Open Educational Practices

According to Weller, there are two main reasons that openness in education matters; opportunities, including shifting from “a pedagogy of scarcity to one of abundance” (Weller M, 2014, p. 10) and function, i.e. by having an open approach to such things as the dissemination of research and sharing of teaching resources, universities can have a broader role in society.

There are so many aspects of sharing knowledge and information – for teaching (e.g. MOOCs and OERs), for research (open access publications and open scholarship), and open policy (licensing, e.g. Creative Commons). The benefits of sharing are plenty, for example increasing the audience, i.e. removing barriers for people accessing resources, and enabling increased access with the intention to reach particular groups that you might not usually reach (e.g. that entry qualifications are not required).

Openness is also about preventing that people “reinvent the wheel” – why not share educational resources to save time, and instead be able to spend more time helping students and doing other meaningful activities? In Alastair Creelman’s introduction to Topic 5, there is a quote by David Wiley “If there is no sharing, there is no learning” – that is a huge benefit of openness, being able to learn from each other and build on each other’s findings.

MOOCs is one aspects of open education that has been discussed extensively. In Alastair’s lecture on MOOCs he notes that they are not really leading to opening up education for everyone, but they are rather reaching people who are already high-level graduates who are used to, and good at, studying. A lot of people do MOOCs because they want to learn more about a certain subject and just testing the concept of doing a MOOC. However, MOOCs have gotten a lot of attention and have put online learning on the map. Perhaps in the long run this will make a big difference in opening up higher education to everyone.

Open education can also be seen in a bigger picture; it is a part of a broader movement for openness where access to data and information within the fields of politics. Making governmental and corporation data accessible is fundamental for accountability, and this is so important for an open and transparent society.

 

References:

Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.

ONL Topic 5 introduction, Alastair Creelman. Avaliable at: http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cDfh1v1y6H

MOOCs – from hype to opportunity. Alastair Creelman (2014). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXfo29bz868

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Reflecting on my participation in the ONL-course

I feel like I could have done better; be on time with my blogs, given more feedback on other people’s work, read the articles more carefully, understood the collaborative learning pedagogy sooner, etcetera. And yet, the fact that I’m concentrating on these aspects, is probably one of the problems. In our PBL group, we discussed academic achievement and how it can sometimes hinder you. This is very true, because you don’t want to publish something foolish for the whole world to see (and especially not in a course full of academics…). But on a rational level, I know that nobody really cares if I don’t write anything genius in my blog – there are other purposes with the blog (I know that now, in the end of the course…).

What I could have done better (and what I would do if I re-did the course):

  • Written my blogs on time – this would have led to me having more dialogue on the issue that particular week
  • Read other people’s blogs in time – I would have learned more from others this way
  • Been more active on Twitter (not just being a digital visitor)
  • Focused more on the collaborative aspects of the course and not so much on the more traditional aspects, like making sure to read everything

What I did do and what I learned:

  • Although always late, I wrote blogs
  • I learned about different digital tools, and how to use them
  • I learned that online learning, collaborative work, and trying to take a course while working can be really quite demanding, overwhelming and stressful
  • I read articles and watch videos on different issues
  • I got a Twitter account, and learned how much information you can get from it
  • I participated in a Tweetchat
  • I participated in PBL-meetings and got insights from the other group members
  • Online learning is complicated and hard work, it takes time, you need to have a very structured design and well thought through pedagogy and you need to take a lot of aspects into consideration (and consider learners, teachers, and administrators). But when you put some effort into it and it works, it can really benefit a lot more persons and enhance the learning experience. Open educational resources and other efforts to open up education for more people can really transform the way we think about education and who should benefit from it! It’s so important!

I think that at least some of the things that I could have done better, I didn’t do better because it took me a while to really understand this new way of learning – collaboratively and really learning from others – it’s hard to get rid of old studying habits and really embrace this new way of learning. But in the end, the list of what I did do (and sometimes did good) is at least longer than the list of what I didn’t do and didn’t do well. I learned so much in the ONL course, and I definitely learned that I need to learn more, but now I at least know what this is, and where I can find it. That’s a really good start!

 

 

Flexible and Mobile Learning

In their article, Jones and Walters write about life-long learning, and how more and more learners are seeking flexible study options – accelerated, decelerated – so that the studies can fit into a life of commitments – work, family etcetera. He also points out that their studies are more likely to be work-related. Since I work with commissioned education (professional development), this is very interesting for me. We are working with matching the education needs in society/the need for professional development in different fields with the vast knowledge and research at the university. In the center of our discussions when helping faculties to develop courses/programs is always the target group, their circumstances and how to adapt courses in the best way according to their needs. It is quite complex, because groups can be quite homogenous in some ways (e.g. they have the same profession and work place), but be completely different in other (e.g. language comprehension, different experience of university studies and academic writing, and different levels of understanding digital tools)

Flexible learning, is according to Jones and Walters, not about including technical/digital tools into a course, it is about looking at education and learning in a new and different way. It is about “[…] when, where, how and at what pace learning occurs, providing choices for an increasingly diverse student body”. So, it cannot be a “one size fits all” approach, and this is where my job is interesting, but also quite complex and difficult. How much can you adapt the design for different individual learners in the same course?

And as Alastair mentioned in his webinar; flexible for whom? The design also has to take teachers, students and administrators into account. As a Project administrator, I often deal with the questions from the learners that come up when the design might not suit them very well, such as the digital aspects, the frustration of not having enough time for studying, and not getting enough support from their managers in their professional development.

Through the ONL course, I have learned a lot. And one of the best insights is that I can relate to “my” participants’ frustration of trying to fit studies into a hectic life, feeling like you have never done enough, and trying to learn a new way of learning when you are so set in your old “learning ways” (that in my case were not very flexible at all).

 

References:

Jones, B., & Walters, S. (2015). Flexible learning and teaching: looking beyond the binary of full-time/part-time provision in South African higher education. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 3(1), 61-84.

Creelman, A. Flexible learning (2014). Available here: https://connect.sunet.se/p774ada7kpd/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Digital Me

 

Who am I as an individual in the digital age? I’m not young enough to be categorized in Prensky’s Digital Native box, but I can’t relate to the box of a Digital Immigrant either – I think I can adapt to the digital world quite easily (which I guess is why Prensky’s hypothesis has been discredited). I’m on Facebook (how can you not be?), on LinkedIn, I’m on Instagram, I email, I search for information, I google, I watch Youtube, I listen to music, I pay my bills, I book trips, I buy and sell things online and I’ve taken online courses. And now with the ONL course, I have a blog and I’m on Twitter. However, I’m still more of a visitor than a resident. I still think it’s a bit scary sharing too much online, leaving a trace behind you that you can’t really erase (and what’s the cloud? I still don’t understand…).

With the ONL course, I think my mind is shifting though. Using the Web for getting information and learning (as a visitor) is of course prevalent in every aspect of my life, but I’m really starting to enjoy using social media and digital tools in a more institutional context. It’s starting to feel completely illogical not to after starting to learn more about it – and I really wish lecturers used more digital tools and online pedagogy when I was studying!

With the new knowledge from Topic 2 comes more understanding and insight, but also more confusion and awareness of the fact that there is so much more to learn. The discussions in the G+ groups and in the webinar with Sara Mörtell made me understand how much I don’t know about correct attribution, creative commons, rights to materials published etcetera, and how many mistakes I’ve done in the past. So much more to learn…

Getting through the first confusion of ONL

I’ve been feeling a little bit stressed about the ONL-course. Missing the start of the course and from the beginning feeling like I needed to catch up, trying to get an overview of what to do, finding the time to do the tasks, and making the PBL-meetings. But this last week of Topic 1, things have started to fall into place – I started feeling comfortable with the different sites, having good meetings with the PBL-group and read all the articles. Suddenly I hear myself saying things like “why don’t we set up a Google+ group, put up a map in Google Drive and collect all materials there and then link it all in G+?” or find myself at work thinking about how to develop existing classroom courses into online-courses, or dependng on the target group and purpose of the course, atleast enhancing the classroom course with an online component. I’m starting to feel a lot less stressed and a lot more excited!