As George Siemens acknowledged in his video intro to week 2, the openness in education MOOC didn’t get off to a great start. For me, the combination of emails not arriving, no blogs to engage with, inaccessible readings and the fact that I was on holiday meant that I didn’t really engage much last week. I am hoping to make up for that this week.
A significant part of my interest in taking this MOOC was to experience the tools for this type of course and online peer learning in a more focused way that in my usual PLN which is based around Google plus and Twitter. So this week I really want to read other people’s blogs and make some comments, but first I want to do some more reading.
Talking of tools, I am trying to do this whole thing digitally on my Android tablet so am starting with the readings that are downloadable as pdfs because these I can easily annotate with EZpdf reader which seems the ‘natural’ way for me to engage with a text. I realise this is very rooted in my experience as a student in the 90s when scribbling on photocopies of chapters and papers was the most common way to work in my discipline area (literature and gender studies). When I have done the pdf readings it will be interesting to see how I can engage with Web-based readings. This is important for me to think about because in my day to day practice as an education developer I am frequently referring colleagues to Web pages (including ones I have created) without thinking too much about how the ‘reading’ of such resources might differ from more traditional reading such as journal articles (though of course these too are often online these days).
Later…I actually found a URL-to-pdf Android app so all my reading and annotating is now happening in EZpdf reader but still want to think about how people might be reading the materials I am creating. That’s one for the to-do list!
I am intrigued that the Open University is to be used as an example because much as I love the OU, which got me started on Higher Education in the 80s, I am thinking back to the rather stringent definition of ‘open’ we read last week and am not convinced that the OU I experienced met the requirements – although there were no formal entry requirements, the fees were (even then) quite considerable and the course materials were copyrighted….. Having now read the piece on the history of the OU I am not sure that their materials are OERs, or at least not all of them. There are some free ‘openlearn’ courses in recent years, but I am not sure whether they are copyrighted in a restrictive way. And are open access TV programmes produced by a university any more OERs than any TV documentary?
The Cute Kitten Syndrome blog post by Stephen Downes from 4 years ago was interesting in that it still seemed relevant, suggesting that the OER movement may not actually be moving very much or very fast. Apart from the sudden glut of MOOCs there does not seem to be a rush for HEIs to produce or use a wide range of OERs. I have seen YouTube lectures which seem as much about marketing as education and examples of digitizing archive materials to improve access (which seems like great idea for opening up research to students) but, at least in the UK there does not seem to be much use of OERs in HE teaching. In all my interactions with faculty I have only come across one or two people using such resources (a lab simulation from MERLOT and Physlets) as part of teaching practice. As both of these examples are from the hard sciences I wonder if there is a disciplinary split going on here, with digitization of archives/resources on one hand and use of simulations/learning objects on the other? I would be interested to know whether anyone else has observed a humanities/science split in the use of OERs.
Now I am off to do two things. First, to read and engage with some other #oped12 blogs and second, to think a bit more about what I wanted to get from this MOOC and what it wanted me to get from it (learning outcomes) and how either of us is going to evaluate / assess that.