Is everyone MOOCing out? Te(a)chology EdTech Berlin

Te(a)chology - EdTech Meetup Berlin
This EdTech Berlin event was organized by Te(a)chology, hosted by Meet’n’learn at Impact Hub Berlin, sponsored by OpenCampus and Serlo
This post originally appeared on Linkedin which you can see here 

Te(a)chology is a place where EdTechpreneurs and Edtech enthusiasts can come together to make an impact. There was no better place to come together and exchange synergies and future collaboration than at The Impact Hub.  On 3rd December Meet’n’Learn, an online platform that matches tutors with students, hosted this event to encourage exactly that: meet and learn. With 10,000 active tutors in total across Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic this event mirrors the platform`s aims to increase accessibility to education. OpenCampus and Serlo who sponsored Te(a)chology EdTech Berlin event, further forwarded this goal.          
OpenCampus wants to “simplifiy education, increase the pleasure of teaching and facilitate the access to education - for everybody, everywhere”.  Serlo is an open learning platform and digital library, containing everything students need to succeed at school “a Wikipedia for learning materials”.
At The Impact Hub, Berlin a raison d’etre for social entrepreneurs and enterprises, the event covered two major aspects: Firstly, highlighting challenges to facilitate the refugee crisis, particularly in areas of integration through education technology. This was covered by Rahman Satti who is a project manager at Archiv for Youth Cultures in Berlin and OpenCampus that fully connects refugees to institutions, both with education and the government. 
To kick off the event we introduced how OpenCampus uses Drupol to facilitate, through proxies, the possibility to more easily exchange and collaborate with each important document that aids refugee`s integration into Germany.  OpenCampus can be integrated easily into government and education institutions to become a complete Eco-System.  This is just what is needed in this difficult transition to integrate refugees into Germany`s complex systems.
Digital Disruption in EdTech led by Refugees
Rahman Satti continued with powerful quotes such as “Whenever collective Intelligence Kicks in Disruption follows” Nadia El-Iman Edgeryd.  You only needed to look at the packed room listening intently to know that is true. So what does that disruption look like?  Rahman Satti presented how Hackathons, community meetups and scientific debate can all facilitate new ideas to aid refugee integration. He talked of a “vision of refugees and supporters as global citizens”. This was certainly a powerful statement that changes perspectives of refugees as victims, to that of active global participants.
Rahman Satti emphasized the importance of having refugees to be part of the design process so together we can build a picture of need, journey mapping and paper prototyping.  He asked how digital services for refugees contribute to systematic change?  Some suggestions were Online Ethnography and Maker Technologies. These could spur the necessary expansion of digital infrastructure, even in the countryside, where most of the refugees live. Rahman Satti emphasized how the main beneficiaries are the stakeholders in the new economy and startups. His presentation was able to reveal how EdTech is at the forefront of driving social change.
A Fresh Perspective
As Te(a)chology, hosted by Meet’n’learn aims to include fresh perspectives from EdTech startups who are just coming onto the scene, it was our pleasure to have Marcos Bartsch who has developed a prototype Inlearnity an online content curating platform to take the stage. Play with Me In the break Alessandro Maggioni and Daniel Huber from Badaboom presented their interactive museum exhibit for kids: “‘Spiel mit mir’ (Play with me) is an interactive multimedia installation which combines elements of learning, communication, and physical activity in a playful and intriguing contemporary exposition for kids”. Badaboom realizes workshops and installations, bringing interactive creative expression to otherwise static archives and exhibitions. Conversation flowed as participants delighted their taste buds with home made Turkish cuisine. Looking around at the packed room we realized that there indeed was a need for these kinds of community events that brought together people who are eager to discuss the challenges of education technology.  
Is everyone MOOCing out?
During the break we had set up an activity that allowed participants to answer questions about the value of MOOCs such as: “What are the Challenges?” to which one engaged participant answered that “MOOC´s had a lack of tracking and mastery of outcomes as well difficulty in assuring quality of education ministry`s standards”. These concerns raised in the break led nicely into a fish bowl conversation that allows for maximum participation from the audience. MOOCs have undergone quite a journey from huge hype in 2011 to the current climate in 2015 echoing that perhaps we expected too much too soon for MOOCs.  
In the fish bowl conversation Juan David Mendieta CTO and business development for Kiron University linked the first part about digital facilitation for refugees to the second, to reveal how MOOC´s have real potential to give access to education where otherwise it would not be possible. Iversity, who has been offering MOOCs for everyone is now beginning to engage those in full-time employment, who cannot so easily move back into formal education. In addition Björn Lefers gave the institutional perspective from The Berlin School of Law and Economy by utilizing SPOCs–Smaller Personal Online Courses with blended learning.
Often the criticism of MOOC`s is that they are taken out of context and need to be curated with someone who knows the specific learning needs of the participants that can only be developed over time. Questions came to light of how can we address that need with current MOOCs in Germany. Kiron University talked of mentorship and buddy programs that would alleviate some of the impersonal aspect.  Björn Lefers from The Berlin School of Law and Economy talked about blended learning and what is commonly known as flipped lectures, that would give students that chance to have media rich content that they could review in their own time, so that time inside class could be spent with the teacher expanding, reviewing and getting a deeper understanding and mastery of those concepts, since education is about learning concepts and skills that we cannot acquire through our normal interaction with the world which takes time and personalised guidance, and yet how can we scale that so that masses of people can gain access to education who would not otherwise have chance  Or is that not possible to scale?
Questions arose such as, are we achieving the democratisation of education as promised? With a 1:25 ratio of professors to students in a university, how can the massive scale of MOOCs possibly give that personalized and adaptive feedback in terms of assessment and achievement; iversity talked about how not every discipline has a right or wrong answer, such as philosophy and so some student assessment cannot be easily quantified. However adaptive learning programs are able to equip large numbers of students the kind of personalized learning that is needed at this scale and often at quite a high quality. It´s true that adaptive learning still works best in disciplines such as mathematics and science, however there has been an increase in the adoption of adaptive learning programs into the humanities and social sciences.  Perhaps adaptive learning, as with MOOC`s need to be paired with other ways of learning in order to achieve their full potential.  After all, can we really expect to have technology answer all our questions alone when teaching methods and indeed live teaching is arguably still at the heart of personalized learning.
Furthermore, questions emerged around quality control for MOOCs. Kiron University suggested that peer reviews could help, much in the same way that papers are peer reviewed before they are put in academic journals.  
Education is meant to give us time and space to learn, develop and reflect on a deeper lever about our interactions with the world and this is something that often we can`t get outside the education system.  When I talk to others who have finished university often it is the time to reflect, learn, debate, extend, try out and practice that is difficult to recreate without that formal structure there.
Are MOOCs enough to create those things on a really deep level? If not what are the solutions that could facilitate this? Are SPOCs (small private online courses) or is adaptive learning the answer? Or do we just need more innovative blended learning and flipped classroom methods?  These questions forged a strong debate within the fish bowl conversation as the EdTech Berlin community strived to find solutions to aid deeper learning.  What became evident is that MOOCs, just like individuals, will probably not be able to cover all that is needed to advance through education on their own.
Meet’n’learn that hosted Te(a)chology #EdTechBerlin, is an online learning platform that matches tutors to students in an easy, user friendly way, so that people can, meet and learn! This article originally appeared on this blog