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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….

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.



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:

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


Chroicocephalus ridibundus

DSCF3123Block 1, Activity 5: Are OER both open and innovative?

This, is a photo of the Black-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), spotted in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire on January 26th this year. I know this to be (very probably true) because the image was uploaded as part of a citizen science project developed by the Open University called iSpot.

The project, which stretches across the world, gives users the chance to upload and identify images of wildlife, fauna and flora. Other users help identify images too and participants gain credibility for their skills of identification. A neat Google map shows the location of the sighting, twitter feeds add to the connections made between the project and participants. You can sign in with Facebook too. The funding for the project looks substantial and sustained, meeting one of the challenges of OERs.

The collaborative power of this resource is evident straight away. I particularly liked the confidence rating feature: someone uploads an image and states what they think it is, other iSpot users then state if they agree – producing a confidence rating. Links to information on the particular upload are also available. Much like citizen journalism, I think the bottom up power of citizen science is great, combining enthusiasm with expertise, sharing it widely and building communities of interest. iSpot strikes me a great innovation in using the web to develop connections, knowledge and learning amongst participants.