Monday, April 29, 2013

Three Key Issues for Open Educational Resources #H817

What is meant by Open Educational Resources (OER)?

“Open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes”- UNESCO

“Open Education Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials freely available for everyone to use, whether you are a teacher or a learner. This includes full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.” –OER commons

The free sharing of teaching and learning materials that is now possible because of advances in digital technology also has a number of challenges.  I am looking at these challenges through the lens of medical education.   

1)     Accessibility of Open Learning Resources

Hatakka described a number of barriers for the reuse of OER in developing countries including finding suitable material and having difficulty accessing material because of lack of technical resources (computers, bandwidth, internet access) (1)  The multitude of resources in many different places can make it difficult to know where to look for resources in developed countries as well.  Increasingly there are repositories of OER for a particular discipline.  For example in medicine, one could go to Med Ed portal or to African Health OER to look for teaching materials.  The lack of technical resources is more challenging as it relates to resources and poverty.  Technology however continues to advance and mobile phone technology may offer additional options for accessing information.

2)     Adaptation of Open Learning Resources

Learning resources often need to be adapted because of language, cultural or situational context, difficulty level or context.  Questions that arise include:

Can the learning resource be adapted?  This question includes whether the creator given permission for adaptation through a mechanism such as Creative Commons licensing.  Creative Commons is used in Med Ed Portal to allow for free adaptation of resources while acknowledging the original creator.   This question also refers to whether the technology and the expertise are available to modify a resource.  For example it may be difficult to modify a video while it would be easy to modify a Power Point presentation.

What is the learning value adapting a learning resource?  Learning resources are often adapted by teachers to better meet the needs of their students.  Adapting a resource may also be a learning experience for the teacher or the student. As Leinonen et al described in the Wikiversity paper, focusing on building a wiki, adapting and changing content is itself a learning experience.   Students learn when they create or modify learning resources.

3)     Effectiveness of Open Learning Resources

Much still needs to be learned about what makes a learning resource effective.  McGill et al (page 28) provided a nice mindmap from the National Symposium of Learning Resources Repositories to begin to think about measuring effectiveness beyond “number of downloads”.  These include measures such as satisfaction, quality, benchmarking, cultural change as well downloads, referencing and stories.  As with many things that are worth evaluating, it won’t be easy.

1)     Albright, P. (2005) UNESCO (IIEP): Final forum report. 2008-09-01

2)     Hatakka, M. (2009), ‘Build it and they will come? – Inhibiting factors for reuse of open content in developing countries’, in EJISDC - The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol. 37, n. 5, pp. 1-16

3)     Leinonen, T., Vadén, T. and Suoranta, J. (2009) 'Learning in and with an open wiki project: Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building' First Monday, Volume 14, Number 2 - 2 February 2009

4)     McGill, L, Currier, S, Duncan, C and Douglas, P (2008)  Good Intentions: Improving the Evidence Base in Support of Sharing Learning Materials.

Relevant  Websites:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A MOOC Comparison #h817Open

#H817Open Week 4- Activity 14

A MOOC Comparison:

 Digital Storytelling (DS106) and E-learning & Digital Culture (EDCMOOC)

In the interest of full disclosure, I was a participant in E-learning and Digital Culture and it was from that course’s twitter feed that I learned about H817 Open Education.  I was interested in doing the comparison because my experience in EDCMOOC transformed the way I viewed e-learning.  I have not been a participant in DS106, at least not yet, but I did go to the DS106 site, reviewed some of the webpages and listened to the professors discuss the creation and results of the first year of the course.

This activity is designed to compare the technology, pedagogy and general approach and philosophy between a  cMOOC (connectivist MOOC) and an xMOOC (cognitivist MOOC) but as with most things, labels don’t capture the wonder and messiness of it all.   These courses were interesting to compare because they both have as their subject “Who we are as Humans in a Digital World?”. 

DS 106 had defined learning objectives: 1)  Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression 2) Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking 3)Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres.  While the learning goals were set, the content of the course changed and evolved based on the suggestions and skills of the participants.  For example, participants were encouraged to submit their own learning assignments.  As they explored different media for self-expression, one participant developed a DS106 radio station, which became an important part of the course.  The emphasis of the course was on experiential learning through creation using multiple types of media and learning from each other was the expectation.  Indeed the community did create the curriculum as one might expect in a connectivist MOOC.

EDCMOOC suggested that learners develop their own learning goals that might include 1) gaining new perspectives on e-learning; 2) experiencing a MOOC; 3)networking with some of the fascinating people from all over the world who are signed up; 4) experimenting with digital and visual ways of representing academic knowledge; and 5)exploring the connections between education, learning and digital cultures.  The content however was set and learners were encouraged to share reflections through blog posts or social media.  Creation of a digital artifact at the end of the course was the learning assessment to receive a certificate for the course.  Learning from each other was an explicit expectation of EDCMOOC as well through use of the blog aggregator in inclusion of a twitter feed.  In addition other social media such as Google+ and Facebook were encouraged.  A number of students developed personal learning networks, quad-blogged, and used Google hangouts.   Weekly twitter chats were organized by students in which students would mentor others to be facilitators.   There was structure for the content (though no video lectures as is characteristic of Coursera MOOCs) and yet the instructors did create an environment that encouraged collaboration and learning from each other.  Because the structure was different from most Coursera courses, some participants were unsure of expectations and what their role was and the role of the instructors.

These courses differed  in duration and in philosophy of assessment.  DS106 seems to have evolved into an on-going community as well as a course where students are welcome to drop in at any time and contribute.  “First of all, in ds106, there are multiple levels of participation- but most importantly, it is designed so you can pick and choose the when and where. We expect NO APOLOGIES for not being able to participate when other parts of life intrude. There is no concept in ds106 of “dropping out” c.f. Groom, Jim (2010-present), “ds106 is #4life”.  EDCMOOC was a five week course though the social media sites as well as the course archive remain open. 

DS106 did not do any assessment of its open students with the philosophy that what you learn is the reward.  “More than just the cliché sense, ds106 is a community that is made better from the ideas and contributions of the people who come inside that door.  We do not give out badges or certifications, the creations you do, the connections you make with other, and just the experience of challenging yourself to tell stories is its own reward.”  One of the questions for DS106 is what will the evolution of this learning community be. 

EDCMOOC culminated in peer assessment of a digital artifact.  This was initially designed to be an exercise where you would receive a certificate of completion if you submitted an artifact and assessed three other people, it evolved into the possibility of “completion with distinction” if you were scored high enough by your peers.  The certificate of completion and the assessment process were viewed as important components by both the instructors and by many of the participants.  One of the questions for EDCMOOC and for xMOOCs in general is that of assessment : What should one measure and how? Is there a role for peer assessment? For automated assessment?   Assessment is linked to certification especially as some certificates become eligible for college or continuing education credit.

Both courses have some similar questions.  What should the role of the instructor be in a course where the expertise and knowledge of students help to shape or in fact create the course?  Who are the MOOC students and what digital literacy do they bring? 

While not a connectivist MOOC because the learners did not create the curriculum, EDCMOOC did foster community for many, despite using an xMOOC platform (Coursera).  Though some learners were confused by the different format and expectations, many others embraced the experience of learning from their peers.  

DS 106
Coursera- EDCMOOC
Web-platform- Independent website with enrolled university students having to do assignments on the University Canvas LMS
Multi-media potential with weekly assignments
Web-platform- Coursera framework with add-ons for twitter feed, blog aggregator
Discussion forums were set up as standard Coursera framework
On-going community-
Rejection of need for badges/recognition. “ We do not give out badges or certifications, the creations you do, the connections you make with other, and just the experience of challenging yourself to tell stories is its own reward”
5 week course though the twitter feed and social media communities are still available as is the course archive
Credit based on completion of a digital artifact.  Assessment done by peer review, with distinction a certain grade receiving “with distinction”
◦general approach /philosophy.
Enrolled students and open participants – no distinction initially in course or participation involvement except open participants were not graded.
Course changed based on input from community-
Expectation of high participation, creation of assignments, student leadership
Focus on digital story-telling and establishment of digital identity
Set learning objectives with emerging, changing content
Enrolled students and open participants- with enrolled students having to a small degree a “teaching assistant role” and providing examples of digital artifacts
Openess re: process from Hangouts with professor and their blogs
Encouraged alternate ways of building community via social networking.
Students reflected on various digital representations and were grounded in history and theory of digital culture and then were asked to create a digital artifact.
Goals to be set by the learner  with stable content
Questions being asked
Interest in analytics of who participates
Role of the instructor?
What will be the evolution of the community?
Interest in analytics of who participates
Role of the instructor?
Peer assessment process?