODL project coordinators meeting

Brussels, May 23-24, 1996

DG XXII, the directorate responsible for the ODL action under the SOCRATES programme, organized an informative meeting in Brussels, during the 23rd and 24th of May, 1996. The meeting was attended by all the coordinators of ODL projects that are currently, the delegates of DG XXII, and delegates from some of the 15 National Agencies. Tasos Koutoumanos attended this meeting on behalf of EONT.

Brief Minutes of the meeting

The full minutes of the meeting will be prepared by DG XXII during the next week. This is a brief report of the meeting prepared by Tasos Koutoumanos. We will make available the full minutes as soon as we will have them!

Thursday, May 23, 1996

10.00 - 12.00: Plenary session (chairman Joachim FRONIA, DGXXII)

During this first plenary session, chairman Mr. Joachim FRONIA introduced the delegates from DGXXII and wellcomed all the participants of the meeting: project coordinators, as well as delegates from some National Agencies. He explained that the meeting had not been scheduled from the beginning of the project and that it was the first time that such a meeting was organized from DGXXII. He said that they thought that such a meeting was necessary mainly because of the novel character of the projects. All of the participants should benefit from exhcange of views. Project coordinators should exchange experience and ideas horizontally. whereas they should also exchange views, comments and speculations vertically with people of DGXXII, the Socrates TAO (Technical Assistance Office), and the National Agencies that participated in the meeting.

Finally, Mr. Fronia pointed out that the Commission wants the best quality that can be achieved from the projects, and we should try to incorporate a common strategy, and state a concrete structure of what we want to achieve. He then passed the speech to Corinne HERMANT, who presented briefly the framework of SOCRATES and the interconnections between its several actions (Erasmus, COMENIUS, Lingua, Education for adults, Eurydice, etc.)

After the presentation of Mrs. Hermant, Mr. Andre RICHER presented some information from the task force on "Multimedia Education Software". He stated that a report from the task force will be ready in June and disclosed two of the most important objectives that are set in the report:

Mr. Andrew ROBINSON, raised an important issue during the discussion that followed the presentation of Mr. Richer; that of recognition of DL programs by National States as well as the European Commission as a whole. All of the participants (including the delegates of DGXXII) aggreed that this is an issue of great importance. In fact, there was a hint that there will be a call on "Quality of activities" on December, that will (among others) try to address this issue.

After the presentation of Mr. Richer and some discussion that was initiated by Mr. Robinson's comment, Mrs. Bodil ASK presented some data on the projects that are currently funded from DGXXII within the ODL action.

Mrs. Ask tried to explain the philosophy behind the projects with three examples, without actually naming the particualr projects. Nevertheless, it was obvious that one of them was our project!!! It is expected to provide usefull information on the creation of a learning environment with a European dimension.

Mrs. Ask was the last from the DGXXII people. After her short presentation, some information on administrative and technical issues, concerning mainly the budget of the projects was presented by TAO officials, Mr. Carles Barriere and his colleagues. They stressed out the difficulties with having to cope with almost 5.000 different projects this year, illustrated the beurocracy behind the approval and attendance of each project and gave us some promises...

All of the coordinators criticized the latency of the TAO. Moreover, the disappointment was bigger when we learned that for technical reasons the second period of funding will be only 9 months long! That of course means that funding will be also cut down to the 9/12 of what was originally planned.

12.30 - 14.30am: Hand-shaking session

During this hand-shaking session we all had the chance to test an original algorithm for hand-shaking of large groups! The algorithm was deviced by Mrs. Hermant and worked out quite well, except from the fact that we had to introduce ourselves and give a short description of our projects about 10 times. Our project seemed to interest many participants of the meeting, perhaps because it was one of the three examples that Mrs. Ask had given just before to point out the goals and objectives of the ODL action.

16.00 - 18.30: Paraller-working session

After a break for lunch and some cups of coffee we were divided into four groups and headed for the TAO building. The four different groups that were formed had a session for about two and a half hours on issues concerning the pedagogy within our projects.

Our group was formed from delegates of projects that were focused on higher education. Our group leader, Mrs. Vivien HODGSON, gave us three questions that we should try to answer:

Being the only Greek in the room, Tasos tried to provide the rest of the group with a brief etymology of the word "pedagogy", and then everyone gave a short description of the project he or she was representing as well as answers to the questions posed by Mrs. Hodgson.

When EONT's turn came (in fact it was the first in line!), Tasos tried to provide a comprehensive description of our project. Then, he answered the questions as follows:

The approach of collaborative learning was used by some of the rest of the projects of our group; Mr. Powell stressed that his project would try to incorporate "student based learning", providing students with Internet facilities in order to work with each other, sharing ideas. Mr. Robinson raised again the matter of acceptability of Distance Learning within traditional universities as well as (legal) acceptability by national education ministries. This seemed to be the subject for the project that Mrs. Fiasko represented: to assess the impact and the feasibility of a European University Diploma delivered by ODL mechanisms, validated and accepted throughout Europe.

After all of us had presented their point of views, we had a brief discussion which continued the next morning. The main subjects were the collaborative learning process and how it differs from lectures or tutorials, the meaning of Open and Distance in ODL, the role of the teacher as well as the role of the learners. We agreed that it is very important to tackle with this issue in our report; indeed Mrs. Hodgson stressed that the Commission cares a great lot about such (pedagogical) issues and that we should try to focus on them instead of the technology used to achieve the pedagogical goals. Another point that needs to be elaborated by each project is the European dimension, and the differences of the results gathered due to cultural diversities.

Friday, May 24, 1996

9.30 - 12.30: Parallel-working session

Friday morning was spent mostly with the discussion that had started last evening. We carried on talking about dissemination issues but it was already 12.00 o' clock before we realized that we only had half an hour left. So we quickly made a brief report with the findings of our two sessions (each group had to present its findings, comments, etc. to the plenary session that followed).

14.30 - 16.30: Plenary session

During this closing plenary session, a representative from each of the four parallel working groups, gave a short report on the disucssion that went on during the two working sessions. Afterwards we discussed on the most important issues that were risen. Some of them were

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Created by: Tasos Koutoumanos
Last updated Wed May 15, 1996 01:05:12 AM GMT+2