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Learning in an open world: Vision Statement

Vision statement

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Gráinne Conole
21 December 2009

From January 2010 I will be heading up a new research programme at the Open University, entitled 'Learning in an Open World'. The aim of the programme is the build on and develop our existing portfolio of research work and to develop this in new directions in the future. The 'programme' label works a little like JISC programmes, providing an overarching umbrella to synthesis individual project work and to help make connection with related reseach activities.

So in the spirit of 'openness' I have set up this cloud as a forum to foster some debate around the development of this research programme. I have an initial 'vision statement' for the research programme, linked below. I would welcome thoughts on this either from people within the OU or externally.

  • Discussion on initial vision statement
    • Do the four strands of activities make sense?
    • My ideal would be for as much of the research programes actiivites as possible to be 'open', how feasible is this?
    • Initial set of projects is very much a first draft - do these projects fit here, what else should be included?
    • Where would be sensible sources to seek funding for activities in this programme?
  • Does anyone know of any related research work going on elsewhere of this kind?
  • What mechanisms should be used to showcase the research programme, to synthesise outputs, to foster communication and collaboration?

Extra content

Learning in an Open World Workshop - 26/01/10

  1. Discussion of the initial vision statement
  2. Map of what research we current have that fits within the programme and articulation of synergies.
  3. Discussion about how the research programme will work, what benefits it will give above and beyond what individual projects are doing.
  4. Discussion of what will 'success' for the programme look like.
  5. Quick wins - brainstorming of research activities - bidding, joint writings or events etc.

 

Gráinne Conole
08:49 on 25 January 2010 (Edited 08:50 on 25 January 2010)

Embedded Content

Learning in an open world - vision statement

Learning in an open world - vision statement

added by Gráinne Conole

OU Learning Design Initiative and related projects

OU Learning Design Initiative and related projects

added by Gráinne Conole

Workshop post its 26/02/10

Workshop post its 26/02/10

added by Gráinne Conole

Contribute

Manish Malik
3:56pm 21 December 2009


  • Do the four strands of activities make sense?
  • Very
  • Does anyone know of any related research work going on elsewhere of this kind?
  • Initial set of projects is very much a first draft - do these projects fit here, what else should be included?
  • Where would be sensible sources to seek funding for activities in this programme?
  • My ideal would be for as much of the research programes actiivites as possible to be 'open', how feasible is this?
  • What mechanisms should be used to showcase the research programme, to synthesise outputs, to foster communication and collaboration?

Manish Malik
3:56pm 21 December 2009 (Edited 3:58pm 21 December 2009)


  • Do the four strands of activities make sense?

Very well thought. More later.

Gráinne Conole
4:10pm 21 December 2009


Thanks! Look forward to hearing more from you!

Juliette Culver
11:00am 22 December 2009


Only skimmed this, but here are a few quick thoughts:

  • Openess is a rather vague concept that can be interpreted in different ways. I wonder if it would be worth either being more explicit about what is meant by openess (is it about making processes and artefacts public? is it about allowing people to use/modify artefacts? is it about openess to ideas? is it about making learning and teaching open to as many people as possible? or all of these?) or alternatively making part of the programme to explore different people's perceptions of openess in these types of contexts 
  • Is it worth being more explicit about how representations link into the openess theme? (I think they do but that it might not be clear to everybody!)
  • This may be in there, but I think it'd be really interesting to look at how people involved in the learning and teaching process feel about different kinds of openess - what are the barriers to openess? why do some people ignore those barriers and not others?

Karen Cropper
2:04pm 24 December 2009


Hi Grainne

Just to let you know I have added this as a 'story' at http://olnet.org/node/186

Also I'll tweet it.

Gráinne Conole
12:08pm 24 January 2010


Hi Juliette - yes agree 'opnness' is a vague concept. I think part of what we will need to do to start off with in the research programme is clarify what our take on it is, as evidence by the research and development work we are doing. Cloudworks for example to me is one example/embodiment of our take on 'openness'.

I also feel we will need to practice what we preach - evidence our take on openness in what we do - but I am also very aware that people have different views on how open they want to be! So a challenge there I think! Something for us to trash out in the workshop on Tuesday 26 January.

Suzanne Aurilio
9:20pm 25 January 2010


Re: Extant research relevant to the program, I wanted to offer a few ideas that stem out of some things I've been wondering for some time. First, do we have any contemporary educational research (i.e., conducted in the last 4-5 years and involving web technologies) on informal and non-formal learning? I recently studied informal-ish learning in Second Life, although I didn’t approach it as such. Here’s the study and abstract. http://tinyurl.com/yjojsu3 The majority of the studies I reviewed for it also did not use the terms (informal/non-formal). These were those studying learning in virtual environments/online, etc. At the same time, the literature I saw on informal/non-formal learning specifically seemed to be insufficient for helping me frame my research or understand my findings, although I’d be curious now to use those lenses to try and do so.
I’m not sure if it’s useful for open-world thinking either?

So here’s what I’m thinking:
I agree that defining the term “open” is needed. Can we approach the task with a bag of terms we already have? Like informal, non-formal, formal, continuing education, what else? Then looking at the theory and practice of these terms can we mash them in something new? Let me describe something I found in my research for a moment. I went into Second Life to study everyday residents. Deliberately staying away from educators using SL for institutionally-based learning, I wanted to find out how everyday folks learn. I found what I expected on the one hand--some folks just figured things out on their own, using resources at hand, asked friends, etc. What I didn’t expect were the folks who were very involved in taking and teaching classes and participating routinely in building contests. What’s more,  the school/class metaphor was powerful for a few of these folks, in that either they identified strongly with teacher/student roles and learned often with this kind of structured instruction, or identified as being self-taught. SL is unique among social software, arguable it also changes the meaning of “open world,” because it IS it’s own open world.

I hope this example helps convey my point. Suffice it to say that in addition to thinking about this in terms of theories and research, I’ve designed a new SL initiative at our institution that draws on what I learned and hope to continue to explore. Rather than creating a representation (in form and function) of our institution and encouraging faculty to use it for teaching/course delivery, students will create the form and function of virtual space. World-building is what SL is all about, after all. I’ll work with select faculty (e.g. 3D design, film, graphic arts, urban planning, civil engineering) and their select students (e.g. independent studies, extra credit, etc.) to provide general learning goals, project scaffolding, skill support and incentives. Pointing students to flat-web knowledge base and in-world resources, classes, groups etc, is all about open delivery orientation. We’ll see how it works :) <!--EndFragment-->

Gill Clough
10:14pm 25 January 2010


Fascinating post, Suzanne. Resonates with my experiences on the SL teen grid, exploring alternative approaches to education through the Schome project and to my research into informal learning mediated by mobile and social technologies. Key in both these studies was the blurring of the boundaries between being a learner and being a teacher, and the construction of shared knowledge through collaboration.

Based on some of the points raised in this cloud, I suspect that an Open World needs to support shifting identities that allow individuals to move between the roles of learner, teacher, researcher, author, critic, supporting knowledge sharing, building on the ideas of others, collaborating to create new ideas, using technology optimally but not being constrained by it into unproductive or unhelpful patterns.

Maybe being Open also means providing a flexible structure for collaboration in many forms - contributing, sharing, modifying, commenting.

I guess the vision needs to encompass not only what we are aiming to achieve, but also a selection of parallel pathways that we can follow to move toward these goals.

Suzanne Aurilio
11:25pm 25 January 2010


Gill, I'm familar with Schome, yes. So the parallel pathways, what can they be called and what do they look like?  I suppose in institutional settings we need to create cultures in which faculty can take risks with technologies. I've seen this happen in the program I direct--a seasoned instructor designed a superb multi-project writing assignment, culminating in multimedia presentations. She let students take the lead on the technology (PowerPoint)--not needing to be expert in that domain. She did scaffolded learning-the-technology into the project, so that students got the help they needed from each other and support personnel.

Andreia Inamorato Dos Santos
2:49pm 26 January 2010 (Edited 2:51pm 26 January 2010)


Yes, Grainne, I think the four research strands make a lot of sense. I would add another one however, which is 'open access'. In my view, open delivery does not necessarily mean open access, because although we may put 'stuff out there' to the world, this does not mean people will have access to it (e.g. barriers: lack of computer literacy, internet access etc). What is the role of technology in 'open access'? What happens to traditional (f2f) models of education in this scenario of 'openness'?

Gráinne Conole
7:28am 2 February 2010


Hi Andreia

thanks for this and I can see your distinction but to me rather than being a separate theme I think this is a principle/characteristic that should run across all four themes. I am sure there are other common principles/characteristics which will emerge as we work this up.

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