OpenLearn2007 – final panel – thoughts and reflections around the OER movement


Members of panel, from right to left: Erik Duval, Robin Mason, John Dehlin, Terry Anderson and Andrew Ravenscroft

Erik says with emphasis that he doesn’t care whether OER are paid for or not. As long it is available to be used, it does not matter who pays for it: government, universities, institutions etc

Robin Mason: Does not think that OERs will pick up in terms of bein gpaid for etc. She thinks that acadmeics will produce it as a part of their contribution as an academic. She mentions television, libraries etc that did not change the university role. Content isn’t king. Content only is not enough. OER is just a modern version of a library. Although the OU went a step further than that, people need much more than that.

John Dehlin: He wonders who came with the idea of providing educational online was seen a visionary. Nowadays it is widely spread and a respected business (he mentions the Open University). He is considering the vision of the OERs as the OpenCourseWare director. He says taht everybody is doing somethign in teh OER community but what is missing is a big goal, that can involve all of us. Open degree, certification etc. He said that we use more paper nowthan before the digital age. So OERs could increase the number of people who could enrol in formal education.

Terry Anderson: says we do not have big goals until we have big crisis happening. Universities are not very culturally equipped for rapid change. There is a crisis coming in higher education and the demand for lifelong learning is going up. Until there’s a cultural crisis in instituions he doesn’t see it happening. In terms of assessment, in OERs, how do we assess? And what are we assessing? He thinks it is a subject that deserves seroius attention.

Andrew Ravenscroft: He says he hears the word ‘content’ far too much. He doesn’t think we need any more content (?). He woudl like to see more of open educational practcies around. He emphasises taht it is an exciting time in this perspective. Phase 1 for he was based on technology. Phase 2 now is to orchestrate content for teaching, for learning. It is tehn a far less negative problem. It is important to think in use, as well as reuse. He woudl like us to consider how to address significant learning problems with teh ‘use’, rather than the ‘reuse’ of OERs.

Members of panel have very different opinions: Andrew believes we do not need more content, Robin thinks that we do. Andrew thinks that we do not need to foucs on reuse of materials, Robin thinks we do.

Erik Duval thinks that there is a lot of very rubbish reserach around. Terry thinks that there aremany opportunites fo research – research is important otherwise we’ll keep reinventing the wheel. Andrew thinks that we have to ask teh right research questions about whta is changing. JOhn syays that we are inundated of big ideas that are tremendously successful: Google, YouTube, Wikipedia etc. So let’s not loose the spark of big ideas. In 5 years time we might see things changing. Let’s not loose hope on big ideas!


The Open Learning Object Model for the effective reuse of digital educational resources

by Giovanni Fulantelli

Live blog post at OpenLearn conference:

The SLOOP project,
The idea of the project is to promote a community of teachers whose main interest is the production of searchable and customisable learning objects. They want to produce a collection of LOs, there are partners around Italy and also in Spain, Romania and a Jew instituion in Ireland.

A reference model: philosophy of open source software and open content.

From LO to OpenLO

Move from reusability based on aggregation of LOs – towards an idea of evolving an LO according to specific needs. OpenLicense to objects. Three hey issues in this new model:

Rethink the LO life cycle

Give the metadata a dynamic mode

Not interested in having a well finished LO but have a basis for any teacher to refine and complete it. They are all in metadata. Metadata is something that can be used to understand teh evolution of a learnign object. LO interoperability by adopting international standards.

FreeLOms – a plataform for teachers to develop, share, search and modify OERs in a collaboartive way.

There you can upload digital files: ppts , pdfs etc. Direct access from Moodle to FreeLOms (to be released soon)

Teachers acquire an active role in developing their educational resources

Developing a community of teachers around the idea of OERs used and produced by them

Students can be involved in the production as well

Collaborative process in teh production ad modifications of OERs

A case-study framework for open content projects: free high school science texts and the case for continuous learning

Cynthia Jimes

By Cynthia Jimes.

Participatory research model. What sorts of technologies were already been used by them. The research tools built upon what was already in use. Interviews and email discussions with FHSS team. Survey and interviews with core volunteers. PhD studnets put together a science textbook at the university of Cape Town, to be released early 2008. It is not going to be Creative Commons . The textbooks will be printed and also made available in a website. The website of life sciences is:

They use a content authoring platform. They decided to go for a collaborative management system rather than a wiki because it is too open. There are people working on the content form many differnet parts of the world. The content assingment tovolunteers was devided into small chuncks so authors would not feel overwhelmed.

Volunteer recruitment: multiple methods of recruitiment: flyers, f2f networking, ads on facebbok and listserves. They achieved 420 volunteers from 2002 up to now. 50 are active (12%) and 10 (2%) are core. The core ones share the vision with the creators of the project. Content was created online and off-line.

Volunteers tried to have a very transparent production process and created a monthly newsletter to let people know of the developments of the project (good or bad).

The questions in my mind: are there authoring guidelines in terms of pedagogy and a carefully thought syllabus. What makes a volunteer qualify for writing the course? How is it going to be available, only on print? They decided not to use the Creative Commons license – so what type of license do they use?

The conclusion of teh study is that they try to install a culture of collaboration within the project. Some teachers want to pioneer the books with tehir students. The project leveraged community resources.


Content licensed in the GNU (GPL)

It makes me think that this is a good example of collaboration, content pulled from the users, from teachers. This is a good example of the ‘pull’ of content. This must be a really fascinating projetc, I would imagine that they had long discussios about what is it that people need. They eventually got funding for the project.

I appproached Cynthia and asked to run an interview with her, to serve as a ‘case’ to illustrate what pulling content from users would look like. She will get back to me and we are planning to do it using Flashmeeting, in the coming weeks.

Repurposing for an open educational repository:quantity, quality and processes

Presenters from left to right:  Tina Wilson, Rose Webb, Giselle Ferreira and Teresa Connoly.

In this presentation they are explaining the processes of unit production for OpenLearn. Giselle is presenting a unit in depth, showing all sorts of graphs, support texts and pedagogies that are cnetral to the OU courses.

Rose Webb is very briefly talking about the rights issues, technical cosntraints, resources and the Integrity Model. Rose emphasises that in OpenLearn people had to learn from experience. The faculties gained acces to a document entitled “Things to consider” which would provide them with some guidelines on what to offer in terms of their courses to OpenLearn.

Compendium map of production processCompendium map on the production process, by Teresa Connoly

There are 3 Steps to production:

Sourcing & assessment – contact with faculties and course managers, identifying in which format the materials were available, OpenLeanr academics examine the materials and check whetheer they are suitable to go to OpenLearn, think of the IP issues, materials are passed onto the media team for publishing and Rights dept double check for IP issues.

Production Process – Text, images, music etc. These need to be identifyed and copyright cleared. Materials are then XML tagged and upon return materials are checked. This process can take up to 6 weeks. Most of this time is used towards clearing copyright.

Publication – OpenLearn & Faculties academics check the materials to have a ‘go ahead’ for publication.

There is a similar production process to the LabSpace as well. The whole production has a collaborative approach.

Giselle brings a few questions: Efficacy: How do we make this work?

Efficiency: How can we make it work well?

Context: Comunity engagement

There is a lack of flexibility for hearing the various pedagogical voices embedded in the materials. There is no time to modify tehe materials to be more web-suited. This would have to happen outside the Integrity Model. The streamline production of OpenLearn aims to meet the project targets, but doesn’t stop people from experiementing at a times. A lot of time is spent negotiating with academics within the faculties. This is a sensitive matter because the academics have a very idiosyncratic relationship with the materials.

Internal community engagement:

Engagement: what’s in it for me? This is an attempt of universities to be part of a global movement and there are competing discourses within the OER movement (she mentioned my presentation yesterday, about teh discourses of OERs).

Leadership: decision-making & quality assurance. Making decision in OpenLearn rests within a core team and this is a very different way of operating from the rest of the university (interesting point!).

Pedagogies: for print & pedagogies for Web. There is not a tutor, a mediator or facilitator. Does it mean that there’s a need for a different pedagogy to support the self-learner, embedded in the materials?

Professional Jurisdiction: Authority & Validation

OERs needs to consider issues of authorship, validation, ownership of the work. The production process of units need to get specific attention.

Question: repurposing materials is very expense. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to produce brand new material for OpenLearn?

Giselle says that there is a lot of reuse already in the OU but not across disciplines.

The difficulty to transfer content relies largely on technological barriers (Moodle platforms are different at the moment). New production in the OU will probably already have OpenLearn in mind.

 Interesting presentation.

The TESSA OER experience

By Freda Wolfeden & Bob Moon

There are 18 instituions involved in thsi consortium to train teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The TESSA Portal: South Africa Country Page.

Challenge: need to devise materials that could be easily localised and contextualised for a number of institutions. Highly structured templates for study units were devised. Each study unit was written used the auhtoring template. Particular components were identified, teh ones that would remain the same. Other components would have to be modified and adapted by other partner instituions. There 750 study units, over 2000 activities, 11.000 study hours of materials will be there on teh site. The writing involves over 100 authors and 1000 teachers testing and providing feedback on the units.

Context of in which learners will be working: most teachers will not have access to the internet, most of them do not even have eletricity. The study units can be turned into a variety of different formats. There are PDFs that can be printed out or word documents as well. Supporting dialogue and discussion for people to develop their own materials and share them is essential in the project. There is a homepage for every country involved in the project.

Content is being generated and activites are carefully thought about, especially on how they will be used. Games in the classroom are also encouraged. There will be 450.000 teachers engaging with the materials in 2008.

Framing Factors:

15 hours of study time. Ease of localisation, quality assuarance, access and take-up, portal design and organisation.

Access and take up: they are not using proprietory softwae so there is no need to worry about licenses.

They wish to build an Architecture for Teacher Development

Devising a participatory open educational resources architecture for higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa: a typological approach

By Peter Bateman.

Presentation based on his PhD research.

OER Typology:

1) Creation

What to consider when authoring OER:

Authoring original OER (very few people do)


Think of how to diseeminate oERs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Videos is not an alternative because there is no way to disseminate them. Policy makers shoudl be aware of all these issues to make informed decisions.

2) Utilization

Mechnaism for auhtoring/updating OER

Using existing OER

Quality Assurance Mechanism

Accreditation of materials

Pedagogical Models

Peter devised a Participatory OER Architecture for Africa. Africa is at a point of making a social history and they are keen to be involved in the OER production. It is about a framework for decision makers. Four key elements: creation, organization, dissemination, utilization. There are 7 key components to be implemented through universities in Sub-Saharn Africa to scaffold their path into the movement. What would be teh components supportreffective participation of Sub-Saharan Africa in the OER movement?

1st component: Research

Need to convince decision makers of the importance of the OER movement

2st component: Pedagogy

Ensure that pedagogically sound teaching and learning paradigms are devised that are appropriate and context specific. This may inlcude devise cost effective open an ddistance learnign programs that increase access to educational opportunities.

3rd component: Technology Support

He mentions teh planned fibre optic networks in Africa.

4th component: Sensitization

Raising awareness at all levels: government, ministries, senior institutional management, educational practitioners and NGOs.

5th Collaboration

Easy to use systems for collaborative authoring, sharing of experiences and expertise. And for sharing policy frameworks.

6th component: Capacity Enhancement and Training

7th component: Policy Framework – his main interest

Strong policy is necessary to enable the leverage of the OER movement in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) require policy support. OERs need ot be one of the themes considered for acadmeic publications – should be encouraged and counted for purposes of carrier progression.

These components are not mutually exclusive. He porposes a dynamic typology (still work in progress) Additoonal categories and sub-categories are expected to be added.

The end. Nice presentation.

Question from the audience:

Can you talk a bit more about how to disseminate the idea?

Open Learning Initiative: measuring the effectiveness of OLI statistics course in accelerating learning

Presentation by Candice Thille & Joel Smith

Well, I got a bit tied up with cleaning up the files from my digital voice recorder and missed the beggining of the talk. It’s about 20 min on now. From here:

Second study: Spring 2006 – Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in a first Statistics course (CAOS)

Increase 7.9%pts of accuracy National Sample against 11.7% OLI sample

Results of both studies: Online courses ‘do no harm’

Further analysis showed that for some traditionally difficutl statistical ideas the online course showed and advantage over traditional courses.

Third study: Spring 2007 “Accelerated Learning”

Requirement: go through the course in an accelerated pace and comolete all the activities. Post questions to be addressed in class. Work two 50-minute meetings a week.

OLI students: 18%pts increase and Traditional control (national?) = missed teh figure, slide is gone

Summary: students of OLI had a considerable higher achievement that the control group, even though they studied all the content of a semester in only half a semester.

This talk is about a statistics course and obviously uses lots of statiscal data. It is a study based on comparing data to a ‘control goup’. As I am not an statistics expert (or quantitative methods), I cannot really give an opinion on it, but it sounds rather structured and the speaker is very enthused.

Accelerated learning results:

85% definitely recommend

15% probably recommend

Nobody said no

Now, it remains to me the task to understand better what this accelerated learning stuff is about! I missed the beginning and got lost afterwards :-(

OpenLearn demo

It’s Monday and we are here at the conference centre doing a demo of the OpenLearn website for the participants. Jo, Laura and the OpenLearn team are welcoming  the visitors. Simon, Elia, Alex and Ale are presenting the tools. Patrick, Steve and Andreia (me!) are talking about research in OpenLearn. Here are some photos for you to take a look…