I’m back from a week in Ecuador, where I participated in a conference hosted in the Faculty of Latin American Social Sciences (FLACSO), and delivered two invited lectures. At FLACSO, I discussed the co-seminar conducted by myself and Dr. Arthur Harkins at the University of Minnesota, in cooperation with FLACSO-México (lead by Dr. Cristóbal Cobo).
On Monday, Cobo and I visited the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and presented to a group of about 150 students and faculty. Cobo discussed his new book, Planeta Web 2.0, and I followed-up with a presentation on the collaboration between UMN-FLACSO, with a focus on our co-seminar model.
On Tuesday, Cobo and I presented the co-seminar model, our joint course, lessons learned, and future prospects at the FLACSO 50th Anniversary conference. Much of the discussion with the audience was centered on the future of education. Dr. Eduardo Ibarra (from UAM-Cuajimalpa) commented on the need for post-disciplinary learning (the dynamic creation of new disciplines, often at the personal level), beyond the transdisciplinary scope that we presented. (That’s Leapfrog thinking!) Eduardo will host a conference on imagining futures for Mexican universities in 2030 in early December. I will participate there, so we will have a lot to talk about!
“Version 2.0” of the seminar will commence in January. This time, in addition to FLACSO-México, FLACSO-Ecuador and FLACSO-Chile may also join. Following a Skype conference with Ismael Peña-López (of ICTlogy), it’s possible that Ph.D. students at UOC in Barcelona will participate as well. So, it is conceivable the co-seminar may be conducted in three languages: English, Spanish and Catalan.
Wednesday involved an early morning flight to the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL) in Southern Ecuador. The school has 23,000 students, of which 20,000 are distance learners. Cobo and I toured the campus, met with leaders of the central administration and research centers, and delivered lectures to about 250 students and faculty. Cobo again discussed Planeta Web 2.0, but also focused on “so what?” questions regarding his book. I discussed the New Paradigm and the Leapfrog Principle. Together, we highlighted how accelerating change is transforming everything in society, and the students presented cheered at several of the leapfrog-enabling technologies on the horizon.
A few audience members posted their reactions to our lectures:
(In two of the above posts, I am incorrectly noted as a co-author of Planeta Web 2.0. That’s not true! It’s written by Cristóbal Cobo and Hugo Pardo. Also, a statement I made was misinterpreted. To correct the record, I stated that U.S. universities are now only discussing incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their schools; whereas Loja is already adopting their use in the curriculum.)
An interesting aspect of UTPL is that its students and recent graduates run its research centers, and that the university is providing spaces for student-run “skunk works.” In addition to providing facilities, UTPL provides these entrepreneurial students with business and legal advice for forming successful ventures in Ecuador. Their hope is to create a new Silicon Valley in the Loja Valley. I found this focus on youth empowerment to be enlightening.
Wednesday afternoon focused on conversations with UTPL leaders on “what’s next.” More on that will emerge over the next few months… stay tuned!