lørdag den 30. marts 2013

Activity 7. Three key issues in OER

  • Read three articles of your choice from a suggested OER reading list on Cloudworks.
  • Based on your reading, write a blog post of around 500 words, setting out what you perceive as the three key issues in OER, and how these are being addressed.


In this blog post I use following abbreviations:

ECTS     European Credit Transfer System
FFR        Final Forum Report
HEI         Higher education institution
OCW      Open Course Ware
OER       Open Education Ressources
OERT     Open Education Ressources test

Detailed list of used ressources is in the end of the post.







Intro

My son and my mother in the airport Friday morning

Just picked up my son in Bruxelles Airport yesterday morning. He returned after a 15 days school trip to Zambia. We have snow in Bruxelles but he arrived dressed as when he entered the plane in Johannesburg. Typically  (long shuddering, motherly sigh).

He and 21 other students from our school spent ten days teaching students in Sankandi Basic School in the Zambian bush.

Our school, Ecole Européenne de Bruxelles 1 (EEB1) participates in a project that aims to help schools in the western province of Zambia. Every year we send 22 of our 6th year secondary students to teach in the school and to witness how the collected money and materials are used. They visit other schools in the area incl Sioma High School.

Pupils in Sankandi Basic School (foto by Sebastian Bailey Hass)

Watching my sons photos and listening to his experiences I can't help to connect it to the Open Education course and how the need for OER suddenly seems extra ....uh, could I say more real ? 

Many of the kids have to walk more than an hour by foot every morning to get to the school. My son tells how some of the kids didn't have clean paper to write on. Instead they used old newspapers. I asked him about access to computers. The High school students, not the basic school,  had some very old computers, but nevertheless internet. 
They have to pay a fee to attend high school, so a lot of the children only have the chance if they get a scolarship due to very good grades. If they make it through the high school, Wikipedia says about the universities in Zambia:
Normally they all select students on the basis of ability; competition for places is intense. The introduction of fees in the late 1990s has made university level education inaccessible for some, although the government does provide state bursaries.

This brings me back to the h817open assingment and pointing at three key issues of OER. I've chosen these three key features:
  1. Barriers to uptake
  2. Learning support
  3. Quality

To get deeper into the three issues I used 3 medias. An article from the OER reading list on Cloudworks, a report from the h817open Diigo group and a TEDtalk
  • Paul Albrights Final Forum Report (as I refer to as FFR in following text).
  • OERtest by Anthony F. Camilleri and others (OERT in the following text)
  • TEDtalk by Daphne Koller 



Barriers to uptake

About the barriers I found some considerations I didn't already mention in activity 4. To benefit from the online OER you need to have access to the internet. And especially the developing countries have an inadequate ICT infrastructure. In the Final Forum Report one of the OER providers is qouted:
“There is a trade-off between using the latest technologies that provide rich virtual environments, simulations, and robust feedback that will deliver a more effective learning environment but that require high bandwidth and limiting the environment to low bandwidth forms of delivery (text).” (FFR)
 Besides the lack of internet access, also lack of familiarity or confidence with technology kept the OERs inaccessible for new users. 
"As a consequence, the development of support structures for potential users (and providers) is a central feature of the AVU’s OER strategy" (FFR)
The African Virtuel University (AVU) tries to adress some of these issues. They established "mirror sites" in Kenya and Ethiopia to widen the access in areas with bandwidth so low, that it gave problems to use the OER on the original website from MIT. In other parts of the world the focus is changed to manage the arrays of OER so they are of maximum benefit to the users.

 The report further points out barriers with the language. About 10 per cent of the global population, 6.3 billion people, speaks english. But the vast majority of OERs are in english. And developed in the Western culture and on Western learning theories. 
"The conditions under which OER are created, the languages used, and the teaching methodologies employed result in products that are grounded in and specific to the culture and educational norms of their developers. This may be remote from the understandings of other cultures and lead to (1)dysfunctional education, and (2)a reduced potential for developing countries to contribute research, training, experiences and understanding that invigorates the value and scope of OER." (FFR)
As said here, the problem has to sides: language and culture. You can only solve this partly by translation. There is more a need for adaption of the OERs to the needs and modes of the local contexts. This is a very important part of making the OERs global. Some organisations e.g. Universia have chosen to change their aim from translating OERs to help universities develop their own. 

And finally the FFR mentions another problem: An increasing amount of OER is being available. If it should have any value, it has to be identified, tagged and organized in order to be easy retrieved and re-used. MERLOT is one of the initiatives to work on this. They have 13,000 free online teaching and learning materials. 


Learning support

For me as a teacher the learning support and the assessment is tightly connected. I haven't read so much international literature about the subject yet, but in Denmark we work with different sorts of loops in the didactic designs. These loops include formative and summative evaluation, and they ensure that both the learner and the teacher know where the student is and how to move on from here towards the goals. In this way assessing is a process that active affects the learning process and vice versa. 

Besides the formative assessment there is other ways to support the learners. 
The OERT describes the learning part of the students learning pathway as
"Guiding - this involves the forms of learning support a student will receive - whether through materials, from community support, or from other sources" 
"Document - this is the student‘s creation of a learning portfolio, documenting their acquisition of learning outcomes throughout the process" 
OER can be used in classes and then the situation can look a lot  like my daily teaching life. If the OER is to be used in more distant learning or even in a mooc, the teacher and the students don't have the same possibilities for collaboration. Instead the loops can be driven in other ways. Here Daphne Koller (co-founder of Coursera) explains how they use technology and peer assessment in their courses.  





Besides the quiz in the OER material, the blog posts comments by the students / tutor, the networking in foras like Google+ and peer- and self assessment, there as been developed certification. One example is Mozilla Open Badges, which Open University chose to use here in their mooc Open Education. This blog post is my first object for assessment, that involves a staff member and not only include self- or peer assessment. 


OERT mentioned the need for students "documenting their acquisition of learning outcomes throughout the process". The online courses I've participated in have all used students' blogs in the learning process. And I've learned what a powerful tool it can be. Now I base a part of my own classroom teaching on students blogs, where the students have to comment on each others posts. And we can use these blogs for evaluation and discussion in class. 



Quality

If we want the OER movement to succeed in giving a real alternative to the traditional higher education, we have to ensure the quality in two ways:
  • recognition of the quality in achieved learning
  • ensuring quality of content and media in the OER 
When a student compose her education by modules from different providers, it can be difficult to achieve the recognition of the quality in the learning, because nobody, except from the student her self, can have an overview over the combined training compared to traditional HEI training. OERT mentions learning passports as a solution:
"The learning passport combines information which the different actors in an unbundled learning system are requested to provide inorder to put open learning recognition into practice"

They imagine the passport system as a formal collection of information from the OER provider, the learner and the assessing/ certifying institution as shown on the picture below:

Source: OERT page 42

In this way it would be possible for the student to obtain ETCS recognition even though the modules are from different HEI.


And how to ensure the quality in the OERs? As I already mentioned in the part about barriers, the HEI networks have begun the important and heavy process to ensure their OER can be adapted or rewritten to the different contexts around the globe. And the Learning passport could also be a way to ensure the quality, because the HEI have to assess each others OERs in the certification process.

Based on the studies in the OERT, Anne-Christin Tannhäuser and Anthony F. Camilleri gives seven projections, which makes predictions of likely future scenarios in a specific area of OER Module-development, on the assumption that current trends in the field will continue. The prediction about the quality in the OER is:
 "The overall number of OCW offerings has been growing steadily for the past 10 years. However, many of these have been unsuitable for high quality self-learning, since they were only samples of existing courses, lecture dumps, or materials from retired courses for use as marketing. Currently, we observe a ‘second generation’ of OCW being produced: custom-designed, high-quality Open Courses designed specifically for self-study. These are being driven by:
  • the current boom of non-formal providers boosting open learning
  • at no cost for learners, many supported by philanthropic funding;
  • more public investment being dedicated to OCW in some countries;
  • the steadily increasing membership OpenCourseWare consortium in some European countries and beyond;
  • the high level policy recommendations by the OECD and the UNESCO on OERs
  • the investigation by major universities of models for mainstream provision of OCW as part of the functions of a university, rather than use merely as a marketing tool"            (OERT)
  
  

OER and the pupils in the Western province of Zambia

Students from secondary in Sankandi Basic School.
Foto: Sebastian Bailey Hass

Regarding the language barriers and the OER movement it can turn out to be luck for the children in Zambia, that they live in a former british colony (a very narrow view, I know). Because it means, they speak english. It could pretty easy be OER that provides these young people with knowledge after they leave the secondary school. 

And I can´t help thinking of the cheap smart phones I wrote about in activity 3 (under N in the Prezi). Maybe in a few years these kids' easiest way to internet and OER will be via smart phones. If the telecompanies and the HEI continue their current efforts, the future seems brigther for the students in Sankandi Basic School.  






Camp Zeec where our students lived during their Zambia stay.
Foto source: zeeczambia.tumblr.com/






Sources:
  1. Final Forum Report International Institute for Educational Planning
    Internet Discussion Forum
    Author: Paul Albright
    http://learn.creativecommons.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/oerforumfinalreport.pdf

  2. OERtest
    Editors: Anthony F. Camilleri, Anne-Christin Tannhäuser
    Publisher: EFQUEL – European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning (BE)
    Standard Number: ISBN / EAN : 9789082020502
    http://www.oer-europe.net/output/OERtest_A5_Book.pdf

  3. Daphne Koller about What we're learning from online education
    TED talk
    http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education.html

Added 2.4.2013: Awarded with the badge today :)







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