Internet Science and the shift in academic knowledge landscape

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Last week was the first International Conference of Internet Science, hosted at Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Brussels. The event was truly  international and remarkably cross-disciplinary. Here a Twitter summary of the tweets feeds (#icis2013) of these says.

These day our paper “Digital Scholarship: Exploration of Strategies and Skills for Knowledge Creation and Dissemination” which explores opportunities and some of the transitions that the academic world is facing in the digital times. Openness, digital scholarship, co-authorships, new models of knowledge creation and dissemination are discussed in this paper co-written with Concepción Naval, visiting fellow at Balliol College here in Oxford.

Below the presentation (in Slideshare) and the summary of the article (already available at the Social Science Research Network open access repository).

ABSTRACT: Widespread access to digital technologies has enabled digital scholars to access, create, share, and disseminate academic contents in innovative and diversified ways. Today academic teams in different places can collaborate in virtual environments by conducting scholarly work on the Internet. Two relevant dimensions that have been deeply affected by the emergence of digital scholarship are new facets of knowledge generation (wikis, e-science, online education, distributed R&D, open innovation, open science, peer-based production, online encyclopedias, user generated content) and new models of knowledge circulation and distribution (e-journals, open repositories, open licenses, academic podcasting initiatives, etc.). Despite the potential transformation of these novel practices and mechanisms of knowledge production and distribution, some authors suggest that digital scholarship can only be of significance if it marks a radical break in scholarship practices brought about through the possibilities enabled in new technologies. This paper address some of the key challenges and raise a set of recommendations to foster the development of key skills, new models of collaboration and cross-disciplinary cooperation between digital scholars.

Suggested Citation:

Cobo, Cristobal and Naval, Concepcion, Digital Scholarship: Exploration of Strategies and Skills for Knowledge Creation and Dissemination (April 12, 2013). International Conference on Internet Science Conference Proceedings, Brussels, April 9-11, 2013. Available at SSRN:

#Knetworks: Educational Innovations Beyond Technology


Picture taken by Vyacheslav Polonski

Last week was the closing meeting of the research project KNetworks.The event that took place at the Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisbon). The meeting was a good opportunity to present some of the main outcomes and lessons learned of this multidisciplinary and international collaborative research. This initiative was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (Atlantic Programme).

In this opportunity my presentation was focus on the transformations that Higher Education sector is facing. The analysis highlighted some of the key transformations identified during the period of this project (2010-2013).

Some keywords of the presentation are: Higher Education, Open Access, Open Publishing, Digital Identity, Liquid Times, Knowledge recognition, disintermediation, Moocs, Creative Commons, Open Badges, Skills, and Human Capital.

High-tech companies looking to hire people with soft skills for innovation

Emerald Group Publishing and its journal On the Horizon just released our article: “Mechanisms to identify and study the demand for innovation skills in world-renowned organizations

[Excerpt] “Since extensive studies have been carried out to establish the relationship between functional skills, economic performance and workforce this research analyzed the need of soft skills for innovation among world class organizations. A comparative analysis was performed to explore the type and extent of soft skills for innovation that are demanded in recent job vacancies promoted in worldwide recognized organizations”.

Three of the six organizations included in the study are high-tech companies. The  world recognized organizations studied are Greenpeace, World Bank, OECD, Google, Apple and Samsung.

Title: Mechanisms to identify and study the demand for innovation skills in world-renowned organizations
Author(s): Cristobal Cobo, (Oxford Internet Institute)
Citation: Cristobal Cobo, (2012) “Mechanisms to identify and study the demand for innovation skills in world-renowned organizations”, On the Horizon, Vol. 21 Iss: 2
Article type: Research paper
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract: Purpose - This paper explores the interrelationship between the fields of education and workforce in the context of post-industrial societies. We analyzed key challenges associated with the match (and mismatch) of skill supply and demand between education and the work force.

Design/methodology/approach - Using a ‘purposeful sample’, this study provides an evidence-based analysis that explores how and to what extent soft skills are currently required by world recognized organizations such as Greenpeace, World Bank, OECD, Google, Apple and Samsung.

Findings - After a revision of different perspectives to identify and categorize the key skills of the 21st century, this study describes seven non-technical cognitive and social key skills called soft skills for innovation.

Research limitations/implications - After exploring a small sample size on recent job vacancies promoted by six major international organizations, this study analyzes the current demand for soft skills for innovation such as, collaboration, critical thinking, contextual learning, searching, synthesizing and disseminating information, communication, self-direction and creativity. The methodology adopted and the data retrieval process can be replicated with either a larger sample or more focused workforce sectors.

Practical implications - The described ‘skills mismatch’ emphasizes the importance of creating different strategies and tools that facilitate the recognition of skills acquired independently of educational contexts.

Originality/value - Finally, this study provides evidence-based information (data available online) that can contribute to rethinking curriculums and exploring ‘blended’ models that mix real life and teaching contexts stimulating the development of soft skills for innovation.

Here the headlines of the conclusions:

  1. Soft skills are increasingly becoming hard skills.
  2. The commodification of education and flexible delivery.
  3. The ‘Tower-of-Babel’ problem, in which people use identical words but mean different things.
  4. Lifelong and self-learning in a complex world.
  5. A knowledgeable workforce with re-skilling and relearning capacities.
  6. Planning for uncertainty and recognition of soft skills.
  7. Innovation often requires a departure from conventional approaches.


If MOOCs are the Answer, What Is the Question?

Above the slides of a talk I gave today. The topic was ‘future trends on education‘, rather than technologies the idea was to focus on other time-tested dimensions which are relevant for the education. The plan was also to adress some of the drawbacks and pitfalls identified on MOOCs and other recent trends in online education.

Ironically, this talk was given in the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) organized by the the University of València (more information in Spanish). So, I have to say the experience was 2x more interesting.

The slides were made with Goodnotes (app). The title was borrowed from an article published by Harry E. Pence.

Here some of the sources used in the presentation:

Time to rethink education?

I was thrilled by the invitation of IB. I was invited to speaks at the 2012 International Baccalaureate conference for the Africa, Europe and Middle East region, held in Madrid. It was simply a privilege to have the possibility to stand in front of several hundred teachers from all around the world who are eager to explore new ways of understanding education.

This multinational audience of educators was ready to accept the challenges that I presented. During my conversation with many of them I learned that several communities of teachers were already exploring a number of initiative focus on fostering a ‘culture of innovation’. It was also a good news for me to learn from the adoption of some teaching techniques that aim to develop skills for globalization within and beyond the formal learning environments.

Finally, I founded some connections between that vision and the EU Initiative on “Opening up Education” a public consultation that highlighted the importance of opening up content, learning and collaboration (pdf). The time will show if the new education strategy launched by the European Commission on November 2012 called Rethinking Education goes in a similar direction or not.


Open Educational Practices in European and Latin American Higher Education institutions


The term Open Educational Resources (OER) was coined in 2002 in discussions at the Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware UNESCO. It describes “the provision of educational resources on open license, enabled by information technologies and communication, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users with non-commercial purposes”.

In June 2012, Community OER and UNESCO celebrated 10 years in the area of Open World Congress of Educational Resources in Paris, where the Declaration REA Paris 2012 was formally adopted. This calls on governments around the world to establish the adoption of open licenses for sharing knowledge produced with public funds.

This trilingual Compendium (written in English, Spanish and Portuguese) aims to fill part of the need for institutionalized information, and aims to discuss in a clear, didactic and realistic way, the experiences of selected higher education institutions who have offered OER. This document provides a unique approach. It combines remarkable initiatives in the institutional development of REA in Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Spain with experiences from Higher Education institutions and universities from Brazil, Mexico, and Ecuador, which serve to enlighten the compendium with their innovative ideas and projects.

This document has been developed in close collaboration with experts, researchers and decision makers from more than 10 universities in order to provide a global perspective of the OER movement. Some of the more relevant trends identified in this study are exemplified by a broad range of initiatives, including: change in the organizational culture; flexible certification; new business models; middle term institutional strategy; incentives policy; use of non-commercial open source or self-develop platforms; focus on champions; decentralized – federated solutions; open standard, bibliometric criteria; search engine optimization; community building and peer-based collaboration; quality assurance; repurposing and licensing; and open publishing policies.

The cases included in this study are:

  • Unicycle OER Project, Leeds Metropolitan University (UK)
  • OpenER, Open Universiteit (Netherlands)
  • Openlearn,  Open University (UK)
  • University of Alicante’s Open Knowledge Strategy (Spain)
  • Open Educational Practices, UTPL (Ecuador)
  • TEMOA, Tecnológico de Monterrey (México)
  • CEDERJ – TECA, (Brazil)
  • Institucional Policy Of Open Access, OUC (Spain)
  • OpenSpires, Oxford University (UK)
As follows the interviews included (podcast available):
  • David Kernohan, Programme Manager, e-Learning, JISC
  • Faraón Llorens and Juan José Bayona, University of Alicante’s,
  • Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair in OER.
  • Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director OpenCourseWare Consortium.
  • Pedro Aranzadi, Managing Director of Universia Spain
  • Robert Schuwer, Associate Professor at the Open University of the Netherlands.

Dr Andreia Inamorato dos Santos (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil)
Dr Cristobal Cobo (University of Oxford, UK)
Dr Celso Costa (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

 *This initiative was supported by the OportUnidad project.
[To download the file: Please access the SlideShare service and click on 'Save'].
To get the Paperback, (216 Pages) go to LuLu.

Winners of Platforms for Networked Innovation Competition

Skeltrack 1.4: Jitter smoothing from Joaquim Rocha on Vimeo.This video shows the Skeltrack Kinect one of the winner of Platforms for Networked Innovation Competition.


Networks of Regional Innovation: The case of the Atlantic Region Policy Forum,
15th November 2012 – Oxford Internet Institute

Special Jury Award

The Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, as part of KNetworks project, organized an online competition to identify the innovative activities with high outreach that have been carried out by organizations within the Atlantic Region (transnational cooperation between Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom).

This competition was aimed at academics, practitioners and stakeholders focused on knowledge transfer, tourism, and e-government collaboration with particular links to the Atlantic Area (Ireland, Spain, France, Portugal, United Kingdom).

The Platforms for Networked Innovation Competition is funded by the “Atlantic Area Transnational Programme” in cooperation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The winners platforms of this competition are:

1st place: SSMS+ (Social Media Surgery + – software for social media surgery network)

SMS+ is software designed to enable people to organise and monitor ‘social media surgeries’. A network that fosters civic conversation and develops on-line skills. It enables users to set up meetings, advertise them, inform and track their networks, and monitor quantitatively and qualitatively what exactly happens at them. It provides reports and records simply and effectively. It is free to use for community groups and active citizens, but can be re-engineered for specific purposes in organisations that pay for it. It enables people to share knowledge and connect with each other.

• 2nd place. Bentham Papers Transcription Initiative.

Transcribe Bentham, launched in September 2010, is a pioneering and award-winning crowdsourced manuscript transcription project, which has done a great deal to promote engagement between academics and non-academics. The project makes available digital images of University College London’s vast Bentham Papers collection, and recruits online volunteers to transcribe the material and encode their work in Text-Encoding Initiative-compliant XML. Since its launch, volunteers have transcribed over 4,500 complex manuscripts, or an estimate 2.2 million words. Volunteer-produced transcripts (a) will feed into the production of the new scholarly edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, being produced by UCL’s Bentham Project; and (b) will be uploaded to UCL’s digital Bentham Papers repository, thereby making available to all a collection of unparalleled historical and philosophical importance, and ensuring its long-term preservation and sustainability.

 • 3rd. joint place: TKNIKA INNOVA (Regioanl Innovation Management Model)

Innovation Management. Vocational Education and Training and further education: One of the main problems facing VET colleges and further education institutions is the gap that elapses between a new technology or innovation is discovered at a university, at a research centre or even at a company, and arrives to the ducational system is too long. TKNIKAINNOVA, the Innovation Management Model, allows educational institutions and also SMEs to develop innovation projects in Technology, Teachers´training, ICT and e-learning or Management. The processes the model is based on, are the following: 1º.- Capture of ideas through a transversal following up system at regional, national and international levels 2º.- Preparation of pre-projects that can be evaluated as innovative and then offered to the colleges to be developed. 3º.- Development of the Project. Selected teachers working half time with TKNIKA, half time at their colleges 4º.- Transfer of the results to the rest of the teachers and colleges of the system 5º.- Evaluation of results of the transference. This model also allows to develop a culture of innovation for the whole staff of TKNIKA and for all the trainers of VET colleges and further education in the Basque Country.

 • 3rd. joint place: Skeltrack (The Free Software skeleton tracking library).

Devices like the Microsoft Kinect introduced new ways of interacting with technology. This device gives information about depth, i.e. the proximity of objects to the camera. Using skeleton tracking software on top of this information, it is possible to infer what and where are a human skeleton’s joints. This knowledge open a number of possibilities that will be more and more a part of our lives, influencing how we can interact with objects in our environment This entry introduces Skeltrack, the world’s first Open Source library for skeleton tracking. By being open and compatible with commercial use, Skeltrack opens many possibilities to both independent developers and companies. This entry’s summary explains the problem Skeltrack solves, the advantages it gives, the reception it had since its release and the good prospects it has for the future.

The jury consisted of Dr. Lucy Power, Prof. Jose Tribolet, and PhD Student Tim Davies.
(This is a cross-post previously published here).

New report: Strategies for Network Innovation

We are delighted to present the new report “Strategies for Networked Innovation”, a working paper for the Knetworks Project Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. This report was produced by Robert Kenny (Co-Founder at Communications Chambers) as a working paper for the Knetworks project with the assistance of Cristobal Cobo, Ralph Schroeder, Eric Meyer and William Dutton at the Oxford Internet Institute.

If you want to download this publication, click here Strategies for Network Innovation [pdf, 3MB]

Acknowledgements: This study was supported through the Knetworks project (Knowledge Dissemination Network for the Atlantic Area).



Radical openness in education [presentation]

We live in an exciting time. Digital technologies are becoming increasingly ubiquitous changing the centres and peripheries of knowledge production and consumption. Today it is essential to identify new learning perspectives enriched by distributed, open and collaborative communities. This talk will explore how to overcome the resistance to change in educational organizations based on key drivers in radical openness that can reshape the current education ecosystem. The idea is to discover remarkable open knowledge initiatives (i.e. open educational resources, massive online courses), new certification systems (i.e. open badges, peer assessment), new profiles (data broker, desing thinkers or digital curators); as well as distributed research networks. This presentation compile some of these trends and aims to open a dialogue of possible scenarios for education.

KNetworks Competition: Networks of Regional Innovation

At the Oxford Internet Institute we are pleased to announce a competition for the most innovative web-based platform enabling regional networks of innovation for public, private or research organizations.

The platforms should foster innovation in the three areas of knowledge transfer; tourism; or e-government – broadly conceived. They should be particularly relevant to the Atlantic Area (link), but again this should be interpreted in a wide and inclusive sense.

Candidate organizations will need to submit an online profile/form explaining why they deserve the award). Entries will be judged by a panel of experts and by popular vote. The top three entries will receive a 5,000 EUR prize for their institution. The deadline to participate in this competition will be the 29th of October 2012. More information here: