Mooc for Open Source Self-Driving Car

With Udacity, Sebastian Thrun is taking moocs to the next level. It’s not only about teaching, it’s about entering a real life competition with the tech giants and car makers of the world. Build an Open Source Self Driving car! If he can gather large pools of smart brains from around the world, couldn‘t he set up a much more powerful human resource base than the car companies?




“The Big History Project”

“…We are part of a larger story. One that is still unfolding…”

History for All. 14 Billion years at your fingertips. An wonderful online educational project developed by David Christian, an Australian professor for history.

Completely free access. Extraordinary effort put in by many actors to create an online learning platform. Great visual storytelling. Teachers can use the resources in many creative ways!!

“The Big History Project is a joint effort between teachers, scholars, scientists, and their supporters to bring a multi-disciplinary approach to knowledge to lifelong learners around the world.”


Neuroscience + Education = Neuroeducation

Here is an interesting article I came across recently by Raya Bidshahri:

Neuroeducation Will Lead to Big Breakthroughs in Learning

What is Neuroeducation?    “All human abilities, including learning, are a result of our brain activity. Hence, a better understanding of how our brains operate can result in a better understanding of learning.”

This article refers to the numerous studies that have shown that active, experiential, and problem-based learning dramatically trumps traditional lectures.

An interesting case presented in the article: “One research team conducted a study where seventh graders were taught that learning changes the brain and intelligence can be improved upon. The researchers found that students in this experimental group did better on math tests than peers who did not receive that instruction.”

Indeed, the brain has many mysteries to offer:  “The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10,000 other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe.” (Michio Kaku)



Connected Learning

Here is an interesting website (Connected Learning Alliance) explaining ‘connected learning’.


Future Of Learning

Here are two resources about the future of learning that I find very helpful:

1. 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning. Even though this was created in 2008, it hasn’t lost any of its relevance. It uses great notions like “Deserts and Oasis of Learning Geographies”. Very relevant to outline the case of ‘Educational Urbanism’.
(By Knowledgeworks Foundation & IFTF)
This is also a great resource playing with several scenarios, five drivers of change and three impact layers – people, structures and society. (You’ll have to download it from Knowledgeworks Foundation)

“We are rapidly entering a new era in which our economy, our institutions, and our societal structures –indeed, the very bedrock of our lives – are shifting at an accelerating pace. This new era promises to change learning dramatically, affecting the ways education prepares learners and the reasons individuals pursue learning in the first place.

KnowledgeWorks’ fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning explores provocations at the intersection three impact layers – people, structures and society – and five drivers of change.”

Learning Flows

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) came up with the notion of “Learning Flows” in a study back in 2013. I think it’s more relevant than ever.

“New technologies, work patterns, and practices are disrupting how we learn, where we learn, and what we need to learn. The definitions of teacher and student are becoming fluid, and education itself is moving out of episodic experiences in traditional institutions and their classrooms, into learning flows that course through our daily lives. People of all ages dip in and out of these flows, engaging in continuous learning channels that are contextually relevant and always available.” (IFTF)

You’ll find more guidelines to understand the concept and also research yourself here.

Back to blogging!!! 3rd April 2017

Education, Learning, Urbanism + Digitalisation

Lots happened in my life in the last four years. Interesting projects, great travels, countless encounters and good reading.

What has remained unabated, however, is my passion for education, learning and urbanism. So, the aim of this blog remains unchanged: to share stories around the phenomenon of learning in urban regions complemented with the ‘sauce’ of theories and discourses.

We all know that key aspects of our world are changing rapidly, and that at the same time, we are confronted with an extraordinary number of global challenges: Climate change, hunger, peace, health, economy, demografic shift, education, environmental degradation, urbanisation etc etc.  Change and learning are closely connected: The need for new knowledge, new methods of problem solving and new cultures of collective learning are getting more attention in urban planning. In the last years, my conviction has grown, that new approaches in  educational planning are converging with new cultures of learning in the urban planning, hence, I will stick on to the ‘imaginary’ I created in 2011: EDUCATIONAL URBANISM”.

In the last months, however, another phenomenon has drawn my attention deeply: Digitalisation. In the meantime it has grown into a full fledged obsession. I think, besides obvious drivers such as food & water scarcity, geopolitical tensions, social polarisation etc., it will be digitalisation that will pose the most disruptive force for our civilisation and the planet at large in the 21st century. I have also come to fear that most countries of the world are completely unprepared for what is coming. And yes, I have caught myself joining in the chorus of the protagonists of the digital revolution in Silicon Valley: “It’s just the beginning…”

Looking forward to sharing new thoughts at this exciting time !

Ørestad Gymnasium: School without Classrooms (Part 2)_A case for ‘Educational Urbanism’

What makes Ørestad Gymnasium even more interesting is the larger rationale behind it. It has to be seen within the context of the socio-economic transformation that Denmark is undergoing and also within the urban context of Ørestad, a showpiece of Nordic urban innovation.  Education plays a central role on this urban arena.

The idea behind the new large-scale urban development in Copenhagen, is to catalyse the transformation of the Danish economy from industry-based to knowledge-based economy (will write later more about the so called “knowledge-based urban development”). It’s part of the bi-national economic zone created with Malmö in Sweden. The cities are  connected with the fabulous Øresund Bridge.

On a strip of 600m x 5 km, and an area of 310 ha, Ørestad will have three million indoor square metres; house 20 000 inhabit­ants; provide 60 000 jobs and offer education to 20,000 students. The strong presence of education in Ørestad is deliberate . The Ørestad Gymnasium, the IT-University, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation DBC, an beautiful student’s hostel, the University of Copenhagen, Apple and others work together in close cooperation in the development process (‘Triple Helix’).

Picture 29

There is intense spatial closeness between the media industry, education and business organizations on the strip – not to forget cool housing! The awesome IT-University specializing in multimedia is just one stop away from the Ørestad Gymnasium (with the driverless sky-train). And hardly three walking minutes away from the IT-University is another awesome building – the Danish Broadcasting Corporation DBC  built by Jean Nouvel. The students of the IT-University get job offers at the DBC while still at school … also, some companies have their seats at the top floor of the university. This is where students can make their first encounter with the professional world, easing the school to employment transition.

The DBC building comprises four large buildings and a public concert house (build by Jean Nouvel), which houses a world-class recording studio in its basement. Together with the film-cluster mushrooming around the Danish film director Lars van Trier, Copenhagen is ambitiously positioning itself as a world ‘Media-City’ – much to the joy of the students.

All of this makes it a case for my argument on educational urbanism’ – urban development where educational planning converges with urban planning…

Lots of info on its official website:


Website of the IT University:

Ørestad Gymnasium: School without Classrooms (Part 1)

After walking through the Ørestad Gymnasium in Copenhagen, my old notion of how a school should look like crumbled and disappeared forever.

The school was built in 2005, right after the Danish school reform, by a young group of architects called 3xN (Three times Nielsens). It exemplified the broad pedagogic reorientation in Denmark.

The building is like a huge box with a large central void where a large staircase winds up spreading out to the areas which are ‘appropriated’ by the students for learning – or hanging around, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. For the 1000 students between 16 and 19, there are literally no traditional classrooms – except for those rooms that are solely used for delivery of new information. There is a gym and several multifunctional spaces, which are used as individual zones, group zones, plenary zones and meeting points.

The spaces allow a very high degree of flexibility. Students work individually or in groups in the various work and study areas. If the weather permits, they can also work on the roof or in the open public spaces around the school area – which has a nice waterfront.

Picture 31 Picture 32

The school specializes in multi-media, communication and culture. The curriculum is oriented towards developing ‘modern knowledge’ which focuses on 1) qualifications, 2) competencies, 3) creativity and 4) culture. Teaching and learning refers strongly to a real-world setting, where students are seen as learners – investigating, collaborating, producing and expressing. And teachers are seen as facilitators and mentors working in small groups with students – doing a lot of project work. They are greatly encouraged to develop their own innovations in pedagogy.

The backbone of the school is the ‘Virtual Room’ where a lot of teaching, learning and communication takes place. Students write blogs, produce podcasts and uses different medias of expression through texts, images and sounds. The creative use of media and communications technology is part of the schools pedagogic model. Indeed, there are lots of computers around. Macs. Their stress on local and global connectedness, have led locals to nickname the school the ‘Virtual School’.

Learning in Ørestad Gymnasium is mostly self-organized. It is seen as a creative and collaborative experience. There are no fixed timetables. Only defined outcomes. Our guide told us, private companies often go to visit the school, to see how students create and manage their knowledge, and how they innovate in such an environment – things that the new creative sector is also interested in. As we know, workplaces and schools somewhat influence each other. Think of how the schools of 19th century looked like. How they resembled factories (‘Factory Schools’) and the conveyor belts of the industrial age. In fact, the bells at these schools were modeled on the shift-time sounds in factories (see Re-thinking Education, Part 1). Not much has changed for most schools around the world. But, thankfully, those social imaginaries are now shifting very quickly and along with them the power relations in schools. Ørestad Gymnasium is surely a beacon for the next generation of schools.

Watching those students lying around sunk in huge beanbags, or stooped over their laptops or engaged in heated discussions in small groups, made me feel like going back to school… and starting all over again…


Website of the school:

Here you’ll find a short but very well written account of the school, its pedagogy and curriculum:Ørestad_Gymnasium

…also the Innovation Unit has written something about it:

…and here is (not a very good presentation) by the director of the school Allan Kjær Andersen, but you’ll find some images.…/presentation%20oeg_rome.ppt

The architects website:

Rethinking education, Part 1: Why our school system is broken

“Learning a Living” – Valerie Hannon and Reza present WISE Book 2012

“Learning a Living” Book Presentation

Picture 23

In November 2012, WISE presented its WISE Book 2012 “Learning a Living” in Doha, Qatar. The book looks into the relationship between education, innovation and the world of work. After surveying 100 programmes, it identified fifteen high-impact radical innovation projects addressing the issue learning for work. It’s not just a collection of best practices – it tells their compelling stories. The book will be available on Amazon from March 2013.

Watch the video of the presentation made by the lead author of the book, the brilliant Valerie Hannon, director of The Innovation Unit in Britain (I remember being impressed by Ms Hannon at the OECD conference at my university in Vienna back in 2011).

She does a great job here by presenting some of the key projects from the book, while putting them in the context of a general message, which she unfolds along her presentation on the background. You can also listen to Reza, a well known National Geography photographer, who shot the photos.

The projects come from a broad variety of countries (like the USA, Morocco, Brazil, Kuwait, Nicaragua and others) showing many types of innovations. Ms Hannon underlines, that even though it’s a beautiful book, it’s not for the ‘coffee table’. It puts forward an argument about ‘learning for work’ (not ‘training for work’), which the authors believe has major implications for ‘learning’ in general.

In their methodology, the researchers put three questions:

1) What’s happening to the world of work?

2) What’s happening to the workforces and their needs?

3) How should learning be organised to meet those needs?

The problem they saw was that:

a) the picture of the world of work ‘has changed beyond recognition’,

b) the needs of workforces (that is of all citizens) which have changed too;

c) but learning hasn’t changed in terms of its organisation or design to meet those needs.

With this book as a backdrop, the ambivalent position of educational planners between the ‘market needs’ approach and the ‘liberal education’ approach, especially on the background of radical economic changes, really needs special attention. I’ll make a posting on that soon…

Back to the book, from the innovative projects chosen, the book picks up lessons from their

a) pedagogy;

c) their approach to curriculum;

d) their approach to assessment;

e) what is ‘intrinsically fascinating about these practices and how can they be scaled up.

Doing the book had ‘a profound effect’ on Valerie Hannon and her team. In talking to learners worldwide, again and again, the message they were hearing was that …

“The education system for the most part is not a part of the solution, its part of the problem”

It was ‘a shocking finding’, she said.

I draw the rationale of the book from her comment: “…the whole piece how people are educated to learn a living has significant implications on how we organise learning in totality.”

They looked into projects that addressed people from age 4 to age 95 (!). However, someone asked Valerie: “Why stop at 95?”  : )) I wont tell you more…enjoy this wonderful presentation full of surprises and inspiring sparks !!!

If you want to read the first chapter, go to issuu: