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Presentation: Dimitriadis et al. New design approaches to repurposing OERs for collaborative learning

Ascilite conference, 6th December 2009, Auckland

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Gráinne Conole
7 December 2009

New design approaches to repurposing Open Educational Resources for collaborative learning using mediating artefacts

Yannis Dimitriadis, School of Telecommunications Engineering, University of Valladolid

Patrick McAndrew, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University

Gráinne Conole, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University

Elpida Makriyannis, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University


In spite of high expectations and the support given by prestigious funding and educational institutions, Open Educational Resources (OER) have not been adopted widely by teachers and learners in practice. From a cultural historical activity theory perspective, we argue that Mediating Artefacts (MA) such as OER learning design visual representations and rich narrative pedagogical patterns may enable a more effective OER cycle of creation, design, use and evaluation. More specifically, two main arguments are analysed in this paper: first, that making the inherent design of OER more explicit will make them more understandable and hence reusable; second, that offering a small set of simple patterns will encourage new ways to interpret OER and inspire re-purposing in new challenging contexts. A series of successful workshops was carried out and qualitative data gathered which provide initial evidence that a set of CSCL pedagogical patterns were found very suitable in order to repurpose resources intended for individual use and adjust the focus to make them suit new collaborative learning contexts. Interpretation of the data will form the basis for further workshops that aim to extend the idea of using targeted mediating artefacts to guide the design and repurposing of OER.


Keywords: Learning Design, Pedagogical Patterns, Collaborative Learning, Open Educational Resources, Mediating Artefacts

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Terry K. Smith
2:29am 7 December 2009 (Edited 4:46am 8 December 2009)

The word "design" is used frequently and very casually in this presentation, and I wonder if the true meaning of the term escapes many educators, that is, not being designers by training is a roadblock to effective design. Resources are obviously available, but the knack of getting them, the ones you need, and assembling into your purpose area for use in projects or training is such a change as to be daunting for seasoned educators. Perhaps a look at design  sources such as Bill Moggridge's collections of design successes called "Designing for Interaction" or some similar work could be instrumental in forwarding the basic idea of what is really meant by designing.

Gráinne Conole
5:49pm 7 December 2009

I agree unpacking and redesigning resources is challenging - that was a point I made in my talk. Whilst I agree that design is a well established and specialised field my argument is that teachers are designers and they need to be able to made complex design decisions if they are going to use new technologies effectively. Our work is about trying to provide them with the tools to do this.

Terry K. Smith
4:58am 8 December 2009

This is an interesting discussion. I am a teacher and fully agree with your point that teachers are designers, however, I see far too few that actually consider the formations of their experiences and planning for students as being designed per se. More, I observe long sequences of content, repeated write-a-paper processes, that exist not to be part of the world , but to reflect agreed upon modes of teaching - expected not only by other faculty, but also by students. We see students perplexed when offered innovative modes of interactions that don't fit with how that had thought they would be scheduling their education time. So I am speculating, hoping that a change in activity toward designer thinking can create authentic useable experiential learning situations that actually require deep effort and output of students which will in turn lead them to their own goals, ones that become real as part of a designed (distributed cognive experience) education. Which brings me back to getting the designer identity mingled with the teacher identity.

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