‘OportUnidad’ preannouncement: Promoting OER and OEP in Latin America and EU

Eight countries in Latin America and four in the EU will soon be working together to promote and research open educational resources. The OportUnidad Project is co-funded with support by the European Commission under the EuropeAid ALFA III Programme . It  involves 12 partner institutions in Italy, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador,  Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

The aim of OportUnidad is to strengthen and sustain the EU-LA Common Higher Education Area,  through a bottom-up approach, by the increasing use of open educational practices and resources (OEP & OER).

The lead partner is Universitá degli Studi “Guglielmo Marconi” in Rome. The project will be launched in early 2012. More news to come soon.

Contact: OportUnidad in Brazil (Andreia Inamorato ainamorato@gmail.com)

OER10: The Openness Agenda

OER10 Conference, Cambridge, UK.

Opening Talk by Dr Malcom Read, JISC Executive Secretary

Live blogging, 10:30 AM

Dr Read starts by discussing the various contexts in which ‘openness’ is used:

  • Open source: software
  • Open standards: interoperability
  • Open Access: research  outputs, research data
  • Open Educational Resources: course material
  • Open Science: open innovation (the research process becoming more open via web 2.0)

OER New Challenges:  need to focus on the discovery and use of OER and also on learning form current experiences (reuse).

HEFCE funding for next year (2011) is  £4million and will incorporate the release of projects in identified priority areas only. Another goal is to improve the findability of OER resources.

The UNESCO OER Agenda

GUIDE ASSOCIATION

Live blogging, 18th March, 9AM

GUIDE workshop Rome – Dr Indrajit Banerjee opening talk – UNESCO

Dr Indrajit Banerjee of the UNESCO ICT in Education, Science and Culture starts by considering some of the challenges and benefits of distance education.

Next, he recommends practitioners the use of  the ICT Competence benchmarks for teachers, launched by UNESCO.

UNESCO is focusing on 3 key areas, having launched its Open Suite Strategy.  It has 3 components: 1) Open  educational resources (Unesco is developing its own educational resources platform); 2) Open Access to Scientific Information and 3) Free and open source software.

He also mentioned UNESCO’s Open Training Platform (OTP) with more than 3500 courses in 21 subject areas. The OTP has over 630 training providers and has attracted more than 1 million visitors (www.opentrainingplatform.org)

OER international community: how do we know what they need?

by Spoon Monkey

This week at OLnet we are having a pilot virtual workshop (twitter #olnetvw). The aim of the workshop is to promote reflective practice within the OLnet team, and also to enable us to come up with an approach to run virtual workshops.

We are taking a closer look at the UNESCO OER Toolkit, at the same time looking at other OER resources aimed at the community, such as the OER Handbook and the OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008. The programme of the workshop can be found here.

In our discussion of the toolkit, I started by raising the question of what it is proposing itself to do. Here is a copy of my post in our virtual workshop page:

“I thought it was very interesting reading the UNESCO OER toolkit. I allocated 10 min this morning and went through sections A and B of the document, and I realised I was taking a lot for granted about it.

First of all, I did not know the doc was targeting developing countries. I thought it was just a nice and creative attempt to make available ‘OER-How to’ knowledge to all. It was definitely a surprise to me.

I wonder however whether there is a misconception in the doc – the assumption that practitioners in the so called ‘developed world’ already know how to use OER. Do they?

I do not think so. Despite the fact that the OER movement was initiated by more privileged societies (due to the funding received), I believe the take up is still very timid. Often, practitioners argue they do not feel confident in changing content developed by others, or they do not seem to find the time to do so. Some of them have not even heard of OER… or struggle with the technologies. That is why it feels odd to think of a toolkit developed to the developing world….

UNESCO’s initiative with the OER Toolkit is undoubtedly to be praised, and the work of all the collaborators too. I have read just a few sections of it so far but I can already see its potential. It is a document that can be changed and adapted to suit different audiences, and the fact that it is published in a wiki helps.

But to what extent has this toolkit taken into consideration the reality of the developing world? I did not find this reflection appropriately developed in the doc anywhere yet. So far, using the doc’s own language, it is all very ‘anecdotal’.

I would like to know more about how it came to be the case that the toolkit should focus on the developing world. Is it just because it ‘sounds good’ and is in line with the overarching altruistic proposition of the movement? And if not, how do we know we are offering the developing world what they need?”

I am playing a little bit of a devil advocate here I know, but I believe that many times in the OER movement we act based on assumptions. Not to say that it is wrong, but is it enough?

Explore, map and build: the 4 themes and their connections

Live blog post, 3pm

continued form previous post:

1) Models of technology:

All projects use a pool of technologies: social networking (e.g. Facebook, Ning, Cloudworks), repositories (OpenLearn, slideshare, flickr), mapping software (e.g. Compendium, Cohere).

2) Models of learning:

Common to all projects: an attempt to blend formal and informal learning;

Discussed: the individual and social dimension; structure and unstructured materials.

3) Models of community:

Various foci: content, social interactions etc. How do these things characterize different types of interactions between learners, how does leadership happen in these spaces?

Common to the projects: personalisation, content-focus, forums, openness. The concept of the collective, learning design (as a community)

4) Models of design:

Different models of design and how these projects can be placed in these models:

4 types of design model:

1) configuration and re-configuration design (creating new patterns from existing ones) LDI, SocialLearn, OpenLearn

2) Inspirational design (Creativity): OLnet, VirtualMphil

3) Effective design (for particular requirements): VirtualMphil, TERGU, Atelier-D

4) Collaborative design & Cooperative design (teams of people doing things): OLnet, Atelier-D

We will continue the conversation at Ning/Cloudworks. Cloudworks is open to the public view. Photos of the day are available at OLnetChannel on Flickr.

Explore, map and build workshop

Live blogging:

11:25am

This morning we are gathered together at the Open University, The Design Observatory, Observation Space, to discuss the connections amongst the various OER projects existing in the university. By ‘we’ I mean representatives from projects such as OLnet, Atelier-D, OpenLearn, SCORM, LDI, iSpot, the TERG research group and the OU Library.

We started by ‘building’ a virtual representation of the projects, using traditional technologies such as pens, paper, glue and magazines! Interestingly, most posters have pictures that evoke meanings such as networks, international scope, multiculturality, technologies and mixed age-groups.

Andreia Santos started by talking about the main three elements of OLnet (Open Learning Network): networking, participatory research and fellowships. OLnet is an international research hub that aims to bring together OER researchers, providers and practitioners with a view to promote a space for the sharing of experiences in designing, using and re-using OER. It offers a website and links to tools such as social networking (Cloudworks), a mapping tool (Cohere) and blogging/discussion forums to support community engagement.

Lucia Rapanotti follows by talking about The Virtual MPhil, a research programme offered by the OU computing department aiming to support a diverse community through online technology, bringing together supervisors and students working at a distance. It involves a number of technologies, such as Second Life and Ning.

Andy Lane talks about OpenLearn as a test-bed, a project to develop OER on big scale (big ‘d’). It exposes the OU content and other people’s content , but it is also a platform in which many things can be done. There is the LabSpace and Learning Space, and overall 20000 download of study units every week. OpenLearn is a test-bed for learners, for students, for educators, for the universities. People can do things with it and they do not have to ask us to do so. Research continues to be an important element to the understanding of how useful these materials are for the community and actually what they ‘do’ with them.

Theo Zamenopoulos talks about Atelier-D: Achieving Transformation, Enhanced Learning and Innovation through Educational Resources and Design. Atelier-D is a design studio (of materials), a place for people to work together in collaboration with tutors and other students. It is a social environment for collaboration. The big question for the project is how to use the technologies to understand the dynamics of a traditional design studio. They use a mix of technologies such as Facebook, Second Life, Compendium, Flickr and Elluminate. They aim to bridge the use of these tools and try and create an infrastructure for the students to work with. How to integrate the complexities of the use of all these technologies is one of the project’s challenge (and of OLnet too, I should add!)

The next project showcased is iSpot; a project interested in wildlife and providing a space for the sharing of ideas within a friendly community. It is a place for informal and mobile learning, in which individuals can use the resources provided to observe wildlife and share information. The research side of iSpot is to observe people in their journey, how they use resources and make connections with them, although they say it is a real challenge!

TERG (Technology and Education Research Group) is a research group in the communication systems department, focusing on the use of technologies for learning and on how to learn with technologies. It involves different people at the OU collaborating and sharing experiences.

More on Explore, Map and Build to follow….

OLnet – designing a network of OER research

The aim of OLnet (Open Learning Network) is to establish a network for information sharing about OER research. Questions such as ‘How can the design and reuse of OERs be improved?’ and ‘How can we build a socio-technical infrastructure to serve as a collective evolving intelligence for the community?’ are the heart of OLnet’s interests.

Launched in January 2009, OLnet is in its very early days, but already planning a number of initiatives to start up its engagement with the research community. A fellowship program is being structured, in which researchers from all over the world will be able to invest their expertise in researching and sharing OER best practices and challenges. Alongside the fellowship program, OLnet first event will take place at the Open university in Milton Keynes in February, in which the OU community will have the opportunity to join the network and share experiences. The OLnet website is http://koi.open.ac.uk/olnet