Wednesday, 18 June 2014

#OER on higher ed, corporate, personal & #development

Thanks to my new contact Vivienne Bozalek from UWC, I got redirected to ROER4D (Open Educational Resources for the Global South or for development). She shared an interesting talk with Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. And as I was listening to this 30 minute talk, another OER movie caught my attention: Using OER for workforce development which was presented by Una Daly from the Open CourseWare Consortium. Which led to the OER use in an open course, which is (among others) done and shared by the Tompkins Courtland Community College through the Kaleidoscope project. This in term reminded my of a talk given by Stephen Downes on the MOOC of one, which in a small (but to me relevant way) links OER to personal learning environments. And that made the circle full from my perspective: global, local / personal and institutional / higher ed and corporate ... you cannot deny that OER has taken up speed, and has grown in importance. This of course turns the internet into a global content that can be tailored by all of us, to result in learning paths (personally relevant learning paths).

Learning paths for sharing 
One of the learning paths is to provide customized, or better yet curated content, but there are easier/quicker options as well, and one that sticks to mind (I saw this while I visited Quallcom in Cambridge) was Pathgather, a nice piece of software that enables people to map where they found/find useful content for their purposes, and which they can rate. From there other colleagues/networking peers can check out those shared learning paths and rate them in turn, to indicate how useful the path is for their own professional or personal development. But ... Pathgather is not an open educational resource or OER, nor is it Open Source, so it cannot (yet) be used in the open. Would like to see something similar in the open though. If anyone knows of such a tool, feel free to share.

OER, the movies, with brief focus
Here are some of the movies I have been listening to, and brief ideas or interests from each (there is much more content of interest in every one of those movies of course!). And a brief wrap up at the end, on why I find this interesting.

ROER4D started (2012) as a project to see whether the claims being made by OER were actually true and could help the global south (increasing access to Higher Education, reducing costs, improving content quality in education, due to a shortage of teachers in the global south and lack of resources). And as most work is being done in the global North, there is a gap of proof and testing those claims. Another objective to look at ROER4D is to get a network going (next to testing the claims) in order to bridge the isolated spaces the current OER academics are in (for the global south, miles from conferences), and build a research capacity on OER in the global South. A wonderful thing about ROER4D is that they want to open ALL data, not only results, but the full process in order to provide this research capacity and insight (NICE!). Cheryll also mentioned some of the challenges and issues on ROER4D on global South: increasing amount of students, financial constraints and resulting pressure on educational institutions. Part of the challenge is about also keeping the research capacity inside of the global South (stop braindrain) and at the same time offer real insights into methodologies, analysis... and possibly allow the global South to develop contextualized methodologies from there.

Moving from ROER4D to corporate use of OER in training
Important focus on community colleges from which students need to enter the job world, and need to understand how to be able to keep up with workforce development. From the labour department (US) they did push the agenda to create more OER for US based workforce development. There are increasingly more entrepreneurial schools, and they develop OER. Una also covers IP and copyright licensing options, as well as cost reduction options by using OER. Una also shares some good OER coming from government resources in the Public domain : NASA, Department of Labor, department of energy (all US). But she does mention that not much is known in the public about these high quality OER provided by government. She also shares the resources site (how to present yourself, where to search for jobs...), they currently have 23 courses on workforce development.

And then moving to OER for personal learning environments
The interest of this talk by Stephen Downes (INTED2014) is about the selection each learner makes when following online education that offers a big amount of content (OER). And to look at organic learner dynamics as a space that can be used for OER. Stephen also focuses on the learner, but specifically the process that becomes ever more important to learners to understand what they need to do/have in order to become critical learners using OER (and non-OER). A nice concept launched is the semiotic approach: the learner trying to make sense of the world (meaning, context, representation), and in addition the critical/digital capacities being made by the learner for personal use (trying to make sense of our own experience, knowledge). And in sharing among all of us, concepts are constructed, OER take shape. Multiple viewpoints to create meaning, but looking at it from the personal perspective.

The open course
This short (5 min) video shows the process and adoption of an open course, as it was experienced by the Tompkins Courtland Community College through the Kaleidoscope project.

My thoughts on why this is interesting
Now why do I find all of this of interest? (aside from the obvious benefit of OER being there for all of us). I find it interesting because it is an evolution that affects or will affect all of us, in a strange - come together kind of way. If all of us develop OER, or curated content, then we are all recreating the internet by populating it with meaningful content built on the shoulders of giants (which means all of us with our expertise in our own contextualized environments). That is a sweet thing. For this also means that all that ever matters is no longer in us, but outside of us and each of our living space, it is in a layer build by shared meaning. Following an online course, is by definition open (as not all the material is sent to you, and as such a closed content package), and becomes part of a discussion by all interested parties (positive and negative). The interesting tension is between the individual and the joint-us, I have my own needs and contextualized expertise, but the built upon content is from the collective. No longer of the one singular institute, corporation...