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

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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)

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.

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.

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

MOOC Rival OERu Puts Accreditation on Menu | Times Higher Education

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

MOOCs Not Reaching Beyond Those Who Already Have Completed Degrees

Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, Norway’s minister of education and research, said MOOCs have the potential to “give people all over the world access to education.” But he said he knew of no MOOCs reaching into developing countries in South America and Africa.

He said that data from companies that provide MOOCs show that most of those who enroll in the courses have already completed degrees and are looking to further their learning. MOOCs aren’t necessarily attracting people who have never had a formal education in the first place, he said.

via International Reach of MOOCs Is Limited by Users’ Preferences – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of 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

DIY MOOCs – Turning Massive into Micro

Digital Pedagogy in Vivo

Domitilla Enders‘s insight:

Handy guide to DIY MOOCs.

See on www.onlineuniversities.com

Digital Pedagogy in Vivo

Domitilla Enders‘s insight:

What if some universities, or university consortia, can successfully market their own MOOCs? And what if, eventually, all universities will be able to do so? Coursera will try to convince you that no one can beat their marketing reach, but any university can develop one, between existing students and alumni.

DIY MOOCs would (a) allow universities to recover more of the tuition revenue associated with MOOCs, and (b) avoid the copyright problems that are arising with third-party hosts like Coursera and Udacity (Porter, 2013a; Porter, 2013b).

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:

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