As announced in the title, the ERASMUS Intensive Programme “New Tools and Approaches for a better Integration of Learning and Experiencing Knowledge” (“NewTooKnow”, 01-14 September 2013) intended to contribute to innovative practices in education and training at tertiary level.
It has been coordinated by the Johannes Kepler University Linz, with the participation of staff from three different institutes (Center for Distance Learning Vienna, which initiated and coordinated the programme; Institute of Organisation and Global Management Education and Department of International Management, which hosted the programme in their premises). The partners from the four academic institutions were all highly specialised in the disciplines addressed.
For this purpose, the 2-week programme included the implementation of an innovative interdisciplinary approach aiming at the development of learning competences. It combined reflections and experiences from the fields of Education (Pedagogy), Communication Science, Linguistics and Digital Arts (with design and implementation of interactive computer systems for diverse applications). Doing so, NewTooKnow clearly addressed also the further operational objective of the European LifeLong Learning Programme on development of innovative ICT-based content, pedagogies and practice for lifelong learning.
In particular, the NewTooKnow programme provided the participating students and teachers with a further demonstration on how the concept of learning should be shifted from a merely cognitive input-output dynamic (producing “knowledge” as it is referred to in the title) to a more complex process involving the learner as a whole individual. From the viewpoint of the IP partners, it is this kind of process – crucially relying on personal skills – that can lead to the development of “competence” (internalised knowledge). More specifically, factors like self-acceptance, stigmas and taboos have been analysed as components influencing the learning process in its complexity. The role of non-cognitive resources in the learning process (e.g., related to team und organisational behaviour and in intercultural communication, including linguistic aspects) have been analysed and trained. The positive effects on the development of the learner’s personality have been shown in innovative learning practices involving also reflections on group organisation and on the influence of gender factors in the learning environment organisation. The international learning setting (including an institution from a non-EU country) represented an optimal laboratory for training aspects of cross-cultural human resource management with an interdisciplinary support. This aspect, which was mainly based on contributions of Johannes Kepler University Linz, has been highly appreciated by all participants – both students and teachers.
Some recent, promising results of Distance Education research have been also applied to the IP learning context: aspects of learning organisation related to virtual multicultural teams and virtual collaboration have been treated and about two thirds of the IP have been devoted to the presentation, analysis and applications of Communication Science and Digital Art. These results and products have been considered in particular in their applications to intercultural contexts (with main contributions of the partners from Anadolu University, Turkey and Universidade Aberta, Portugal, respectively). Focusing on aspects of reception and fruition dynamics and on the identification of issues influencing art and education in multicultural societies was intended to open further new learning perspectives, also based on (and nurtured by) an interdisciplinary approach.
Finally, the students have been introduced to foundations of Digital Arts, with the opportunity to programme small digital artifacts for learning applications under the assistance of teaching staff. These learning activities were combined with the one-day visit of the Ars Electronica Festival 2013, which was devoted to the topic “Total Recall – the Evolution of Memory” (http://www.aec.at/totalrecall/en). The visit, introduced by a presentation of Mr. Andreas Bauer, Head of Ars Electronica Center, provided the IP participants with several interdisciplinary inputs on cognitive sciences, science, technology and visual arts. The creative contact between performing arts and their connections with movies and digital technology have been also analysed later on by the participating teachers in the framework of workshop activities (main contributions: Universidade Aberta, Portugal).
During the entire duration of the IP, new ICT-supported learning opportunities have been presented to the students, which were further broadened and differentiated with the contributions of Communication Sciences (cf. contributions on meta-communication referred to mass communication from Tallinn University of Technology, Estland; graphic, visual and page design; news writing; elements of radio journalism from Anadolu University, Turkey).
Overall, the NewTooKnow learning and teaching experience has been evaluated as a very positive contribution to innovation in learning methodology in academic environments.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.