Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Our Spanish adventure

Unlike most of our voyages, this month I was accompanying my wife Susan on a trip to her conference. She registered in the 16 European Symposium on Suicide Prevention that took place this month in Oviedo, Spain. We took the opportunity to rent a car and bought a GPS with European maps (thank god!) and travelled through most of northern Spain. We headed up to the Basque country with stops in Pamplona (fortunately no running bulls this month) and then to the beautiful, but tourist plugged town of San Sebastian. We then motored through Basque countries, many mountain passes and tunnels (a bit white knuckled at 120 Km/H) to visit Guernica (site of first mass civilian bombing and immortalized by Pablo Picasso) and then to Bilbao.

guggenheim-museum-belboaOf course, like all good tourists we couldn’t miss the Guggenheim Museum and it did not disappoint.

We then headed west to Oviedo, capital of Asturias.  I didn’t attend much of Susan’s conference, except for a couple of sessions in which Danish and Belgian online Suicide prevention systems were presented.  I was impressed with the scientific rigour with which these interventions were tested – though trying to randomly assign suicidal participants to interventions presents a variety of ethical challenges.

We also travelled by car, (I know it was cheating) along some of the Camino de Santiago routes, trying to assess if we have the interest and the legs for such adventures. I had not realized the number of different Camino routes nor the number of pilgrims on them. I learned that  in one day they ‘processed” over 600 pilgrims who were finishing the pilgrimage in Santiago.

We then headed south to Madrid with a stop in Leon. I was fortunate to be invited to give a talk at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, which is the largest University in Spain with all courses delivered at a distance. Like Athabasca University, this University has had considerable challenges moving from its roots as a correspondence university to interactive online delivery. We visited many of the tourist spots and of course the famous museums in Madrid – though the huge line ups at the Prada scared us away.

Next we headed back to Barcelona, but we ventured into the hinterland for a brief visit to Belchite

belchite-1296 This town was left in ruins after a horrendous battle during the Spanish Civil War and a new town was built beside the ruins. These ruins now stand as a monument to the destruction of war, though they seem far off the tourist trail and we were the only visitors that day. It is strange that, unlike the American Civil war which is celebrated by numerous monuments and re-enactments, Spaniards seem to want to forget this sad time in their history. Perhaps because the “good guys” lost??

We then headed to Barcelona. As always, Barcelona with the inspiring architecture was a treat.  It was interesting to see the progress on the Sagrada Familia, sagrada-familiaGaudi’s most famous design. It looks to be on track for completion marking the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 2026. The new stain glass (abstracts and NOT crucifixion scenes) in the windows (though still far from complete) adds blue and green hues to the whole interior – in keeping with the natural and forest like feeling. I am sure that this is the most spectacular building that I have seen anywhere and I hope to live to see its completion!

I then spent 2 days and 2 web-cast lectures with my old friends at Open University of Catalonia.  The first talk was a repeat plus additions from a chapter I recently did on Theories for Online Learning and Research.

For the second talk, I overviewed the chapter that Jon Dron and I (mostly Jon) did on the Future of E-Learning.

After a great weekend with friends in Barcelona – we even made it to the beach and to watch my first game of handball, we headed back. Susan home to Edmonton and me to Helsinki, where I am the “opponent” in a PhD defence here on Friday.






Similar posts
  • Quality in Online Learning Presentati... I was asked to do a video conferencing talk to a meeting of three Mexican Universities yesterday. They are attempting to come up with a common set of criteria to define and measure the quality of their online courses. Perhaps I was not the best person to ask, as I have very mixed feelings about [...]
  • 1st Birthday – Riverdale’... My Little Free Library celebrated its birthday with a party for its patrons on Saturday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t terrific, but the rain held off long enough for cake, music and wine! The only challenge is that the party goers each bought books and the Library is already FULL!  I had to open Riverdale Little Free [...]
  • Downe’s great summary article, ... The good news is that Stephen Downes has posted the  full text from a chapter he wrote for New Models of Open and Distance Learning in Open Education: from OERs to MOOCs, Editors: Mohamed Jemni, Kinshuk, Mohamed Koutheair Khribi,  2016. This is good news for two reasons – the first is that the full Springer book [...]
  • Front Lawn Fun-Raiser concert Susan and I were really pleased to host a fine evening of music last evening here in Riverdale. Our neighbour Cam Neufeld is touring this summer with Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra (Jez and bassist Nye Parsons). Jez and Nye are from the UK and royally entertained us with  a rich collection of origional and traditional  tunes.     [...]
  • Order of Athabasca University Yesterday at Convocation in Athabasca, I was deeply honoured by my former colleagues at Athabasca by being installed into the Order of Athabasca University. Most other members have been individuals from the community who have made exceptional contributions to the University. I was the first Faculty member (other than Dominique Abrioux, who also served as [...]

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Virtual Canuck via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 60 other subscribers

My Blog Archives


  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • SlideShare
  • RSS Feed for Posts
  • Email

Follow me on Twitter