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Spotlight topic 1: Shifting from resources to practice
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26 May 2010
Welcome to the online debate on open educational practices!
The discussion will continue for three weeks, with each week one experts statement introducing a new topic for discussion. At the end of each week the moderator will post a summary of issues raised.
In this week's discussion we would like to ge you started on the topic by introducing a a radical statement on which we drawing in a new initiative, called "Open educational Quality Initiative" (OPAL). OPAL considers the age of OER just a preliminary step on the way towards true changed, open educational practices.
The OER movement has gained considerable momentum in recent
years, backed by key stakeholders in the field such as the Hewlett Foundation and UNESCO and as a result an impressive array of OER initiatives have arisen. The rhetoric behind the notion of free educational resources and a vibrant community of sharing and scholarly practices is exciting and visionary. Despite this however, the actual impact on educational practice has been limited. Yes, OERs are being viewed and used by some teachers and some learners but they are not being used extensively. And evidence of
actual reuse is even more scant.
Why is this? Well, actually taking someone else’s OER, understanding it, deconstructing it and then recontexualising it is a complex cognitive process. Add to this potential technical and organisational barriers and perhaps the lack of uptake is not so surprising. Would shifting away from a focus on the resources to the associated surrounding practices help? i.e. if we can better understand how teachers and learners are creating and using OER perhaps we can get a better idea of what the associated barriers and
issues might be and hence put in place mechanisms to address these. This is at the heart of the work we are doing in OPAL. We have gathered over 60 case studies of OER initiatives and from these abstracted a set of eight dimensions which show how what we are terming ‘Open Educational Practices’ are constituted (see this cloud for more):
- Strategies and policies: Opening institutions', national and regional policies to promote the use of OER to result into better and imporve quality
- Quality Assurance models: Open forms of assessment, open quality assurance frameworks
- Partnership models: Sharing experiences and content in order to learn and improve institutional practices
- Tools and tool practices: Employing tools, repositories and building competencies to easyly integrate OER in practice
- Innovations: Do we do the same (old) stuffwith Ers than without OERs or do we aim at innovation of educational practices
- Skills development and support: Opening educational practices demand for certain pedagogical and learning skills and competencies
- Business models/sustainability strategies: Are open eductaional practices economic viable - and if so: how?
- Barriers and success factors: What can we learn from past initatives and cases throughout the world?
So in this space - until Friday afternoon - I invite you to participate in a
discussion which focuses on the following questions:
- Is a shift from focusing on Open Educational Resources to OpenEducational Practices likely to lead to a) a better understanding of current practices and associated issues and b) improvements in the quality and innovation of OEP?
- What are your thoughts on the dimensions we have identified and how might they be used?
A quick reminder of the dimensions:
- Strategies and policies
- Quality Assurance models
- Partnership models
- Tools and tool practices
- Skills development and support
- Business models/sustainability strategies
- Barriers and success factors
11:13 on 26 May 2010
We are defining Open Educational Practices (OEP) as
the full set of practices around the creation, use and management of OER.
06:20 on 1 June 2010 (Edited 06:21 on 1 June 2010)
Summary of the discussion so far (4/05/2010)
- Importance and value of focusing on OEP rather than OER, not least as a means of recognising the value and importance of OER
Barriers and enablers:
- One of the barriers cited was time. Two keys aspects to this i) finding, adapting and using, ii) time to share experiences and practices. Although a counted argument was made that creating learning materials from scratch is also time consuming and still requires a teacher to look for sources of materials
- Other barriers: fear of the unknown, concerns about the technologies, lack of skills, not wanting to deconstruct someone else’s OER, tension between teaching and research
- Not invented here syndrome
- Changing organisational mindsets
- Cultural differences between the sectors – FE and schools tend to be very risk adverse
- Changing attitudes – fear in terms of changing roles, if teachers are not creating resources what is their role?
- Complex mix of technical, pedagogical and organisational barriers
- Vision of shifting to teaching, which is challenging and stimulating
Strategies and policies:
- The role that policy perspectives might play in terms of addressing some of the barriers
Strategies for change
- Learn from the field of computer programming in terms of reuse and the open source movement
- Relationship between OER and learning outcomes/assessment. This raises the question what are OEP grading practices? Needs to be a shift from the assessment of learner to the assessment of learning
08:14 on 4 June 2010
OPEN EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES AND GENERATIVISM - a proposal open to discussion
(To see slides please watch the video or follow the slideshow that is embedded after the video)
OPAL departs from the idea that we may be standing at the threshold of an exciting new era in education and learning.
The potential lies there, right at the heart of OEP, to redefine the future of learning.
(Slide 1) Indeed, the extraordinary development of OER witnessed over the last couple of years suggests that we can dream of a ‘Learning Utility Agenda’. In other words, the availability of a vast infrastructure of learning opportunities, accessible anywhere and anytime from a variety of devices and platforms, as easily as one accesses nowadays to electricity, water or communications, sparks bold new visions on pressing agendas such as LLL, key skills acquisition and informal learning recognition.
However, there is scant evidence that this ‘big bang’ of OER has lead into the effective uptake in the educational arena of freely available resources. Moreover, the real impact of OER on transforming actual classroom practices and inspiring new learning patterns remains astonishingly poor.
The gulf between an evergrowing supply of OER and the reluctance to adopt OEP comes as no surprise. The truth of the matter is that this apparent contradiction embodies the clash between two traditional paradigms: developing knowledge ‘objects’ (a supply driven strategy) vs. investing in learning ‘subjects’ (a demand driven strategy).
Obviously, reality does not have to be a pick between one or another. Both strategies should go together, hand in hand - which is rarely the case - to avoid major imbalances in the way how pedagogical innovation progresses.
(Slide 2) Our existing portfolio of learning theories is barely enough to encompass the complexities underpinning a widespread policy of OEP. Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism were formulated in a pre-ICT stoneage. Furthermore, these theories could not anticipate a “brave new world” made up of tech-rich environments, of soaring interactions in social networks built around Web 2.0, and of content availability without boundaries.
As for Connectivisim, however ingenious the theory is presented and attractive it may be, its basic claims on technology enabled changes elicit the individual as the main locus of transformations – in brain functions and in behaviour. This understanding falls short of OEP to the extent that what may be fundamentally required are new sets of competences and different ways of enhancing social learning.
Having arrived at this juncture the case that I would like to put forward is that OEP will only take-off in a sustainable course if we invest in people (learning subjects) – in their personal, professional and social skills – to make OER a powerful engine of new learning experiences.
Two philosophical theories dealing with scientific knowledge establish a marked distinction between the received view (RV) and the semantic view (SV). While the former (RV) deals with the passive collection or recollection of existing knowledge, the latter (SV) involves a full-fledged reconstruction of received knowledge and presupposes a constant quest for value-added meaning.
(Slide 3) I have proposed a complete value chain ascending from raw data to information (metadata), from information to knowledge (metainformatiom), from knowledge to learning (metaknowledge) and from learning to meaning-making (metalearning). The effort to bridge the gulf between information access, knowledge gaps, learning inequalities and meaning-making disparities is epitomised in three transitions: simple to complex, science of quantities to science of qualities, product to service (Carneiro 2008).
(Slide 4) The opposition RV-SV leads me to formulate a new semantic-driven syntax for OEP, a sort of fifth learning theory, accruing to and expanding from the previous four theories, which I would like to call Generativism (as opposed to Adaptivism) (Carneiro, 2010).
Generativism lies in the intersection between innovative learning and learning for innovation and addresses the foundations of a creative society. In this sense, OEP challenge is to generate new knowledge (SV) out of previously codified knowledge (RV). Generativism understood as a constant re-creation of knowledge appeals to the unique human ability to derive new meaning from experience and to build sense out of a shared body of conventional knowledge.
(Slide 5) My proposition that generativism may provide a solid theoretical foundation for OEP leads to a number of crossroads and to a set of related queries:
- Can generativism inspire a sustainable spiral of knowledge generation, sharing and re-generation, embodied both in new knowledge objects and new learning subjects?
- Does generative OEP conceal the potential to unleash the latent productive and creative energies of people in organizations in order that ICT and new media finally fulfill their promise to enable and empower vibrant learning communities of practice?
- If OEP are regarded as a key ingredient of new lifelong learner-centred designs how should we define a ‘competent learner of the future’: one who is endowed with the mastery and use of a whole new range of generative learning competences?
- Would enhanced generative skills in self-regulated (self-directed) learning and social (dialogic) learning spark a disruptive change in the pace of OEP uptake and diffusion?
- How may the OPAL quality guidelines and self-assessment tools for OEP be best shaped to support self-sustained generativism and advanced lifelong learner competences?
- Could generativism position itself as a central concept for a renewed Web 3.0 (semantic, learning, smart, user-customised, evolutionary and ontology-rich in nature), one that would leverage OEP and allow the intelligent use of open resources to become a truly transformative and creative learning experience?
- Should neotenia emerge as a major field of OEP research in order to allow for increased generativity in quality adult-adult (teacher-learner, HE and AE) interactions?
(Slide 6) One final word of caution: Whatever line of pursuit we follow, may we bear in mind one essential quest for our joint deliberations - that we find generative ways of becoming more finely and deeply human.
In final words, that we may learn to cultivate wisdom as our first and foremost goal.
Portuguese Catholic University
00:18 on 7 June 2010 (Edited 09:08 on 7 July 2010)