Category Archives: open education

What do teachers need for sharing and creating knowledge circa OER? #abs87

This paper, presented by researcher Beatriz Carramolino, described work on Share.TEC, which I understand as a web portal searching many European-and-beyond repositories of learning material — some open, some not — especially suited to teacher educators. Share.TEC was created in hope of providing a simple way of finding and reusing digital content useful to teacher educators. Beatriz described the attention given to the search facility, searching not just on the usual things such as format (video, sound, whatever), but also on language and on pedagogical qualities. Share.Tec also allows for groups to be formed, and also a section called ‘My Contribution’ encouraging the sharing of resources.

Beatriz Carramolino presenting on Share.TEC

Beatriz Carramolino presenting on Share.TEC

Beatriz told us that only 52% of the resources were OER, the rest were not only not openly-licensed, they also require payment. An important finding of her research is that most users of Share.TEC take but do not share back, a common situation with online environments that have attempted to encourage sharing. Beatriz also told us that overall they concluded that not enough attention had been given to the design of the portal to encourage community.  Apparently, it is not enough to include a facility to form online groups. Another finding was that teachers were not putting tags on their materials. Tags and other metadata seem to be the boring bit, the part for someone else to do, but they are really just as important as the item itself.

Building a community around the give and take of OER has, to my eyes, only worked well in a few places. HUMBOX is a good example — humanities educators share and take material in a trusted environment in which they know each other to some extent. YouTube allows for discussion and a form of community. But I cannot really think of any others. If you know of other examples of good community forming around open materials, please let me know in the comments!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

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Students and OERs: Exploring the possibilities #abs125

Presenter: Toni Pearce, NUS Vice President (Further Education)

Session: Keynote #abs125

Toni presented an insightful and thought provoking keynote based on the results of a wide ranging survey of student attitudes and online behaviour, which will be published later in the year.  The keynote was very well received and generated considerable positive discussion at the conference and on the twitter backchannel.  These are just a few of the points Toni raised.

The NUS is a political organisation interested in the expansion of educational opportunities, social justice and social cohesion.  What are the benefits of open education for groups that are excluded from traditional education? Students are not a homogenous group and some are better positioned to gain advantage from open education than others.

Students are conservative in their use of OERs.  Many do use OERs but they are more likely to use them if they are used as part of course or recommended by lecturer. “Traditional” students (i.e. young students in full time education) are very firm about the value of face to face learning and will defend lectures to the death. Lecturing is not an out of date mode of teaching, though podcasting and video captures of lectures is becoming increasingly popular.

Students appreciate the convenience of OERs, they are used to access content at home and revise topics.  OERs are primarily used as a labour saving device, not to change how students learn. This is not transforming education; it is just making it more convenient.  OERs have not unsettled traditional hierarchies of knowledge.

A small number of students use OERs before entering HE to learn about HE institutions and the experience of higher education.  More structured support is needed to facilitate this transition. 

In determining the value and reliability of any resource, look is important.  Students tend to equate look with value.  If a resource looks professional, it is regarded as being reliable.

Students struggle to find appropriate OERs, the volume of resources is overwhelming.  Some students bemoaned the failure to develop the equivalent of Dewey Decimal classification for online resources (!), though clearly this is not a viable option. Students lack sophisticated search skills, they need support to situate their use of learning resources in the context of developing their knowledge.

Students often share resources on twitter and facebook, which many find easier to use than VLEs.  Sharing is a relationship for cyclical advantage, not altruism, and students will keep resources to themselves in order to gain competitive advantage. Few students create their own OERs or adapt existing resources.  While they are happy to use OERs created by others they are unlikely to create their own resources due to concerns they would be co-opted by others. It is also concerning that some students believe that people who are not registered to education institutions should not have access to resources.

Current students are not the key audience for OERs. Education has a tendency to leave you with a desire to keep learning forever.  OER has the potential to expand access to learning and make education more widely available to those excluded from traditional educational institutions.  There is a widespread belief that OERs can bridge the gap between formal and informal learning experiences.

Students place great value on being able to work together with other students.   Technology can be isolating despite access to more and more resources and technologies that support collaboration.  Students worry about the lack of learning community and value traditional study environments.  Communities give us the assurance that others share our experiences. We can accomplish more as a community than alone as individuals.  Our identity comes from the communities that we are part of, which is why web 2.0 social applications can be so effective. The biggest opportunity for OERs is to create communities of education for those that do not have them.

Education is about collaboration not passive consumption but students have little interest in structuring their own learning journeys.  However we are moving into unpredictable territory and students need to take control of change.

Will institutions be able to continue offering OER for free? Openness sits uneasily beside marketization and competitiveness and increasing fees will only exacerbate this. No one quite knows what to do about MOOCs.  Should we try to control the growth of MOOCs or should we let them proliferate?  Opinions are becoming very polarised, but maybe it’s all hype like the Internet bubble.  However MOOCs are important because they have started a public conversation about educational technology and part of that conversation has to be about whether openness will be swallowed up by privatisation and competition.  We need a balanced thoughtful discussion about the future of education.

Open academic practice in action: research to teaching and back again in the OpenLIVES project – Kate Borthwick #abs110

#abs110

Abstract available at https://www.medev.ac.uk/oer13/110/view/

I’m putting any attempt at objectivity aside for a moment to enthuse that OpenLIVES is a truly exciting project that really demonstrates the limitless potential of OER!

For a start it has a clever acronym (not always a reliable guide to a project perhaps!); “LIVES” is for Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres. A collaboration between the Universities of Southampton, Leeds and Portsmouth, the project has numerous strands with its starting point the digitisation and open publication of research data derived from stories and other ephemera pertaining to (mostly) Spanish emigres (e.g. child evacuaees during Spanish Civil war / Franco regime) and the subsequent development of OER based on the material. OERs and related open practice would also be embedded in ongoing teaching with an emphasis on research, teaching and students as producers. See, even from that short synopsis it sounds awesome!

Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres; Research data – stories, ephemera pertaining to emigration

Learning Insights from the Voices of Emigres
Research data – stories, ephemera pertaining to emigration

Obviously this material is very personal though Kate suggested there were no real issues around permission – people gave their stories freely because they wanted them to be heard though the project has naturally been careful about how the material is presented; it is vailable from HumBox with licence information embedded on all resource components and carefully contextualised – http://humbox.ac.uk/4061/ – indeed, in the process of OER creation the context around ephemera (e.g. interviews) was always of central importance and student involvement was very high.

Each lecturer used material in different ways, in translation classes developing Spanish – English synopses, for example, or embedding into practice to teach research skills, comparing reported experience with media and historical accounts. The variety of activities and learning outcomes from such a rich, contextualised data set is huge.

Student feedback was very positive and the project gives the lie to the idea that if students/teachers all have same OER, they will all have same learning experience.

“We were a little bit of everything at the same time: transcribers, translators, proof readers and editors. We are really proud of the result!” Students at Southampton who worked on the subtitling project.

“I have really enjoyed the OpenLIVES module as it has given us, the students, an opportunity to do our own primary research and genuinely engage with the issues we are studying. Having more academic and creative control over our own education is extremely stimulating and motivating.” Final year undergraduate at Leeds

I for one will be exploring OpenLIVES further.

Sharing @ 100%? – arguments for a less selective approach to reporting OER activity – Chris Pegler #abs119

#abs119

Abstract available from https://www.medev.ac.uk/oer13/119/view/

The consensus (on Twitter anyway) was that the opening keynote of #oer13 was pretty good. NUS president Toni Pearce spoke engagingly about the student perspective of University education in general and OER in particular and Chris Pegler introduced her session by acknowledging so…but emphasising that the educator’s view is (or should be?) different.

We were also warned that “there will be groupwork” and Chris evoked sharing and the open landscape asking “who are we open with?”, identifying that open behaviour tends to become ever more restrictive in concentric circles away from the creator:

Who are we 'open' with?

Who are we ‘open’ with?

Then came the group work where we were asked to “Talk to 1-2 other people nearby. Identify  some resources which you would be happy to share at one of the very local levels. Think about whether you are also happy to allow remix at these levels”.

As a non-pedagog I did necessarily feel qualified to contribute to the conversation on the same terms as my group (although I am committed to sharing sometimes half baked ideas of my own). There was some discussion of “value” – would this resource (complete or not) be of value? – also of context, just releasing stuff – unfinished – into the wild is of limited use unless the community can continue the “conversation” – this my own sense of blogging from a technical/infrastructural perspective – like the conversation in this room, open dissemination allows us to “converse” and formulate our own perspectives.

Trust is key (not to mention time and motivation), not only in one’s community to accept your contribution to the conversation in the appropriate spirit but also faith in oneself. Confidence that comes with practice.

More group discussion (good pedagogy!)…What would it take to share more widely and what are the barriers? What are your concerns? Some tweets from the session include:

Chris brought the session to a close by emphasising that immature outputs can offer valuable insight that may be lost in more polished material; in addition there is a potential dissemination bias if we over select our outputs. By way of example Chris cited candid mid project meetings of the ukoer programme. The final reports of those same projects did not capture the vibrancy of mid project meetings when live projects were exploring their still developing outputs.

Final question: Trust or Time? Both?

Final question: Trust or Time? Both?

At the end of the session, answering a question, Chris conceded that the “100%” of her title was a little mischevious. Rhetorical. Impossible (and not necessarily desirable) but ultimately, open is as open does and if we are continually aspiring to “showcase” resources we are missing a huge and valuable learning experience.

Nie, M (2013) Open education policy research: a snapshot from the POERUP project #oer13 #abs47

Dr Ming Nie presented the outcomes from the POERUP project (Policies for OER uptake) at the OER13 conference at Nottingham University, UK the 26th of March 2013 (work done by Ming Nie, Gabi Witthaus and Grainne Conole). POERUP is funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, partners include: The UK, The Netherlands, France, Italy and Canada. POERUP  build on earlier OER project as OPAL and OLnet and has so far produced country reports and case studies, they have made an inventory of more than 100 OER initiative, with 11 country reports and with 15 minicountry reports in a Wiki and they will produce 7 in-depth case studies and 3 EU-wide policy papers.

IMG_1316[1]

POERUP is carrying out research to understand how governments can stimulate the uptake of OER by policy means. POERUP aim to convince decision-makers that in order to be successful with OER, they will have to formulate evidence-based policies based on looking beyond one’s own country, region or continent, beyond the educational sector they look after. POERUP aims to study the end-user–producer communities behind OER initiatives. By comparing in-depth European case-studies to selected non-European ones they will refine and elaborate recommendations to formulate a set of action points that can be applied to ensuring the realisation of successful, lively and sustainable OER communities. Poerup provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives.provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives provide education authorities, the research community and OER initiative management with trustworthy and balanced research results, in which feedback from all stakeholder groups has been incorporated and which can be used as standard literature. A specific objective is to help readers in charge of OER initiatives to find ways of incorporating successful features of other initiatives.

Dr Nie presented three groups of findings:

 Policies Countries with OER policiesThe Netherlands
National strategy and

•Wikiwijs Programme
•Making OER mainstream in every sector of education
•Involving Euro 8 million in public funding in the 2009-2013 period

USA

•A wide range of OER activities occurring in different sectors:
§Schools
§Universities (OCW, MERLOT, Connexions)
§Non-profit organisations (The Khan Academy, P2PU)
§Private/commercial organisations (iTunes U)
•Between 2011-2014, USD 2 billion government investment aimed at improving education at community colleges through OER
•Recommendations to OER are included as part of educational strategy planning documents, such as the National Education Technology Plan (2010)

Romania has OER in Government Programme:

•The Government Programme for 2013-16: support the innovative integration of Web2.0 and OER in education

OER in educational policies:

•The public policies for ICT integration in the pre-university system:  promotion the use of open/free resources; development and sharing of resources by teachers

South Africa; Active in tertiary education: OCW, OER Africa

•The Department of Higher Education and Training has included the development of an Open and Distance Learning (ODL) policy framework in its strategic plan for 2010–2014, which will include OER.
•The Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education Development requires that all educational resources developed through funded projects have to be released under a CC licence.
•The Southern African Development Community is currently developing an ODL policy and strategic plan that will see the region sharing learning materials at all levels of education.

country is active, egymostly at tertiar level, integration strategies

 Active Countries active in OER activitiesAustralia, New Zeeland, Spain, Poland, UK and Canada
 Driving  Countries driving open education
Italy, Greace, France, Hungary,  while Denmark, Finland and Norway

Challenges

  • Economic crises; decreas in investment in education & innovation, promotion more challenes
  • opportunities and further work; opportunities- the rise of moocs  and Future learn, Furtehr work; in depth analyses on oer policy and practixce, in depth research into end users of OER

Opportunities and further work

Next phase of the POERUP project will be to investigate OER uptake in differernt sectors and to build consortium countrywise

The rise of MOOCs – a new business model

FutureLearn in the UK

In-depth analysis on OER policies & practices

In-depth research into end-users of OER

IMG_1317[1]

Contact info 

Dr Ming Nie: ming.nie@le.ac.uk

Blogging on this post: Ebba Ossiannilsson Lund University, Sweden @EbbaOssian

x v c – hybrid learning in, through and about MOOCs #abs79

The #FSLT (First Steps in Learning and Teaching) course at Oxford Brookes University has been one of many small pockets of interesting practice within the box of delights that is the UKOER programme. Certainly one of the earlier “MOOCs” in the UK, it is now reflecting on online learning practice as it begins preparations for the next iteration, beginning in May 2013.

But even since the last run, the landscape of online learning at scale has changed substantially. George Roberts, Jenny Mackness, Marion Waite and Liz Lovegrove prepared a very discursive and open workshop session which examined the “new normality” of MOOC practice and how learners were decoding and contributing to their online learning experience.

A lot has already been said at OER13 about the MOOC bandwagon, and it was noted how deep the mistrust was between the “open learning” community and the wilder ends of MOOC “disruptionism”. There is clearly some kind of a change, some kind of a liminal space emerging on the edges of traditional education, but what is it and why?

“MOOCs offer an unlimited number of possibilities for hybridization because, whatever else, they offer participants the opportunity to fashion their own learning according to their own needs.”

The dream of open online learning actually does encompass the concept of drop-out – in that it is expected that in plotting their own course through the multitudinous learning opportunities available online, it would be rare to see a learner-designed pathway coincide with an institutionally provided one. That’s a rather longwinded way of saying that you would expect learners to drop in for certain parts of a course, rather than complete the thing.

Of course the MOOC is a course, and in advertising itself as such lends itself to these kind of volumetric analyses where effectiveness is linked to student throughput. In some ways – and certainly in the case of the larger commercial platforms – metrics more akin to those used in general marketing practice mean that the “stickiness” of the course platform is valuable. We could speculate about the eventual introduction of advertisement to these platforms, it certainly makes sense of their interest in selling pickaxes rather than mining for gold during the great MOOC rush.

Another strand of the conversation concerned the place of the expert participants. Marion talked about the self-described “vets” – experienced in online learning – who supported and encouraged the “newbies” by modelling good open academic practice. It was postulated that this cohort of “vets” were experienced cMOOCers (connectivist moocs like change11 or OldsMOOC) who had got in to the habits of sharing and acting online.

The contrast here is with the xMOOC experience, where peer learning (more peer assessment) is explicitly built in to the course design, but the scale of the class and the nature of the closed forum environment actually mitigate against learner interaction. The direct opposite of something like ds106, where the line between tutor, classroom learner and online learner is often indistinguishable.

The MOOC movement is a disruptive movement, not because it is doing anything especially new (teaching in public is older than our oldest institutions of learning, and has been a key function of these institution throughout most of their existence), but because it is once again foregrounding discussions about the nature and place of educational liminality… the boundaries of place and space that constrain and define education.

George ended with three wonderful quotations:

“[Open Learning is a] proxy for the historical conversation about continuing, professional, open, online, distance and blended learning” (Bon Stewart)

“[Discourses around HE are] an arena of conflict between rival principles of legitimacy, and competition for political, economic and cultural power”  (Bourdieu)

“Open online academic practice offers a radical challenge to the “polyarchic” limits to the discussion of digital literacy within institutions, which are in conflict with themselves.” (Richard Hall)

(post by David Kernohan for OER13)