The European Commission has awarded a major Co-Fund grant to the ASSISTID Project of the Doctrid Research Institute, run by the charity Respect (chaired by Mr Dermot Desmond). Professor Brian Harvey of the RCSI is Research Director for Doctrid and the Coordinator of the all-Ireland ASSISTID Project, which includes all 7 Irish Universities, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster in the partnership.

Professor Lizbeth Goodman of UCD’s SMARTlab and Inclusive Design Research Centre of Ireland @ UCD will chair the Academic Advisory Committee of the five year ASSISTID project, and SMARTlab will lead on the technical and online workpackages to support the recruitment, selection and project management of 40 fully funded Post-Docs, and will collaborate with the Programme Board on promotions, communications and online networking of the project researchers and wider communities. ASSISTID supports a five year programme of fellowships and research projects and training programmes exploring innovations in the use of assistive technologies by and for people with intellectual disabilities (with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders).

The first Call for the first set of 20 Post-Docs will soon be announced; of those, 16 will be incoming to the partner universities in Ireland, and 4 will be outgoing to the USA and Canadian partner sites. In addition to Professor Harvey and Professor Goodman, the core ASSISTID project team includes national and international researchers and stakeholders including Professor Michael Leahy of Michigan State University, Dr Geraldine Leader of the University of Galway (Clinical Lead for ASSISTID), Mr Liam Walsh of Respect, and Dr Lynnae Routledge of the US National Council on Disability. UCD is also represented on the ASSISTID founding project team by Dr Mick Donegan, SMARTlab Adjunct Senior Researcher, and Mr Huw Williams, SMARTlab CTO, along with Dr Suzanne Guerin of the CHS Centre for Disability Studies, all of whom sit on the Advisory Panel for the Project. Professor Karola Dillenburger of QUB and Professor Mickey Keenan of Ulster University (and Adjunct at UCD) represent the North in this all-Ireland consortium. 48 UCD faculty members from across the colleges are members of the IDRC, and will provide mentorship to fellows as appropriate.

The total project funding in addition to the EC contribution includes Michigan State University’s generous donation to establish the prestigious international Hegarty Fellowships, in honour of the late Sister Martha Hegarty, along with match funds from Respect, and a further match of 1,500,000 in software from the IDRC’s main partner site in Canada: the IDRC at OCADU (Toronto), directed by Professor Jutta Treviranus. The total project funding, and the outputs of related SMARTlab and IDRC projects at UCD including the Leonardo Accessible E-Learning Project, further support this effort towards new CTI solutions to enable development and testing of a co-designed and fully interoperable and accessible online learning environment using open source tools to create personalisable mobile learning platforms suited to the needs of all the world’s learners.

By funding and supporting 40 Post-Doc projects in the domain of Inclusive Design, this innovative project seeks to make a major intervention into the public’s understanding of the real and varied social contributions to be made by People with Intellectual Disabilities, and to foster new innovations in the assistive technology sector as applied to the field of inclusive learning. UCD-SMARTlab’s expertise to be contributed to the overall intellectual output of the project includes: Creative Technology Innovation; Learning Tools for Intellectual Disability; Assistive Technologies; Personalised Learning Environments; Mobile and Virtual World Technologies; Personalised Learning; Interactive Tools for Autism; Digital Media Advocacy and Training; Creative and Artistic Expression: Social Interactions Using Art; Animations for Inclusive Learning; Design for Diversity.

IDRC@UCD colleagues will contribute from across the Colleges to offer additional expertise in domains such as Social Entrepreneurship Solutions for Widening Participation; and Human Rights Studies as Pertaining to People with Intellectual Disabilities. SMARTlab and IDRC researchers will collaborate with colleagues across all the UCD Colleges to provide a fully interdisciplinary and flexible research environment suited to the needs of the Post-Doc Researchers and PhD students to be recruited to work in this exciting domain.

For further background also see: http://smartlab-ie.com/2013/11/professor-lizbeth-goodman-as-ucd-featured-researcher/

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Professor Lizbeth Goodman will deliver a Keynote at the Virtual Systems and Multimedia IEEE Conference 2016: http://www.vsmm2016.org/keynotes

SMARTlab PhDs and Postdocs and Faculty will also contribute to the panel, including Prof Jacki Morie, Dr Eleni Mangina, Dr Joe Eyerman, Dr Aviva Cohen, Dr Cathy Dalton, Dr Nigel Robb, Dr Shane Keaveny, Colin Keogh, Cagri Cubucku and Bo Zhang.

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Open education and technology

In 2012, the modern use of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) had grown at 14 times the rate of traditional learning. Open education is fast growing to become the dominant form of education, for many reasons such as its efficiency and results compared to traditional methods. Cost of education has been an issue throughout history, and a major political issue in most countries today. Online courses often can be more expensive than face-to-face classes. Out of 182 colleges surveyed in 2009 nearly half said tuition for online courses was higher than for campus based ones. Many large university institutions are now starting to offer free or almost free full courses such as Harvard, MIT and Berkeley teaming up to form edX. Other universities offering open education are Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Edinburgh, U. Penn, U. Michigan, U. Virginia, U. Washington, and Caltech. It has been called the biggest change in the way we learn since the printing press. Despite favorable studies on effectiveness, many people may still desire to choose traditional campus education for social and cultural reasons.

The conventional merit-system degree is currently not as common in open education as it is in campus universities, although some open universities do already offer conventional degrees such as the Open University in the United Kingdom. Presently, many of the major open education sources offer their own form of certificate. Due to the popularity of open education, these new kind of academic certificates are gaining more respect and equal “academic value” to traditional degrees. Many open universities are working to have the ability to offer students standardized testing and traditional degrees and credentials. A culture is beginning to form around distance learning for people who are looking to social connections enjoyed on traditional campuses. For example, students may create study groups, meetups and movements such as UnCollege.

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Purpose of schools

Individual purposes for pursuing education can vary. Understanding the goals and means of educational socialization processes may also differ according to the sociological paradigm used.

The early years of schooling generally focus around developing basic interpersonal communication and literacy skills. This lays a foundation for more complex skills and subjects. Later, education usually turns toward gaining the knowledge and skills needed to create value and establish a livelihood.

People also pursue education for its own sake to satisfy innate curiosity, out of interest in a specific subject or skill, or for overall personal development.

Education is often understood as a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality, and acquiring wealth and status for all (Sargent 1994). Education is also often perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentials, with the purpose of developing every individual to their full potential.

Some claim that there is education inequality because children did not exceed the education of their parents. This education inequality is then associated with income inequality. Although critical thinking is a goal of education, criticism and blame are often the unintended by products of our current educational process. Students often blame their teachers and their textbooks, despite the availability of libraries and the internet. When someone tries to improve education, the educational establishment itself occasionally showers the person with criticism rather than gratitude. Better by products of an educational system would be gratitude and determination.

Developed countries have people with more resources (housing, food, transportation, water and sewage treatment, hospitals, health care, libraries, books, media, schools, the internet, education, etc.) than most of the world’s population. One merely needs to see through travel or the media how many people in the undeveloped countries live to sense this. However, one can also use economic data to gain some insight into this. Yet criticism and blame are common among people in the developed countries.

Gratitude for all these resources and the determination to develop oneself would be more productive than criticism and blame because the resources are readily available and because, if you blame others, there is no need for you to do something different tomorrow or for you to change and improve. Where there is a will, there is a way. People in developed countries have the will and the way to do many things that they want to do. They sometimes need more determination and will to improve and to educate themselves with the resources that are abundantly available. They occasionally need more gratitude for the resources they have, including their teachers and their textbooks. The entire internet is also available to supplement these teachers and textbooks.

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History of Education

Education began in the earliest prehistory, as adults trained the young in the knowledge and skills deemed necessary in their society. In pre-literate societies this was achieved orally and through imitation. Story-telling passed knowledge, values, and skills from one generation to the next. As cultures began to extend their knowledge beyond skills that could be readily learned through imitation, formal education developed. Schools existed in Egypt at the time of the Middle Kingdom.

Matteo Ricci (left) and Xu Guangqi (right) in the Chinese edition of Euclid’s Elements published in 1607
Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in Europe. The city of Alexandria in Egypt, established in 330 BCE, became the successor to Athens as the intellectual cradle of Ancient Greece. There, mathematician Euclid and anatomist Herophilus constructed the great Library of Alexandria and translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek. European civilizations suffered a collapse of literacy and organization following the fall of Rome in AD 476.

In China, Confucius (551-479 BCE), of the State of Lu, was the country’s most influential ancient philosopher, whose educational outlook continues to influence the societies of China and neighbors like Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Confucius gathered disciples and searched in vain for a ruler who would adopt his ideals for good governance, but his Analects were written down by followers and have continued to influence education in East Asia into the modern era.

After the Fall of Rome, the Catholic Church became the sole preserver of literate scholarship in Western Europe. The church established cathedral schools in the Early Middle Ages as centers of advanced education. Some of these establishments ultimately evolved into medieval universities and forebears of many of Europe’s modern universities. During the High Middle Ages, Chartres Cathedral operated the famous and influential Chartres Cathedral School. The medieval universities of Western Christendom were well-integrated across all of Western Europe, encouraged freedom of inquiry, and produced a great variety of fine scholars and natural philosophers, including Thomas Aquinas of the University of Naples, Robert Grosseteste of the University of Oxford, an early expositor of a systematic method of scientific experimentation, and Saint Albert the Great, a pioneer of biological field research. The University of Bologne is considered the oldest continually operating university.

Elsewhere during the Middle Ages, Islamic science and mathematics flourished under the Islamic caliphate which was established across the Middle East, extending from the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Indus in the east and to the Almoravid Dynasty and Mali Empire in the south.

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Inventions of writing

Writing numbers for the purpose of record keeping began long before the writing of language. See History of writing ancient numbers for how the writing of numbers began.

It is generally agreed that true writing of language (not only numbers) was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 600 BC. Several Mesoamerican scripts are known, the oldest being from the Olmec or Zapotec of Mexico.

It is debated whether writing systems were developed completely independently in Egypt around 3200 BC and in China around 1200 BC, or whether the appearance of writing in either or both places was due to cultural diffusion (i.e. the concept of representing language using writing, if not the specifics of how such a system worked, was brought by traders from an already-literate civilization).

Chinese characters are probably an independent invention, because there is no evidence of contact between China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation. Egyptian script is dissimilar from Mesopotamian cuneiform, but similarities in concepts and in earliest attestation suggest that the idea of writing may have come to Egypt from Mesopotamia. In 1999, Archaeology Magazine reported that the earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to 3400 BC, which “…challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia.”

Similar debate surrounds the Indus script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization in Ancient India (3200 BC). In addition, the script is still undeciphered and there is debate over whether the script is true writing at all, or instead some kind of proto-writing or non-linguistic sign system.

An additional possibility is the undeciphered Rongorongo script of Easter Island. It is debated whether this is true writing, and if it is, whether it is another case of cultural diffusion of writing. The oldest example is from 1851, 139 years after their first contact with Europeans. One explanation is that the script was inspired by Spain’s written annexation proclamation in 1770.

Various other known cases of cultural diffusion of writing exist, where the general concept of writing was transmitted from one culture to another but the specifics of the system were independently developed. Recent examples are the Cherokee syllabary, invented by Sequoyah, and the Pahawh Hmong system for writing the Hmong language.

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Traditions in education

Idealism – This tradition emerged in Greece and the famous philosophers who introduced this concept were Socrates and his pupil Plato. The basic concept launched was that all the things we see in this world are actually the copy not original. What ever we produce here becomes an idea in our mind. So whatever we work to create something is first takes shape in ideas and minds, so the true reality is Idealism.They both supported an education which provides the opportunity to develop mental faculties and make student think properly to find any reality.

Realism – Aristotle, the pupil of Plato was the person who got the concept of Realism and argued that the Idealism is not the only reality, but there are many natural things which are the part of our atmosphere and we come across those things. Whatever we observe is very important to work on and find the realities using empirical evidences. So the education that is based on experience and observable realities will guide the students to find out the reality. The same has relevance to the philosophy of Positivism.

Perennialism – This concept was introduced by Robert Hutchins who was of a view that the education should have ever-lasting impact on the students and therefore the only ever-last ideas should be taught. for that he supported the religious concepts to be incorporated in the curriculum.

Existentialism – Kierkegaard argued that all the philosophers are of a view to inculcate into the students which is something outdoor with reference to the students. He told that realities are subjective and they are with the individuals themselves. The education should work on individuals to harness the inner realities.

Theism – Thomas Aquinas introduced the church doctrine in education and emphasized that reason and faith are complimentary so the both ideas should be the base of education and the students should go by the reasons introduced by the faith, church or religion.

Essentialism – The education philosophies were taking many turns in the twentieth century when William Bagley raised his voice to attract the attention of the theoreticians telling that the education should have a core basics of the culture and heritage. The students should be given choice of study the said core subject and they should go to the 1930s education where the same was used to teach.

Pragmatism – John Dewey was the person who told that in education a democratic view is to be implemented. Students should be given a chance to explore themselves and they should go by their own instinctive drives.

Critical thinking – There was a team of German theoreticians like Adorno, Horkheimer and Habermas who gave the concept of Critical Theory and argued that the education which provides the students and prepare them to analyze the things under discussion, is the basic requirement of education.

Social education – In his book, Social Education, Applied Perspective, Muhammad Zahid Azeem Zahid has argued that the education which provides the opportunity to the students to find their space in society and the education should be in line with the societal need not only individually but holistically as well. The Social Education Model is to be implemented in the third world countries as there is a big need to join the individual and society. An educated person can become a good professional and can lead a good life individually, but the need of the day is that he or she should keep his profession and the lifestyle favorable to the society as well.

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leonardoThe purpose of this course is to provide teachers with the concepts and tools for designing and developing inclusive learning considering the preferences and needs of all students. The course introduces teachers in the Universal Design for Learning and the main concepts of web accessibility while they develop open educational resources. Teachers will be able to apply approaches and techniques for achieving an environment for inclusive learning.

For more information, click here.
To register, click here.

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