Category Archives: Resources

Sketching the idea

I’m really tired tonight so just a few musings to ensure I get simple ideas recorded. It’s often the simple ideas that seem to get lost along the way.

What do I need to include to ensure an OER strategy is complete? I’m a great believer in looking at a whole thing and then deconstructing it to find out what makes it tick or, put another way, looking at an answer and then working backwards to find out what the questions were.

What I want to end up with is a method that everyone can follow and everyone can obtain reassurance from. It has to start with everyone knowing how to get started when their OER is just a twinkle in their eye, before it has any real form or is even, may be, recognisable as an OER. Where does one start – is this the point where fear creeps in and prevents the lecturer or whoever from taking their idea any further? So it is necessary to say, this is the start and this is how you ensure you obtain the necessary help. It is not just a matter of obtaining help though, there is also the issue of trying to prevent anything from being put in their way, therefore the policies and processes involved in creating an OER, right from the start, have to be examined and evaluated against the changing needs of education. Thus I find I have to write (or should I say continuously re-write) three things, guidelines for anyone who wants to create an OER, a booklet of something like FAQ, only they probably aren’t ‘cos people don’t even know what questions to ask and, finally, the document that underpins all of that, the strategy itself.

Well the first part the guidelines are already drafted and now need to be piloted with, I hope, three different groups who will be focusing on three different outputs. One group would be purely information giving, the second would include some information giving and a low-level of learning whilst the third would be purely educational. That will enable me to test whether the guidelines meet all needs that might arise for OER in the University. Now I just have to find some volunteers 🙂 Wish me luck!

The end of a long day

What a lot to do today! Only just got round to doing my bit for this blog 🙂 Excuse me if it’s not very long.

I’ve come across a number of things today such as Purdue’s Mixable (a page from 2010!), JISC Media Hub and this article from Matthew K. Gold’s blog. This started me thinking, in general, about how we use technologies for teaching in HE. Then this afternoon I was in a meeting where, amongst other things, we talked about how widespread was the use of mobile technologies in learning and teaching in HE. There seemed to be a consensus that things were improving in places but it was all still rather slow.

It seems rather a shame to me that there are some places that have really cottoned on to the idea of working with the technologies that students and the general public are used to using. Most others still seem to be trying to impose somewhat outdated technologies in the misguided belief that these are somehow more proper or academic than things like Facebook and Twitter.

What is it that holds us back? Fear of appearing to be taking too much risk with our student satisfaction outcomes? Well others have gone before us, they have encountered the risks and have learnt to overcome them – can’t we learn from them? Is it just fear of risk itself – have we become over-sensitized to risk? I always thought it was the clever, brave, courageous people in universities that were the ones happy to take risks – it’s one of the reasons I wanted to be one of them. May be I was wrong, may be they are just a load of old fuddy duddies after all.

I do so hope that one of them is a knight in shining armour or perhaps an Indiana Jones.

Oh btw, sorry about the lack of pictures in my other blog but WordPress didn’t seem to want to put them in :$

What’s going on?

ECE11 in Salford looks as if it could be interesting. Dr. Alex Curos, an open learning supporter, will be speaking, his video makes it very tempting to attend but I can’t get any more funding this year. Is anyone else going?

Still remaining with the open learning theme, I liked this article from the Guardian on Taking back the universities. Many of the ideas presented in this article are probably not going to take hold in Higher Education but you can appreciate the draw of them. This is open learning in a rather radical way. I applaud the academic nature of the initiatives – these are not bawdy crowds these are people who are really interested in learning.

It’s a very confusing time out there for everyone, especially for students looking for courses (and anxious parents) their thoughts might go along these lines – should I do a course that uses computers in their teaching or is it safer not to – how might I cope when I don’t even understand what they are talking about? I was talking to a friend yesterday about these types of problems that students might be facing. We started thinking about how terms and concepts become muddled and confused. You might be talking about a particular concept but the person listening to you hears you talking about something else entirely.

I was thinking about the confusion that seems to be in the minds of people in the USA between online learning, elearning, for-profit educational institutions, open learning, adult learning and OER. Mind you I think there is a lot of confusion even in the UK about what all these terms mean. If I tell you how I perceive the differences between these terms may be you’ll get back and tell me whether you agree or not. So let me briefly examine these six different terms:

  • online learning – any sort of learning that is carried out through using the Internet (yes the Internet not the WWW) so that includes things like email.
  • elearning – a more structure form of learning using any type of electronic assisted learning. This might be things that are used off-line or online.
  • for-profit educational institutions – somewhat more difficult to define because these days all universities have to make a profit. However I tend to think of these as being very variable in the quality of their work. Anything from rather fly-by-night organisations that do training rather than education to the New College of the Humanities and even possibly the very well-respected Open University. These organizations might be very dependent on technology or they might not.
  • adult learning – can be included in all the above but for some people this seems to mean the very lowest level of learning. We need to stop thinking of informal adult learning as being some sort of poor relation. It can just as easily require students to possess good digital literacy skills as any other course.
  • OER – is another concept that often seems to be interpreted as just something pretty but unimportant and done on the cheap. Open Educational Resources have to be of a high standard, possibly even a higher standard than the sessions normally created for students at the university.

For me this is all about digital literacy, it’s not just the skills but the ability to understand what all these concepts are. They are still far too easily misunderstood/used even by those who really should know better. So what’s going on with our digital literacy programmes and teaching. I’ve joined the new JISC digital literacy mail list but haven’t heard anything yet – I do like their site though 🙂

The Digital Divide in HE

It has been claimed that we are only just starting to see how digital technology might change education . I think that’s a valid statement – we certainly don’t see HE moving very fast to engage with digital technologies. At least this was one of the arguments put forward by a number of people on the Guardians live discussion on 3rd June. There was a feeling that, “it’s all so new” which makes it very difficult to know what is wanted or even needed – that it’s difficult to identify the barriers but apparently all the barriers are all sorts of fears rather than lack of interest – and what do we analyse to identify trends, a group, a discipline, a management style – who knows? We just have to accept that it (that’s the whole IT and social media in education thing) is big and messy and will take a while to work out.

That doesn’t mean to say that we should just accept the status quo. We must keep pushing for change, it is going to be very easy for a University to get left behind in this terrifically exciting cultural change. Yes, we know everyone is frightened – they’re frightened of trying to do something which is clever and ending up looking silly – they’re frightened that someone will steal their research out from under their noses – they’re frightened that someone will mock their teaching or research efforts – they’re frightened their boss will shout at them for bringing the University into disrepute. Everyone in Digital Literacy knows all this – how do we get round it?

Of course one of the things that will help get round it is culture change itself. When publishing on the web, writing a blog or web page, teaching with Twitter or in a virtual world are valued in the same way as other forms of publishing, conferencing or teaching are valued then lecturers, researchers, administrators and managers will not be so worried. The new technologies do change education and it’s up to the leaders of the Universities to re-write their policies to legitimate that change.

I think that’s more or less the tone of the first part of the discussion. If you want to carry it on by commenting here please do 🙂

If anyone wants to know what Digital Literacy type apps came out of the discussion please go and look at my other blog.

Digital Literacy Discussion

I know this is a bit late in the day but it has taken me ages to read, follow-up links and cogitate on the live discussion from the Guardian on 3rd June and I still haven’t quite finished. I tried to get to the discussion but unfortunately couldn’t make it. It’s all very interesting, even the strange comments by some rather strange people – I guess we should just put their behaviour down to stress and feel sorry for them. The discussion ranged from, HE is doomed to extinction because it is congenitally incapable of engaging with the digital age to some really excellent examples of just what HE is doing with social media, etc. I’m going to pick out a few of the topics from the discussion and go over them in the next few days and have a closer look at some of the interesting links supplied by the contributors. Come back tomorrow and see which topic I decide to feature first.

The end of another week

Here we are at the end of another week and I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Too bad the weather’s not going to be a bit better :$ Still I’ve had a nice time this week looking round what’s going on with Digital Literacy stuff.

Found some interesting stuff on Sitepoint about Creative Commons licensed audio and visual resources. This is the sort of stuff we need to spread about in our universities. Finding, using, evaluating these resources is what the students need to be doing to learn about being Digitally Literate. Having fun playing with these resources.

Now what else was it that I thought interesting? Oh yes, did you see that the Immersive Education (iED) group have opened a European section – the University of Essex seems to be involved in it – anyone heard anything? I’m not sure how much it would catch on with universities iED seems rather school centred to me. What do you think?

btw has anyone used Publish or Perish. I was reading somewhere (ahh now I remember it was on the LSE blog) that it was more use to academics/researchers for tracking where they have been cited than Google or Web of Science. Has anyone else compared them?

And, finally – as I was wondering around I popped back to the LLiDA Wiki to look again at some of the Pilot Materials. I think it would be useful to use the Audit tool on a regular basis, like every couple of years. What do the rest of you think?