On one side of the equation are the early adopters who are scrambling to apply new technology to their courses, introduce it to faculty or infuse its use system wide, on the other end are those who strongly feel that new tech tools, social networking, virtual worlds, and social networking really has no place in education and is a distraction in the classroom. Open education resources or (OER) are no exception to this as well.
I have often heard the statement made…there is no evidence or research that demonstrates that any institution uses OER for development of a course much less a program. There is also no research demonstrating whether or not individuals use OER to facilitate their informal learning and whether or not they have sought to have that learning validated. I have yet to delve into any research so am not certain whether or not these observation are credible or not.
However I do contend that open(ness) or open source does have a demonstrable track record of success as it has its genesis in the open source software movement. The open source software movement can be given credit for driving progress in information technology, software, and even demonstrating the power of collaboration in today’s society. Open source started, according to sources in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s given this history and continued evolution into today I believe that it provides evidence of the direction that open education resources can take given the right conditions.
I currently see:
Disruptive technology: it seems that there are many freely and widely available technical tools that provide a platform for delivering content to learners, however the problem, in my opinion is the overwhelming amount of that content that is available. In regards to the tools it seems that there is a rush to get them online and available to users, they maybe overshadowed and or ‘out-shined” by someone else’s innovation they are the first on the market. An example of the growth in content includes the evidence provided on the OpenCourseware Consortium website which indicates collaborations with over 200 higher education institutions. A great advantage of the technology we have today and technology of the future is that it provides us with educational content through a variety of channels via text, audio, video, live web casts, and virtual worlds. Not only that the technology provides for multiple points or networks of communication which provides for groups to collaborate, discuss and remix content. This is the network age, this is the age we all learn together and from eachother.
Another ingredient to this perfect storm is the availability of content on the web, there are now a plethora of sties and resources for educational content, these include:
YouTube. edu: I strongly suggest the reader to look at Youtube.edu carefully, look at the number of viewers on some of these lectures, review the comments and determine how viewers are using these lectures. I am certain that viewers, outside of the professor’s classroom are reviewing these lectures and making them part of their personal learning network.
Open Education Resource Commons: “Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse, without charge. OER often have a Creative Commons or GNU license that state specifically how the material may be used, reused, adapted, and shared.” Examples of their resources include: courses, interactive mini lessons, adaptations of existing open work, peer-reviewed electronic textbooks, K-12 resources.
Wikiversity: a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. We invite teachers, students, and researchers to join us in creating open educational resources and collaborative learning communities.
Connexions: a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute:
- authors create and collaborate
- instructors rapidly build and share custom collections
- learners find and explore content
ccLearn: ccLearn is a division of Creative Commons dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources.
DiscoverEd, a search prototype that provides scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web.
FreeLearning: Here you will find FREE TO USE learning resources that you can use to supplement your own course materials or learning. Some of these are from BC-based projects while others are from Open Educational Resource projects from around the world.
Utah Open Courseware: Utah may have “lost funding” for their open courseware project however the website is still very much alive. The website states: Utah OpenCourseWare is a collection of educational material used in our formal campus courses, and seeks to provide people around the world with an opportunity to access high quality learning opportunities.
The Chinese Opencourseware initiative is one to watch, in fact I first learned about when I was touring educational sites in Second Life at the Educators Co-op. I have heard claims that “no one” has gotten a degree or even completed a course using open courseware…my guess is they don’t know what is going on in Asia or India with the use of open courseware.
FETP Open Courseware: From the website: students may use FETP’s materials to guide independent study. Course syllabi, lecture notes, reading lists and problem sets used in many one-year mid-career program and executive education courses are already available online and over time FETP OpenCourseWare will include all Fulbright School materials (subject to copyright law).
John Hopkins Open Courseware: J ohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s OPENCOURSEWARE (OCW) project provides access to content of the School’s most popular courses.
Notre Dame OCW: Notre Dame OCW is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.
Private industry is also getting involved in the opencourseware initiative as well as indicated by the Novell Opencourseware site. They state that: OpenCourseWare is a collection of educational materials developed by Novell Training Services for authorized courses and other customer training purposes. By making these materials available to the public, we hope to extend to all people worldwide the opportunity to access these high quality learning materials.
BBC Online Courses: These online modules and guides are free for you to use. They were originally designed for BBC staff and in publishing them here we have not made many editorial changes to them.
Podcasts for education:
The Education Podcast Network is an effort to bring together into one place, the wide range of podcast programming that may be helpful to teachers looking for content to teach with and about, and to explore issues of teaching and learning in the 21st century.
Learning in Hand: Students and teachers from all over the world are learning from audio and video programs on desktop computers, laptops, iPods, Pocket PCs, Palm handhelds, and other devices.
Education podcasts: Education podcasts from universities, colleges, students, teachers — everyone who uses podcasting to learn and to teach others. We’re all life-long learners, aren’t we? Even some of the littlest ones in k-12 schools are podcasting. Be transported back to your elementary days…if only this technology were available then.
A good resource on educational podcasts is here at Shambles.net.
Education World (from their website) has compiled the Web’s latest and greatest podcasting resources to help you get started with this exciting and doable technology. Included: How-to articles, lesson ideas, free and fee-based software download sites, and much more!
Social networking is another part of the perfect storm and the technology that underlies this rising tide of “connectedness,” (yes I am in George Siemens and Stephen Downes Open Course on Connectiveness). There is, of course, Twitter, Facebook, and Ning, there are also efforts by learning management systems to better incorporate networking tools into their systems. However can an educators use tools such as Ning, Elgg, Twine, and .. well there are so many tools out there now I overwhelmed at the moment.
I am a member of several Ning Communities and still trying to figure that out. Ning allows the user to join social networks which provides memberships to communities that have similar interests, etc., Elgg seems to be similar to Ning but you can host it on your own website. I hope to have an Elgg site eventually in order to test it for delivery of course materials. From their website:
Elgg is an open source product which “comes with advanced user management and administration, social networking, cross-site tagging, powerful access control lists, internationalisation support, multiple view support (eg cell phones, iPhone), an advanced templating engine, a widget framework and more.
I used Twine for a while to collect content..I think it has great potential. I understand it is currently undergoing some major revisions, I can’t wait to see what they do next. According to their website Twine allows you to:
Collect content. Join a twine on any subject or start your own to track your interests. Twine organizes your content by topic, so you can keep track of it and share it with anyone you want.
Share interests. The Twine community is interested in the same things you are. Find people who are passionate about your interests. Join conversations. Learn something new. Share things you find with relevant communities.
Why do I think that we are or are not expending our current energies appropriately because not doing anything and think that education and students will be what it was 10, 5 or even a year ago is deceiving ourselves. Education is now going down the path of being irrevocably and forever changed. Someone will find an acceptable way to measure that learners who “self learn” are achieving the appropriate learning outcomes, of providing learners with the appropriate content that they need to learn, networked learning will be the norm. It doesn’t mean the end of colleges and universities …they will look much the same way in 10 years as they do now..the experience of college will always be a vital part of our culture and our society ..but how the classroom looks and how students access content may be very different than it is right now.
So are we in the “eye of a perfect’ storm with all these factors in place which also includes many that I have not covered such as education experts such as Curtis Bonk, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, John Seely Brown and many others advocating for open courses, understanding the technology that it takes to make this vision happen as well as advocates for social networking. In addition to this the credibility given to University of the People via its receiving support from the United Nations and Peer to Peer. In addition to this we are seeing a push for education on a scale, globally that we have never before seen, an economy that can no longer support the expense of traditional education, a coming tide of retirements by faculty and administrators from educational institutions, and a universal realization that education IS lifelong if one is to keep current with trends in his/her occupation.