Friday, March 28, 2008

WEEK 4: Open Access Assessment and Accreditation

I found this week postings quite amazing. I found myself very aligned with all that Nichthus said and appreciated the perspective provided in the conclusion. In my mind a free culture is about honoring everyone and all positions and perspectives; this includes the closed and proprietary. I've been a follower / fan of Lessig’s work for some time now, and i think what he has done for copyright is a significant human contribution. And the reality / changes he is offering is well overdue in terms of copyright law...

I find this weeks exploration of copyright, licensing and OER happens at the right time in the progression of this course and all the readings got me thinking deeply about the similarities and differences of Open Content (Wikipedia), Open Source and OER. In particular, I spent considerable time thinking and discussing the Bissell / Boyle article. In their article they write about the success of Wikipedia and Open Source and the slower progress of OER. They offer three items to bring OER to a closer level of success that Wikipedia and Open Source have had. I believe they have missed a couple of aspects within the openness of OER, and it is missing these aspects they have missed identifying what is required to bring OER to the same level of success as these other two.

To explore this I believe we need to look at the permission required for accessing the domains of these three open initiatives. Neither Wikipedia nor Open Source has constraints to their domain. These two have complete openness from a technical, content, social, and bureaucratic (administrative) perspective. OER has openness to the technical, content and social, but is closed to the bureaucratic. What I mean by closed to the bureaucratic is that the assessment and accreditation is still closed. People can access all the open learning content that is available as OER but they still have to go through a bureaucracy to be assessed and accredited. I believe that until we have Open Access Assessment and Open Access Accreditation (OAA) OER will be severely restrained and should be renamed Open Learning Resources (OLR), because education includes assessment and accreditation. See an associated Google group discussion for further insight into my belief on the need for OAA.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Open Access Accreditation

I want to discuss if people think it is possible to create an international accredited institution that could give me a graduate level degree based on my completion / creation of OER (and related published research)? Maybe the international institution is a social network with a top quality reputation. i.e. if your level of scholarship is recognized by this “institution / social network” then it is considered the same as a PhD from Athabasca University… lets call it Open Access Accreditation… Isn’t this the natural progression from connectionist (see siemens) approaches?

It would seem that an institution like UNESCO or ICDE is where this could start and with the writing coming from these institutions regarding OER they (I believe) should be addressing the issue. I’ve been reading papers from these institutions for a while and everything still assumes the OER are utilized within existing institutions and existing courses and existing programs and in the end you still have to pay for assessment and the credential. In particular, the roadmap from the OLCOS http://www.olcos.org/cms/upload/docs/olcos_roadmap.pdf seems to be a deep dive into all this, yet they still assume loads of affiliations and partnerships with existing Universities. Essentially you still have to pay to get assessed and credentialed even though you are using OER created by someone only loosely affiliated with the university granting the credential. Why?

You could assume a PhD is the equivalent of 2-3 years of full-time work, for easy math lets 5000 hours. Let’s say I am prepared to work 16 hrs a week for 46 weeks a year for seven years (5152 hours total). And during this time I create a solid amount (potentially a complete Masters degree amount) of OER (with accompanying collaborative research papers) on WikiEducator and Wikiversity. Shouldn’t I be able to take all this work and be given a PhD? Universities provide honorary doctorates; why not use this same structure to offer a PhD to someone who completes what I previously suggested? Or would the reputation I created on WikiEducator and Wikiversity by collaboratively creating a PhD effort equivalent in OER be the same as having a PhD? In fact could this not be the new PhD? And in the end I would have saved myself the 40k - 100k $ that I paid to an institution for a credential (not including 5152 hrs of lost salary). And I could do all this in a truly self directed manner without having to be “supervised” by a tenured academic. When I know that most of my supervision is going to come from the social network anyway…

Or maybe what I am asking is; what role does the graduate level university play in a Connectivist world filled with quality OER, hard work and an active social network?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WEEK 3: Shoulders of Giants

During this weeks task we had a look at a number of sites / references that set the philosophical foundation for OER. The sites we visited include;
From my readings of these sites the following things stood out for me most.

During the age of Enlightenment people began to recognize that they had the freedom to use one's own intelligence. This really sums up this time in history. It's hard to believe that at times in our history we didn't realize we had such power. The frightening part is that in some parts of the world there are people who still haven't caught on to this or are so oppressed that they don't have the freedom.

When it comes to the Shoulders of Giants I really like the quote
If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants
This ties so many things together, it is the acknowledgment that whatever we do, we draw on the past and by drawing on the past we can see further to the future.

The Library Movement is an essential part of having an educated and literate population. Having free access to books and the support in how to use the books raises us all up. And having ways to further the library movement will increase the global populations ability to enter into the dialog required to increase our shared abilities to be good stewards of the planet.

As I read further I found this description in the Popular Education reading;
Popular Education may be defined as an educational technique designed to raise the consciousness of its participants and allow them to become more aware of how an individual's personal experiences are connected to larger societal problems. Participants are empowered to act to effect change on the problems that affect them.
I like this a lot for it really connects individuals to the larger and implies a responsibility to effect change. This is what I consider a theme behind OER and the larger open movement... Empowering people to act!

Gosh, with this definition of Folk High School I see it as the definition of a Personal Learning Environment;
The character of folk high schools differs from country to country, but usually such institutions have the following common features:
- A large variety of subjects
- No final exams
- Focus on self-development
- Pedagogical freedom
Last, and certainly not least, we had the reading of the Free Software Movement (FSM). This section can get into some heady thoughts and as I drilled down into some of the supporting links I got the feeling that this chapter is far from done. I mean when I read about the Library Movement and the Age of Enlightenment, I see these items as historically complete, they still influence our lives and the cities we live. But the Free Software Movement isn't done, it isn't historically complete, it still has some change and "maturing" to do. Nonetheless, this movement is having a big influence on much of what is going on... When I consider that Microsoft (IMHO, the farthest away from FSM) engaging a collaboration with eclipse then I realize that the FSM is having an influence and that fundamental changes to the FSM are still afoot.

Conclusion
When I consider all these writings, and I consider the trajectory they have created I really like the future that I see. It seems to me that we are heading toward a place where the world is flat and people are engaged in adding knowledge to the collective of people on the planet. And whether that addition is for self or other it doesn't matter cause the tools and approaches we use benefit us all...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

WEEK 2: Introduction to Wikiversity

This week we are exploring either LeMill or Wikiversity. We need to set ourselves up to be a contributor to one of these OER sites by creating a profile. We also need to contribute to an area of interest by contacting the editors, contributing to an existing resource and create a new resource.

My Profile
My Wikiversity profile is a work in progress as I have bigger plans for my work here (and will post this later). This wikiversity profile does link to my web portfolio site. To view my MediaWiki profile go to my profile on WikiEducator.

My Notification
I began by investigating materials for how to get started in programming with PhP. I found a number of introductory programming resources. Nothing that provided OER for how to set up the development environment. The lessons I found were lessons on beginner programming with different languages, nothing how to set up the software development environment to start the actual programming. So I posted a question on a couple of talk pages. The question was;

getting a development space
I'm wanting to get into programming PhP, there seems to be a number of good open access courses for intro to PhP and further. What I am looking for is a course on how to set up the development environment. Can anyone point me to such a course? -- Prawstho 17:19, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

I posted this question to the following two talk pages;

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Topic_talk:Computer_programming
http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Talk:Web_design

My New Resource
As eluded to in my notification, there seems to be the requirement for a course on setting up a software development environment. Now this may be only my need, but I will assume that as I develope out the course it may attract some attention. We shall see... I created a new Wikiversity page within the Computer Programming topic called "Creating a Development Environment". Let's see what interest this draws...

Conclusions
It would seem success within Wikiversity comes from engagement. I couldn't find a place to sign-up for membership or contact this particular person to become an auther for a particular school. I guess the idea is to just jump right in, keep going and wait for feedback and the engagement from others.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

WEEK 2: Existing OER projects

I’ve been familiar with all these open education projects for a while;
The OpenCourseWare project at MIT has always amazed me the most. Cause to see all their curriculum online and available for download just seems to go against the American ideology of capitalism. I’ve always been surprised that they are putting it out there for free and under a CC-BY-NC-SA license. I remember reading a while back how they aligned what they were doing with opencourseware and the universities mission. As their mission states they want to "advance knowledge and educate students ... that will best serve ... the world", there doin' it!

When I was looking at all these open education projects I was asking myself, which one I would use if I was developing a new course or program. And what was important to me is that I am familiar with the technology (publishing and course development tools) and that the project embraces a licensing scheme that I am happy with. The licensing scheme is important as it encourages or restrains the reuse of my work. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the projects have embraced a CC license of some sort. So I felt comfortable that I could work with all sites. Being familiar with the technology pushed me toward Wikiversity. I am already familiar with using MediaWiki to publish content and find it an effective tool for developing courses online.

OER - Two important and relevant views

This 2006 stream speaks to what MAY be coming with OER.



This more recent 2008 stream that looks at the reality of the sharing we need to enjoy what the previous stream spoke of...





Models for sustaining OER

Stephen Downes wrote a good article on approaches to sustaining OER. It's a good read if you have the time. http://ijklo.org/Volume3/IJKLOv3p029-044Downes.pdf

WEEK 1: Ilkka has created a valuable contribution

I found this paper by Ilkka filled with a very good description of OER and some very important statements about OER and it influence on education. I really appreciated the historical references and how OER is tied to the Open Source movement. Tuomi (2006, page 4) makes the important observation that “When educational processes and objectives qualitatively change, new systems are needed for measuring their performance and benefits.” This stands out for me because I am seeing change in much of education and I see OER as one of the influences. I also believe this is important for it recognizes that we need new approaches to measuring performance and benefits within the use of OER.
Pedagogical Benefits
Ilkka also does well in pointing out the pedagogical benefits of the Open Source movement where he speaks of how “The informal communities of practice that develop open source systems have produced some of the leading software engineers of today. In some cases, open source projects seem to clearly outperform traditional formal educational models in their capability to create expertise and skills.” I share the constructivist belief that one of the best ways to learn something is to have to teach it. So having people develop OER and be a contributor to a global OER repository may be the best way for them to learn the subject. Being involved in a community of practice focused upon the developing OER for a subject domain may well be the best way to learn the subject.
Context Area
As I got further into the paper my appreciation for its depth increased. The introduction of the three areas (page 25) really got me thinking and I began to wonder if there was a fourth area, the context of the resource. Or does context fall into the social? It doesn’t seem to in the paper. Either way the three areas are valuable, though I believe context needs to be considered an area itself.
Levels of Openness
The three levels of openness are also very thought provoking and Openness II makes me wonder if there is the need for a new type of global institution that grants formal degrees after working through (or creating) a number of OER courses.
The fountain
I really like the visual of the open fountain and when it comes to education where knowledge can be shared and created in large numbers of learners from a single source really is a fountain. How this will be recognized within the concept of the commons and the idea of academia and commercial endeavour will be interesting to be a part of.
More on Context
As the paper came to a close with the five points of view I again began to wonder where learning context fits within these views. I believe there is room for one more view that would sit between learner view and teacher view. It would be the contextual view – context of learning (the what/where/how/language/culture/localization of the OER being utilized). I believe this idea is reinforced at the top of page 33 where Ilkka speaks to how the resources are consumed in qualitatively different markets.
My Conclusion
I found this paper a great introduction to OER and all the issues which surround this amazing topic. I did find the paper did require a level of technical understanding with regard to the subjects of frameworks, SCORM, etc.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lawrence Lessig Free Culture Video

In my opinion this video is an accumulation of Lawrence Lessig's work. It shows his historical depth regarding the issue of freedom and copyright, it shows his outstanding presentation approach, it provides a roadmap to those who want to engage and it tells of the importance of this issue to our future and our children's lives. For all those interested in the free culture and creative commons movements it is a must watch video.

Peter welcomes everyone to composing OER

Hello all participants, I am very excited about this wikiversity course. I have had an interest in OER and all things open and free for a while now and over the last 18 months have been focusing on OER within completing a Master of Education (IT). I live on the west coast of Canada on an Island that is one hour from Vancouver. I am interested in this course for I believe that if we are going to create all the OER to meet the global and developing worlds needs for curriculum it will have to be done by a large participatory and collaborative group. I believe this course will cover most, if not all, the topics important to understanding the development of OER. I also believe that after this course I will be able to further the message of OER and speak to most questions that could be asked regarding OER. If you want to get a greater idea of who i am please visit my web site at http://www.rawsthorne.org or view my wikieducator profile at http://wikieducator.org/User:Prawstho