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Keynote: Conole - What would learning in an open world look like? A vision for the future

Keynote presentation at the Edmedia conference, Toronto, 1st July 2010

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Gráinne Conole
30 June 2010


The pace of current technological advancement is phenomenal. In the last few years we have seen the emergence of ever more sophisticated gaming technologies, rich, immersive virtual worlds and new social networking services that enable learners and teachers to connect and communicate in new ways. The pace of change looks set to continue as annual Horizon reports testify ( Clearly new technologies offer much in an educational context, with the promise of flexible, personalised and student-centred learning. Indeed research over the past few years, looking at learners’ use of technologies, has given us a rich picture of how learners of all ages are appropriating new tools within their own context, mixing different applications for finding/managing information and for communicating with others (Sharpe and Beetham, forthcoming).

This paper explores 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? 

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Paper on Slideshare

Paper on Slideshare

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Presentation on Slideshare

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James Neill
2:11pm 1 July 2010

I hope we can connect your ideas here with this work on open academia.

Gráinne Conole
3:56pm 1 July 2010

Hi James - the open academia stuff looks really interesting, will take a closer look.

Gráinne Conole
4:11pm 1 July 2010

Frances Bell made the following comment on slideshare on the ICT graph...

"The y axis reminds me a bit of media richness theory that I never bought. Consumption of bandwidth might increase as we go up the y axis but communication will be very variable and dependent on relationships and shared context amongst other things. Think Twitter backchannel to boring Elluminate presentation - audience differently defined from the text chat in Elluminate."

Gráinne Conole
1:21pm 2 July 2010

@FrancesBell Good point Frances, in reality it is always about the tools in context. So maybe a better way of looking at this graph is seeing it as a starting point with the 'tools' shifting up or down or sideways in use....

Gráinne Conole
2:42pm 2 July 2010

francesbell commented on your SlideShare presentation Conole keynote presentation_edmedia.

"I don't know it could be represented graphically but I guess the whole dialogue is underpinned by what we mean by (and try to measure about) communication - bandwidth consumption, affective, cognitive aspects, relational strength, etc. I always think about Caroline Haythornthwaite's work on weak/strong/latent ties and use of multiple channels."

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