"The distance between on-site universities and online universities will become increasingly smaller"
Jordi Rovira

Prats Monn analysed how technology is transforming education and assured that forecasts point to a growth in this respect, as it is calculated that by 2020 there will be 204 million higher education students between the ages of 25 and 34, which will mean "a massive competition for talent". "We don't know what technology will do in our lives and that's why we have to be very careful when we speak of its impact," he stated, although he made it perfectly clear that among the changes we do know about are those that completely affect education models. Consequently, Prats Monn stressed that "technology is deconstructing education" in terms of roles, time and content. "The real change is not in the nature of knowledge per se, but in the fact of sharing this knowledge and in collaborative work," he asserted, concluding, "We have to think of another type of education."

The speech by the Director-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission opened the conference, which, on the theme of Expanding Learning Scenarios-Opening out the Educational Landscape, has brought together nearly 400 scholars and e-learning professionals from over 40 countries to the Hotel Catalonia Barcelona Plaza.

Disruptive change

The welcome speeches by the authorities preceded the lecture by Prats Monn. UOC President Josep A. Planell – who spoke via videoconference, as he is attending the Conference of Spanish University Presidents in Badajoz – talked of the disruptive change that the internet has meant to universities, which has brought along positive aspects (increased demand for higher education) and problematic aspects (disorientation of some academics), and has opened up unknowns (the globalization of higher education). Planell, for whom "innovation and change are essential traits inherent to learning, education and research", stressed that in light of the challenges facing distance education, "we need to personalize courses through competency -based learning, experiment constantly and make technology an ally, ensuring that research and its application are core elements in our teams and become the link between those who study, teach, research and train".

In turn, Antonio Moreira Teixeira, President of EDEN – Europe's leading network of institutions and individuals in the field of open and digital education – said that EDEN is "a European node for world experts in online education", as the organization has 180 member institutions and over a thousand members in sixty different countries. Moreira also stressed that the conference would cover key aspects for the future of higher education, including the personalization of learning, new focuses in teaching innovation and new business models.

Likewise, Llus Jofre, Director-General for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, talked about "the country's strong commitment to research and higher education", illustrating this by stating that while Catalans account for 1.5% of the European population, Catalonia produces 3% of European research. He also stated that today "people need lifelong learning" and he compared it with the technological change that is affecting conventional television. "In the same way that television is changing, university courses will also change," he concluded.

The international conference is taking place as part of the UOC's twentieth anniversary and EDEN's twenty-fifth anniversary. Specifically, as part of the UOC's twentieth anniversary celebrations, the conference will see the presentation of a series of activities including networking, workshops and presentations.

EDEN Annual Conference 2015
Expanding Learning Scenarios - Opening out the Educational Landscape

Dates: 9 to 12 June
Venue: Hotel Catalonia Barcelona Plaza
Plaa Espanya 6-8
08014 Barcelona

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