Porto Design Factory organized the third UoF Igniting Event

April the 5th was the date for UoF’s Igniting Event in Portugal. Organized by Porto Design Factory, the event was an opportunity for showcasing the project and gathering around several partners, including public institutions, members of the academy and company. Throughout the afternoon, around 100 participants passed by and were able to follow an interesting and vivid debate on the “Collaborative Digital Shift Towards a New Framework for Industry and Education”.

The event was divided into three different moments. In the first part of this afternoon-long work session, and after a brief presentation of Porto Global Hub and Porto Design Factory by Paulo Ferraz, Executive Director and UoF Project Coordinator, João Queirós and Teresa Pereira, from Polytechnic of Porto and PDF, presented the project and its main goals and outcomes. Jorge Portugal, from COTEC Portugal, the business association which is responsible for implementing and evaluating the Industry 4.0 National Strategy, then linked the goals of projects such as UoF with the challenges the country is trying to overcome within this fourth industrial revolution, especially those relating to changes in teaching and learning processes. The challenge of “instant”, flexible, productive learning, and getting to know how we can collectively build the solutions for continuous, lifelong learning, were stressed.

The second part of the event comprised a panel session on the future of jobs and the future of education in the fourth industrial revolution. Presented and moderated by António Bob Santos, from ANI, one of UoF partners, this session included representatives from three large companies operating in Portugal – Bosch, Visabeira Global and IKEA Industry (this last one also a member of the UoF Consortium) –, as well as Professor Manuel Pereira Lopes, from Polytechnic of Porto’s School of Engineering. Manuel Pereira Lopes presented the experience of Polytechnic of Porto’s MSc in Industrial Management and Engineering, a master’s degree with innovative teaching methodologies and a strong alignment with Industry 4.0 needs. Among other relevant subjects, panelists from companies presented significative experiences of collaboration with Higher Education Institutions and R&D Units and underlined the importance of stronger cooperation in the design of relevant learning processes for current and future workers.

The third part of the event included two presentations focusing on new opportunities for this sector – by Renato Gonçalves, from Nokia Portugal, and by João Borga, from Startup Portugal – and a closing session with João Correia Neves, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Economy, and João Rocha, the President of Polytechnic of Porto. João Correia Neves highlighted the commitment of the Portuguese Government with the country’s Industry 4.0 Strategy and underlined the importance of educational innovation in this process. The President of Polytechnic of Porto stressed the role of Porto Design Factory as a laboratory for co-creating and experimenting new methodologies in an integrated model of multidisciplinary education focusing on the development of the skills required by a changing world, and reached out to the audience to ask for active participation in the open community of practice the UoF project is building.

Aalto University team participating in Dare to Learn, a learning festival

Last week, Laura, Maria and myself, Irena, from Aalto Design Factory took part in Dare to Learn, a learning Festival organised for the second time in Helsinki, September 18th and 19th. It took place in an old industrial venue called the Cable Factory.

The festival was a combination of workshops, talks, panel discussions and exhibitors at their booths, leaving space for interaction between participants.  The two stages brought both local and international researchers, product managers, start-up founders, professors and politicians to share insights from their own work, and to discuss the current and future trends of education. This year’s themes were Learning for Sustainability, Self-directed Learning, Curriculum 2026: What should we learn next?, Emotions and Learning, and Developmental Organizational Culture.

The festival gathered non-formal education providers, startups and education organisations under one roof to learn from each other and in the best case scenario: collaborate. A quote from the festival’s website communicates how collaboration is part of the festival’s vision:

“We believe solutions for tomorrow’s learning challenges can be solved the best by bridging gaps between different learning professionals.”

At Dare to Learn the vision of collaboration is not just a vision, but the actual spirit of the festival. It was tangible immediately when entering the venue. One could spot many familiar faces, colleagues from the education sector and entrepreneurs, all excitedly mingling with each other.

The workshops were organized by event participants, including governmental organisations, universities and private education providers. The workshops created great opportunities for the participants to explore new topics, new methods and to work on different challenges with people from different disciplines, professions, age groups and cultural backgrounds, without forgetting the new contacts made while working together. Personally, it was really refreshing, motivating and inspiring to sit on the learner’s side of the table for a change. For an educator like me, Dare to Learn gave a really good reminder to also take part as a participant at workshops in addition to only always organizing them. One of the workshops I attended was called “Learning from the future” and organized by the “Future School” and UNESCO Chair in Learning Society and Futures of Education. First, the participants envisioned a preferable future, and then, using a methodology called backcasting, tried to figure out the steps to take in order to achieve the chosen future.

In addition to taking part in workshops and getting to know different ed-tech companies, we had the pleasure to listen to good speeches. Share-Josephine Hjortm, the founder of Canopy Lab, was giving food for thought concerning the future of ed-tech. It has, according to her, grown significantly during the last 3 years. In her work she has noticed that there are many new voices and visions as ed-tech is becoming a billion-dollar business. The questions Share-Josephine encouraged everyone to think about were: what should we learn in 2026 and how?

Our own Maria Clavert also gave a presentation about the Universities of the Future project at the “How our future leaders grow – learning from entrepreneurial leaders” Spark talks. Maria’s talk raised a good amount of interest in our project, encouraging listeners to come have a discussion at the booth Universities of the Future shared with Aalto University.

All in all, participating in Dare to Learn was a success. We, as the participants, got inspired, met new people and got an oversight to what is happening in education globally. As a bonus, many relevant people added their contact information to our database hoping to become involved in Universities of the Future and to receive our outputs.

Platoniq develops a Train the Trainers course to overcome Industry 4.0 challenges through co-creation

The Universities of the Future is an ongoing European Erasmus+ project focusing on the transition towards Industry 4.0 in the context of Higher Education Institutions and industries across the continent.

The Industry 4.0 scenario refers to a new way of organising production media characterised by the implementation and connection of advanced technologies. This new revolution will blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres with radically disruptive implications in all domains of activities, and will dramatically change the approaches and outcomes expected from Higher Education. Therefore understanding, adjusting and healthily implementing such changes in a field as transversal as (in-work and pre-work) education is of vital importance now more than ever. Platoniq is excited to be part of such a challenge and sees some clear priorities for the years to come.

Identifying hard and soft skills required in Industry 4.0 and creating quality educational assets will be a major challenge. This could be tackled by re-training people who are already in the workforce; by identifying successful pioneering initiatives and pedagogical models (or coming up with new ones); and by providing a framework for the co-creation of new training programs, that effectively meet the demands of equipping the workforce with the skills that are needed, not forgetting the training of the next generation of the workforce towards Industry 4.0. The role of the teachers is crucial here, as they will be the guides and facilitators of a completely different learning processes from the one we are currently used to seeing.

Building up a Universities of the Future network preparing this change towards Education 4.0 is something that will require attention and work from the project partners, designing a roadmap to catalyze the creation of the Open Partnership of UoF and its means, as well as finding systems to sustain an effective collaborative network. Prototyping the kind of decentralized alliances between HEIs, alumni and businesses will be necessary in the years to come.

Finally, one of the biggest debates taking place across different fields is centered on the ethics of Industry 4.0. Even the European Economic and Social Committee has called for a code of ethics to cover the development, application and use of it, to make sure, for example, that “AI systems remain compatible with the principles of human dignity, integrity, freedom and cultural and gender diversity, as well as with fundamental human rights”.

Platoniq is reflecting on whether, however, considerations on ethics often only take into account individual misuses of technology, such as weaponization, data protection issues, robot mistreats, etc, and do not have a systemic outlook, failing to see the amplification of injustice which is a fundamental challenge to tackle. Structural oppression exists across our communities and societies: without active transformation of power relations, AI and Industry 4.0 will perpetuate, reproduce and amplify this harm. Also, whose responsibility is it to lead a socially and environmentally just transition to the future of industry and education? How to ensure that the weight of this change does not only fall on the shoulders of individuals endeavoring towards a professional re-training or risking being laid off?

Learning from Platoniq’s experience in social innovation and participation processes, we believe that one of the methods to keep these reflections front and center is to come up with solutions in a collaborative way, involving actors experiencing different sides of the issue. As you can further read here, “co-creation taps into the collective insight and potential of groups, and can be used to generate breakthrough solutions when existing models fall short. It is especially useful when bringing together diverse stakeholders facing a common challenge”, which is exactly the case of the Universities of the Future project.

In order to support the collaboration between different sectors, to translate the co-creation methodology into practice and to keep the human justice and sustainability point of view central to the future development of Industry 4.0 (as the signers from the Copenhagen Letter hope), Platoniq has organised the “Train the Trainers”, a two days event which has helped participants prepare the 33 events foreseen in the Universities of the Future project.

Academia and business partners across Portugal, Finland and Poland are the main responsible organizations for the implementation of the Universities of the Future small-scale events. In total 33 events will be promoted and designed to meet a specific need of the Universities of the Future project, having distinct goals and targets.

The Train The Trainers event was held in Inca, at the beautiful space of the Fabrica Ramis, a wonderful example of the city´s post-industrial presence in Mallorca (Spain). Last September 12th, project partners left the island with a great deal of engagement and excitement to explore the necessary skills, mindset and tools that Platoniq has supported in developing along the two days of intense work. Platoniq is taking part in this change, challenge, in a collaborative and critical way, believing that we are now on the same page and on the right track to boost the project and existing activities planned for the next months.

Article written by Andrea Echeverria Fernandez – retrieved from Platonic blogspot