Aldesoc, Asociación Latinoamericana para el Desarrollo Social del Conocimiento

Proyectos :: Proyecto ELBA

Presentation of the Elba project (EN)


I’d like to thank you all to be here today and also I’d like to thank the good disposal you’ve shown to cooperate in the development of the ELBA project whose set of objectives I’ve got no doubt would be achieved with your aid.

I also want to welcome you to Madrid, and to this special District, which I hope it welcomes you in a friendly way during these days. In this district they have lived most of our classic writers and all along its streets you’ll find remains of past times, besides you’ll be able to visit the museums with one of the best painting offers in the world.

Today we meet here following a double objective : first, to define together the reach of the ELBA project and to look at some of its technological aspects, secondly , to plan our activities for their full accomplishment.

Before entering to define the concrete contents of these two days that we’ve ahead let me give you a brief exhibition of the general frame of the project and of the general double environment where I consider should be the frame of our project. On one hand its pedagogical and social aspects, which would guide us when setting up the contents, and on the other hand in the use of new technologies to store and to disseminate the culture and to fix the contents of our product.

General frame of the ELBA project.

As a matter of fact the present century has begun with big changes which are influencing all social scopes and all facets of human activities. Particularly, in the ways to teach and learn. Education has always been active when great social changes, both as an stimulus and as a result. This presence has shown up as one of the characteristics of the way of working and has provoked the new technologies to arise in every time. .In fact, one of the educational aims, although not the only one, has been to facilitate both things. Education has also been obstructed by extrinsic interests to its essence, and has participated in emergent societies.

We can, therefore, say that education, in spite of its essential importance for a community or society is submitted to the policies of these communities, for in some cases education is related to governmental interests achievements, and in least cases the education is related to free s, responsible, independent autonomous, and participative individual who act moved by their own determined interests.

One of the aspects of the education is aimed at skills for labour training and this depends on the way of working. At present a large number of the educative projects are related to labour qualification, so it’s ELBA’s goal. But here we must introduce a reflection which is really critical. Which ways of working we should suggest for a labour training ? In order to give a proper answer, a broad field for research opens ahead where we expect to contribute with our modest participation in the ELBA project. Indeed, the ways of working is one of the aspects which are changing the most in our societies. The old occupational jobs and professions have become obsolete. The classic ways of assembly line period of industry are disappearing and are substituted by cooperative dynamic groups where the initiative and responsibility of participants grow. The tools for labour are being replaced by machines highly automated in areas usually reserved for human beings.

In this situation, the one’s own access to education is affected by the new ways of work. Education’s aims have become an instrument of submission for social and economic dominant interests, but nevertheless the new ways of production announce the possibility of free more time to life long learning education, and new technologies offer very cheap access tools to education and culture. Also this kind of education makes part of ELBA goals.

Thus, we come back to the eighteenth century philosophy which devoted to nature the power of education, favouring the diversity of the individual talent and the need for free development of the individuality. But this revealed that the system lacked in the constructive aspect, since a cultivated and progressive humanity needed a definite organization for its realization.

From a philosophical an individualistic education it gave way to a new proposal where the education depended upon the decision of the States. The movement which exhorted the democratic ideal was replaced by a movement where the public education was directed and organized by the State. The citizen replaced the man and the aim of the education pointed to the formation of the "citizen-worker" and not the man.

Thus, although the ideal of education of the enlightment is equated to a democratic thought, nevertheless, one ought to overcome the idea of the illustrated that say that "good" rises spontaneously, in counterpart with the fact that the experience and the exchange of social relations among individuals and human groups are ground elements of the growth of the immature. One ought therefore to overcome the idea that it’s society which corrupts the individual and understand that both factors are interdependent (individual/society )and it’s precisely the education which binds both aspects and plays an essential role in the individual maturation and the construction of society.

Education and society are inseparable. Education is personal growth and social progress. It’s communication and it needs a criteria for educative criticism and the construction based upon a particular social ideal. One of the criteria to measure the value of a form of social life would be the extent, in which the interests of a group are shared by all its members and, the freedom and fullness with which it interacts with other groups, avoiding to set up internal and external barriers to free the intercourse and communication of experience. This way one tends towards a democratic society which makes provision for participation in its goods of all its members on equal terms, and which secures flexible readjustment of its institutions through interaction of the different forms of associated life. Such a society must have a type of education which gives individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control, and spiritual habits which secure social changes without causing trauma.

The role of education in advanced future societies, must consist of the development of the mind and intelligence, in the acquisition of intellectual skills ; and in learning information research techniques . The importance of the role of computer science in education does not come from the fact of being one of the technical causes of the new situation but, mainly because it provides an efficient instrument which is able to supply the new educative demands. We think that computer science should be used to set up a radical change in the educational system. "But if when we say change we are limiting to imagine things as the type we know, or by confining ourselves to doing what we know how to implement it, then we are depriving ourselves of participation in the evolution of the future. This behaviour of the educator is a result of a timidity, that has been inherent in the educative culture. Therefore the first step towards action in better uses of technology in education is working out directed at exercising our own ways of thinking"(Papert)

Radical change in education is that one that "allows to learn doing, to learn the machine to do, to reflect on what one’s doing and on the errors one makes. To allow an individualized learning, as there were the ideals of the most brilliant educators, but neither individual learning nor alone but in groups of cooperation and mutual aid, avoiding the false idea of striking for life or considering labour as centre engine of our lives., (ideas drawn from Huxley reading of Darwin and the socialist theoreticians of 19th century which leads to the scholastic competitiveness and makes difficult a shared cooperation). To allow a non programmed education in the sense to facilitate each one to discover its own way with or without others , where the main character is the pupil and not the teacher, who nevertheless will initiate, will foster and will help when his aid is demanded. A teaching-learning that will allow to have at its disposal active databases where to find dynamic information, that is, they also secure not only facts but also they can execute procedures "(Ernesto Gª Camarero)

“The education world has to learn to put a fraction of its resources into what cannot be done today, but which can stand there as experimenting, as working with visions of a possible future”. (Papert)

It’s appropriate then to say that we must stop identifying the new idea of education with the interests of a social narrow and exclusive end marked by the states, but on the contrary we must work for welfare and social progress, development and realization of the individual intelligence mind.

Technological aspects of the ELBA project.

The present society, convulsed and shaken by the arouse of the new technologies, continues with the idea of education" in the style of 19th century . What we are living today with the new technologies of information and communication spread all round (computer as its symbol)is a revolution. A revolution never seen before in the history of mankind. And education is at the core of this revolution and it is at stake.

Within this revolutionary context driven by the new technologies, and particularly, those of information technologies, it’s the education sector which will make the changes easier without traumas and with efficiency. Learning will have an essential role in the society we foresee and where sciences and techniques of information will participate in a very strict way.

Within this context, the decentralized action Grundtvig 2 allows us to have an approach to a project which develops taking account of the parameters that rise from this changing world in which we will use pedagogical and technological means according to the new situation of the emergent Knowledge Society

The use of the technology in ELBA is targeted at adults learners, for their use to help them change their personal world into a space of invention, experimentation and creative work orientated to participate in the new forms of production of intangible goods which will be the characteristic of the Knowledge Society .

The ELBA project has set two concrete aims. One, the knowledge and learning of the new techniques of the information for electronic book elaboration and its dissemination through digital libraries. Two, how to learn to elaborate the cultural contents that would be included in the electronic books.

As our scope of activity is centred round the digital book and the digital library, let’s see, briefly, the development of the book since past times till digital book, what is it and how is a digital library founded.

Development of the book : the digital book.

Throughout history the book has been the main support for the conservation and diffusion of the information. Sciences, Arts, Literature, History... all mankind accumulated knowledge has been reflected in the book. The book has always been a technological product that, according to times, has used for its preparation different. Techniques. It has not always had the same material aspect, other material supports have been used on which to record the information, (clay tablets, the papyrus, the parchment), etc., and other forms to collect the pages, as (rolls, the fold, bound...),... or to record the information (striker pins, brushes or pens, or other technique).

Let us refer to the evolution of the book taking account of its production and diffusion :.

The written hand book.

Production : At first it was Athens (s. V to C.) the main centre of book’s production (rolls and papyruses), two centuries after it was the famous Alexandria Library the centre of greater production and book sale. At in the beginning of our Era, it was Rome the main book producer, thanks to patrons with enough resources to pay groups of slaves to run this task. In the Middle Age, the production was made almost exclusively in the writing-desks of the monasteries shared with the universities, since 13th century

Diffusion : It has been a scarce diffusion of the book in the Antiquity. The books were sold and generally rented but one could accede to its content by means of collective reading (paid or not). At the time of splendour (Library of Alexandria), the books were distributed along the Mediterranean profiting the commercial routes already settled for other products. In the Medieval Age they were assigned to the Monastery’s own use and they ordered some for princes, kings or other aristocrats. The text books which were made in the universities were assigned to the own use of the university by teachers and students, and to the exchange with other universities and for sale.

The book production was very expensive and there were a few centres of creation. Therefore, the written hand books were few and expensive and they were written for just a handful of people. The impact of the book among the population in general was in fact nonexistent prior to the Renaissance.

The printed book.

Production : The origin of the press is attributed to China in the 2nd century (they knew the paper and ink press basics). The impression consisted of specifically printing on sheets of paper religious texts enrolled like bas-relief on the walls of the Buddhist temples or engravings on laminate using several materials. Several Chinese and Japanese books of the 8th century are carefully conserved. . During the second half of 15th century Gutenberg invented the press of mobile types which became good market for it was possible to make use of them again. It was the first technological means which allowed the diffusion of the ideas and knowledge in broad geographic and social scopes and provided this unusual cultural revolution The printed book has reached in 500 hundred years of evolution an admirable technical perfection.

Diffusion : Once it was known the typography and the impression, they spread quickly all over Europe.. In order to show this we will say that they were printed more than 6000 pieces of work in less than fifty years and that in 1500 only in Venice they were counted more than 400 printings. The production of printed works in England, was towards 1750 about 100 titles per year ; in 1825 it grew up to 600 titles and by the end of 19th century it has overcome the 6000 titles (one supposes that a similar evolution occurred in other advanced countries of Europe).

Nowadays the production has reached an extraordinary development. The economic volume related to printed books (only in Europe and in 1995), exceeded 23,000 million Euros. In 2001, in Spain only, they were published more than 62,000 titles, where 218 million units were printed The electronic book.

As an enormous amount of printed publications is growing and a great growth of the information demand will take place in the next decades, the press and the present channels of distribution will remain inadequate to supply any perspective.It’s not possible to think that one can satisfy the increasing demand of about eight billion inhabitants (the planet’s population in the middle of 21st century) using today methods, due to the inconvenience set up by production and diffusion facilities. That’s why it has appeared a new idea about the book with a technological support of information different from the printed form although with similar contents and organization called electronic book. It consists basically, in storing texts in a digital form by means of electronic procedures over an external hardware (generally magnetic,) or internal in the computer disk. Its diffusion is made by the ordinary channels if they are in DVD, through the network, or from computer to computer in other cases. The reading of the electronic book is made directly on a computer screen or other recent devices, or indirectly on paper by means of printing in a local printer connected to the computer.

Evolution of the libraries : the digital library.

The paper library.

At the same time when writing and book appeared it also appeared the need for accumulation, organization, conservation and protection of it so to make possible a further reading. The books, no matter what kind of hardware (clay tablets, papyruses, diverse fabrics, skins, parchment, paper, etc.), have been in storage at any time in different kind of book stores. The accumulation of these materials gave place since very old times to repositories of information or libraries, which have been developing at the same time when the book’s production techniques evolved and it increased the number of them and their dissemination.

During the first thousand years of librarian activity, the written documents were unique pieces, only very few of them where the main role of the libraries was to keep safe the written material (scroll) for its later reproduction or copy. The whole of the accumulated information seen from now, was scarcely little.

The Renaissance opened a new way for the libraries in the means of diffusion of the book and therefore of the culture. It was in the 16th century when the press increased remarkably the book production, and therefore it increased the number, the size and the complexity of the libraries in Europe (Oxford, in 1545, the Bodleyana Library ; in Paris 1553 the Santa Margarita Library ; in Spain the Library of El Escorial founded on 1584 which intended to keep a unit of each title published in Europe. Mazarino in France opens in 1643 the first library for students of sciences and humanities. The academies of sciences of many countries found their own libraries to gather information about new knowledge on Nature. The royal libraries which are the origin of a large number of European national libraries spread out during the 18th century. In 1880 it was founded the Congress National Library in Washington.

The digital library.

At present the explosion produced by the huge amount of information and the extent of demand of this information is such that it’s impossible to satisfy the public with the present organization of the libraries of paper (huge physical stores reading rooms, physical transportation of the books).This takes us to consider that is urgent to use other means and other techniques which may lead to a new kind of libraries without walls, neither shelves nor reading rooms where one may have access to it at any moment (without timetable) and from any place and get any of the published bibliographical pieces. This new kind of libraries are known as Digital Libraries.

The digital library in the knowledge society

As it occurred in the past, the libraries of today are urged to answer to the needs of organizing and accumulating information (all information which is relevant) to render it to anyone who ask for it. But we do have to know how is this demand going to be in what is being known as knowledge society where the productive human activity shifted to the production of intangible goods. In fact, the production of intangible goods is more and more made by means of use of automatic machines.

The automatic processes are gradually freeing man from unnecessary tasks for tangible goods production and shifting closer to the production of cultural or non material goods ( science, technique art, entertainment)

The new forms required for the production of intangible goods must be less rendered to strict planning and should be more coordinated and cooperative and less competitive In this society we should have at our disposal and at any moment all information to accomplish creative work. For this purpose it’s necessary to get new hardware to record knowledge and besides new libraries which would be able to organize, keep and make easy the access to all information. This is the Digital Library.

The "contents" of the ELBA project


In order to fix the "contents" of the ELBA project, I’d like to consider another of the typical and social aspects of our times concerning the construction of the new European territory, especially which regards education and labour training. Within the new geographical scope a new culture is required to integrate the new cultural, labour and migration flows relationships which rise from within the new Europe.

For this reason we’ve thought that, within the possible "contents" of the electronic book that we intend to elaborate it wouldn’t be bad at all to choose something that apart from being of use for our technical work it could also help us to know each other through the definition profiles of our own countries. We’ve thought that to build up these profiles it’d be by means of a collection of poems whose significance somehow involve the project, and are found in school students texts. Also it seems interesting as a way of introducing each other, to include a brief historical view of our countries, directed to overcome the struggles which have kept Europe separated for centuries, in order to have an approach to another Europe in which the antagonisms would be replaced by cooperation.

By choosing these contents besides we think that we take into account one of the proposals of the Grundtvig, (in C.1.11), the one that refers to concrete measures that should be taken to promote the intercultural education, to fight racism and xenophobia and to encourage the integration of the members of minority ethnic groups and of other minorities.

We hope that one of the achievements of this meeting should be the conjoined elaboration of a series of features which would help us to set the contents in our own countries.

Thank you, now we will continue to develop these ideas together and all those that you might suggest.

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