Monthly Archives: March 2016

OER: direction of travel

Block 2, Activity 7 Exploring OER issuesOER Evidence Report 2013-2014

The OER Reserach Hub published a comprehensive report reviewing the impact of open educational resources in terms of eleven hypotheses being researched by the project.

Here I’ve noted three of the key issues that advocates of OERs have to grapple with if OERs are to be further embraced by students, educators and institutions.

One: the report suggests that ‘knowing where to find resources is one of the biggest challenges to using OER’. I think this is key to whether OERs will continue to have an impact amongst the abundance of content available online. Most people might look at YouTube, TED talks or may be the Khan Academy but beyond that where do you go? Moreover, as someone new to a subject how do you know the resources are applicable to your context . Is using a sociology resource authored in South Africa going to be relevant or helpful to a student in India?

Two: Hypothesis C focused on access: ‘Open Education models lead to more equitable access to education, serving a broader base of learners than traditional education’. The results were mixed, with some students using OERs to replace formal study and others using OERs to supplement and support their study. With some institutions, like The Open University, trying to use technology to increase participation in education from under represented groups further investigation is needed to establish and promote equitable access to OERs.

Three: Hypothesis D focused on student retention: ‘Use of OER is an effective method for improving retention of at-risk students’. Here the capable student was found to use OERs to help them in their formal studies and this may aid retention. However, the student with complex needs may not perceive a benefit to using OERs and their needs may not be met by a free educational resource.

So, OERs may not be accessed by some groups of students and some students needs might not met by using OERs. It is legitimate not to expect OERs to fulfil multiple purposes to multiple audiences but there is an issue of who benefits from educational initiatives.

When a development is low or no cost to the end user then surely it should be available and of benefit to at least, but not exclusively, those people who cannot afford the paid for resource.  This is a conundrum that perhaps means we need think more about what, and who, is an OER. I expect others have thought about this but I’m only a few weeks into my course…..!

How does it look to me?

Block 2, Activity 3 Representing open education

This task asked students to read or view some trigger material about open education and from this create a visual representation of current issues.

I used a resource from OpenLearn to look at how to draw Rich Pictures. I am not gifted with great creative talents but rich pictures allow anyone to draw how they view and reflect upon a particular topic or event.  I then drew my rich picture by hand, took a photo and uploaded it here:

20160321_205720-1 (1)


I went a little bit off task but enjoyed the process!


Always open

Block 2, Activity 1: Set up technology

openThe module races on and we are now starting Block 2 ‘Open Education’. Working at the OU means that I  am aware of lots of work being undertaken by colleagues to further open up education to the benefit of many. I am also aware it is not a straightforward ambition to fulfill and reading Martin Weller’s The Battle for Open has helped me understand some of the tensions over ownership, definition, and measures of success. In terms of direct experience of open education I have benefited form studying some MOOCs via Coursera and FutureLearn. I am also a big fan of OpenLearn which brings together lots of free learning resources, often in the context of a recent OU/BBC TV production. The aspect of OERs that I am not so familiar with is thinking about reversioning and reuse. I have enjoyed the benefit of this when it has been done by others, but I’ve not  reversioned materials myself. I am also new to open badges – although aware of the Mozilla Foundation and the basic ideas behind the concept. So, an interesting few weeks of study ahead and hopefully a deepening of my knowledge of the issues at play in open education



Learning technology – always moving forward


Block 1, Activity 14: Evaluating an innovative pedagogy

The Innovating pedagogy reports have been published by The Open University since 2012, they explore ‘new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation’. The 2015 report is a succinct summary of current trends, all ranked in terms of potential impact and time scale for adoption. Key trends in this most recent report are

  • Crossover learning – connecting formal and informal learning
  • Learning through argumentation – developing skills of scientific argumentation
  • Incidental learning – harnessing unplanned or unintentional learning
  • Context-based learning -how context shapes and is shaped by the process of learning
  • Computational thinking – solving problems using techniques from computing
  • Learning by doing science with remote labs – guided experiments on authentic scientific equipment
  • Embodied learning – making mind and body work together to support learning
  • Adaptive teaching – adapting computer-based teaching to the learner’s knowledge and action
  • Analytics of emotions – responding to the emotional states of students
  • Stealth assessment – unobtrusive assessment of learning processes

Which comes first the learning theory or the pedagogical innovation? Is pedagogical innovation dependent on emerging technology or the new use of an existing technology? Taking just one innovation, context based learning, it is the technological developments – sophisticated apps using powerful handheld devices – that allow learning to be promoted by creating technologically recreated or enhanced contexts. This development seems linked to  cognitive learning theory  and situated cognition explored by  John Seely Brown .