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Impressions and trends from Online Educa Berlin

December 5th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

Online Educa Berlin was hectic for us. We produced two 40 minute magazine radio programmes from the main bar at the conference, a 40  minute Question Time radio programme and organised a symposium around the recently launched Learning layers project. We will get posts up with recordings of the radio and presentations from the symposium in the next couple of days.

And we still found time to talk to friends new and old. Online Educa Berlin is a great meeting place, a chance to catch up on the latest personal and work related news and gossip from the educational technology community worldwide.

And it is also a good place to pick up on the emerging debates and on the latest in technology. In the conference, somewhat unsurprisingly, all the buzz was around massive Open Online Courses. And despite a recognition of the potential benefits in extending access to education, most delegates I spoke to were fairly dubious of the benefits of the emergent so called xMOOC model. Firstly it was hard to see a viable business model behind the new MOOCs, other than selling accreditation. And many delegates were sceptical about the pedagogic model underpinning the xMOOCs from the likes of Coursera. One person said to me that MOOCs are taking us backward ten years in pedagogic approaches to using technology for learning.

it was encouraging to see the growing strength of the business strand at the conference and an increased focus on work based learning.

The exhibition at Online Educa Berlin always provides a good snapshot of trends. Whilst there are a number of stands from national organisations and form projects most of the 90 odd exhibition stands are from vendors and companies, big and small. Whilst a few years ago the largest stands were usually organisations like the UK Jisc and Surf from the Netherlands  this year continued on last years trend of Middle East countries dominated the larger exhibitions pace. Last year Saudi Arabia took centre stage, this year is was EgyptOn, although it was a little hard to see what their stand was about, other than perhaps announcing their arrival in the community.

Last year was the year of the interactive Whiteboard. This year I did not see one stand promoting whiteboards! Trends change fast. This year was the year of the video with perhaps as many as 15 per cent of stands featuring video products, hardware and software. Having said that it was a little difficult to see the benefits of many of these commercial offerings. OK, they packaged features nicely. But I didn’t really see anything which couldn’t be done with everyday social software or consumer applications. And although there was some general feeling that we are moving towards a more visual approach to learning, rather than the previous domination of text, there were only limited examples of pedagogic innovation in using video.

Although the  usual VLE vendors were present as always, there was perhaps a feeling that their finest days are over. And it was surprising that there were few vendors focusing on mobile learning, although plenty of iPad apps were on display.

I should add I suppose that this is not based on any scientific enquiry but just is an impressionistic view of what was going on. But it is probably as reliable in predicting trends than the usual rush of end of year predictions to which we are about to be subjected.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came on our radio shows and with whom we enjoyed a natter. And to those we missed, lets hope we get a chance to meet up next year.

2 Responses to “Impressions and trends from Online Educa Berlin”

  1. Hi Graham,

    I enjoyed your Question Time show (I was the guy in the red tie asking the sceptical question about MOOCs). I agree with your thoughts here about MOOCs and the predominance of video-related services on the floor of the exhibition hall. But I would diagnose a more fundamental problem. Maybe expositive video is the hottest thing around because here is nothing better on offer? I suggest that there are some fairly fundamental problems with the whole of the TEL community. Would be interested in your comments on my post at

    Thanks, Crispin.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    I enjoyed your questions Crispin. Need some sceptics to make that sort of programme work. Thanks

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    Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE from the OEB 2015

    We will broadcast from Berlin on the 3rd and the 4th of December. Both times it will start at 11.00 CET and will go on for about 45 minutes.

    Go here to listen to the radio stream: SoB Online EDUCA 2015 LIVE Radio.

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    News Bites

    Skills in Europe

    Cedefop is launching a new SKILLS PANORAMA website, online on 1 December at 11.00 (CET).

    Skills Panorama, they say,  turns labour market data and information into useful, accurate and timely intelligence that helps policy-makers decide on skills and jobs in Europe.

    The new website will provide with a more comprehensive and user-friendly central access point for information and intelligence on skill needs in occupations and sectors across Europe. You can register for the launch at Register now at

    Talking about ‘European’ MOOCs

    The European EMMA project is launching a  webinar series. The first is on Tuesday 17 November 2015 from 14:00 – 15:00 CET.

    They say: “In this first webinar we will explore new trends in European MOOCs. Rosanna de Rosa, from UNINA, will present the philosophy and challenges behind the EMMA EU project and MOOC platform developed with the idea of accommodating diversity through multilingualism. Darco Jansen, from EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities), will talk about Europe’s response to MOOC opportunities. His presentation will highlight the main difference with the U.S. and discuss the consequences for didactical and pedagogical approaches regarding the different contexts.

    OER – update 2

    Open Education Europa has compiled and is releasing today as open data the analytical list of European Repositories of Open Educational Resources (OER).

    It includes:

    • European OER Portals and Repositories
    • Educational material repositories/directories
    • Larger Repositories rather than very specific ones
    • Focus on those who include Creative Commons license and on National/public OER repositories
    • Focus on material for teachers  (for the classroom/schools) rather than on higher education
    • Collaborative OER production initiatives (LeMill, RVP.CZ Portal,, KlasCement”)

    OER – update 1

    From the Universidad a Distancia de Madrid (UDIMA) – Madrid Open University – we are pleased to present the European Research Network of Open Educational Resources (ERNOER), a collaborative space in which more than fifty internationally educational institutions and prestigious universities are involved which can be accessed through the following link:

    The entire educational community can benefit in this web repository of more than three hundred image banks, two hundred fifty audio file repositories, two hundred and fifty video resources and more than three hundred programs and applications that can be used in education.

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