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New UOC affiliation with MIT

  Photo: UOC

Photo: UOC

Anna Torres Garrote
A delegation from the UOC was recently in Boston to discuss technology's impact on the job market and the resultant needs in training and education

This April the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), as an affiliate member. This affiliation comes on the back of almost two years' work, meetings and write-ups involving numerous members of the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications, and coordination form Marta Aymerich, Vice President for Strategic Planning and Research. This led to Aymerich, together with ngels Fit, Vice President for Competitiveness and Employability, and Ignasi Buyreu, director of UOC X, taking part in J-WEL Week, which was held at MIT, Boston, from 1 to 4 April. This twice-yearly event was also attended a year ago by Carles Sigals, Vice President for Teaching and Learning, and six months ago by UOC President Josep A Planell, who gave a presentation open to the whole MIT community.


Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL Week) seeks to promote excellence and transformation in education worldwide. In the words of its organizers, "an incubator for change in education at MIT and around the world, J-WEL provides a platform that engages educators, technologists, policymakers, and societal leaders in addressing global opportunities for education through online and in-person collaborations, workshops, and information sharing events."

For the delegation from the UOC, taking part in J-WEL Week was an opportunity to engage in "rich and lively discussions" with key figures about the challenges that lie ahead in education. ngels Fit explained that being part of this community, and specifically the part of it focusing on lifelong learning (its Workforce Learning Collaborative), "allows us to exchange knowledge with other members, universities, companies and all kinds of organization, while also opening the door to new initiatives tackling the great challenge of maintaining high levels of employability in the workforce, in a market where competency profiles are constantly evolving".

Marta Aymerich added "the mission for this MIT J-WEL Collaborative is to provide ideas and tools based on research in order to help both people and organizations develop the skills they need to thrive in society. On this occasion discussions were focused on digital technologies' current and future impact on the job market, and the resultant needs in training and education. In direct relation to this, ngels Fit was presenting the Key Work project, which she is at the head of, and which she is inviting MIT to participate in. She told us "the new aspect within this landscape is that the ways these technologies can change learning processes are changing". She went on to explain that these processes should take us towards "education that is scalable – ergo digital –, more flexible, immersive, collaborative, and can be customized".

Ignasi Buyreu explained how the affiliation with MIT and its ecosystem will help us "transform our training portfolio, offer people and companies better career guidance and counselling, and highlight the value of competencies gained through a trusted system of professional certificates and credentials". He rounded off by pointing out that one of the biggest current challenges is "introducing this change in a sustainable fashion, in terms of our current capacities and maturity".

Six months ago it was the UOC President, Josep A. Planell, who went to MIT for this gathering of experts, where he spoke about how we can improve education to make students real learners. His talk, From Distance Universities To Universities Without Distances, focused on the central aim of the event, to promote excellence and transformation in education. MIT is a cutting-edge institution that works to redesign teaching and learning systems, and empower students to solve problems. The UOC was invited to take part in this event as a world leader in online education and in research into the field, which it develops at its eLearn Center.

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