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Introducing TOUCANS to OERten

November 4, 2011

On 9th and 10th November, I will be attending the OERu Anchor Partner Meeting virtually. In a Skype call with Wayne Mackintosh last Friday, we discussed the possibility of me having a few minutes on the programme to introduce the TOUCANS project to the OERten network. In the meantime, I’ll use this blog entry to summarise what the project is about and why it may be of interest to OERten members.
Continued at http://toucansproject.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/introducing-toucans-t-oerten/
Via toucansproject.wordpress.com

TOUCANS OERu research project takes off

October 24, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

I have been lucky enough to be awarded a SCORE fellowship, which I am doing from my base at the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester, with the support of the Open University. This is one of several such UK-based research projects being funded by HEFCE. (See http://www.open.ac.uk/score.) The project is called TOUCANS, and will focus on perceptions and attitudes towards the Open Educational Resources university (http://wikieducator.org/Oeru) within the UK Higher Education sector, and will hopefully generate some recommendations for institutions that are considering participating in the OERu.   The project will run until the end of June 2012, and I’ll be blogging about it here (http://www.scoop.it/t/open-learning-news), along with other open learning news items as usual.   See http://www.le.ac.uk/toucans for more details.
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Blackboard to add support for CC Attribution – Creative Commons

October 20, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

Many blogs and tweets today about Blackboard’s announcement at Educause 2011 that they are going to add a “Share” button, which will enable academics/ instructors to add a Creative Commons licence to anything they upload to the VLE, and simultaneously publish their materials on the open Web. All with just one click.   I think this will make a huge difference to academics who are interested in OERs but a bit overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of producing and publishing their teaching materials openly. And it could send the leadership of many institutions into a flurry of policy-making to try to control what gets published in their names. It’s bound to get a bit messy, but if more commercial VLEs/ LMSs follow Blackboard’s example, the end result can only be more activve involvement by senior management in the open access movement, and more academics taking responsibility for producing OERs. Which has to be a good thing.   Interesting though, that amongst all the happy blogs and tweets, there is one on the “OER Facebook wall” that retweets @OER_Center, who say that an article by The Chronicle on this development is “misleading”… They say: “Co-optation of #OER by Bb or misunderstanding? http://bit.ly/pAwrZD.” Please can someone explain?  
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So Pearson is offering a free LMS… “freer than Moodle”

October 13, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news
Vying to reshape dynamics of e-learning market, Pearson announces cloud-based learning management system that is “absolutely free” — hosting and support included.   Pearson is planning to offer a free, cloud-based LMS, along with user support, with a view to pushing sales of their digital content. A risky strategy, and a sign of an interesting shift in the publishing industry. When we did the DUCKLING project (www.le.ac.uk/duckling) at Leicester University two years ago, we could find only one publisher (Routledge) that was willing and able to provide one (and only one) of the recommended TESOL textbooks as a downloadable e-book for our e-book reader pilot. Although Pearson’s free LMS indicates a shift towards provision of more digital content, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are planning to offer more textbooks in e-book format: the aim is apparently to try to sell online support materials for traditional textbook content.   As for the free LMS, I think I’d stick to Moodle if I had the choice. Open-source code, supported by a paid tech support person or team, sounds preferable to cost-free but closed code, supported by a company that needs to profit from me in some other way in order to continue offering the freebies.   Thanks to @oldaily Stephen Downes for this link.  
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Openness and learning design in Higher Education: an online seminar on 26 Oct

October 12, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

Speakers at this seminar include Grainne Conole, Alejandro Armellini and Terese Bird from the University of Leicester, as well as Vic Jenkins from the University of Bath and Peter Chatterton from the University of Hertfordshire. I will be co-moderating, along with Palitha Edirisingha here in Leicester, and Brenda Padilla-Rodriguez in Mexico. The focus is on how openness is influencing learning design.   It’s free and open – more details available at http://tinyurl.com/elks-ostrich-seminar. The recording will also be made available via this URL after the event.  
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Sustaining OER Activity – A SCORE event at The Open University

October 12, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

On 17 Nov, the SCORE people at the OU will be hosting an event looking at the past, present and future of OER activity, and what it will take for all of us involved in OERs to make this activity sustainable.   This is an important question. David Wiley may have given a clue to the answer in his recent keynote address (see http://bit.ly/rliovG). He emphasised the importance of making openness work for our own institutions. This isn’t how all OER projects work – many of them have been more outward-facing – although, oddly, without any defined audience other than a hoped-for mass of prospective students. So… a shift towards meeting existing institutional needs via open practices would be something of a paradigm shift – and would, I think, make our OER activity more self-sustaining.   
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Openness, Disaggregation and the Future of Education – keynote by David Wiley

October 12, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

David Wiley opened the 2009 Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology with a thought provoking keynote presentation on open education.   A few gems from this 50-minute video:   – David says focusing on how openness will benefit “us” (i.e. our own institutions, as opposed to some vaguely defined common good) is going to be the key to successful open practice.   – He has invited successive cohorts of students to contribute to curriculum decisions in a wiki over the last five years, but hasn’t had any contributions from students in all that time. Why? Something to do with the power dynamics between teacher and students?   – Institutions are falling back on their policies to defend tradition, rather than creating policy frameworks or policy petri dishes where interesting things can grow.   – We need to close the ‘daily divide’ between learning and the rest of our students’ lives. Otherwise students will Google to find alternatives, and if our institution doesn’t appear on Google (with OERs), it may as well not exist.   Thanks to Luis Rafael Armario (http://lshchange2011.blogspot.com/2011/10/change11-david-wileys-keynote-on-open.html) for the link.
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Survey on the creation, use and reuse of OERs (ORIOLEproject)

August 1, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

Chris Pegler’s survey on the creation, use and reuse of open educational resources (http://orioleproject.blogspot.com/2011/07/survey-last-call.html) has been extended to the end of August. It takes about 30 minutes to fill in, and some of the questions are quite thought-provoking This is a worthwhile project to contribute to, and the results will help us all to be better informed about perceptions and practices around openness in higher education.
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Honestly, what is the business case for OERs?

July 28, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

David Wiley was with us at a meeting of SCORE fellows at the Open University this morning, talking about the role of Creative Commons licences in education. He started by asking us to brainstorm the main differences between book-based publishing and internet-based publishing. From the list we generated, he highlighted these advantages to the latter: – No cost to make copies – No cost to distribute materials – Materials are editable – Copies made electronically are perfect – Distribution is instantaneous All these affordances could revolutionise education; however, they fly in the face of copyright law, thereby preventing us from giving our students the best possible learning experiences. There was general agreement in the room on this point. Then the conversation turned to the trickier question that Amber from JISC recently asked: what is (really) the business case for open educational resources? The benefits of openness may be obvious to us as educators, but what are the grounds for institutions to “buy in” (literally) to the whole idea? This question generated some animated discussion, and some persuasive arguments, the main points of which are summarised below:

1) David told us about an experiment at Brigham Young University where they made the complete set of learning materials openly available for a handful of programmes, in order to test whether enrolment of fee-paying students would drop, as is widely hypothesised. In fact, the findings showed that there was no significant impact on paid enrolment. Actually there was a slight, but statistically insignificant, increase in enrolment in these courses. (Link to David’s paper on this to be added asap.)

2) David also presented a moral argument for publishing learning/ teaching materials as OERs, on the grounds that HE institutions are operating on State funds. (I’m not so sure about that though: while we may be receiving State funds for much of our research, the same can’t always be said for teaching and related activities.)

3) Andy Lane, from the Open University, pointed out that as the OER movement gains momentum, if our institutions don’t openly publish their teaching materials as OERs, someone else will. (The implication being that the “someone else” will benefit from the increased web presence and promotion of their expertise.)

4) Andy also noted that the cost of materials production for large universities in the UK is in the hundreds of millions of pounds, although most universities have not attempted to measure the staff time that is spent on producing materials. Sharing resources between institutions is the obvious way to free staff from the time-consuming work of producing PowerPoint slides, PDFs and other materials, thereby enabling them to spend more time supporting students.

5) One more argument was offered by Antonio Martinez from Leeds, who pointed out that one aspect of added value for fee-paying students is the “student experience”, which includes having the opportunity to meet and communicate with the authors of openly published resources.

And so… it turns out there are some very good reasons for institutions to invest in openness.

Basic Guide to OERs (UNESCO & CoL): a great e-book

July 27, 2011

Via Scoop.itOpen learning news

This looks like an excellent guide to open educational resources for newcomers to the field, and it also contains very useful, detailed information for old hands, such as the appendices giving an overview of OER repositories and search engines around the world. Very clearly written and covers all the essential information about Creative Commons licences, how and where to find OERs, how to publish OERs, as well as a section on making the case for OERs. Great work by author Neil Butcher and editors Asha Kanwar (Commonwealth of Learning) and Stamenka Uvalic´-Trumbic´ (UNESCO).
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