Up2U is delivering its first results

First of July marks the end of the first 6-month period of the Up2U Project, while most of the European students and their families are on their way to the best holiday locations.
In this initial period, Up2U established all the necessary function and procedures to fully support the forthcoming pilot phases. By the end of January, the public facing project website was available at https://up2university.eu, internal and external events have been outlined and the basic communications strategy established as part of the online Deliverable D2.1 “Communication strategy, web design and event plans”. Up2U also submitted the three mandatory Ethics deliverables (Deliverable D9.1, D9.2 and D9.3) describing the necessary frameworks for personal data protection, involvement of children/minors and non-EU countries. These deliverables are not for public. Project internal mailing lists, Wiki pages, Video conferencing solutions and project management tools (e.g., Trello) have been set up.

By the end of March, a very important advisory committee has been chartered, the Up2U Subject Matter Committee (SMC). The Terms of Reference and the initial list of candidates were posted on the website as online Deliverable D5.1 “Subject Matter Committee and training plans”. One of the important roles of the SMC is to seek advice for the techno-pedagogical aspects of the project and to give advice on the actual training programme, which has also been drafted on the website. The SMC candidates were voted into duty by the Board later. The current list of SMC members.

Three technical deliverables were due very recently by the end of June. These are nicely summarising the status of the project at the given stage. Deliverable D3.1 “Analysis of network services requirements” in an online document available at the Up2U Wiki page. It includes the analysis of the wireless access (eduroam) and internet uplink speed of the pilot schools in six countries, based on the surveys that the project team created. It also gives an overview on the core network services that Up2U infrastructure may utilize during the pilot executions. Two demonstrators have also been created by the project to match the requirements of Deliverable D4.1 “Application toolbox design and prototype” and Deliverable D7.1 ”Initial pilot architecture, software component integration, and deployment”. The application toolbox prototype is the very first version of a cloud-based Next Generation Learning Management Platform. The reason why we call it next generation is that already the prototype offers more than just and off-the-shelf Learning Management System (LMS). It is integrated with both the underlying support infrastructure (i.e. federated access and relevant education content fed by GÉANT eduOER) as well as the various LTI applications above (i.e. the Synchronized eLearning Content ToolKit) supporting the pedagogical scenarios of the project. About the actual cloud infrastructure, pilot architecture and the support services more information and demonstrators are available in the relevant deliverable. Brief descriptions to both technical demonstrator type deliverables are available on the Up2U Wiki page under the relevant WP4 and WP7 work package sub-pages.

Last but not least, WP6 carried out and extensive desk research supported by an online survey answered by several pilot schools on the privacy and security aspects of the project. Deliverable D6.1 “Study of security, privacy, identity management and legal requirements in the digital schools’ environment using a cloud based approach” also serves as the Open Research Data Pilot (ORDP) deliverable of the project as it includes the mandatory Data Management Plan (DMP). We are going to update the DMP as living document on the Wiki as the project goes.

All the six public deliverables of the project (the three deliverables on ethics are non-public) are available on the Up2U Wiki page under the relevant sections.

Up2U is looking forward to the next challenges over the summer period, to launch the initial pilot phase in autumn in order to gather more input and feedback from a small number of pilot schools willing to closely work with us.

Up to university, Tiago! Up2U, Peter!

This year’s TNC – the largest and most prestigious European research networking conference – offered the opportunity for students to present a lightning talk before an international audience of more than 750 participants. Students had 5 minutes to deliver an elevator pitch on a topic of interest. 

Tiago José Castro, multimedia student from ESMAD, sponsored by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) was selected to present his pitch at the TNC main stage. In his talk on ‘Distributed Learning Based On Free Open Educational Resources’ Tiago explained the challenges that students face today when they enter the university. He said: “Most of us have problems with the online tools that we suddenly have to use. Electronic student information systems, lecture recordings in video stores, learning management systems, all of that. We didn’t have these at schools. Also, we have difficulties to adapt to the new teaching style in higher education. We have to be much more independent, we have more freedom to choose from knowledge sources, we can take different learning paths. The assessments are also different from the typical ones at school”.

UP2U project leader Peter Szegedi, Project Development Officer at GÉANT came on stage to tell Tiago some ‘good news’ and talked about what the UP2U project is working on: “We take all of our knowledge and expertise as well as tools from the research and higher education community and adapt them to the secondary schools context. We’ll facilitate cross-learning activities between universities and schools and launch pilots to introduce novel pedagogical aspects”. The fun and unique lightning talk ended with a pact between the two. “Up2 University, Tiago!”, “Up to University, Peter!”

For more information on Up2U, contact us here: contact@lists.up2university.eu

Community engagement at EDULEARN’17

First time for the project – not the first time for many project partners of course – Up2U presented at Europe’s largest education conference EDULEARN’17 on 3-5 July 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Five papers have been accepted for oral presentations in four different sessions that covered all the relevant aspects of the Up2U project and its Next Generation Learning Platform under development.

EDULEARN is one of the largest international education conferences for lecturers, researchers, technologists and professionals from the educational sector. 830 experts from 80 countries got together in Barcelona to present their projects and share their knowledge on teaching and learning methodologies and educational innovations.

Our presenters where Antonio Vieira de Castro, Up2U Board Member and Marílio Cardoso, both professors at ISEP, Ilias Hatzakis, infrastructure lead at GRNET and Peter Szegedi, project coordinator at GÉANT. We received positive feedback and many interests from Europe and other parts of the world. It was inspiring to see how educators use technology that is available to them in many innovative ways. While YouTube, Facebook, Twitter as well as Google+ tools and services are significantly used, many educators are looking for a trusted and integrated service platform that is easy to use, lowers the entry barrier for students and staff (i.e. eliminates the initial “fear”) and that would allow them to break the technology silos and truly engage with the essence of education, that is learning.

We trust that all the federated tools and services that Up2U is packaging together with the added value of enhanced learning analytics and access to quality content would serve the need of the 21st century “connected teacher”.

The Up2U project was introduced at 9th Greek Conference on Education Technologies at Syros island/Greece

In the 9th Conference on Education Technologies, the Up2U project was represented by the NTUA Up2U team. The community was very interested in the new technologies of the project and many discussions occurred on the usage of these technologies in the secondary education.

NTUA organized a meeting for Up2U pilot schools in Athens/Greece

On 27 April 2017, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) organized a meeting for secondary schools to present them the UP2U project.

The event was attended by principals, teachers and other representatives of secondary schools of Greece. Attendees received thorough presentations about the activities of the project. Future work and several actions were discussed.

Greek schools are looking forward to participate in the pilot phase of the project and discover new technologies and opportunities on the secondary education.

PSNC organized a meeting for UP2U pilot schools in Poland

On 27 April 2017, Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) organized a meeting for secondary schools invited to join the initial pilot phase of the UP2U project.

The event was attended by principals and other representatives of secondary schools of Poland. The arrangements and actions to be undertaken in the upcoming weeks were discussed. After the presentation about the project’s goals, the participants visited the Future School Laboratory lead by PSNC, where products and hypotheses for the future of education are tested.

Polish schools are looking forward the launch of the pilot, and are committed to decrease the digital gap between high schools and higher education.

The Up to University project was introduced to the US education and research community at the Internet2 Global Summit 2017

The Birds of a Feather (BoF) session was attended by people from the US, Europe and Africa and resulted in a congruent strategic discussion. Among other participants, Jack Suess, UMBC, board member of IMS Global and also EDUCAUSE, provided useful feedback on the challenges that we are all up to.

Interoperability is one of the key aspects for any next generation learning platform, therefore Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), OneRoaster, OpenBadges recently adapted by IMS Global as well as GÉANT’s OpenCloudMesh API are crucial elements of a scalable and portable service architecture, the one that Up2U is designing and piloting for schools. While the biggest challenge in Europe is to address the technology and teaching/learning skills step-up that high-school students often experience at universities, there is a potential flip-side of the fast and productive changes in K12 education.

Interestingly, in some school communities in the US, recent technology changes happened so quickly at high-schools that universities are struggling to catch up. Digitally minded and educated students entering universities were actually surprised by the silo products and lack of flexibilities there. This might be an interesting opposite situation to further analyse, once Up2U accomplishes its mission in narrowing the current gap in Europe. However, partnership with universities is obviously very important for Up2U at the European and global scale.

Up2U Technical Workshop and SIG-Multimedia Meeting

The next event will be held in Porto from 8 to 10 May and will be organized by ISEP (Instituto Superior de Engenharia) of Instituto Politecnico do Porto in Portugal.

This event will bring together different working groups and will have sessions that will cover topics related to GN4-2, Up2U and SIG-Multimedia.

More information about the event at the link below.
Event agenda

Up2U met like-minded projects at the Commission

The Horizon 2020 Participatory Meeting for Digital Learning Projects was organized by the European Commission, Unit G.3 on 27 March, 2017 in Luxembourg. More than 30 projects were represented by their coordinators.

The aim of this meeting was to provide an opportunity for the fellow project coordinators to get an overview of the parallel projects and identify possible synergies. The representatives of these projects were informed about the different estimated outcomes and unaddressed gaps of the presented projects. Up2U was introduced by Peter Szegedi, the project coordinator at GÉANT.

The Commission emphasized the fact that they are primarily looking for policy impact and want to formulate for the national Ministries of Education policy recommendations that emerge from results of the projects.

Synergies and collaboration opportunities were identified during the ad-hoc round-table discussions. The common interest areas included Learning Analytics, Games, Community Building, Skills Assessment for STEM/STEAM, and Wearable Technologies.

Up2U found several relevant project partners to potentially collaborate with in the near future, such as SCIENTIX run by the European Schoolnet, I-LINC, NextLab, RAGE and REVEAL.

The 1st General Assembly set the common vision for Up2U and elected the Project Board

The first Up2U General Assembly meeting was organized by the project coordinator GÉANT on 27 February – 01 March 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. More than 30 people representing all the 18 project partners attended the meeting.

Up2U will focus on secondary education, supporting schools, teachers and students with technology and methodologies for developing digital competences students need in order to enter higher education and/or engage in research activities.

Up2U’s vision is to make a cloud-based secure and trusted learning platform available for the participating pilot schools in various European countries, seamlessly integrated with specific tools and services required by their typical use cases and learning scenarios.

The General Assembly members, as one of their very first actions, unanimously appointed the Up2U Project Board: Antonio Vieira de Castro (ISEP), Eli Shmueli (IUCC), Vicente Goyanes (TELTEK), John Domingue (Open University) and Gabriella Paolini (GARR).

The next face-to-face technical meeting will be in early May in Porto, Portugal.

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