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Conole - presentation: Learning in an Open World

The paper will explore the question: “What is likely to be the impact of an increasingly...

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Gráinne Conole
3 June 2010


The paper will explore the question: “What is likely to be the impact of an increasingly ‘open’ technologically mediated learning environment on learning and teaching in the future? In a world where content and expertise is often free and where services are shifting to the ‘cloud’, what are the implications for education? The paper takes a particular position on the notion of “openness”; considering it from a broad perspective covering four major phases of the academic lifecycle: design, delivery, evaluation and research:

  • Open design”: what would a vision of a truly open approach to design mean; beyond open educational resources towards a more explicit representation and sharing of the whole design process? A scenario of the future might be as follows: “A newly formed course team brainstorm their initial ideas for the course, using visual representations which make conveying and sharing the essence of their ideas easy. They share this opening with others, through appropriate web 2.0 technologies. They invite comments – from other subject experts, from past students, from potential students. They use the web 2.0 space to continue to develop and refine their ideas, incorporating peer critique and leaving a visible audit trail of their design decisions and development process.”
  • “Open delivery”: what would adopting a more open approach to delivery mean? What will be the impact of mixing institutional systems and freely available services? How can a more dialogic engagement for learning and teaching be fostered, starting as part of the design process described above but then carried forward during the delivery process?
  • “Open evaluation”: How can we harness and utilise the data we collect about learners on our course? How can we build on the understanding developed as part of the learner experience research work and the associated new methodologies? What new methodologies and approaches might we develop to gain new insights into the impact of a changing technological context for learning?
  • “Open research”: What will be the impact of the Open Access Movement for learning? How can we capitalise on the rich research data, which is now being made available on a global scale?

The paper will consider these four aspects of openness, will suggest some underlying principles to adopting an “open” approach, reflecting on perceived benefits and challenges. It will draw on research at the Open University, UK. In particular, our work on:

  • Learning Design (where we are developing tools and resources to help teachers design better learning experiences)
  • Open Educational Resources and in particular articulation of the associated set of Open Educational Practices around the creation, use and management of OER
  • Changing patters of user behaviour and discourse through a new kind of social networking space, Cloudworks.

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