Pre-event discussion - Helen Beetham – JISC consultant : 'Understanding the role of OERs in open educational practices'
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17 March 2011
Please, see below Helen Beetham opening for discussion, and use the comments to get the discussion going!
1:08pm 16 March 2011
Hello, great to hear from others who are going to be at the Impact event, and to know that Antonio is going to be there. I'm leading one of the workshops and most of my experience of evaluating OER comes from the UK-OER pilot programme, which funded Humbox. Humbox (of course) was one of the most amazing and in my eyes interesting of the projects, because of it's focus on sharing in a community of common interest. It will be really interesting to catch up on its ongoing impact.
Before the event I'd be interested to have people's views on a couple of questions. The first is about content itself. When we are thinking about impact, what is it about content that makes it more or less OPEN, in an educational contexts. And also, what is it about content that makes it more or less EDUCATIONAL, in an open context? I'd be interested in ideas.
As soon as we start to ask these questions I think we come upon the question of who is using content, and for what purposes. Different uses will lead to different criteria for evaluating openness and learning potential, maybe? Anyway, I'd be interested to hear from you, and will perhaps have time to post my second question later.
Thanks for the comments and ideas on my question about what makes content open and what makes it educational. Some really interesting points that I'd like to respond to below. Meanwhile my second question relates more closely to the topic of my workshop. What role do OERs play in troubling the existing practices of the institution?
I'm asking this from a position of having recently run focus groups for a couple of OER projects. I've been surprised by the number of ways in which existing practice is being challenged, not just around IPR and licencing, although obviously that is a big area in which knowledge practices are changing. Also, for example, it troubles assumptions about who 'our' students are. About who 'properly' authors and authorises learning content in relation to a particular learning programme. About the roles of different individuals in relation to the curriculum, including individuals such as consultants and employers who may not obviously be members of the curriculum team. And of course about the relationships between students and tutors.
Can we enrich and add to these observations about boundary crossing practices? Are OERs symptoms of these transformations, or are they agents? And what are appropriate ways of researching this?
21:31 on 20 March 2011
I finally made it into the cloudspace and have been rapidly taking in your interesting discussions on OER content as it applies to language learning and teaching, including sourcing content that was not specifically designed with an educational purpose.
I've just finished doing a couple of days of OER CPD training with my English for Academic Purposes (EAP) colleagues at Durham and some interesting issues/insights came out of these workshops which I hope to touch on with you all tomorrow in person.
I think, unlike the ESOL teaching world where the emphasis is placed heavily on student-centred approaches to teaching with much learning content, both proprietory and open, reflecting this methodology the EAP teaching world in contrast requires instructors to be more teacher-centred in their teaching methodology as they devise support for different students dealing with vastly different discipline-specific texts and academic contexts where English is the target language. This is quite de-skilling for a lot of EAP teachers who have essentially come through ESOL training accreditation schemes and that is why an informal learning and professional network like BALEAP (the British Association for Lecturers in EAP) is so essential for sharing resources on how to re-skill EAP teachers to better suit the needs of their learners.
Getting back to OER, we have found that a lot of the OER out there for EAP focuses heavily on academic skills only e.g. how to give a great presentation, how to manage your time and be more autonomous as a learner etc but there isn't much in the way of OER for EAP that deals with different genres of academic texts or that compares the work of academics writing for publication (the type of content our sts have to consume in their reading) or the work of successful university students (assignments, dissertations etc). However, when we looked at OER by e.g. the OU on Public Dialogue which we found in Jorum and saw the authentic texts embedded into the OER desgin we felt that this would be content that we could work with to develop niche EAP OER that might actually help our students prepare for the types of assessments they will face in their respective academic contexts.
Anyway, something to start with....
Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow,
14:44 on 22 March 2011