Pre-event discussion - Helen Beetham – JISC consultant : 'Understanding the role of OERs in open educational practices'

Cloud created by:

Sandrine Aguerre
17 March 2011

Please, see below Helen Beetham opening for discussion, and use the comments to get the discussion going!

Helen Beetham
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.

Helen

Extra content

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?

Helen Beetham
21:31 on 20 March 2011

Hello All,

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,

Alannah

 

 

Alannah Fitzgerald
14:44 on 22 March 2011

Embedded Content

Contribute

Sandrine Aguerre
6:15pm 17 March 2011


I've also been wondering about what makes a content educationnal, as it seems to me that, at least in languages teaching, teachers are creative and can use almost anything for educationnal purposes! And I definitely think you're right : this is something closely related to how we use the content. And I was thinking, as you talked about a community of common interest for Humbox, that OER quality and impact may also be related to who you share it with? Maybe you need to share purposes and uses for the OER (or the sharing of the OER ?) to get an impact ?

I'm curious to hear what the others think about all these questions.

Sandrine.

Anna Comas-Quinn
8:59am 19 March 2011 (Edited 8:59am 19 March 2011)


I agree with Sandrine in that teaching resources for languages are slightly different to those from say chemistry or geology, for example. A good language teacher can use almost anything (including bad content) to turn out a great language lesson. And, as some of us where discussing recently, good content does not automatically translate into good teaching.

Our LORO project (a close relative of Humbox) is aimed at a well defined community of language teachers who, to a large extent, share common goals (they all teach the same courses to the same kind of learners in roughly the same time frames). The kinds of resources they share are aimed at other languages professionals and therefore not always suitable to be used by learners without teacher mediation. I don’t think that means they are educationally less valuable than the beautifully structured units in openlearn, for example, they are just aimed at a different audience. A language teacher can immediately see the potential of a simple slide with a couple of images and a one line explanation on how to use this for an ice-breaker. The teacher will then fill the gaps when using this resource with his or her learners.

A lot of OER out there are fairly sophisticated learning objects, prepared by professionals for digital sharing or created using authoring packages like Xerte or LOC. In my view, not many teachers, at least in languages, create resources of such technical complexity for their everyday jobs. What we are trying to do with LORO is to encourage teachers to share and reuse their content, even if it’s just a couple of images on a slide and a one line explanation.

Encouraging openness and sharing at this level of ‘little OER’ is just a different approach from the multi-million institutional projects, an attempt to change practice from the bottom up. And yes, the stuff we are sharing is not as glossy and polished, but I think its educational value is still high.

Sandrine Aguerre
9:37am 21 March 2011 (Edited 9:40am 21 March 2011)


I'm looking forward to hear about examples of OER uses on Wednesday. I'm too new to the field to be be able to contribute with specific examples... as far as I know so far, I'm not quite sure about which comes first and induces the other, change in practices or OER. But there definitely are changes going on, and I tend to think of the process as a two way one. I quite like the idea (suggested by people from Tessa and Heat) of the OER as "triggers" : OER may have been thought of to accompany the changes, but OER also contribute to trigger these changes.

Anna Comas-Quinn
1:50pm 21 March 2011


Another thought regarding what makes content OPEN. I suppose the textbook answer would be that an OER is a digital resource with an open licence attached to it. I would say that from our experience this is harder to understand than the simple definition might suggest. When we use a CC licence the agreement is that we attribute when we reuse that resource again, and that we share it again under a CC licence, but I don't think that happens too often. Not because people consciously decide not to attribute or rerelease, but because that's a step too far in the process at the moment.

Regarding your new question, Helen, the issue of authorship might be different at the OU than in other contexts. We almost always work in teams, and often a single piece of work might have several authors who work on successive drafts. I'd reckon that our view of authorship is less proprietorial (at least in the Department of Languages) than in other institutions.

Antonio Martínez-Arboleda
7:46pm 21 March 2011


Dear all,

Thanks for all the interesting contributions and for the encouraging comments from Helen about the Humbox. 

In response to some of the things that have been said, I think we need to look at two of the implicit or explicit assumptions on which the different repositories have been built: who are the potential "sharers" and what would we like to be open to the rest of the world? 

For what I have seen, repositories in general, or at least some repositories within each discipline, ought to  to aim at showing primarily the actual resources that we actually use in HE, and not just the ones we'd like to think are the very best. By increasing the number of people sharing and the types of resources being shared, we are being more open. 

In relation to the question of what is educational, again, if we think about OER repositories as a way of improving ultimately the overall quality of the learning experience in HE, the question should be phrased more in terms of for whom are OERs educational. The answer to me is that the first users who will have to engage in open and fluid educational interaction are the teachers, so they need to be able to show as well as download or visit ordinary resources for that interaction to be more fruitful.     

I look forward to seing you on Wednesday!     

Alannah Fitzgerald
2:49pm 22 March 2011


Hello All,

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,

Alannah

Terese Bird
3:58pm 22 March 2011


My SCORE project looks at iTunes U as a channel of learning material. I can't even be sure about applying the term OER to iTunes U for many reasons, one of which is very simply that not every university assigns a CC license to its iTunes U material (though some do -- most notably Oxford). However, the material is free, no password required, and you can take it away from the internet easily even though it is multimedia.  So is it open? Perhaps it is open enough:-)

How do we judge how educational it is? When I think about reuse of OER I generally think in terms of the learner (the end-user even) and the teacher (someone who wants to pass it on to another learner, with or without changes).  So if lots of learners learn from it, I'd say it's educational. If lots of teachers think it's good enough to pass on, it's educational. Much of the material distributed through iTunes U ticks these boxes in a big way. The best material isn't necessarily the slickest or the stuff that most closely imitates the BBC. It's the material that well communicates great knowledge from the original teacher which seems to work best.

I find it very interesting that philosophy lectures are extremely popular on iTunes U (Oxford, Open University, and Harvard all have very popular philosophy lectures). Many of these are nothing special from a production point of view -- they're just simple sound files of a philosophy lecture. But I've seen many comments about philosophy lectures particularly, about how helpful and enjoyable they are. It's interesting in a time when many (most?) UK universities have axed their philosophy programmes.

Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.