Monthly Archives: April 2016

Open learning literacies

Block 2, Activity 24, Consider Open Learner Literacies

I found this activity quite challenging because I don’t think I have ever really stopped to think about the concept of literacies. The Open University’s Digital and Information Literacy Framework  has five competency areas relevant to open learning but are equally applicable in traditional closed learning environments.

Beetham et al’s 2009 JISC funded study usefully drills down into the concept of literacies and two aspects of their definition stuck a chord. Firstly, that a literacy is a foundational knowledge on which other skills depend, and secondly, that literacies are ‘a socially and culturally situated practice – often highly dependent on the context in which it is carried out’.

Open learning literacies therefore relate directly to the way open educational practises are distinct from other forms of educational endeavours. These practises are based on valuing sharing and openness in education. If you don’t believe that education can only take place through sharing, and that sharing widely is the most effective way to educate the most people, then you might struggle… David Wiley puts it well in this TedxNYDE talk.

To be able to share openly you need to have digital and information literacy skills but in addition to this you have to be able to evaluate, remix and reuse content in order to share, and be the recipient of shared, material.

To be able to share content you need to be online, participating in OER communities, so the ability to engage and create digital identities is important too. Enhanced online communication and networking skills must also be an important aspect of open education literacies.

What other aspects are there to open educational literacies? …. comments please….


Rhizomatic learning

Block 2, Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs

A short post for this activity, which asked students to compare different types of MOOC. I took a look at Rhizomatic Learning devised by Dave Cormier (@davecormier) which I know is about Rhizomatic learning but I am still not sure I could tell you what that is!  I then comparerhizomeed this experience to my recent adventures studying a FutureLearn MOOC Caring for Vulnerable Children.

I’ve been a big fan of FutureLearn MOOCs, I like the design, they work well on tablets, the mix of media is good and the chat/follow facilities seem to work well. They are clearly well resourced and, in the case of ‘Caring for Vulnerable Children’ the content is spot on. My background is working in social care and the information this MOOC gives participants is excellent.

Dave Cormier’s course about Rhizomatic learning caught me by surprise and I really liked it. In some ways it had a homespun feel but that reminded me that OERs don’t have to polished and branded to be of great value. Dave’s videos made me chuckle, his super enthusiastic style got my attention. Connectedness and openness seem key to this MOOC. I remain a bit perplexed about what Rhizomatic Learning is and, despite what Dave says, surely you need some defined content to a course!?! Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick, I am sure the man who coined the term MOOC knows his stuff! In any case this pared back presentation, using Twitter, wordpress and YouTube made me reflect on how creative we can be to create OERs. The corporate MOOCs of FutureLearn and Coursera are only one interpretation of this way of learning.



Little and Large OER

Block 2, Activity 11: The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER

little and largeThe Openness Creativity Cycle (2012) , written by Martin Weller, suggests that there is a feedback loop for scholars operating in a digital and networked environment. When scholars practise ‘open scholarship’ they produce open educational resources which contribute to an iterative creative process that benefits themselves and others.

Many OERs are developed through large scale institutional projects, such as The Open University’s OpenLearn, and this ‘big OER’ approach has advantages. The cumulative expertise, access to resources, brand impact, global reach and so on.

However there are issues regarding the funding and sustainability of this form of OER. Weller’s ‘little OER’ offers a different way to think about OERs and Open Educational Practises (OEP) more broadly.

If scholars engage in OEPs then public engagement and outputs from university academics takes on a different form to the traditional. The motivation of open scholars to engage in collaborative work with colleagues means a ‘long tale’ (Anderson 2006) of outputs is created almost forever available through the internet. The input/start up costs are low but through the web and social media tools the outputs can be of high quality and accessible to an almost infinite audience.

OEPs in the form of ‘little OERs’ also contribute to the academics’ development of their ideas and research. This can  contribute to more traditional university outputs such as journal articles or books (which of course could be published in an open format too!). An issue must be how to make others aware of the resources created in a web saturated with content. Crucially, within universities, a culture needs to evolve that values academics working in this way to enable the approach to flourish and for the feedback loops to operate.



Share the creativity

Block 2, week 9, Activity 9: Choosing a license

Wanna Work Together? from Creative Commons on Vimeo.

It took me a while to understand the need for creative commons licenses because I just thought if you’re not concerned enough to apply for copyright why would you bother at all? The video here explains how I got that wrong…

Creative commons enables a framework for purposeful sharing, for active delineation about what it is okay to do with someone else’s content and, ultimately it seems to me, promotes sharing in education.

So this activity asked me to select a CC licence, I chose  ‘Attribution-Non Commerical 4.0’ because it seemed to fit with the values of OER. That is the content I generate on this blog can be shared and adapted but attribution must always be given and the content must not be used for commercial purposes. I wouldn’t be happy with my work not being acknowledged and I certainly don’t think others should make money from my work if I am not, but beyond that I am happy for my work to be shared and to benefit others.