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Open Assembly is cloud-based platform for collaborative knowledge creation with open educational resources (OER)

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Digital Pedagogy

The OER-LMS Oxymoron

As John Rindele pointed out in his presentation at Open Education 11, “a key factor in OER uptake is the ability of resources to be easily accessed, combined with other course materials, and presented in an appropriate context for learning.” For many instructors (for better or worse), the LMS is currently the hub of their course. And yet using OER within an LMS presents some interesting paradoxes and dilemmas given that LMS are still operating within the “closed course” paradigm. Of greatest significance is the near-impossibility of realizing OER’s full potential to enable open pedagogies.

Most online instruction takes places within a learning management system (LMS) such as Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, Sakai and others. Yet little research has examined how learning management systems structure participants’ experiences and replicate or diverge from traditional pedagogy. The ways in which course materials are presented and accessed — and who gets to present what and when — form a key component in the online classroom.

The technology used to deliver an online class influences how students and instructors interact with one another. More than previous technologies, online learning systems have the potential to enhance the collaborative performative nature of teaching, and at the same time, the potential to turn teaching into a static exercise. Just as the architectural design of a classroom qualifies student–instructor and student–student interaction, online course delivery platforms such as LMS provide the framework for class communication. And like the room seating arrangement, degree of access to (natural) daylight and other aspects of the bricks-and-mortar classroom context, the LMS structure largely goes unnoticed and unquestioned. Yet how a classroom is organized, whether in person or online, will influence how communicators interact within that classroom.

In her 2002 critique of online education, Megan Boler argued:

“The brave new world of digital education promises greater access, increased democratic participation, and the transcendence of discrimination through pure minds. We must interrogate the actuality of these hypes: who has access, is participation online transformative, and is transcendence of difference a goal of progressive pedagogies?”

To extend the reach of OER we feel it is critical for resources to be made easily accessible from within the LMS, until we have a better way. This need is greater than providing a simple link.

Annals of an Adjunct: Open Assembly Test Drive

To better engage her students, this adjunct details how she used our platform to track their progress (and find out whether they were really paying attention in class).

This summer I had the opportunity to take the Open Assembly platform for a demo in my image-based humanities course at a large urban public institution.

As a teacher for 14 years in some way or another, I have developed my own style of teaching that I’ve honed over the semesters. I’ve found that as my confidence in my voice grew, I abandoned the podium to which I originally found myself tethered. Because of this style of instruction, I did not teach directly from the OA platform, but I did spend many hours crafting the course within OA using information that reinforced what we covered in class.

While some students are able to take notes and still follow along, for others this proves difficult.  This summer I had two foreign students who were somewhat new to the U.S. Their writing was fine, but when speaking with me, it became clear that they did not understand everything I was saying. This is problematic in an accelerated course where content is covered quite rapidly. Both of these students greatly benefited from reviewing the content on our OA course page, where they could review the learning materials at a slower pace and re-watch the video content until they understood.

This brings up the way I enjoyed using Open Assembly the most during these courses: taking advantage of the ANALYTICS function to track students’ access to resources that I uploaded for the course. Through blank stares and low test scores, I had a hunch that certain students were not following along. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw that they had not accessed either the readings or the modules on the OA platform. While it seems a little “Big Brother,” it is a useful tool that allowed me to follow up with students who were not accessing the course materials.

Another significant benefit of Open Assembly was that for the first time, every one of my students had access to the assigned textbook. Prior to this semester, I had not used an open textbook before. I found an excellent open educational resource (OER) alternative to the (somewhat costly) textbook I had been using before, and assigned it to my latest crop of students. For once I had a level playing field in my classroom, with every student being able to afford this (free & open) textbook.

One of the ways that I plan to use the Open Assembly platform in the future is for constructing debate and assignments that can take place outside of class time. Case in point: there is immense debate over a group of sculptures known as the Elgin marbles or Parthenon marbles. These relief sculptures decorated the interior and exterior of the Parthenon temple that sits on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Acquired by Lord Elgin during his time as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, they are now on display in the British Museum. This debate involves repatriation of artifacts and the question of who rightfully “owns” the Parthenon marbles. The Greek government contends that they were taken out of the country illegally, and there are numerous documents and video clips giving alternate sides of the argument.

In a group-based discussion exercise, students often need prompting to start the debating, but once started, many join the conversation. Unfortunately there is not enough time in the semester to devote a whole class to this exercise, so this is how I plan to use the Open Assembly platform: through videos integrated within my curriculum, students will be able to form their opinions about the status of these sculptures, then make a statement through the COMMENTS interface, forcing them to take a position. This is followed up with a formal writing assignment where the student has to make a statement and then defend that decision in a two- to three-page written response. I’m really excited about the debate possibilities that Open Assembly can bring to my classroom.

The Upside of Informal Education and Learning at the Speed of Thought

For all kinds of learners, summer offers an extended stretch of time to discover new ideas and skills on an informal basis. With the fall semester approaching, this got Open Assembly intern Elise Melconian thinking about informal education within more conventional and formal contexts.

As easily as typing a question into Google’s search bar, Internet users are able to become their own instructors. The Internet has amplified the pedagogical influence of technology and revolutionized the way society has traditionally perceived learning.

The not-for-profit infed.org explains how informal personalized education develops from conversations with others and the spontaneous connection of people and ideas. It’s often difficult to predict where informal learning will lead once such a conversation inspires an educational pursuit. John Dewey explains how “the business of education might be defined as an emancipation and enlargement of experience,” and it’s through our growing life experience that we find questions we have the power to pursue. Rather than some curriculum or plan, thoughts, exchanges, or the discovery of new information and questions connect learning to emotions and to what sparks our own interest, rather than what someone else considers significant.

Although the lack of set curricula could leave holes in a student’s education, I’ve found in my own education, learning without emotional attachment is quickly forgotten. Fortunately, what’s fantastic in education is that there’s no incorrect way to learn. We can use technology and blend informal and institutional learning styles for an experience that’s inherently more effective than previous generations of students limited to textbook learning.

With the emergence of the CC license and OER, students have the opportunity to engage more deeply in their learning, stimulated by their own conversations and experiences, to become curators of their own content. Institutions and instructors can and should mix informal learning into the curriculum to further engage students in all aspects of the learning process.

For more thoughts on informal learning, read “What is Informal Education?” on infed.org.

OER Around the World: Next Stop, Greenland

“Valley of the Flowers hike-Greenland” by Christine Zenino on Flickr/Used under CC BY

The University of Greenland and its institute for educational sciences, Inerisaavik, have been leading a project to make information communication and technology (ICT) standard in European schools. The project, Open Discovery Space (ODS), aims to reinvent the educational ecosystem and provide teachers with better tech access in this digital age.

When it comes to integrating open educational resources into curricula, schools throughout the West can face similar challenges, among them technology-infrastructure restraints, resistance to change at the classroom or institutional level, and limited digital literacy among students. A country such as Greenland must overcome a few even-greater barriers to digitizing education.

The ODS Workshop found that some factors keeping Greenland’s teachers and administrators from adopting OER are similar to those of other European countries: not-invented-here syndrome, lack of OER awareness, and lack of knowledge about the intricacies of intellectual property rights, copyright, and licenses. Other problems are culturally and logistically unique to Greenland. Broadband access in the country is still very expensive in more isolated settlements, and translating OER to Greenlandic is a must because of how many monolingual teachers and parents live there. ODS is working to engage the country’s education stakeholders on how to improve digital tools, solutions, and services for young people, increasing their employment options while also tackling the challenges of digital and socio-economic exclusion.

What’s working in Greenland’s favor is that the country’s ICT and educational policies are very favorable for OER integration. Several national efforts have been launched in Greenland to facilitate OER implementation, such as the use of learning management systems and the creation of mobile-learning projects. Schools continue to discover how OER can provide high-quality education for diverse groups of learners. However, OER advocates must help institutions localize these resources, presenting them in native languages and incorporating learning activities that mesh with the cultural attributes of communities and the individual students living and learning within them.

Read the complete article on Open Education Working Group.

Competency-Based Education and the Higher Ed Act

Earlier this month Congress made its first moves in rewriting the Higher Education Act, including the House of Representatives’ passing a bill that would create greater federal support for and investigation of competency-based education.

The Education Department already allows some institutions to explore alternative teaching methods, including competency-based education and prior learning assessment, and recently decided to award some student-based aid for such programs. In green-lighting experimental school sites, the Obama administration wants to see whether these innovations would ultimately

“improve student persistence and academic success, result in shorter time to degree, including by allowing students to advance through educational courses and programs at their own pace by demonstrating academic achievement, and reduce reliance on student loans.”

We love the idea of students working at their own speed and taking advantage of consumer and educational technology to plot their individual learning paths, especially if such personalized learning can help save money on tuition and textbooks over time. Some have said that competency-based education could work particularly well for older and part-time students who may not be able to spend as many hours in lectures or classroom discussions as full-time students.

Yet competency-based education has inspired criticism because of a perception that it could lower academic standards or turn colleges into diploma mills. How would schools assess student mastery in, say, the tough-to-quantify humanities fields? How do you determine competency in degree programs that don’t train students for an explicit career path, such as nursing or IT? There’s also the challenge of ensuring that individualized learning will allow for developing skills that today’s employers—large and small, corporate and non-profit, startup and legacy—expect from graduates, including collaboration, writing and communication across multiple formats, and content and media literacy.

The House has approved two other bipartisan bills that would mandate financial counseling for federal student-loan borrowers and simplify how the government provides college information to prospective students. The three bills passed so far highlight the difference between the way House Republicans and Senate Democrats have approached revising the Higher Education Act: bit-by-bit changes versus comprehensive reform. It’s unlikely that Congress will reauthorize the HEA before it expires at the end of this year.

A MOOC Runs Amok: Update

A pedagogical experiment conducted by a professor at the University of Zurich upset his institution, many of his students, and Coursera headquarters. The debacle surrounding his tinkering with a Coursera course highlighted important issues surrounding Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that are actually NOT “open;” meaning, NOT providing users with “the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint….as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective. (Capetown Open Education Declaration)

The emphasis is mine and used to point out alignment with Coursera’s mission: “We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.” i.e., accessible and effective.

Those of us committed to open education would argue that such a mission can only be accomplished if education, pedagogy, courses, content, data, etc., are actually and truly “open.”

Meanwhile, back to the MOOC that ran amok.

The professor’s intention was to see if he could get students to migrate to a non-Coursera platform and spur a discussion of the hazards of data-mining in free online courses. Unfortunately, he was not “open” with his students and therefore, many reacted with anger instead of engaging in reflection about the fact that their behavior and Non-open MOOC-cow.jpgemotions in the course’s online forum were being tracked by Coursera, without their consent and for the benefit of Coursera.

Professor Dehaye’s position was described in a Wired Campus blog post:

“The professor (or someone posting in his name) wrote about how he did not want to assist the company in its efforts to collect and monetize student data. He said he had been contacted repeatedly by the company about the data.

‘I feel they are fishing for business models, which I am certainly not going to give them,’ Mr. Dehaye wrote in the post, which was first reported by Inside Higher Ed. ‘I don’t want to tell them how to track you.’ “

George Siemens provides a thoughtful update in a recent blog post congratulating Dehaye for having the courage to “draw attention to Coursera policies and practices around data.” He concludes by saying:

“The MOOC Mystery was about an academic doing what we expect and need academics to do. Unfortunately it was poorly executed and not properly communicated so the message has been largely lost. Regardless, Dehaye has started a conversation, raised a real concern, pushed buttons, and put a spotlight on unfair or opaque practices by organizations who are growing in influence in education. Yes, there are ethical concerns that need to be addressed. But let’s not use those ethical concerns to silence an important concern or isolate a needed narrative around what MOOCs are, how they are impacting higher education and faculty, and how control is being wrested from the people who are vital counter-balancing agents in society’s power structure.”

Paul-Olivier – thanks. Let’s have more of this.

CCK08: Connectivism & Connective KnowledgeA lively exchange of comments follows, and at one point Siemens draws a comparison to analogous experimentation within the first (ever) massive open online course, CCK08,orchestrated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2008:

“Stephen Downes subscribed all learners to one of the discussion forums during the week on power and control in learning. Learners were understandably outraged. Suddenly their inbox was assaulted with dozens, hundreds, of emails. The point that he was trying to make was on the power that faculty have in a course. Numerous learners swore off the course and were understandably upset. The point was made clearly and concisely and most learners, once they finished deleted their forum notification emails, understood what had happened. Overall it was successful…”

Open Assembly firmly believes that the data that is aggregated on our platform belongs to our users. Users are free to request that data at any time, including its deletion from our databases. That is an important dimension of “open”, as important as the capability of engaging any course or other resource within usage rights defined by David Wiley’s 5Rs framework:

CONTENT  IS “OPEN” TO THE EXTENT THAT ITS LICENSE ALLOWS USERS TO ENGAGE IN THE 5R ACTIVITIES:

Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Edtech is Widening Skills, Achievement Divides. Why Not Narrow the Engagement Divide?

This work, “Kids at computer,” is a derivative of “Kids using the computers.” by San Jose Library, used under CC BY/Cropped from original
This work, “Kids at computer,” is a derivative of “Kids using the computers.” by San Jose Library, used under CC BY/Cropped from original

Despite efforts to provide technology access to poor and minority students and narrow the “digital divide,” educational tech may not be leveling the playing field after all.

A recent Hechinger Report story focuses on research conducted in two polar-opposite Philadelphia neighborhoods over a 10-year period. Susan B. Neuman of New York University and Donna C. Celano of LaSalle University studied academic and economic inequalities between children from affluent Chestnut Hill and those from struggling Kensington. They explored how kids used computers at public libraries, where they discovered just how differently poor and affluent students took advantage of the tech resources.

Chestnut Hill kids often went to the library with adult family members, who sat with them and answered questions or directed them to educational material. In contrast, the Kensington children tended to lose focus and interest while using the computers, and parents didn’t usually guide their children’s online learning.

Lack of tech savvy wasn’t the only problem for Kensington students in this study, nor is it the only problem for kids from similar neighborhoods:

Poor children also bring less knowledge to their encounters with computers…Not only are affluent kids more likely to know how to Google; they’re more likely to know what to Google for.

Edtech could very well exacerbate economic and achievement gaps that already exist between poor and wealthier students. Unless…we begin to address the “engagement divide.”

Why not attempt to work with the way that less-advantaged students prefer to interact with content: via entertainment or games? Why not try to meet these students on a 1:1 basis, as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach?  Open educational resources (OER) for “productive gaming” could provide a solution; otherwise, poorer kids will fall further behind.

Productive Gaming
Image cropped from 10-Blended-Learning-Trends-Infographic, courtesy of http://www.dreambox.com

What if we developed an OER-based “Google Search Game” designed to support game-loving students in becoming more effective explorers in our knowledge economy by using tools that make the most sense to them?

Perhaps we also need to curate materials in OER repositories the way the best instructors do in prosperous classrooms—based on context, learning style, and skill level. This would give less-advantaged students access to higher-quality digital learning resources that narrow that “engagement divide” and the skills and achievement gaps—i.e., that foster and achieve “deeper learning” (expanding what students learn, deepening the experience through which they learn it, and improving the benchmarks for measuring their knowledge).

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation believes that “OER provide a powerful means to grow the impact of Deeper Learning” and supports grantees such as Expeditionary Learning who are developing Deeper Learning OER resources.

Higher Education Act’s Stamp of Approval on Edtech Innovation

HigherEdStamp
This work is used under CC-PD-Mark

Recent legislative plans to overhaul education came in two forms: jumbo and bite-sized. Senate Democrats presented a 785-pages-long bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, while a House committee, equal parts Republican and Democrat, offered 11 pages of targeted proposals for reform.

When it comes to digital innovation in education—especially as it relates to Open Assembly’s mission with regard to open educational resources (OER)—here are the three sections worth checking out.

1) Section 795E recommends an innovations fund for minority-serving institutions to boost student success, in part, by assessing the needs of any given institution, then researching and prototyping educational innovations that can improve student outcomes. Those innovations can and should include OER and digital content.

2) Section 796D offers grants to states that are able to greatly increase access to higher education for and foster the success of low-income students by 2020—especially students facing such barriers to college as having no high school diploma and working more than 25 hours a week. To qualify, states have to present plans that, among other things, promote technology to increase personalized learning and student retention. This includes blended- and flipped-learning innovations.

3) Section 932 outlines ways to provide accessible learning tools to students with disabilities, though we believe that the recommended reforms must apply to all students. The proposal calls for efficiently developing and delivering these materials to post-secondary students with print disabilities, such as open textbooks and other digital resources. States would need to compete for public or private grants and contracts to implement these improvements.

The House and Senate have their mark-up period in the weeks ahead, during which they’ll add amendments to their respective proposals before they leave for their August recess. Ever a hopeful bunch, Congress hopes to vote on the Higher Ed Act reauthorization before the mid-term election.

The Age of Bite-Sized Learning: What is It and Why It Works

It looks like bite-sized learning is here to stay, according to e-learning professionals. Brain-based learning theory suggests that bite-sized learning may lead to improved learning outcomes. Proponents believe it perfectly suits the information-rich lifestyle of today’s learners: bite-sized nuggets of content are easy to engage, notably images and video, and have the capacity to “create deeper meaning by referencing shared experience or shared stories.”

A note of caution.

“Effective chunking….is about making sense of information. Don’t do it just for the sake of breaking content into pieces. Do it to make information more meaningful.”

More here: The Age of Bite-sized Learning: What is It and Why It Works

Catherine Cronin: Assessment in Open Spaces

Catherine Cronin shares her experience teaching in a truly open learning space as the progressive “thinning of classroom walls”, making an effective case for open pedagogy.

“Learning and pedagogical relationships are transformed when we engage with students in open online spaces or networked publics. These can become ‘third spaces’ of learning, beyond the binary of informal and formal learning. Once a closed classroom (physical or online) becomes open to the world, assessment options multiply, with many more opportunities for student choice, voice and creativity, and of course, feedback.”

Catherine Cronin: https://flic.kr/p/fEznQK
Catherine Cronin: https://flic.kr/p/fEznQK

“In terms of assessment in these open online spaces, students collectively created the rubrics for assessing their presentations and digital media projects. But that was not the whole story. Through engaging in open practices throughout the term, we became a learning community that was not confined to one classroom or one online space. The classroom walls thinned progressively as the term progressed, so that we truly became nodes in a broader network — sharing work openly, engaging in discussion, inviting and giving feedback. The main assessments for the module — the presentation and digital media project — were opportunities for students to chose their own topics, media, tools and ways of working (individual or team), to express their own authentic voices, and to share, engage and learn beyond the bounds of our classroom.”

Entire post here: http://bit.ly/1pa3vkf

Minoring in MOOCs

I have either the gift or curse of having eclectic interests. I major in engineering physics and environmental studies at a school that requires I take a range of liberal arts courses to graduate. Even so, I find myself interested in even more, to the point that employers have told me I have too large of a range of interests.

That’s where MOOCs come in handy. I have used online resources to supplement my education, and the ability to do this continues to grow. Since my school does not have a large course offering for engineering and I have little room to add courses that are not for my major or graduation requirements, resources such as MIT OpenCourseware (MIT OCW) come in handy. MIT OCW specifically is an amazing source, because it is not required to follow a class- although for many you can- lecture notes and videos are available just for reference! I also used MIT OCW in order to get an idea of what I would be dealing with when I took ‘Modern Physics,’ (totally mind boggling ideas in case you were wondering). From learning more about a topic I want to work with or preparing for next semester courses, their potential is invaluable.

Large universities are much more capable of providing of these courses. I have no way of taking courses specifically in nuclear energy and engineering at my home school, but online, the possibilities are endless. I can now tailor my skills to specific jobs, and while my transcript will not reflect it, I can still market myself in the workforce with the learning I have gained.

Beyond that, those of us that crave knowledge just for its sake have the opportunity to pursue it from open, high-quality sources.

A (Meaty) Question To Chew On: #FutureEd

Recently, in the context of an experimental MOOC she was teaching at Duke, Cathy Davidson asked the question: “Why have we so quickly adapted to a new mode of collaborative, cross-disciplinary, instrumental, just-in-time, non-expert knowledge-making everywhere except in school?”

Her argument:

“Whereas everyday, everywhere learning has become a hallmark of our social life and work life in the post-Internet era, education–K through 22–remains largely wedded to the disciplinary silos, formal knowledge taxonomies, summative assessment measures, and formal credentialing apparatus designed for the research university of the late Industrial Age. The Internet went public on April 22, 1993. We’re still teaching like its 1992.”

Open Assembly was founded with the goal of seeking a solution to the problem Cathy Davidson’s question highlights, with a software framework for collaborative teaching and learning designed to let us engage with each other and with content inside the classroom–much the way we do everyday, in every other context. Open educational resources (OER) inherently facilitate sharing and collaboration, and the Open Assembly platform is specifically designed to leverage that capability.

Julie’s Journey: Make It Open

As in my last post concerning collaboration, I have been doing some research about Open Research. More about that in a moment.

What am I researching? My goal is to extend the thesis I will be turning in for a grade this semester into an on-going research project that collects data about air quality on my school campus. The whole point of this project is to make more people aware of greenhouse emissions, something we cannot directly see, so it is a given that my results will be open access. The end goal is to create a website with the data, similar to what UC-Berkeley has done with BeACON.

So, I have found out a few new things. What I will be doing with my project is called “open access data.” Meaning all of the data, and results models and graphs, will be available to anyone. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a great example of efforts to create ways that data and research can be more available.

Then what makes “open research” different than what I described above? The answer: collaboration. A project can be considered open research if the “end goal,” or the final output, is likely to change, since multiple research entities are adding input and thoughts to the overall research. Besides the availability of data and results, as in open access, the experimental methodologies and techniques are also available for your studying pleasure and are open to improvement.

There are many websites that are trying to support this type of collaboration, and while Open Assembly is not specifically designed for research, it IS optimized for collaboration. As such, its tools can be adapted for any collaborative teaching or learning context. For example, with a research topic or project taking the place of an official college course and syllabus, the “Comments” feature allows other users to add notes, pertinent resources, and materials.

My current project has a certain end goal, but if you’re interested in providing input or getting a closer look, be sure to email me at julie@openassembly.com to gain access to the course and experience how I am using Open Assembly for Open Research.

OpenStax College Survey Results (Part I)

From CNX 2014 in Houston via Beck Pitt of OER Research Hub comes Part I of the results from research conducted to determine the impact of Open Stax College textbooks on both educators and students.

“The top three types of OER used for teaching/training by respondents were reported as follows: open textbooks (98.8%), videos (78.0%) and images (72.0%).”

“The top three purposes for using OER in the context of teaching/training were reported as follows: 1) as a supplement to one’s own existing lessons or coursework (96.3%) 2) to get new ideas and inspiration (81.5%) and 3) as “assets” (e.g. images) within a classroom lesson (80.2%). Of note is that a third of educators reported using OER to interest hard-to-engage learners (34.6%) and a quarter reported that they use OER to make their teaching more culturally diverse (or responsive) (25.9%).”

“Almost 90% of respondents thought their students saved money by using OER (89.0%), whilst almost 60% thought their institution benefited financially by using OER (59.3%).”

ON OER AND TEACHING: Screenshot of CNX 2014 Presentation Slide (Beck Pitt, CC-BY):

Beck Pitt-OER ResearchHub

NB. The top 3 responses from students are in red.

Also included in Beck Pitt’s report were a number of interesting and insightful responses from educators to questions re. the impact of using the open textbooks on their own teaching practice, such as the following:

“[It’s] more satisfying to offer free materials and have the freedom to modify them as I wish, to make the product students receive more like how class operates.”

OER is not only the only sustainable path forward with regard to increasing the affordability of education, but is also key to providing instructors and students with content and courseware that they can actually adapt to their needs–and ultimately own.

Domi Enders, Open Assembly

Looking forward to Part II, thanks Beck!

Open Research: OER Research Hub Course Launches June 2014!

The OER Research Hub, sponsored by the Open University (UK) and the Hewlett Foundation, focuses on the question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ The project combines:

  • A targeted collaboration program with existing OER projects
  • An international fellowship program
  • Networking to make connections
  • A hub for research data and OER excellence in practice

OER Research Hub is launching a course on Open Research in June 2014, hosted by the School of Open (available as a stand alone during the summer). OER Research Hub will at the same time be releasing the remainder of their research instruments (e.g. interview and survey question banks, consent forms, a final version of the ethics manual etc.). These instruments are/will be available on a CC-BY license via their website, and are of great value to researchers,  instructors and admins seeking to understand, evaluate and chart the impact of OER.

David Wiley Comments on the MOOC Hype

This comes from a report by Katrina Stevens from Educon 2.6 at the Science Leadership Academy on Jan. 28. Speaking on the panel “What Does it Mean to be Open?” David Wiley of Lumen Learning argued that the last 18 months’ focus on MOOCs has “sucked the air out of conversation around innovation in education.” Wiley acknowledged that MOOCs are interesting experiments, but also pointed out that they have crowded out other, equally important experimentation. Venture funding for MOOCs has driven public attention and “distracted people from the business of educating students to the business of selling to them.”  Wiley further argued that this misalignment in incentives will continue to drive true innovation to the margins.

Wiley also questioned how innovative MOOCs really are; he pointed out that in the 1960s, we thought that television “…will really open up education,” the same claim made about MOOCs now. Tone down all the claims around “innovation,” urged Wiley, and engage in more substantive conversation about the challenges of MOOCs and other new learning models. Otherwise, “we’re in danger of making bad education faster and more efficient,” Wiley warned.

Once Upon a Time, Textbooks Were Hard to Create…

Kathi Fletcher, Shuttleworth Fellow, pitches the excellent software project she directs–an advanced and comprehensive textbook creator/editor–with a Pixar style of pitch: “Once upon a time textbooks were hard to create….”

The moral of the story is that textbooks can truly be “a pleasure to create, cheap or free to buy, always up to date, and part of a much more interactive and engaging experience….true engines of learning”

Check out the Textbook Editor and OER Importer at: http://editor.oerpub.org

Julie’s Journey: Pilot Season Starts

This is the first in a semester-long series taking an up-close look at the functionalities and potential of the latest release of Open Assembly’s platform for networked learning in open education environments. Open Assembly is a powerful framework for easily developing or remixing courseware, curating content, and managing research projects. Work on your own—or better yet, in teaching and learning networks you create by inviting others into your process.

I’m Julie. I’ve been working at Open Assembly for several months, and after seeing the development of the revamped platform, I was beyond excited when I got the go-ahead to use v2.0.

Some background: I’m a junior at Fordham University studying engineering physics and environmental policy, with interests in technology, coding, and economics. The time has come for me to write a thesis for my environmental policy major; my thesis, at the moment at least, will concern dangerous gases in the atmosphere.

I will be using the Open Assembly platform as a project management tool, compiling materials, resources, and drafts for my thesis. I will be blogging about my progress, experience, and varying relevant topics every week. I will also be curating the topic “Julie’s Journey: Developing a Thesis on Open Assembly” on Scoop.it. You’ll be able to find my posts, as well at other relevant material on my thesis topic, educational technology, and other pertinent information.

If you’d like to follow closer and have even more of an inside look, contact me at julie@openassembly.com, and I can give you access to my course. Not only will this let you experience Open Assembly as I develop my thesis during this pilot season, but you will also be able to comment on anything I’ve posted—and even post content and links you think might be relevant to my research!

Episode 1

Why Publishers Aren’t Too Worried About Open Textbooks | Innovation Memes

Why Publishers Aren’t Too Worried About Open Textbooks | Innovation Memes. Article by  from 2010 still rings true re. the ongoing challenge of persuading faculty to select Open Textbooks. 

Let Them Eat MOOCs

From Let Them Eat MOOCs, by Gianpiero Petriglieri in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post:

“This is why I am a MOOC dissenter. More than a revolution, so far this movement reminds me of a different kind of disruption: colonialism.

Given the resources and players involved in producing and praising MOOCs, it’s hard to argue that this is a case of enterprising outsiders toppling a complacent establishment. (Do you see any ‘outsiders’ in this galaxy of MOOC funders?) It is far more similar to colonialism, that is, disruption brought about by ‘the policy and practice of a power in extending control over weaker people or areas‘ and simultaneously increasing its cultural reach and control of resources.”

Full post here: Let Them Eat MOOCs

Creative Commons Kiwi

Have you ever wondered how to download and share digital content legally? How do you let people know that you want them to reuse your own work? Creative Commons licenses can help you do both. These Kiwis will show you how.

http://vimeo.com/ccanz/cckiwi

MOOC Rival OERu Puts Accreditation on Menu | Times Higher Education

MOOC rival OERu puts accreditation on menu | News | Times Higher Education.

Kylie and Lyndal Make a MOOC | YouTube

Interesting video about the experience of 2 professors at UOW filming their first video segments for a new MOOC. Very cute trailer intro!

Video published on Oct 7, 2013

The University of Wollongong is partnering with Open Universities Australia\’s free online learning platform, Open2Study, in the production of 2 MOOCs over the next 2 years. This video clip charts some of the highlights of making our first MOOC. Here we see Graduate School of Medicine academics Kylie Mansfield and Lyndal Parker-Newlyn working with Open2Study Content Development and Production team over 5 days in Melbourne to record high-quality video lectures for their \”Understanding Common Diseases\” course, which opens for enrollments on October 14th 2013.

via Kylie And Lyndal Make A Mooc – YouTube.

OALIB_Open Access Library

OALIB_Open Access Library allows free access to a database of 125,546 openly accessible academic articles

7 Things You Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing

Excellent primer on the open textbook publishing model: what it is, how it works, who’s doing it, why it’s significant.

“The open textbook publishing model offers new collaborative opportunities for authors, who can join communities of writers on sites that offer open licensing. Authors, illustrators, and editors can choose to contribute many types of course content to the growing field of open educational resources, including essays, animations, video demonstrations, detailed drawings, and classroom activities—all without taking on the burden of writing an entire book.”

What’s really important is that this is not all about solving for the cost issue. It’s about creating textbooks that are truly engines of learning, by letting those who are in the trenches and know best what’s needed (teachers) drive the (textbook publishing) bus.

What Happens to Our Digital Identities When Our Body Expires? A Blueprint.

= DIGITAL SELF PRESERVATION TOOLKIT =

What happens to your creative & intellectual property when you die? This make gets you thinking about your body of creative, educational, and/or scientific work.
In your country, what happens to your work when you die?
What steps can you take to ensure its posterity?
How would you want it shared and who would you want to own it?

For context, read:
Free Culture Trust: http://questioncopyright.org/free_culture_thing
Free Culture Thing Google Group: https://groups.google.com/group/freeculturething

Tackle the following tasks, or create your own to add to this toolkit!

== TOOLKIT COMPONENTS ==

Task 1: Create an Infographic mapping what happens to your IP when you die in your country (eg. does it get passed onto your heirs under all rights reserved (c) for another 70 years?)
Free infographic creation tools:
http://www.easel.ly/
http://piktochart.com/
http://infogr.am/
http://visual.ly/
https://infoactive.co/
http://mashe.hawksey.info/2013/02/twitter-archive-tagsv5/ (archive and visualise tweets using google spreadsheet)

Your IP infographics by country
United Kingdom
Add link to your infographic here…
Name your country…
Add link to your infographic here…

Task 2: List of places on the web where you can preserve your IP for cultural posterity while living.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
archive.org
http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/info/faq – for websites (including blogs, personal sites)
Add link to archive/repository/platform here…

Task: Existing resources/kits that help you with digital and/or personal archiving
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/padKit/handouts.html
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/documents/NDIIP_PA_poster.pdf
https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/projects-and-work/guidance.htm
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/documents/PADKit_v1.pdf
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/about/presentation.html

Task 5: Checklist for what you need to do or think about to preserve your stuff!
Take an intro quiz to learn more about the differences of physical vs digital archiving: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/quiz/
digital versus physical assets, eg. itunes library is licensed to you while living, you don’t own after death
https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/projects-and-work/digital-preservation-faqs.htm
http://www.paradigm.ac.uk/workbook/appendices/guidelines-tips.html

Task : Tools to help you archive your digital assets while living.
http://netpreserve.org/web-archiving/tools-and-software
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/ – Library of Congress’ tips for archiving your digital materials
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/scrapbook/
ThinkUp – https://www.thinkup.com/join/ – for archiving social media
http://webcurator.sourceforge.net/ (open source tool developed by the British Library)

Task: Create a website/mock-up for the toolkit
prototype: https://janepark.makes.org/thimble/digital-selfpreservation-toolkit-
collaboration link: https://thimble.webmaker.org/en-US/project/22912/edit

Task 3: Create a will for your body of creative work. What license (or Public Domain tool) would you choose for it? Who would you leave it to?
Do you know of sample wills that addresses this issue?
Add link to it here…

Your IP wills – make it up!
Example: John Doe’s IP will: “Upon my death: I dedicate all of my emoji icons to the public domain using the CC0 PD dedication tool. All of my wedding photos become property of my wife licensed under a CC BY license. Etc.”
Add your will or a link to your will here…

Task 4: IP donor sticker or badge. Some of us have organ donor stickers on our driver’s licenses; what would an IP donor sticker look like? What about the form question asking people about it?
Free badge/graphic creation tools
https://www.openbadges.me/designer.html
https://svg-edit.googlecode.com/svn/branches/2.5.1/editor/svg-editor.html
http://inkscape.org/

Legal PD dedication tools and open licenses to integrate into any stickers/badges
http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
http://creativecommons.org/licenses

Your IP donor stickers and badges
Example: Public Domain Donor sticker: http://ni9e.com/public_domain_donor.php
http://wreckandsalvage.com/ipdonor/
How to add backend code for this? eg. like for CC licenses https://creativecommons.org/choose/
Where would the badge link? to body of IP work you are releasing? to the results of the form below? to a statement that links to CC0?
Try http://achievery.com/ to see if it fits some of our needs

Task : Create a form for the IP donor badge
Can Archive.org be the repository for documentation of IP donations? Who is the keeper of this information?
Form fields:
Name
Donate Everything or Donate Specific IP
URLs of specific IP
Concept form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZonsDdXZ8OJlPpt2u1cIzAplt2NAHD4KppYGZETo3JI/viewform
How can we tie this to https://creativecommons.org/choose/zero/ ?
Maybe tweak language to reflect “upon death” i will donate work to PD — and legally that will work via CC0 tool? http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
need to account for differences in data/database rights in some jurisdictions, or add clause excluding database content
maybe specify http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/pddl/1.0/ for data/databases
need to account for estate taxes/laws that may vary by jurisdiction. maybe just start with US? estate would apply only if you’re making money off the IP

Questions
How does the organ donor sticker work legally? Can we fashion the process after that? What are some other similar processes we can use?

Add a new component for the toolkit here…

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age | EdSurge News

A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age | EdSurge News.

New Council to Develop Standards, Best Practices for Online Learning | Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Domitilla Enders‘s insight:

“In the last few years there has been a lot of discussion thanks to the development of technology about the delivery of education in a scalable way to large numbers of students across national borders,” Mr. Suresh says. “The missing piece is how much are students learning amid all this technology? The other piece is what are the metrics, best practices, and eventually standards, if you will, that are collectively developed and acceptable for those who engage?”

Read more on chronicle.com

Intro to Open Assembly

Open Assembly is a free, cloud-based platform for social learning, collaborative teaching, and content curation using open textbooks, open courseware, and other open educational resources (OER).

By unleashing the Power of Open, we’re encouraging innovation based on networked learning in hybrid and online environments. The platform is free for any user–students, self-learners, instructors, admins, institutions–for open education purposes.

Assemble a playlist of learning resources. Remix, adapt, or clone an existing playlist.  Share it with a colleague or peer, at the course or module level. Engage with comments and resources of your own. Analyze engagement. Archive only what you want to keep when the course or project is over. Take it with you on your learning path from course to course, or from one learning goal to another. Accessible on any web-enabled browser device.

Open Assembly can be used in numerous ways: to create a playlist or course, to assemble a digital curriculum, a coursepack or collection of resources, and to undertake research, on your own or better yet, in collaboration with others.

Our goal is to make teaching and learning online more accessible, more engaging, more interactive, and a lot more intuitive. We’re setting a new standard for teaching and learning with others. We combine teacher-centric and learner-centric tools, which makes us learning-centric. 

Interested in checking us out? Open Assembly is currently in private Beta, but feel free to Request an Invite on our website if you would like to explore Open Assembly or pilot our platform in your hybrid or online classroom. Here’s a preview:

OpenAssembly

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