Category Archives: H817

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.



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.



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…..!

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 .

Learning to value the long tail

Block 1 Activity 4: the long tail

It was interesting to read the Seely Brown and Adler (2008), ‘Minds on fire: open education, the long tail and learning 2.0’ to set the background for both open source software, developments in ways of working – I really like the idea of legitimate peripheral participation – and to read about  the early projects aimed at learning in different ways. The long tail is such a useful concept too in thinking about what happens to all these courses/podcasts/videos and links that people put out there.

I took a look at the Hands on Universe project, whose mission is to ‘train teachers onImage result for hands on universe astronomy the use of modern tools and resources for science education and engage students in international scientific projects’. The website is impressive and sets out fairly clearly the different areas of activity the project is involved with including training teachers how to engage and motivate students in astronomy, software products and access to telescopes. Interesting to see that since the project started that his helped established many HOU partners throughout the world; utilising the web to establish a distributed network but also to share the learning and software resources. A quick google scholar search revealed a few articles have been written citing the methodology used in the project to discuss ideas about how children can learn through project based work e.g Anthony J. Petrosino (2004) Integrating Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Project-Based Instruction: A Case Study of an Experienced Teacher