UNU-EHS PhD Block course “From Vulnerability to Resilience in Disaster Risk Management”, April 2012, UN Campus, Germany Read more
Archive for the ‘Education & E-learning’ Category
An online course entitled: “Innovative Collaboration for Development”, based on the potential of social media in development contexts will be delivered in July this year.
FAO and its partners just announced the release of the IMARK e-learning module entitled “Knowledge Sharing for Development” available, free of charge, online and on CD through www.imarkgroup.org.
Yes, eLearning Africa is back this year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The conference started yesterday (Wednesday 25 May 2011) under the theme “Youth, Skills & Employability” and will go on for 3 days.
We at UNU ViE, are very excited to be part of the event ! You may have already met Virginie Aimard there. She will be hosting a special focus session: “Growing innovation seeds through e-learning in Universities in Africa” on Friday afternoon (27 May 2011 @2:30 pm local time)
The session brings together panelists from and interested in the university scene in Africa. It´s an opportunity to share success stories, experience, lessons learned and good practice with regards to innovation.
Here is what Virginie had in mind for the session: “We would like to have a better understanding of how the different ‘actors’ in a system play a role in innovation, particularly innovation in e-learning to improve access to and quality higher education in Africa. We plan to get snapshot stories from the panel members representing the different perspectives on innovation (grassroots innovator, institutional leader, policy maker, international supporting organization, donor, etc.)
Because we want to “walk our talk” on innovation, this session is not going to be a typical panel discussion. We would like to avoid a lot of ‘talks from the front of the room.’ Instead we will encourage the panelists to be the agents and ‘thought fertilizers’ to provoke and stimulate the thinking and conversations of the participants.”
So, what do you think? I am sure you will enjoy being ‘thought fertilizer’ too !
Come tell us your story, share your ideas and thoughts and engage in critical conversations on how networks can grow the seeds of innovation!
We will be happy to read your comments here and if you can shout and spread the word on Twitter too, just use #ela11 and #Innoseeds
Open Educational Resources (Part II) Money vs. Thank You: The Inevitable Clash With the Textbook Industry
Now that we have determined the essence of what an OER is, where does it fit in our current education model? From a North American perspective, it’s an alternative and supplement to the traditional textbook, something that even an industrialized country like the United States greatly need.
Expensive textbooks also add to this uncontrollable rise in the cost of higher education. It is somewhat of a hidden cost to professors, since they are the ones selecting the textbook, but they are not the one buying it, the students are! Prospective students are starting to become concerned that the cost of getting a degree might simply be to high, and that they can learn the skills they need on their own and with others, on the web. Now that textbooks are being made available in digital format, publishers cannot justify the price tag to high-quality printing and distribution anymore.
OER, without being a complete substitute to traditional textbooks, can at least alleviate some of the student-inferred costs and put some pressure on the publishers to drop their pricing to a fair level that the consumer market can live with. Some innovative institutions have started to invest strategically in open textbooks, an investment that should bear fruit in the near future. Some example of open textbook initiatives:
- The California Learning Resources Digital Textbook Initiative: In order to promote the use of electronic textbooks, the state of California has reviewed electronic textbooks to assess coverage of their content standards. Some of the books listed are commercial, but some of them are open and freely available.
- The University System of Ohio Free Textbook Program: Under this program, students will use electronic textbooks hosted by Flat World Knowledge, an innovative open textbook company that makes money by allowing students to print on-demand.
- The Washington State Student Completion Initiative: In order to address rising costs for their students, the Washington Community and Technical College system will be creating 81 open textbooks to serve high-enrollment classes.
Just like for the music industry, the digitization of materials will have an effect on pricing of electronic textbooks. It’s up to the publishers to come up with innovative approaches and fair pricing if they want to stay in the game.
According to Richard Beraniuk, Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University, as stated during his ELI 2011 presentation, one problem that still needs to be addressed regarding OER and the publishers is sustainability. Keeping the publishers out of OER by using non-commercial licenses prevents the creation of an ecosystem of electronic resources. Open-source software has a lot of examples to offer regarding the success of commercial initiatives, like Redhat Linux.
The same could be applied to OER, as Flat World Knowledge proves it. By starting from OER materials, publishers could bring their authoring costs down significantly and package compelling textbooks at a decent price, something educators are longing for.
The Downside of OER
As a teacher, when it comes down to designing a course, time matters. A traditional publisher’s textbook is a pretty comfortable setting to design a course around. It’s structured in the right sequence, peer-reviewed, has case studies and exercises, and usually a teacher’s handbook and a companion website full of goodies like self-assessment quizzes, multimedia material, and pre-built PowerPoint slides. It’s like a good old pair of slippers.
OERs, on the other hand, are usually scattered, hard to find, inconsistent in style, of unknown origin, needing tweaking or assembly. You might find a Flash learning object here, a Youtube video there, a chapter of an open textbook that needs a good local case study to make it complete, a diagram that suit your needs, etc. They are free as in “freedom of use”, not as free as in “free beer”. Deciding to get started with OER might be a daunting task. You might even have to consider to develop certain learning modules yourself, from scratch.
But the fact that your course might be incomplete is also an opportunity to engage your students in building the missing pieces and making them available as OERs. And those pieces are interchangeable, so your course will always stay fresh, from one iteration to the next.
During a panel discussion held on January 18, 2011, talking about why the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges decided to support open textbooks, Cable Green, Director of eLearning & Open Education, said (I’m paraphrasing here a little, I had written notes of this): “We are selfish, we only focus on what makes sense to us. But we’ll open it for two reasons: 1) to make the use easier for us, and 2) because good things will happen to us.”
So besides the obvious benefit of getting access for these resources for free, let’s not forget to take into consideration that the act of making OERs available to others is a context to engage in conversations about education, and how to make it deeper, different, faster, cheaper, more accessible, etc. The best free resources get used profusely, and people who create them get recognized, which is totally in tune with the way higher education works anyway.
OER Repositories and Additional Resources
Now it’s your turn to explore and see if OERs are right for you. In addition to some links that were already covered in the post, the following ones point to OER repositories that you could start using today, for free!
- Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- Khan University
- MIT Open Courseware
- Peer2Peer University (P2PU)
- 7 Things You Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing
This article is an invited post from Mathieu Plourde
This piece is the first part of an invited post by Mathieu Plourde.
For those involved in educational technology, it’s something to expect. A new year brought in a new buzzword (or should I say buzz-term?): open educational resources.
The promise behind open educational resources is that is that they are contents that are made available to anyone for free. But that’s a little too broad of a definition… Isn’t pretty much everything on the Internet, from the most obscure movie on Youtube to the CNN website available for consumption? Pretty much, yes.
We all understand that, as consumers, we can access the web and consult resources that are made available. Let’s say I’m interested in whales. I can find a clip from Whale Wars online. It’s right there. But what if we wanted to use that video in class to demonstrate the cruelty of killing whales, or mash it up with sequences of other videos to explain the point of view of the Japanese fleet, am I allowed to do that? There is a fat copyright sign at the bottom of the page… You might be courageous enough to dig in the legalese on the Discovery.com site. Chances are, by this time, you have already abandoned the idea.
So if putting digital resources online isn’t being open, what is?
It’s All In the License
By default, any creative work is protected by copyright, whether that work is produced as text, image, video, sound, etc. Even if there is no mention of the ownership, or no copyright symbol, it is still copyrighted. Copyrighted material can usually be consumed under strict rules, beyond which the owner of the intellectual property has to be paid, or you have to get a special permission.
Professionally produced material (books, newspapers, magazines, tv shows, radio broadcasts) are usually very expensive to produce because they are built by teams of experts, peer-reviewed, advertised, distributed, etc. People spending all that energy creating high-end content should expect to be paid for their work if it’s good enough. It’s economics 101: supply and demand.
But what about the work of amateurs, or the work of experts not expecting to be paid for their work? If their goal is to reach out to as many people as possible, plain copyright doesn’t make sense. Enter Creative Commons.
Creative Commons are a licensing set of permission that the intellectual property owner can voluntarily apply to the created work. They allow the owner of a resource to declare that it can be used by others under certain conditions.
|*||Attribution||This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.|
|*||Attribution – No Derivative||This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.|
|*||Attribution – Share Alike||This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.|
|*||Attibution – Non Commercial||This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.|
|*||Attribution – Non Commercial – Share Alike||This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.|
|*||Attibution – Non Commercial – No Derivative||This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.|
|*||CC0 (CC zero) – Public Domain||Universal public domain dedication. See this article for more details. http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC0_use_for_data|
So if you’re looking at a resource that has one of those licenses, you’re already closer to your goal. But you’re not there yet.
According to David Wiley, Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, as explained during his Educause Learning Initiative keynote address in February of 2011, openness for the purpose of education should allow the 4Rs:
- Reuse – copy verbatim
- Redistribute – share with others
- Revise – adapt and improve
- Remix – combine with others
In other words, open educational resources should give the end-user local control:
“I’m the Instructional designer who’s creating the best thing I know how, and I’m giving you, as the local person, permission to make the changes and adaptations you know you need locally for your students to be able to learn the best that they can.”
Interpreting Wiley’s definition, out of the seven Creative Commons licenses, the only ones that really enable open educational resources (OER) are the plain Attribution (the recommended one) and Attribution – Share Alike (which is, by the way, the license used on Wikipedia), and, of course, the CC0/Public Domain.
Another thing to pay attention to, as a teacher, is the openness in content but not in the underlying technology or format. Some learning resources might be made available for free, but you need specialized software to run them (an SPSS database, for instance). Or you don’t get access to the original work in order to make the remix process easier. That happens a lot with people sharing slides exported as pdf files or jpeg images, when all you want is the original PowerPoint document to extract the one graph you really need to put in your own slides.
How should recorded lectures be distributed – exclusively to registered students or beyond the borders of the classroom? Read more
What are the technologies that universities use to produce their lecture recordings? Read more
Yesterday I looked at the possibilities that lecture capture provides for improving learning in university settings. Some of the early pioneers have written down their reflections about introducing lecture capture at their universities and shared them on their blogs.
Earlier this year, ITU and UNESCO announced the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. The commission “will define strategies for accelerating broadband rollout worldwide and examine applications that could see broadband networks improve the delivery of a huge range of social services, from health care to education, environmental management, safety and much more.”
Following the tradition of our brown bag lunch menu, we started with an icebreaker, went on with some food for thought followed by a substantial main course.
Independent of the fact that physical access to the internet remains a major problem in developing countries, improved access alone does not solve all problems. Physical access to ICT is not enough. In order to translate into practical benefits, access needs to enhance social inclusion.
Today the internet has become an important space for business, interest articulation, forming of the political will and knowledge sharing. But it looks like only the minority of the global population has access to these new technology-enabled opportunities for participation.