My total failure at Czech Science Foundation

If you are at least a little familiar with the assessment of the scientific work of the university worker, you know that we are supposed to publish our outcomes only in the specialized journals which are recognized and have so-called “impact factor”. This measure had been probably well-intentioned on the beginning, but in the Czech praxis it led us to the situation, in which the group of already established “scientists” who are responsible for the content of the impacted journals makes the decision who get the opportunity to publish.

In the period of the paradigm change, which surely technology brings to pedagogy, the role of such gang is to dig in the current position and defend the old ideas. Maybe this is the main reason why I don’t send any of my work there. The condition for the acceptation is to use the same “language” and fully accept their leading position. I hope you understand.

To survive at the position of the university teacher I am regularly asked for scientific points, but I don’t have them. (Notice that any of my very often published articles on the main Czech educational portal read by thousands of people is not recognized – see What is the value of the help for teachers?) In this situation I decided to try the only other possible solution. As the Czech Science Foundation affirms that their proposals are evaluated by the foreign experts and we have to write them in English I decided to take this opportunity. In 2012 I prepared my first proposal (for 2013) to this institution. I asked for ¼ of my salary for 2 years to write a monograph describing the necessary change in field of teacher preparation caused by the technology influence. The complete proposal is here.

It was refused with the substantiation that the scientific level of the proposal is not enough high. So, I made a change, added the formative research with the outcomes in form of several case studies and applied again in 2013 with the new proposal. The result was the same. The main objection was the lack of appropriate scientific publications and presentations on conferences, even if I promised to promote the outcomes online and publish all materials under the CC licence.

My intention was to make the third trial this year, but they changed the rules. All applicants with 2 unsuccessful attempts last 2 years are prohibited to apply. By this rule I can apply again next year, but I am not able to say if I would find the will to do it.

I don’t have the intention to question the assessment of the reviewers or complain. You can see the proposals and make your own opinion. The only what I wonder is the fact that all the reviews (which I got in anonymous form) was written in Czech. This means that the money of the Czech Science Foundation at least in field of pedagogy is under the control of the same gang as our impacted journals. It seems to me I have a zero chance to succeed here.


My tributes

All my presentations are finished by this message: “I thank all people helping me to search and discover”. Even it is really very difficult to recognize all of my inspirations I would like to name at least some of them. This is probably the only way how to express my gratitude. Their contributions are significantly present in my work. The following table lists them in chronological order.

Name: First contact: Affiliation: My benefits: Links to my work:
Rudolf Kryl 80’s Charles University Prague, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics Philosophy of programming and living, Pascal Acknowledgments in my book The Role of Internet in Education
Alfred Bork 1990 University of California, Irvine Understanding of the actual state of EDTECH by personal meeting in Los Angeles Acknowledgments in my book The Role of Internet in Education
Margaret Cox 1993 King’s College London Understanding of the actual state of EDTECH by personal meeting in London Acknowledgments in my book The Role of Internet in Education

My entrance to internet

Seymour Papert 1993 MIT Media Lab Philosophy of constructionism, future development of EDTECH Introducing computers into the children’s world of technology, Is the school obsolete?
Lowell Monke 1997 Wittenberg University Impact of technology on children’s development Web and the Plow
Sherry Turkle 1997 MIT Psychology of the life online Portrait of Sherry Turkle
Jamie McKenzie 1998 From now on Didactical aspects of EDTECH The Mind Candy Kafe: Replacing Truth with Placebo

The Evolution of Educational Technology
my selection of quotations made by well-known personalities and the paper with summary of thoughts influenced me that time (1999) – The influence of technology on the human mind

Larry Cuban 1999 Stanford University EDTECH pedagogy scientist and eyewitness A “Naked Truth” about Technologies in Schools, Cuban’s zombies of online instruction
Robert Kozma 2001 SRI International The head of the SITES M2 research and my boss in role of Czech national coordinator Czech SITES M2 site
Judi Harris 2002 The College of William & Mary Taxonomy of Internet Projects, TPCK activity types Taxonomy and Examples of Internet Projects, Catalog of TPCK activitirs
Bernie Dodge 2004 San Diego State University The Webquest methodology the free Czech service for innovatively thinking teachers
Eric von Hippel 2006 MIT Lead users koncept, collective intelligence MIT investigates collective intelligence, Hippel’s technology innovation in education, Strategy of education under supervision
Vicki Davis 2007 Westwood Schools, Camilla, Georgia Global Educational Projects inspired by Friedman and Tapscott Flat classroom in flat world
Nancy Bosch 2008 Nieman Enhanced Learning Center, Kansas Primary sources usage Primary sources in education
George Siemens 2008 Athabasca University Connectivism, openness, disruption Connectivism – the theory of learning in social networks, Duplication theory of educational value, Disruption by Siemens and Karnjanaprakorn
Stephen Downes 2008 National Research Council of Canada Connectivism, lecture for my course EDTECH for 21.ct. Connectivism – the theory of learning in social networks, Collaboration or cooperation?
Don Tapscott 2008 Author, Speaker and Advisor on Media, Technology and Innovation Net generation, Wikinomics, sharing, murmuration Net generation by Tapscott, Four principles for the open world
Sugata Mitra 2008 Newcastle University Hole in the Wall, SOLE, School in cloud eTwinning Awards 2008
Punya Mishra, Matthew Koehler 2009 Michigan State University model TPCK Technology integration by the model TPCK
Marc Prensky 2009 Visionary, Inventor, Author, Speaker, Consultant, Futurist, Learning designer Digital natives and immigrants, Homo sapiens digital, 4 stages of digital transformation of education Technology as cause for digital discontinuity, Digital transformation of education by Prensky
Chris Anderson 2009 Author and editor of Wired magazine Big data in educational research What is the future of educational research?
Terry Anderson 2009 Athabasca University Online learning theory, Interaction Equivalency Theorem Psychological aspects of EDTECH, Anderson’s Interaction Equivalency Theorem
Stephen Heppell 2009 Bournemouth University Staircase mentality, right innovation The fundament of education, eTwinning as a tool for change
Heather Kanuka 2009 Athabasca University The levels of technological determinism in education Psychological aspects of technology
Alan November 2009 Stanford University, November Learning Methodology of EDTECH, merit or purpose, ownership of learning School as digital learning farm, What students should learn?
Chris Dede 2001 Harvard Graduate School of Education Qualitative (and action) research – immersive interfaces, situated learning Forgot! Say Dede
Shelly Blake-Plock 2010 Schools in Baltimore Paperless teaching Unbelievable is possible today
Martin Weller 2010 Open University My guru as open digital connected scholar My final offer is this: nothing, The research Hussites
David Cormier 2010 University of Prince Edward Island Rhizomatic education, community as curriculum, future of EDTECH, MOOC Future education: the course of future understanding, How rhizome grow, Massive Open Online Courses
Tony Wagner 2010 Harvard Graduate School of Education Methodology of EDTECH 7 basic skills for by Wagner,
Ira David Socol 2010 Michigan State University Grounded action theory Strategy of the real reform, Problems with standardization by Socol, Strategy of education under supervision
Beth Kanter 2011 Instructional designer for nonprofit sector, exemplary curator Emergence as first stage of personal development to co-creation Bloom’s taxonomy for creative environment, Possibilities of own learning
Steve Wheeler 2011 University of Plymouth eLearning is dead, digital literacy New view on personal learning environment, Digital literacy by Wheeler
Dean Groom 2011 Macquarie University Downtime Learning theory Downtime learning by Groom
Eli Pariser 2011 Upworthy The Filter Bubble Mind filter bubbles!
Audrey Watters 2011 Freelance writer The best EDTECH curator helping me to be in Is Facebook the future of learning?, Big MOOC boom continues, Possibilities of own learning
David White 2011 University of Oxford Visitors and residents typology, pedagogy of uncertainty, pedagogy of questions, OER Are you visitor or resident, Technology brings pedagogy back where always should be
David Wiley 2012 Brigham Young University Open education movement Influence of OER on education
Alec Couros 2012 University of Regina Open digital pedagogy Open course for Canadian teachers-students, 10 ideas for video in education
Will Richardson 2012 Former educator, advisor, writer Unlearning theory Unlearning by Richardson
Lodge McCammon 2012 North Carolina State University Methodology of flipped classroom Flipped classroom by Dr. Lodge
Yong Zhao 2012 University of Oregon Creativity and entrepreneurship education Creativity and entrepreneurship by Zhao at ISTE 2012
Larry Rosen 2013 California State University Psychology of technology obsession Technology risks by Rosen
Vernor Vinge 2013 University of San Diego Cyberpunk guru, singularity theorist Singularity by Vinge
Jim Groom 2013 University of Mary Washington My guru as open digital connected scholar, ownership of data Pedagogy of uncertainty by Groom
Tony Bates 2013 Open University, Contact North Doyen of distance education starting 1969 Seven ‘a-ha’ moments of Tony Bates

Let me finish this special report with the message to all people who don’t hesitate to be open and demonstrate it by giving us the opportunity to follow their experience on the way to expertise (Emergence by Beth Kanter). I promise I never stop doing the same in my conditions and with my weak abilities. You can follow me on Czech Teachers’ Helper or on my archive blog Bobruv Spomocnik.

My professional experience

I guess you have had enough of the complaints about conditions in which I work. Maybe you would prefer to know a little more about my attitude to the discipline in which I am employed for almost all of my professional life.

I already mentioned that I started my career of educational technologist as a person responsible for technical quality of the first 8-bit computer developed especially for our schools in 1984. Later I was a member of the team developing the adaptive learning management system for higher education environment. We called it Intelligent Tutoring System at that time. The reality was very different. It was a good experience for me as I found out where not to go.

That time in 80’s the battle between the traditional educational concept and the innovative one already started. The first kind of thinking was represented by the supporters of usage of computers as teaching and testing machine, rote exercising, programming in Basic, etc. On the opposite side there were proponents of Logo (we firstly adopted program Karel), Pascal and constructive methods of involving students into their own learning. The principle of openness belonged to this approach from the beginning.

The next occupation in which I was responsible for the establishment of service bringing information about the usage of ICT to our teachers was much more determinative for me. I feel it as my personal mission for the rest of my life. In the middle of 90’s we were provided by internet and thanks to it we have got the possibility to use the free resources of the whole world. I think we took as much as possible from it. In the first stages the process of passing information, materials and programs had typically only one way direction. We only spent and didn’t offer anything back.

When I started to teach the subjects connected with educational technology at Charles University Prague, Faculty of Education and the service called Teachers’ Helper was established in 1997 I involved my students into the activities helping to open the online environment for all our teachers. The intention is evident. I wanted to give them the experience of sharing – to show them that the only possibility in the coming days is to take the active role in the exchange of experience among all of the teachers around the whole world. The contrast to the traditional approach in which the students write the seminar work only for the teacher is visible.

When I first met the conception of connectivism around 2005 I immediately realized that this is “my cap of tea”. It gives the appropriate meaning to all I have done from the beginning I got the open internet connection. It is a big pleasure for me to know I am not alone on this way. Unfortunately there are plenty of barriers and drawbacks around, but we have to face them and be prepared to overcome the coming changes which are often described as singularity or even disruption today.

I try to implement the principles of connectivism and openness in my teaching. This school year is the first in which my lessons are broadcasted online (by Google+ Hangout now). The intention is to give the opportunity to learn not only to students, but to inservice teachers too. We are connected not only by almost the traditional lectures held on university ones a week, but also virtually by the (Edmodo) back channel with no time restrictions. For the evaluation of students I set two levels. In the first they are supposed to establish their own online connections to lead teachers (or experts) anywhere and prove that there already exists some preliminary version of their Personal Learning Environment. In the second stage they have to take an active role in the given process. As the evidence they can use the published article on Teachers’ Helper or their own independent activity – for example a private blog.

I know very well that I must serve as an example for them. There are not only my lectures but many other products, e.g. about 50 articles every year. Last years I began to make also a video mini-lessons dedicated to students (I don’t speak about the flipped classroom in my case). Only one of my video has already the English transcript thanks to the specialized event for which it was recorded. Here you are:

Bořivoj Brdička – Information Society for the Third Millenium

What is the value of the help for teachers?

spomocnik_BBmIn my memoirs here I already mentioned that we are running the web service called Teachers’ Helper providing technology oriented information for Czech teachers beginning 1997. After the refusal of the assistance from the Ministry of Education in 1995 and transfer of the service to my private web (BoBr’s Helper) this work finally became an official part of my full time job at the Department of Information Technology, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Education. I get the direct support and we had intention to involve all teachers of the department into this activity and connect it with the learning process of our students.

The first part of this intention wasn’t viable, but the second was successfully accomplished. Students are very important element participating as authors on the service. Instead they produce the paper only for the teacher, in my courses they are supposed to produce publishable product increasing the knowledge of our teachers. Even the first contribution published at 22nd of February 1997 preserved on the portal until today was written by the student (Education in the Information Society – Bangemann speech at the seminar of the European Parliament).

I guess you would agree that such a long period of continuously existing info-service publishing 1 to 3 articles every week except vacations could build some influence in the practice. All the time we have covered news about interesting gadgets, educational software, teaching methods, policy decisions, research results, project proposals etc. The most profitable consequence of this long-lasting approach is the possibility to link the articles themselves. When we open a new theme we can mention the information we brought several years ago.

During the first years we didn’t have any competitors in the given area. Then in 2000 the government started to realize the project handled several billions of Czech Crowns (CZK) where not only computers and connectivity for schools was included, but also the Educational Portal for hundreds of millions. We were prepared to take some part in this activity, but the reality was very different. The beneficiary institution (surprisingly the same Institute for Information in Education where such a service was several years before refused) get money and opened the tender to outsourcing the realization. The portal was really established and money spent. The functionality is maybe questionable, but there is one unquestionable fact – this Educational Portal ( never had the educational content. It was finally cancelled with the whole Institute in 2011. Make your own opinion!

The same situation has continuously repeated with the EU projects after 2005. I remember several portals providing some kind of info-services supported by Structural and Cohesion Funds which only started but immediately died after the end of supply. The situation became so evident that in 2012 European Commission stopped the funding of the Individual projects handled by our Ministry of Education, the minister was dismissed and finally most of the new proposals (with several portals among them) were canceled.

The only working portal providing our teachers with information, learning objects, training, and the space for cooperation is the Framework Education Programme Portal (see The Education Portal to support the Czech Framework Education Programme) managed by the National Educational Institute. This portal exists thanks to Individual EU projects too. It was established originally with the intention to give the teachers some methodological help inside the ongoing reform of the entire educational system. The project finished in 2011 and nowadays all the activities there are mostly voluntary.

You can easily recognize by the address that our Teachers’ Helper ( is a part of this portal today. We moved in 2010 thanks to loss of the assistance from the Charles University. The reason is very simple. Last years our higher education institutions became competitors for money from the part of the national budget dedicated to research. These sources are distributed strictly in accordance with the rules approved by the government based on the impact factor of the published research outcomes. The documents or articles propagating the actual development in field of educational technology to teachers published only on the web don’t fulfill the conditions of the given rules, don’t obtain any recognition and consequently any money. That is the reason, why such activity is not perceived by the university as valuable even if students are involved.

The conditions of my work are unsatisfactory during almost the whole my carrier. I gave up all dreams that this could change in the future. In spite of this I am sure I do the right things. And there are visible results. I never stop.


Visits of the Teachers‘ Helper during the last 2 years

Millennial Czech EU integration

eu_logo_s_mapouIn 1995 Czech Republic signed the European Union Association Agreement. This decision caused our associated status in the EU Socrates programme, in which beginning 1998 we were allowed to participate even before the official entry (2004). Socrates was a wide project dealing in area of education funded by huge money. There were several sections inside; one of them called Comenius is working until today. It is organizing the international school cooperation.

Thanks to my already established connections to European teachers represented by the European Schools Project Association I get the opportunity to be involved in several funded projects inside the Comenius branch from the beginning. In this period when almost nobody knew how to write successful proposal there were only a little amount of Socrates participants. By my opinion mostly the enthusiasts were involved, who interested mainly in the activity itself and saw the money only as a necessary vehicle for the work.

Our projects were concentrated to the support of teachers opening the space for international cooperation using the internet. We developed the methodology of activities with the high educational effect (e.g. The Image of the Other), published the proposals for cooperation made by interested teachers and designed several courses teaching teachers the best practice of cooperation. You can still see most of them including all the open educational resources on the web – TRANSPRO, PROMISE, ECOLE. In 2003 I helped with the designing of the first official Czech web of the European Schoolnet organization opened inside the Centre for International Services (subsidiary company of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports).

As an experienced participant I was involved in the role of evaluator into the work of newly established National Socrates agency subordinated and controlled by the Ministry. I slowly started to think that the situation thanks to our association with EU countries goes better. The change came stealthily with our official admission to EU in 2004. We get much bigger opportunity to use the resources not only from the The Lifelong Learning Programme (the new title of the former Socrates), but also from much bigger Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds. What happened later was some way very similar to the way adopted by Greece with the only difference that we didn’t have enough time to reach the bankruptcy.

The interest of people proposing the projects funded by the EU changed solely to money. You can (at least in field of Education) hardly detect any project today, which has the really useful outcome and don’t finish its activity immediately after the end of funding. Very often we find out that there could be even worst intention by the beneficiary than only inefficient spending of money. I speak about the corruption and thievery.

In connection with the intention to control the flow of all funds there were established a specialized department at the Centre for International Services called The National Agency for European Educational Programmes, which takes care about all the projects in field of education. Two years ago I disrupted my more than 10 years long involvement in the process of setting the rules and indicators for projects assessment (especially for eTwinning in last years) and doing the evaluation work when I was asked to change one of my reports in the way much more acceptable for the ministry.

So, I don’t do any project and don’t apply for them any more.

Czech educational technology in the 90′s

internetIt is not long ago when we celebrated 20th anniversary of internet in our country. I have to say that we must be very grateful to fortune that we get the opportunity to use this connective open space almost from the beginning of its existence. When Stephen Downes a year ago mentioned 15 years of the services functioning like the blog (15 years of Scripting News), I realized that thanks to the internet we really had the same starting position as the well developed countries. Here is my evaluation report mentioning the 15th anniversary of our information service Teachers’ Helper providing edtech news for teachers in form of the blog- 15 years old helper (automatic translation by Google).

Off course, not all conditions were the same. For example the shortage of our budget was much more significant. But what stepped us down probably even more it was the post- totalitarian mentality everywhere around. In the middle of 90′s the interest of our teachers was mainly oriented in free stuff. There were already a huge quantity of public domain or shareware software in the online repositories accessible by ftp, which we downloaded, tested, described and offered for free initially on diskettes and later also for online download. But that time only the higher education institutions were connected and only a few teachers (of informatics) were interested.

The web Teachers’ Helper started in 1995 simultaneously with my teaching on Charles University Prague, Faculty of Education. It immediately began to overhand not only software but also interesting news. I wrote the textbook using the hypertext structure for my students (Learning with computer) and successfully established the connection to the colleagues abroad. That time there was only one working organization connecting mostly (but not only) European teachers interested in cooperation on the educational activities with the children supported by technology. Its name was European School Project and I became the Czech national coordinator. In March 2011 I described the first stages of our connection to the world in the contribution for the 25th ESP anniversary conference in Denmark – The Role of ESP in the introduction of educational technology to Czech schools.

Until the end of 90′s our online service Teachers’ Helper has built up the prime position in the area of professional support of educational technology in our country. It was integrated to the activities of the Department of Information Technology on the Faculty of Education. We have offered free software, evaluated proprietary educational programs, regularly published proposals for international cooperation and informed about interesting news in technology development and relevant research.

I am very happy I can say that we have overcome all serious obstacles and we continuously do such kind of services even in different conditions to date.

My Velvet Revolution

It seems to me that this will be probably something as memoirs of the unsuccessful Czech revolutionist, but I feel a strong temptation to publish it.

Several years before the regime change I was involved in the team of Reasearch Institute preparing Adaptive Intelligent Tutoring System for all departments of the Czech Technical University. That time in the second half of 80′s there was a big boom of such systems which aimed to fully control the learning process of students. I loved this work partly because I get an opportunity to learn a lot of new things. I started to read English sources, increased my ability in programming (Assembler, Pascal, Basic, Foxbase) and I had slowly found out that the direction of the development of our work to the students’ control isn’t the right one.

What I didn’t know those days was the fact that the secret police some way influence my life. The only formal sign was the rejection of my application for doctoral studies in1988. Fortunately the change evoked by Soviet leader Gorbachev lastly arrived in November 1989 and we started to think that everything would quickly change.

The years 1990-94 were probably the best in my life. We believed in democracy and better future. Thanks to our president Vaclav Havel we didn’t revenge the communists, so they were able to take advantage of the situation and made the immediate transition to the die-hard capitalists interested solely in money. As the significant example you can compare two of our world known presidents – Vaclav Havel and his follower using the same first name Vaclav Klaus. The intention of our first president Havel was always the true democracy including humanity, active citizenship, green policy, volunteerism, philanthropy etc. Unfortunately the space for such kind of dealing around us is still lesser and lesser. The greed policy represented by Mr. Klaus temporary wins not only here in Czechia but almost everywhere (even in communistic China). The fight between the openness and closeness in our country could be personalized by these two leaders.

It was 1994 and my job was to establish the InfoCentrum dedicated to the help for Czech teachers with the usage of technology. We formed the group of 4 enthusiastic people inside the Institute for Information in Education which was formal part of the Ministry. We were probably the first who came with the intention to bring the benefit of internet to primary and secondary schools. At that time I realized that my belief in better future is probably only a false hope. The government adopted the policy of so called “optimization”. They informed us that the service we do won’t be paid by Ministry of Education. They used the argument that teachers would pay it themselves if they would feel the need. Maybe such kind of policy would have a chance to ask for public support in elections, but there was something what completely changed my attitude to the political situation in our country. It was from the beginning evident that the optimization of state expenses is mainly done in form of transfer of the public money to the pockets of the corruptionists and cashboxes of the leading political parties.

I decided to continue and fulfill the plan which we started to realize in InfoCentrum – to bring the appropriate information about technology to Czech teachers. In 1995 I opened my first personal web BoBr’s Helper which some way continues in form of blog until today ( I have to say that my strong intention to stay on position of openness caused that the only reward I get is unofficial from the reactions of readers. But I am satisfied.

How I Became Educational Technologist

I have been involved in educational technology for almost 30 years. When I started there was a deep totality in my country (former Czechoslovakia). I was a technician obtaining the MSc. degree in field of sound engineering with the little experience on mainframe computers and programmable calculators. But that time in the beginning of the 80′s the first 8 bits computers came through iron curtain. Accidentally in the same time I looked for a new job and I was questioned by the director of the company (owned by state and guided by communistic party), which was responsible for all state controlled deliveries to Czech schools (textbooks, tools, aids, etc.). My intention was to be involved in the recording process of the programs distributed that time on sound cassettes – e.g. to support language education.

But in the same time (1984) this company finalized the development of the first national educational personal computer called IQ 151. The director didn’t allow any discussion and made me responsible for this process. This way he involved me in the educational technology development – and I stay here until today. I have to acknowledge that this was a big luck for me as I can say that I am almost the first person in this country who took care about the usage of computers in primary and secondary education (apart from higher education, of course).

You know, in some way the personal development has very similar traits regardless you are in totality or democracy. You have to make the right decision when you reach the situation you are asked to cover some mistakes of your boss or the company generally. Maybe I could behave differently when I found out that IQ 151 has some constructional drawbacks, which the top management wished to hush up. But I decided to repair the existing defects. Unfortunately the best solution was brought by the excellent professor of computer science at Charles University, but he was in political underground thanks to his religion. My intention to enforce his solution of our problems with IQ151 computer was not accepted by the management. As I knew that this decision would have a big future consequences for our teachers I decided to adopt the openness and not keep silence. So, I went on the way which is not very easy, but I don’t regret. I still stay on it.

You see, the main my problem to be actively connected to the world after more than 20 years of passive usage of English is still the language.