Dear Friends and colleagues from all over the world – have a good, a blessed, a glorious year in 

w​hich we all find opportunity to meet and join hands to work for the necessary mind-shift in learning and teaching, improving education, supporting better and more inclusive educahhtion and continue our dialogue to deepen mutual understanding and connection.
And here I found a thoughtprovoking video which leaves us humble as humankind: 

http://uk.businessinsider.com/animated-timeline-earth-history-2015-11

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Year’s end… looking back ahead!

To all of you out there a merry christmas, some peaceful days, rest, joy and lots of exchange with your loved ones. And a happy new year! 
Thank you for an exciting year 2016 with its new contacts, interests, threads, opportunities and with all its starts and its ends. May we be able to follow up with each other, to weave open threads together to close networks of support, exchange and inspiration. You all have contributed in your own unique way to making this stretch of life unique exciting, challenging, rewarding and satisfying. Let’s continue in 2017 in exact the same way. Let’s spark together new ideas, let creativity and innovation be our guiding maxim when embarking on future initiatives.
And let 2017 be a year of inspiration, love and friendship for all of you, in which you find what you are looking for, deepen what you hold worth and abandon what holds you behind.

And a year of more peace for the world, and mindful leaders! 
Until we meet again, I wish you all a great start!

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US – a failed state? 

Paul Krugman today writes in the New York Times: “I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible. I guess we have to pick ourselves up and try to find a way forward, but this has been a night of terrible revelations, and I don’t think it’s self-indulgent to feel quite a lot of despair.”

We are deeply shocked. USA. Sliding from a society on its way to open, modern, future oriented community under Obama now into a deep dark tunnel. What will that mean for our children, young people and students. After Brexit and now Trump we will have to think hard as educators how we can help our youth to develop their voice and make it heard. It is an appeal to all educators to make citizenship and reflective thinking one central part of education.
We are still paralyzed.  Today we can only say to those who voted for a modern society – and lost: we stand at the side of all people who are willing to support openness, tolerance and multilateralism!

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Competence development

240_f_57698650_fkwfsai71f5bgz2536i1bbuyi5hti1tnI am currently attending a meeting on educational policy development with 25 representatives of higher education (mostly Ministries) from European members states. In the meeting of the working group nr 3 on developing the future education policy recommendation here in Stockholm, we are discussing the experiences and the way forward the European member states have made in the field of Competence orientation of higher education. And we ended at the same conclusion like discussions about competence development often  end…: it is complicated!

Why is that? I was wondering why a discussion about competence orientation is so difficult to conclude something from. I believe, it is because with this topic we are right in the center of the educational concepts, and these are, as we know, very much rooted in national cultures, terminology is often not common and what is right and wrong is subject to longstanding rules, experiences and practices.

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However, our discussion proofed to be very fruitful in the end. The discussion about competence in higher education has three important moments:

Moment 1: The Why

That is the rational, the context for which we assume competence orientation is the important future development in education.

The main issue on which our argument builds here is uncertainty. Educators, policy makers all over Europe become more and more aware that we educate for an uncertain future. For jobs which we do not know yet and which have not been developed yet. The importance  of the concept of competence oriented higher education which emphasizes: Being able to act successfully in unknown future context is there fore more convincing than the current state of the art model – to convey  knowledge which can be reproduced any time. This has to do with exactly this idea of uncertainty.

Moment 2: The How

If we have accepted the why – the how becomes important. Here it is indeed really complex and it is a matter of hard and deep education science considerations… but also institutional management and strategy issues. There are a lot of models about curriculum development and a lot of different definitions of competence and competence assessment techniques available out there. An important  learning which  we could draw from the discussion in the working group: There is one particular place in an educational experience where competence orientation becomes manifest – and that is the assessment, the test, the exam. If this is designed in a traditional way and asked for mere reproduction of knowledge, then, the entire educational process is probably also designed in a way whee education is seen as  knowledge transfer to students, and not skills and attitudes development. But if the test or assessment  is designed in a way that it  focusses on performance, solving a problem, mastering a problematic situation, act in a successful way, then the learning before also has to be designed in an active way, competence oriented.     There fore: Competence orientation needs to include – or even start from – the moment of designing assessments for competence.

Moment 3: Institutions and policies 

In our discussion we are always asking for the consequences for European and  national policy making in higher education and institutional development. In the discussion it was becoming clear that teacher education is key for successful  implementation of competence orientation, that sufficient time for development and implementation and good practice sharing will be important. The implementation needs a holistic full institution strategy to get the important topic out of the corner of the individual enthusiastic responsibility into the institutional responsibility.

The meeting was very interesting and I am looking forward to the next which will take place in April 2017 in Brussels.

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New goals for Bologna!?

As one of my duties as Vicepresident of the European Association of Institutions of Higher Education I am representing EURASHE in parts of the Bologna Follow Up discussions. I am on my way to Stockholm to attend a meeting of the Bologna Process Working Group on New Goals. (The title is much longer… but that is the essence:-)) what is remarkable is the list of topics which are on the agenda: 

  •   encourage European Higher Education Institutions to continue  to  become learning institutions 
  • Encourage virtual ERASMUS experiences using digital media 
  • Provide flexible learning paths, recognize microcredits, develop flex curricula, etc
  • Recommend to share knowledge and experiences among teachers as well as sharing Open Educational Resources.
  •  Teaching quality is central to the provision of higher education. A European teaching academy, platforms for sharing good practice and peer-learning activities perhaps may contribute to this aspect.

So I am looking forward to an inspiring 2 days of meeting.  

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Digitale Welt: Lernen, Leben und Arbeiten

Gestern war es mal wieder soweit – zum wichtigen Thema, wie digitale Medien zukünftig Arbeiten und Leben verändern kam auch mal wieder Manfred Spitzer zu Wort, beim ARD,  Anne Will auf großer Bühne. Es erstaunt, dass seine Argumentation mittlerweile fast platt und ohne Rafinesse von ihm vorgetragen wird. Dabei liess auch das nicht darüber hinwegsehen, dass seine Medienkritik an zahlreichen Stellen völlig einseitig und überzogen ist, und pauschale Aussagen zu digitalen Medien und zur Mediennutzung macht. Spitzer bot auch gestern erneut neben Verbotsforderungen keine Handlungsansätze für eine altersangemessene Medienbildung, gerade auch für Kinder. Seine pauschalen Angriffe auf die Medienpädagogik entbehren jeder Grundlage, er ignoriert die medienpädagogischen Praxiserfahrungen und geht nicht angemessen auf vorhandene Forschungsergebnisse ein. Vielmehr verallgemeinert er ohne angemessene Darstellung der Grenzen von empirischer Forschung. Studien, die seine Thesen widerlegen, erwähnt er nicht. Eine sachliche und differenzierte Auseinandersetzung mit Spitzers Thesen findet sich an vielen Stellen im Netz, deshalb wird sie an dieser Stelle nicht wiederholt.
Kollege Heinz Moser (https://heinzmoser.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/digitale-demenz-das-holzschnittartige-mantra-des-herrn-spitzer/) hat es 2012 in einer gelungenen und sehr ausgewogenen Analyse auf den Punkt gebracht. Ein Hauptproblem Spitzers: Nicht alles, was korreliert steht auch in kausalem Zusammenhang. Es ist eben doch oft komplexer als es zunächst aussieht. Mein Fazit: Die pointiert vorgetragenen Thesen Spitzers tragen mehr zur Verwirrung bei, als zur Entschlüsselung tatsächlich drängender Fragen! Und leider nichts zum notwendigen und lösungsorientierten Anpacken für ein wichtiges Bildungsthema.

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A new and exciting challenge: Supporting Professional Higher Education in Europe

Since 3 years I am now working with EURASHE, the European Association of Institutes of Higher Education. The assocation is a strong supporter of Professional Higher Education (PHE) in Europe, THE  European network and meeting point for Universities of Applied Science and our natural partner on the European stage. We have together developed major European initiatives in the field of professional higher eductaion, like”HAPHE” in which we mapped the PHE models of more than 14 coutnries and developed quality criteria in order to support members states in their development of PHE. I am enthusiastic about the colleagues working in the association which are all dedicated and experienced professionals.  Hsvong worked a long time with the  European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning before I must say that I am a strong supporter of European dialogue, exchange and  networking in order to raise the stakes and the  profile of higher education, push forward the innovation agenda and bring together people around the cause of improving our institutions to turn them into revolutionary leaders.

Last month I was asked to jpin the board of the association which I happily accepted. During the general assembly on Tuesday this week I have been elected and afterwards also appopinted by the board as Vicepresident of the association. I will focus in my Vicepresidentcy on Teaching and Learning, giving special attention to the  Lifelong Learning agenda. One issue which I will suggest is to provide a forum for the question how digitalisation of professional higher education can support innovative models, methods and ways of delivvery, supporting students in their learning. I am convinced that there is a lot of interest, also within the other European networks to discuss idease and experiences around this issue. 
When I was preparing my presentation to the General Assembly of EURASHE I thought about what would be important for the association for the time to come. Here is what I came up with: 

The core vision EURASHE aims to implement can be expressed in the following statement: Making European professional higher education a key player in the development of the fastly and unpredictably changing society. Today this vision is more relevant than ever because Europe is facing historical challenges. Higher education institutions, and in particular professional higher education institutions play a major role in providing the innovation drive needed to enable our societies to meet the challenges. At the same time they have to 

– deal with the difficult and dwindling resource base by simultaneously aiming to provide better quality for more students. 

– deal with changed and more articulated demands from society and world of work for better equipped graduates with an extended employability profile. 

– lead the innovation agenda in using digital media in higher education in order to transform its mode of operation
provide seamless pathways between school, higher eductiaon, higher VET and lifelong learning, and 

– further develop the body of experiences and knowledge to recognise prior learning,
cater higher education for all student groups with a growing diversity and ever growing diverse needs,
make higher education relevant for stakeholders and society to deal with the grand challenges of global societies. 

EURASHE has a role to bridge this gap and provide orientation, foster dialogue, peer-learning and understanding of the challenges and new potential, organise participation of its members in debating and taking stock of suitable policies, practices and research in order to cope with the new challenges, and thus reduce the innovation gap in Europe. It will be important to involve all stakeholders in this attempt. Through multistakeholder forums, EURASHE can help to bring together stakeholders to take stock in current developments and future needs.
EURASHE is in a good position, and further plans for a work agenda should naturally build on existing policies, yet reflect the changing situation. Building on the challenges described, and together with its executive bodies EURASHE should determine the policy and strategy frameworks. In order to deal with the above mentioned challenges and in addition to the bologna based activities a number of innovation needs can be identified which can be used for orientation when discussion EURASHE policy priorities: 

– A first innovation need is represented in the need of higher education institutions to deal with the diversity of target groups, with different purposes, backgrounds and objectives which are less and less suited for standard education programs and standard certification procedures but which rather follow an individual lifelong learning agenda. 

– A second innovation need is characterized through the need to adapt educational processes to new technologies and new ways of flexible delivery of
situation we can observe an innovation gap with innovation rhetoric on the onehigher education, new educational models and learning scenarios and more
collaboration and recognition between higher education providers. 

– A third innovation need is the capacity to provide education over the lifetime and
not focus on consecutive models only. 

– Finally, there is a need to make the shift from teaching to learning, to realise the
long promised changes which lie in the shift to competency oriented education. 

All this has to be dealt with on basis of the core mission of ERURASHE to further promote the role of PHE, its profile and characteristics within higher education, to map barriers and developments, and support the exchange of experience and promotion of good practices.

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