SI521 "Open Educational Resources at the University of Michigan" Open Textbook/Class Materials/Opening Up Education
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Reviews: Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge
Reviews (place your first reviews here)
These are the reviews from the assignment: Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge, Ed. Toru Iiyoshi and M. S. Vijay Kumar http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11309 Place a 2-4 paragraph review of the chapter you chose up on the wiki by midnight Tuesday.
Chapter 3: The Gates are Shut: Technical and Cultural Barriers to Open Education
by Stuart D. Lee
(Mdesjardin 22:23, 13 January 2009 (UTC))
Stuart D. Lee identifies barriers major technical and cultural barriers to the adoption of open education initiatives at the university level at the institutional and individual levels, and seeks to explain how the current situation came into being. He also explores ways in which we can reverse the policies and attitudes that prevent open access to education.
According to Lee, the way in which commercial learning management systems (LMSs) are implemented is a major technical barrier for open education. Lee describes these systems as those in which “educational resources ... are controlled, managed, restricted, and channeled.” (p. 50) Most LMSs fit users into single, strictly defined and limited roles within the system, which then dictate which actions and resources those users have access to. This prevents instructors from implementing courses in which students contribute or edit course materials or act as peer tutors in the LMS. Their closed nature also prevents opening up education beyond the institution itself, as the public cannot authenticate to get access to educational resources. Lee suggests a solution to these types of closed systems in the Bodington LMS, implemented at Oxford University. This flexible, open LMS assumes that permissions are attached to resources rather than people, and are available openly unless marked otherwise, thus allowing access from outside the institution and multiple, flexible roles for users within the system.
The second major barrier to open education in the university is cultural resistance to openness and sharing. Lee observes that much of the reluctance to share materials stems from fear of being sued for copyright infringement. Moreover, faculty lack institutional incentives to engage in the considerable overhead involved in preparing a course for sharing online. Despite this, Lee finds that on the individual level many faculty are willing to share their educational resources online, especially if it will further their disciplines. Lee advocates taking advantage of this desire among academics to further their disciplines and participate in a discipline-based community in order to persuade more faculty to share their work openly.
Lee argues persuasively that in order for open education initiatives to succeed, there must be support from both policymakers and individual faculty. In particular, he identifies the selection of an LMS (and associated IT systems) based on the needs of open access as key on the policy level, while also arguing for the importance of creating faculty buy-in by taking advantage of their expressed willingness to share educational materials.
Reviewed by Meico Whitlock
In his treatment of open education, Stuart Lee, Director of Computing Services at University of Oxford, notes that over the past hundred years or so, education has steadily progressed in the direction of systematically removing barriers to access. Such progress has included addressing social issues such as class privilege, moving from a mono-disciplinary approach to an interdisciplinary one, and the current push to harness new technologies to realize open education. Despite much advancement in the field, “all is not well.” That is, recent technical and political events have brought more challenges to the forefront.
As it concerns the technical challenges, Lee points out the example of the commercial learning management systems (LMSs) used by many institutions. Though many of these systems originated from academic projects, many of these projects are now large corporations whose main customer base is commercial online training. Consequently, LMSs are not necessarily optimized for traditional learning communities. An example of this shortcoming would be the inability of users to take on multiple roles, such as a student being able to take on the role of both a tutor and student. The author also raises concerns about ‘controlled access,’ particularly as it concerns being able to access information about disciplines other than ones own or gain entry to resources from other institutions. The key to tackling this problem is to ensure that the underlying “pedagogical principles” of the institution drive the selection of the platform. In the case of the open education movement, such principles should encompass a commitment to openness.
Regarding cultural barriers, Lee cites two major issues. The first concerns copyright and intellectual property rights. That is, the use of LMSs raises the specter of legal action and other sanctions when sharing content; one that is not readily visible in the analog world of photocopied handouts or the digital world as it concerns traditional uses of lecture slides. The second issue revolves around general attitudes about sharing information. In general, academics are willing to share; however, they often do not for fear of criticism or litigation and lack of incentives. The key to address this matter is to ensure authors and users alike are protected from litigation and criticism and providing the proper incentives such as furthering their discipline.
On the whole, Lee provides a clear overview of the history of educational progress during the last century. He notes that while great strides have been made, there still exist many challenges to address. The key to addressing such challenges is to examine our fundamental attitudes and philosophies about education and to ensure that policy, technology, and other relevant factors reflect these values and not vice versa.
Chapter 4: Does an Open Source Strategy Matter? Lessons Learned from The iLabs Project
by Philip D. Long and Stephen C. Ehrmann
This chapter deals with the expectations of open sourceware programs in higher education, specifically iLabs (a remote open source experimentation module developed at MIT). Various expectations and issues are discussed, including the hindrance of open sourceware dissemination, eventual profit-making regarding open sourceware such as iLabs, funding for such programs, as well as the difficulties in troubleshooting iLabs in its infancy. The authors begin the chapter with a background of the iLabs project, describing the circumstances surrounding Jesus del Alamo’s first attempt at the design of the software. Following the history of Alamo’s creation, Long and Ehrmann move on to descriptions of how this particular piece of open sourceware functions. The strength of the iLabs project is that students can not only use very complex equipment without actually having contact with it, they can also see digital results on their own computers and use these results to adjust their experiments.
As a piece of open source software, Alamo and others who concurrently developed their own versions of remote lab software are hoping that universities across the country and, eventually, the world will be able to apply this tool to allow their students the added benefits of iLab software(64). Possibly one of the most interesting pieces of the article is a discussion of what the University of Queensland (UQ) is accomplishing with the software. UQ has successfully used the iLabs software and equipment set ups for remote experimentation, and in the process not only allowed more teams of students to take part in an experiment, but has increased the percentage of teams who typically complete the experiment from 5 percent to 30 percent(69).
Though the title of the chapter leads the reader to believe that the discussion present revolves around the idea of the project’s open source status, the discussion of the issues of leaving the iLabs project open source begins toward the end of the chapter. The main ideas discussed here are almost entirely dependent on the idea that neither MIT nor Alamo are making money from iLabs, and how that affects the project’s development. The author’s don’t think that it is necessary that a program like iLabs be open source, mainly because they believe open sourceware presents a natural obstacle to long term maintenance and development to academic software similar to iLabs(73). That natural obstacle, according to the authors, is that lack of long term corporate interest that would provide the financial and physical support needed to maintain a large scale, long term version of iLab software.
(Bryanbir 15:12, 13 January 2009)
Chapter 5: Evaluating the Results of Open Education
by Edward Walker
The goal of the open education movement is to provide education that is both more efficient and effective. It should have higher quality and produce more satisfying results than traditional “closed” education. One of the things that has not been done to the extent that it should is evaluating if open education is meeting these goals. So far the trend has been to show differences from the existing form of education, but not necessarily how it is measurably different.
The evaluations that are performed should meet three criteria. They should use measures that are meaningful. This can be done by having the evaluation be performed by experts, publishing the criteria, and measure it under conditions of normal use. The measures should also be quantified metrics (have a number value), so that comparison between options is easily possible. Finally, the method used to collect and analyze the data must be trustworthy to users.
To prove that open education is meeting its goals, Walker recommends a method for the evaluating experts to follow: perform activities, gather data, and interpret the data. The activities that may be performed are studies and projects (short term, not intended to produce a product), trials and experiments (to reduce the risk of full-scale implementation), and the use of the actual products or services. From these activities, data should be gathered on performance, cost, benefit, and risk. The data must finally be interpreted to show how it supports the link between cause (openness) and effect (higher quality education). (Josh O.)
Chapter 6: Educational Abundance
by Eric Hansen
This chapter addresses the issue that mortifies so many English teachers: that the methodology we professional products of a model that the authors discuss, the model of “scarcity,” has become outdated under our noses. A system of of safe checks-and-balances so long inherent in higher education, a system predicated on the slow transmission of peer-reviewed information has given way to the very attractive model of individual opinion. It is hardly the authors’ point that the barbarians are at the gate; Wikipedia will will not destroy Western Civilization. Their goal is to indicate that culturally, specifically in terms of academic culture, we have rapidly transitioned from famine to feast. Inexperienced information users need to learn discernment, but a couple of vital questions are “How can instructors teach students good research methodology?” and “How can academics avoid being overcome in the same way that students are, by what the authors refer to as a ‘bewildering . . . abundance of information and interaction opportunities(90)’”?
The current response to this sea-change is a “remix,” in which the professionals who envision designated physical learning spaces, and software, and by implication instructors who write course materials (a sort of paper proto-software) must account for the dizzying array of resources that could suddenly prove vital in the middle of an academic year, a term, even an essay cycle. This is how quickly the dynamics of information can change; suddenly the student may find himself using a resource many times more effective and time-saving than the experts’ preferred modes.
This is a terrifically libertarian notion, an extension of the perhaps overly optimistic notion from times gone by that, “with a library card I don’t need to go to college.” The proliferation of these readily available resources has assailed academic elitism with the force of sheer numbers, although not always the brunt of high quality arguments. However, the chapter also illustrates that information professionals cannot discount the interactions between users of various degrees of professionalism: that student peers learn from one another, for good and sometimes ill; but also, and this fact is stunningly important, that professionals are more thoroughly exposed to the work of their graduate, lettered, tenured peers, in a way that they were not in another time. This academic discourse constructed by the development of Open Content moves academics more thoroughly into the role of peer editors, even those academics early in tenure-track, with few publishing credits.
Chapter 7: Digital Libraries, Learning Communities, and Open Education
by Clifford Lynch.
This chapter seeks to emphasize the point that access to information is not the same as access to education. It begins with a quote from Thomas Carlyle from 150 years ago, who stated that “the true university today is a collection of books.” Lynch argues that access to libraries or to information available on the web may work for some learners in some circumstances (and certainly has potential for the future), however, this is still a far cry from the organized, individualized level of education that is available in traditional models of teacher/student education.
Lynch does see some potential areas for addressing challenges to learners in the current information environments. A major problem noted is the ability of the isolated and self-directed learner to collect a coherent set of resources for education (and to have confidence that these materials will provide the payoff of skills/knowledge sought). Lynch sees a valuable beginning in the OpenCourseWare model, with large numbers of trusted course syllabi and reading lists available to the self-directed learner. Other areas of the educational experience that may be difficult in an open educational model are also noted, including: 1) Professional Socialization - ie. the ability to learn communal / group norms and communication expectations; 2) Cohort Issues, related to how large a learning cohort should be and the effect of geographic, cultural or linguistic diversity on the learning process; 3) Assessment and Certification - difficult to support through automated processes alone.
Overall, this chapter first notes the difference between information/collections and education. It then summarizes the challenges, notably economic and scale problems associated with the need for professors/teachers to organize a coherent body of information/skills and then provide confirmation of mastery of that knowledge at an individualized level. Ultimately, while seeing the value in the current set of resources and believing that directed investment can provide further learning opportunities (ie. OpenCourseWare), Lynch wants to clearly articulate “the differences between access to information resources and access to education” (p. 117). --berkleys 02:28, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Chapter 8: Open Source in Open Education: Promises and Challenges
by Christopher J. Mackie
In this chapter the author discusses the lessons learned from OSS (open source software) development and how they can be applied to OEC (open educational content) to create a sustainable model (or models) for development. The article’s key points are: “that multiple models of both OEC and OSS are possible; that each model has different strengths and weaknesses; and that the approaches one takes to sustainability will depend in important ways on the models of openness that ones wishes to encourage.” (119)
Mackie acknowledges the difficulty of defining what openness means among the OSS community, and the lack of consensus in approach. Although OSS has been used successfully in the development of software for personal use (Mozilla Firefox), there are possible shortcomings, including lack of programming expertise, lack of interest among volunteers, and lack of incentives to collaboration, that may hinder its effectiveness as a model for development of projects created for institutions. For this purpose a hybrid approach, called “directed open source” or “community source software”(CSS) may be more appropriate (Mackie 121). CSS projects, such as the Sakai collaborative learning environment, utilize elements of commercial software development in which multiple institutions partner to share development tasks, which are structured and managed in a manner similar to commercial software development, with defined roles, reporting structures, and incentives.
Keeping in mind that OEC production has key differences from OSS and CSS, the CSS model with its institutional core that can leverage the skills of university faculty and students may be more relevant to long-term OEC sustainability. Key to this plan is recruiting students as content producers and providing quality control, oversight by faculty, and incentives for participation. Ultimately, the method should be tailored to the content. For the sake of establishing the OEC movement, the author advocates remaining open-minded and supportive to differing models of OEC production, even when they conflict with one’s preferred approach.
The author pointedly does not have an answer to how to make OEC successful in the long-term. It is important to provide incentives to participants, minimize project costs, and increase participation in OEC projects, though for OEC production to become institutionalized and sustainable, the focus must be on creating an institutional culture that values and supports it. --Erin Zolkosky 06:06, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Chapter 11: Building Open Learning as a Community-based Research Activity
by Candace Thille
In this chapter Candace Thille presents an overview of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI), a subset of the Open Education movement that focuses specifically on improving teaching quality and expanding our understanding of how students learn from open resources. She identifies Open Learning as a much-needed step in bridging the gap between open content and open education, describes the collaborative methods used in initial efforts to create OLI courses, cites dramatic benefits that moving instruction online yields teachers (and thus their students), and identifies obstacles to future success.
Thille sees OLI as a logical and necessary next step to follow open content reform, given the limitations inherent in the traditional methods used to present existing materials. The traditional classroom setting in which one teacher presides over a group of students in person is simply not sustainable to keep pace with the rising demand for highly specialized and skilled workers, particularly in developing nations, she argues. While translating the instruction process online addresses much of the issue of scale, it also creates new problems that must be systematically addressed if online education is to become viable and durable. For example, a teacher's ability to intuit and intervene when students seem to be struggling with the material is potentially obstructed online. The premise underlying her discussion of OLI, then, is that Open Education Resources must be consciously designed to achieve what she calls “the complete enactment of instruction” (p 167). Essentially, if we can build any feedback loops that are lost in translation back into the virtual environment, we can more successfully migrate instruction to an online setting.
According to Thille, the goals of an OLI course are best met when an interdisciplinary team comprising “content experts, learning scientists, and software engineers”(p 167) collaborates to overcome known obstacles to students' success in a very specific subject or skill (eg stoichiometry). This collaboration is a key improvement on the traditional model of instruction, in which the teacher was often responsible for creating, evaluating, and refining instructional tools in isolation. In contrast, materials produced by Thille's method benefit from the input of professionals and even experts in these fields, without placing the undue burden of wearing all those hats on one lone individual, and leaving the instructor far more time to allocate on activities more immediately related to student engagement with the material. To illustrate these principles in action, Thille provides the example of a virtual chemistry lab that was developed, in which students were able to apply abstract concepts to real-world problems, rather than absorbing those concepts simply by reading static text. Excitingly, in trials of this virtual lab, “the number of interactions with the virtual lab outweighed all other factors including gender and SAT score as the predictor of positive learning outcome” (p 168).
Another benefit of moving instruction online comes in the form of what Thille calls 'mini-tutors' or modules built into the learning environment that provide immediate feedback as the student navigates. Similar to the strategy of a skilled tutor, this module would analyze the student's activity, provide redirection when the student was heading off-track, answer questions when prompted and remain silent when the student was managing well on his or her own. Furthermore, this ability to record and analyze student interactions with the constructed environment provides a powerful tool for evaluating the overall design, construction, and therefore efficacy of the module as a learning tool. Equally important, it also provides teachers with feedback about student performance that can be extremely useful in effectively tailoring the course to meet the students' needs and promote their overall success.
The biggest obstacle to getting this idea off the ground is one of willing community adoption, according to Thille. In other words, will people participate? As proof that the inherent merits of open education (dovetailing with the extant need for it) are already fueling its spread, she sites a list of continuing inter-institutional partnerships that were spawned by the initial Pittsburgh-area Open Learning Initiative, whose partners now span the globe and many academic fields. But as Thille points out, the longevity of this movement is jeopardized by issues of scale, use, and re-use. When faced with the staggering diversity not only of academic subjects but also of students, with their wide-ranging cultural and educational backgrounds and goals, it makes sense that some flexibility needs to be built into OLI courses. And this flexibility will be crucial in determining if and how effectively the courses are used.(Ariel A)
Chapter 12: Extending the Impact of Open Educational Resources through Alignment with Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Institutional Strategy: Lessons Learned from the MERLOT Community Experience
by Tom Carey and Gerard L. Hanley
In this chapter, the authors are primarily concerned with how to reorganize educational practices to support greater sharing and reuse of materials. They take the formation of repositories for open or shared educational resources as a given and build upon the work of other authors in the volume Diane Harley in particular to address the challenges faced by instructors in adapting materials. These challenges include lack of time, incongruency with teaching practices, and the difficulties of recontextualization.
The suggestions they offer to address these challenges are, first, to include pedagogical content knowledge--knowledge of how to teach effectively in a specific discipline--bundled with the educational resources that support that discipline and, second, to align OER efforts with the strategic aims of the institutions that support repositories, to ensure staff and faculty buy-in. Member comments, personal collections, learning assignments, author snapshots, and peer reviews are all cited as examples of pedagogical content knowledge reduced to manageable granularity in the MERLOT system. There are plans to expand the scope to include new research data and educational theory in open contexts as well. MERLOT is governed by representatives from the institutions that support it, and they work to make sure that its initiatives directly support, interface with, and expand on the in-house programs of its sponsors.
While it is nice to see a large, well-known, well-supported OER venture such as MERLOT engaging in reflection and offering suggestions for others to follow in its footsteps, I have some reservations about the effectiveness of the solutions they suggest. The means used to enhance pedagogical content knowledge are fairly basic Web 2.0 social networking tools such as commenting and user-created lists, and thus should be easy to implement, which is good news for OER projects looking for simple ways to improve their effectiveness. However, if pedagogical content knowledge is in such short supply, it may be necessary to push for institutions to include more training before real improvement is seen. Aligning programs to specifically address the needs of sponsor institutions is certainly a good survival strategy, however I must be skeptical about going too far in this direction, as it may lead to resources becoming so specified as to be unusable for those outside the sponsor institutions, thus defeating the egalitarian goals of OER.
Chapter 13: Why Understanding the Use and Users of Open Education Matters
by Diane Harley
The author of this chapter conducted a study to address the following questions: why users of digital resources should be studied and how to evaluate the demand for digital resources. The term digital resources, while including OER, was intentionally left broad in this study. Using surveys, discussions, and interviews, this 2003-2006 study was designed to gain information on the attitudes towards and usage patterns of digital resources by Humanities and Social Sciences faculty members of specific California public research universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges.
The question of economic sustainability of OER seems to have prompted the study. That is, while the developers of OER may have created a potentially useful product, if no demand exists for said product, OER may not prosper. While it remains unknown whether funding would come from the government or private sector, unless a loud rallying cry demanding OER is heard, no funding will surface at all. Though a number of players, from policy makers to university administrators, are involved and invested in determining if OER is implemented within the university environment, the main users, and those who will best propagate this product in the intended arena, are the faculty members. Therefore, success rests on “selling” the product to the faculty, as they are the gatekeepers who determine what course materials, digital or otherwise, to use in class. If faculty members deem OER useful, then the product will be in demand and the likelihood of OER becoming sustainable increases. It follows then, that the OER community and its supporters should understand something about the needs of the user, in this case, the faculty, and whether those needs are being met by OER. If those needs are not being met, can the product be adapted accordingly?
With regard to how one evaluates the demand for digital resources, the author, perchance besieged by the variance in responses received to the study questions constructed to glean information on individual usage patterns, suggests the following: “The OER community should be encouraged and supported in developing systematic research programs that target a clearer understanding of the differential needs and values of the particular educators and students they desire to serve.” (209) The results of the study indicated that personal teaching styles and individual attitudes toward technology were most influential in determining integration of digital resources.
Overall, the author suggests two interrelated areas worthy of attention which, if addressed, may lead to an increase in the demand of the product: time and convenience. With time being a scarce resource among faculty members, developing an easy, low-cost, fully supported method to allow the quick discovery of, access to, and legal and flexible use (and re-use) of a specified quality of digital resource, may increase faculty demand of digital resources/OER . In addition, consider that the “quality of learning can be quite high without technology.”(205) The incentive to use digital resources in the classroom then, may be highest at the point when “content marrie(s) with the appropriate delivery and communication technologies” to meet the users’ needs. (205) (Beth Z.)
Chapter 14: OpenCourseWare: Building a Culture of Sharing
by Steven R. Lerman, Shigeru Miyagawa and Anne H. Margulies
MIT's OpenCourseWare has been a very successful implementation of an open educational resource. In terms of size, it grew from 50 courses in 2002 to 1,800 in 2007 and continues to stay up-to-date. While this success has been tremendous, it cost considerable financial and human resoures. However, this cost is significantly recouped by the benefits provided by the service: more faculty participation, more resources for students, and better contact with alumni.
In 2002, when MIT started OpenCourseWare, they were in a unique position to take advantage of OpenCourseWare. Many of their faculty members had previously participated in open-source projects. Richard Stallman, a computer science professor founded the GNU Project. The World Wide Web Consortium was based out of MIT. Additionally, there was a tradition of sharing preprinted work among faculty. These attributes laid the strong foundation that OpenCourseWare could leverage to be successful at the institution. With support from MIT's administration, the Flora Hewlett Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided the initial grants to begin the project, $11 million at first followed by an additional $15 million.
In the future, MIT seeks to build off its initial success with OpenCourseWare by expanding the project globally to other universities and individuals around the world.
The authors highlight the success of the OpenCourseWare project and emphasize the strong research indicators among the faculty, alumni, and students. The authors spend very little time dealing with the threats to the OpenCourseWare Project and mention them briefly in passing. One of the largest challenges is funding. MIT was successful in obtaining grants for OpenCourseWare but grants are limited - how can projects continue to sustain themselves in the long-term? Considerable resources are required to "scrub" the course content of intellectual property. Additionally, what kind of challenges are presented to smaller institutions that do not have the resources of MIT or a large research institution? Perhaps those questions are beyond the range of what the author's research was seeking to investigate however they are very relevant to other institutions interested in adopting a similar project.
--Tom Hayden 03:25, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Chapter 17: Revolutionizing Education through Innovation: Can Openness Transform Teaching and Learning?
by Catherine M. Casserly and Marshall S. Smith
This chapter discusses if Open Educational Resources (OER) can transform the way the world will be taught and will learn. The authors state that, “Today, there are over 30 million people qualified to enter university but denied access due to the restricted seat numbers and restricted finances. In the next 10 years, the number of potential students who will be denied access will grow to 100 million (Daniels, 2007). A major university would have to be created each week, starting now, to meet this overwhelming demand.” (Casserly and Smith, pg 261) The authors also believe that “…in the long run, confining knowledge so that it benefits only those privileged and wealthy will limit the growth of knowledge for all.” (Casserly and Smith, pg. 274) Casserly and Smith both agree that OER can provide the supply of education needed to fulfill the demand. They believe that the ability to transform traditional methods of teaching and learning are possible, but are highly untested.
There are four key reasons why Casserly and Smith believe OER can transform teaching and learning. They are not necessarily the only four reasons, but these are the main reasons that were discussed. First, the educational tools and materials will be available at all times, over the Web, throughout the world. Second, OER provides a license that grants permission to not only read, but download, modify, and re-post the materials. This ability would be extremely helpful in tailoring the material to specific regions around the world. Third, materials found within OER appear to be of a higher quality than materials found through traditional teaching resources which the authors believe is due to the fact that funding foundations prefer quality of work over cost. And lastly, OER would present the ability to create immersive 3-D digital environments tied to educational materials allowing for a user to learn more effectively.
However, the authors are not blind to the fact that obstacles could derail this transformation. The four main obstacles Casserly and Smith cite are: Intellectual Property laws; Sustainability; Interoperability, and traditional learning methods. But the authors do understand there are many more obstacles, just like there are many more reasons why OER could transform teaching and learning.
The basic structure of intellectual property laws and customs currently inhibit a great deal of open content. It is very difficult to have private sectors and institutions provide information openly that has been paid for privately. However, organizations such as Creative Commons are trying to help facilitate a change in this area. The sustainability question asks who or what will pay to support all of this open content. One idea is through the “Red Hat” model where if commercial users develop a product around the resource they pay a fee back to that open resource. Interoperability is just the ability for all worldwide systems and networks to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently so that the OER are available to everyone. Lastly, the current traditional methods and interests of institutions, universities, publishers, and students of developed societies feel the current methods are working just fine and may be very resistant to change. The traditional methods found in developed societies may not be able to understand the increase in quality materials and knowledge that can arise through OER. Traditional methods of learning would also question the validity of OER if users do not have the ability to receive degrees or certifications, and whether or not users miss a large part of their education by not having access to labs, professors, or classmates.
Some ongoing and current OER initiatives include: M.I.T. OpenCourseWare (http://www.ocwconsortium.org) , Yale University Video Lecture Project (http://open.yale.edu/) , Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (http:// www.cmu.edu/oli) , Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) , Open University of the United Kingdom (OU UK), Teachers’ Domain, of the public television station WGBH, and Connexions (See http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/home.php ; http://www.teachersdomain.org/ ; and http://cnx.org)
(--Mark Fleszar 19:02 13 January, 2009)
Chapter 20: The Middle of Open Spaces: Generating Knowledge about Learning through Multiple Layers of Open Teaching Communities
by Randall Bass and Dan Bernstein
This chapter looks at how faculty can meet and collaborate to improve open education methodologies. The authors assert that by bridging the individual academic pursuits to a group collaboration space, open education initiatives can naturally improve. This focus on the scholarship of teaching as an academic pursuit equal to other pursuits is in the spirit of open education generally. To accomplish this, they suggest using the communities of practice model situated within the "middle ground" or "third place". The idea of a middle ground is a space beyond the formal structures of the individual's work environment and is considered "safe," drawing upon the idea of safe spaces from anti-oppression studies.
The first example is a peer review of teaching called the Peer Review of Teaching Project (PRTP). In this case, teachers met, read, shared their own work and presented portfolios of their students work. The authors frame this as making teaching “community property” (Hutchings, 1996; Shulman, 2004). This paper-based work was then converted into a web-based discussion tool that could be worked on asynchronously. After the feedback was collected and integrated, it was then converted into an open online portfolio. The authors suggest the success of this project is that a community of educators that are able to qualitatively assess the outcomes of their teaching in a peer-reviewed manner similar to other academic pursuits. In the second case, The Visible Knowledge Project, they specifically were looking at constructivist pedagogies and ultimately found that the exercises increased the synthesis of varying feedback on the educational practice.
Bass and Bernstein conclude by calling for more integration of these collaborative teaching grounds into the broader educational institutions. Including these activities in official teacher roles, reviews, tenure decisions, etc. as are necessary to have the intended impact. This integration would also include a technological component linking these open portfolios together in a searchable, accessible manner. Generally speaking, the authors make a good argument for integrating the open inquiry of teaching as an academic pursuit into the field of professorship. Although much of the description is very abstract, the benefits of communities of practice and creating a space for these communities to grow are well understood. In fact, drawing on the background of communities of practice and their success in improving the quality of work for participating practitioners is a valuable piece of evidence when supporting the adoption into the field of education.
Chapter 21: Open Teaching: The Key to Sustainable and Effective Open Education
by Diana Laurillard
This chapter presents the challenges educators and policymakers will face when trying to utilize techonolgy to meet the growing global demand for education. Laurillard makes a case for the importance of combining open educational resource technologies with new teaching practices (open teaching) – It is Laurillard's opinion that techonolgy alone and/or current (traditional) teaching methods will not be enough to solve future education issues, thus creating a need for this new teaching practice. “We have the technology. We do not yet have the quality of change management within our education systems that would enable us to exploit it.” (Laurillard, p. 323)
Open education resource technologies allow more students access to course materials, however, Laurillard points out that this technology can not be utilized to its maximum potentional without human and organizational guidance. Again, this is where new developments in open teaching are needed, but these developments have yet to come to fruition. Laurillard continues by providing five logical explanations for the lack of these developments. These five explanations are:
- (excerpts from text)
1. The education system is a complex system of powerful drivers— assessment, curriculum, inspection/quality requirements, funding ﬂows, promotion criteria—none of which have changed signiﬁcantly in recognition of what technology offers. (Laurillard, 2005)
2. Technological change is very rapid. (Laurillard, 2005).
3. The education system is run by leaders who are not comfortable with either the detail or the implications of the technology potential, and those who are, are not powerful enough within the system. (DCSF, 2005)
4. Education is essentially a political activity and a national enterprise, embodying the moral values of a country, so it does not easily become commercialized or globalised, and therefore avoids being subject to the innovation that market forces encourage (Readings, 1996).
5. Education systems change slowly because they tend to be hierarchical command-control systems, rather than devolved-power adaptive systems. Teachers and lecturers are given neither the power nor the means to improve the nature and quality of the teaching-learning process through technology (Elton, 1999).
- (excerpts begin on p. 323)
- (excerpts begin on p. 323)
It is Laurillard concern that these five hinderances will be the ultimate demise of our education system, but she does provide an example of how we can move forward and “benefit from appropriate explotation of digital technologies...”(Laurillard, p.326) This being “The idea of a learning system capable of adapting itself to new environmental conditions...” (Laurillard, p. 328) where “technology-enhanced learning” will accelerate faster in a teaching community that acts like a learning system— one that makes knowledge of what it takes to learn explicit, adapts it, tests it, reﬁnes practice, reﬂects, rearticulates, and shares that new knowledge.” (Laurillard, p. 328) This being her model for open teaching.
The chapter concludes with a summary of key factors that could be used to accelerate the open teaching initiative mentioned above. These key factors amount to giving more control to the teacher by removing current top-down infrastructure, in an attempt to “use technology to transform education bottom-up through enabling the teaching community to act in the most scholarly and professional way possible.”(Laurillard, p. 333) (Dave M.)
Chapter 22: Promoting Technology-enabled Knowledge Building and Sharing for Sustainable Open Educational Innovations
by Toru Iiyoshi and Cheryl R. Richardson
Iiyoshi and Richardson begin with the guiding principle that innovative uses of technology in teaching does not mean the latest gadgets. Technology-enhanced teaching is the creative, effective use of technology; it should increase the focus on the end-goal of teaching: learning.
There are three dominant challenges in building and sharing an open, common knowledge base, regardless of the technology used:
- Understanding local knowledge - Teachers and professors practice their pedagogical skills daily but those skills often rely on tact knowledge. This tacit knowledge is the result of long-term experience and is difficult to communicate to others, especially orally
- Capturing knowledge - People learn through complex interactions or ecosystems. Knowledge is the result of conversations with people and using tools, documents, and other resources. Of these components, which ones can/should we capture and archive?
- Making knowledge portable - Once you have the knowledge in a tangible form (e.g. written, recorded) how you make sure that others understand it?
There are additional barriers to collecting and sharing knowledge in institutions, including individualism, lack of incentives, busyness, and lack of support structures.
The second half of the chapter focuses on a web-based toolkit developed by The Knowledge Media Laboratory (KML) of The Carnegie Foundation called KEEP. The underlying design philosophy is, "while creating engaging online multimedia representations of teaching and learning and sharing them effectively will always be intellectually challenging, it need not be technically challenging, and technology must cognitively support users in the process of this work" (342). KEEP allows users to create "snapshots" of their learning experiences to share with others. These snapshots are based on templates which can be shared among users to facilitate comparison across snapshots.
The authors provide three case studies of how a simple, flexible, user-friendly web-based toolkit like KEEP can enhance and promote openness in education.
- Case 1: "Sharing Course Transformation Experience to Promote Instructional Innovations" (344) - An MIT Physics Professor used KEEP to share lessons learned from converting a lecture-style course into an active, student-centric one.
- Case 2: "Promoting Effective Use of Open Educational Resources by Sharing Pedagogical Experience" (345) - Top-rated contributors to MERLOT used KEEP to explain to others how thet developed and refined their OER on MERLOT.
- Case 3: "Enabling Cross-Institutional Learning about Effective Use of Open Educational Technology " (346) - Several institutions used the KEEP platform to document and share their experiences with Open Source Portfolio (OSP) software.
Keeping in their tradition of threes, the authors then explore three additional tools from Carnegie for collaboration in developing and peer-reviewing materials:
Overall this chapter successfully conveyed the breadth of collaboration and content management tools that Carnegie has in their portfolios. The chapter does not, however, clearly distinguish each of these tools from one another.
-- Kathleen Ludewig 08:10, 15 January 2009
Chapter 24: Learning Design: Sharing Pedagogical Know-How
by James Dalziel --Jess thudium 02:22, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Author James Dalziel suggests that although we have open content and systems to share the content, we are lacking shared educational processes. With the ultimate goal of improving education for all, the question Dalziel focuses on is “How will we share the best teaching practices?” To answer this, the author proposes ways to “share, adapt, and improve” the learning process and sharing lesson design along with content.
Although Dalziel indicates that the practice of sharing lesson design will aid in pedagogical discussion between disciplines, it faces many challenges, especially at the K-12 level. For example, Dalziel describes a learning design system called LAMS (Learning Activity Management System) where the educator would author materials to be shared and edited by all from the moment they are created. This may be a reality for higher-education where the educator is repeating lessons on the same content, and could form reusable templates. College-level curriculum is standard and the expectations are uniform for all students in a particular course. However, at the K-12 level, learning is often tailored to the needs and ability levels of each student. In this way, it makes it difficult for templates and specific content to be reused year after year.
Other challenges that shared learning design faces are a lack of “real” designs that relate to specific content, as well as lack of active engagement by educators. To help bridge the gap between system learning design and human creativity, Dalziel poses the idea of “educational designers” as experts in the field to collaborate with educators as they use design systems. Currently these designers are not readily available to many educators, and so their benefits may not be fully realized.
Dalziel concludes by describing a change in his thinking about learning design. Though individual learning designs are being shared today, in the future he hopes to see the creation of multiple pedagogic planners and template libraries.
Chapter 25: Common Knowledge: Openness in Higher Education
by Diana G. Oblinger and Marilyn M. Lombardi
This chapter addresses openness in higher education – openness is a key component in higher education for successful learning, adaptability and relevancy in a constantly changing world. Technology is revolutionizing how learning takes place. A new generation of learners is here, immersed in visual media, multitasking and collaboration. How will education methods as we currently know them be changed? Developing countries are yearning for educational resources, demand is high, yet supply is low. Open access to educational resources online may provide an economical, accessible solution. However there are many barriers to consider such as tradition, attitudes, lack of institutional reward systems, and intellectual property challenges. Technology is the least of our worries in advocating open educational resources.
Oblinger and Lombardi describe many current traits of the globally emerging participatory culture, then step back and discuss problems and possible solutions to problems facing openness in higher education. Currently the online culture is becoming exceedingly participatory, producing blogs, webpages, videos, photos, and music, much of this made collaboratively. In this culture there are low barriers to participating and producing, granted the user has access to the internet. Instead of sitting in a classroom listening and absorbing what the teacher feeds the students, would it be more beneficial if students had more of a chance to create and critique each other? The more students process and apply what they learn, the more it sinks in and can be used. How can this be integrated into education in the future? Interaction is becoming “multimodal”, many types of communication are available; text, images, audio, video, as well as collaboration options such as groupware that enhance learning opportunities. Network technologies allow the collection of intelligence of many, such as in Wikipedia. People contributing individually, but working together can show that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Wikipedia is not without its critics, but has shown to be timely in correction and up to par with print sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica. Users are also flocking to other online communities. Self-organized communities are called “affinity spaces”, which promote a variety of skills such as the ability to pool knowledge and compare ideas to conquer a common goal, and solve problems “on the fly”. Skills such as judgment, synthesis, research, practice and negotiation can also be learned and practiced in these online settings.
A skilled workforce is necessary for a country to flourish. The demand for higher education is increasing dramatically, but the supply is not keeping up, especially with the higher costs and lack of accessibility of education. Currently there are large-scale online open resources provided in the U.S., such as MIT’s Opencourseware (OCW), but they are static resources and cannot be modified or interacted with. They also do not scale. They are definitely a good start, but the vision of open education is more interactive and participatory. Resources can be evaluated and ranked by the community, distributed to be mashed up, remixed and recontextualized, while serving the real time needs of communities. This vision challenges many traditions of learning, are we ready for this? A new culture is emerging, do we embrace it or ignore it to our own peril?
---Elaine Engstrom 05:07, 14 January 2009 (UTC)