Archive for October, 2012

#oped12 Want to read more on OER?

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

There is a lot out there - particularly about OER Africa.

Here a list with some recent publications.

  1. A special issue on Distance Education for Empowerment and Development in Africa including Catherine Ngugi’s paper on OER in Africa’s higher education institutions.
  2. The Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO have just published Open Educational Resources and Change in Higher Education
  3. An empirical investigation of the emergent issues around OER adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa by Pauline Ngimwaa & Tina Wilson
  4. The OER mix in higher education: purpose, process, product, and policy by Samuel Nikoi & Alejandro Armellini from the special issue on OER and Social Inclusion
  5. CORRE: a framework for evaluating and transforming teaching materials into open educational resources by Samuel K. Nikoi, Tania Rowlett, Alejandro Armellini & Gabi Witthaus
  6. Special Issue: Open Educational Resources from 2009 (!) of Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning
  7. OER Knowledge Cloud

My favorite clearly is the Knowledge Cloud. I guess I am having my girlie 5 minutes - the logo does look a bit like a cloud. But mostly I like the idea of this website. Go and have a look!

Now the big prize question is: are all these papers also available off-campus OR are they “protected” and safely stored behind a login?? Wouldn’t that be ironic, to say the least…

I will try as soon as I get home and I will report back. I promise. :)

#oped12 Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials, part I

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials
Not very cohesive, basically my the notes I took while reading.

“The critical change is that social production based on commons, rather than property, has become a significant force in the economy.”

Interesting examples for the impact of the commons, or the crowd, as it has been called recently. The first and foremost is obviously the open source software movement. Google considering in their algorithm the activities of webmasters linking pages and Yahoo! being replaced by The Open Directory Project are not so much movements, but still the influence of commons. And I like the example of the Slashdot technology news site.

Now to the question whether educational material can be produced if not with a crowd, then with peers. This question has two main aspects: quality and access4all.

I didn’t know that the K-12 textbook market in the US is dominated by less than a handful of publishers! And on top of that,  decisions in school administration of 3 states (California, Texas and Florida),  are decisions for a 1/4 (!) of all US textbooks. Economies of scales mean that those textbooks are used in the rest of the US as well. That surely makes life easier for lobbying. Unfortunate taht the three states seem to have very different cultures and so the books represent the lowest common denominator. Interesting question: “To what extent is it possible to use commons-based production of educational resources, and in particular peer production that pools the resources of teachers and interested members of the public more generally, to produce a much more varied and high-quality set of materials out of which teachers and schools could weave their own tapestries for their students?”

And the next question is, whether peer produced material can provide access to education to those who cannot afford textbooks. I recommend to have a look at OER Africa.

Economics of information - providing information does not cost anything once it has been produced. Open content is not new: a lot of free knowledge exchange has traditionally been connected to social activities and non-experts: amateur choirs, book clubs, any specialist hobby group on birds, stamps, history. Open Innovation immediately comes to mind.. Companies successfully involved in open innovation are very good at collaborating with other companies as well. This commons-based innovation is built on an important principle: take ideas from commons, use them to create something new and then give that new something back to the commons.
Peer production is not only commons-based, but also requires coordination of a number of people involved. Instead of motivation being triggered by monetary incentives or coordination depending on order and command, they depend on social rules and interaction.

Again open source as an exmaple: for peer-based (e.g. Linux) and commons based software of individual developers. Similarly for open education: individuals create commons based resources, a peer-based mechanisms helps assess, maintain and enhance, so they can be accessed as a coherent course or rather than a random collection of materials.

I wonder, does it make sense to evaluate the learning experience of single OERs? Although an OER can be a textbook as well as a single image - doesn’t a learning experience require more than just reading a book or playing one game? Learning has so many aspects; experience, practice, study, being taught, discussing with others, explaining to others.

Why OERs?

Cost reduction - save time and resources for putting together a primer or textbook

Manpower - the internet makes resources and information easily accessible and people have a lot of time spare time. Even with different levels of knowledge and creativity this is an unbeatable potential.

This resource allows niche information markets to grow, because it only takes a few of these peole with their time resources to create something. Topics are not overturned by the cash cows such as superstars, broadcast news or aforementioned lobbied textbooks.

Motivation. Interesting - what motivates people? I expect it to be a mix of the search of recognition by peers, the satisfaction of having produced something and the enjoyment of collaboration.

Alright, I forgot money as a motivator - but it apparently isn’t working well as a motivator. And there is no songle motivator, not for anyone and even less for all of us. It depends on the context. True - who would enjoy cooking dinner for a friend more because they offer money for it? Well, I wouldn’t…

Being connected through the internet not only allows easy access to material, but enables easy collaboration.

Yes, I agree: the problem therefore is ultimately not a lack of resources, but rather how to filter them, search for them and establish a certain quality level.

Take Google page rank: let the crowd do the quality assessment.
As a business model: Linux Red Hat; it is just a matter of packaging the right selection.
Giving back by providing a platform for community, share and expand the original resource. Creative commons license recommended: credit for creator, two-tiered pricing (commercial, non-commercial users)
Helps to integrate a company into the community and vice versa and avoids seeing each other as a threat.

Typical in academic environments: self-archiving and standard tagging of materials. Besides the advantages this may cause some challenges.

Self-archiving: visibility of resources. The Open Archives Initiative can help. Standard tags support easy search.

Or open access self-accession archives like ArXiv, which provides open access to 792,313 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics. Wow!!

Collecting and accessing opbjects is one, the simpler, task. Creating a system for filtering and accrediation is more difficult. Again some peer-based projects are trying to solve this. Company-based initiatives by Altavista, Lycos, Yahoo! combined algorithms with human beings. Thgen google came along, using peer production instead. Now it looks like the success strategy needs to make creators also peer reviewers and accreditation provider. Accreditation has to be built into the aggregation, together with tools for users and creators of materials alike, allowing to comment, rank, categorize and modify content.

Wow - a lot of ideas in only half the paper… TBC

#oped12 OERs and Low Riders and some more

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

OERs and Low Riders
“Centrally organized open educational initiatives have a single point of failure: funding.”
I expected that much.

“There is a solution: systemization.”
What does that mean? If I understood it correct, the author complains that openness is applied at a point in time when the important decisions have been made: for example the curriculum is not open for discussion.

What does all that mean for the EU ICT Call 11? The call asks for proposals for Holistic learning solutions (here is an example for creative writing..); they actually mean projects for “managing, reaching and engaging learners in the public administrations. The use of open education resources as well as open source learning and rapid application development tools is encouraged.”

To come back to the initial question: it can mean, that openness in education has to be open for changes of the curriculum - a lot easier for workplace training than for 3rd level education.
All this reminds me a bit of software product lines. Develop a core set of features and branch off depending on individual needs. That might be an idea. Any thoughts?

#oped12 It is week 5 already?? No, worse, it is week 6!

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Working my way through the week 5; OMG week 6 is almost over already..

So what are the learning objectives again?
- Describe differences between peer-produced and expert-based educational resources

That should be inetersting. Is it about who does the better job or whether you actually still need the experts? We or I shall see..

- Detail impact of OER development models on resource quality

So we are looking at quality. I’m really curious to see what the literature presents on that aspect.. Speaking of literature: obviously it will be intersting what kind of resources present which position :)

- Analyze organizational impact of OERs on universities

Not only interested in impact on universities alone - but I guess, since it is a course on Open Education we are mostly talking about formal secondary and 3r level education.

#oped12 - OER conference next spring

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I just went over the conferences & journals I’d like to submit to in the coming months. Here is a conference, that might be interesting for everyone on the MOOC Openness in Education: OER13. The conference is in Nottingham, UK next spring.

The deadline for submissions is October 31 - almost a full month to go! Typing this, I realize I have fallen behind schedule with my writing. I’ll try to catch up until next week…