The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning


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The role of open educational resources is to function as a vocabulary in which we converse. The main emphasis of this presentation was to speak of their role in the development of networks - these networks are the characteristic result of conversations. Audio at

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The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning

  1. 1. The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning Stephen Downes Open Social Learning Barcelona, December 1, 2009
  2. 2. Meta-message <ul><li>The conundrum of open educational resources - Who produces, who uses? </li></ul><ul><li>Joel Greenberg: people are taking this stuff - but what they're not doing is giving it back - but that's what they're doing in Youtube and Flickr - so why isn't it happening in learning? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Personal Learning <ul><li>Learning thought of as from the perspective of the learner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not from the perspective of the institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not from the perspective of the content to be taught </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The Product is the Learner <ul><li>Personal learning is more about an individual’s growth and development </li></ul><ul><li>We usually talk about it in terms of skills and capacities </li></ul><ul><li>But (for various reasons) it’s more accurate to think of it as being like literacy </li></ul>
  5. 5. Personal Learning Environment <ul><li>Best thought of as an ecology in which learning takes place </li></ul><ul><li>Is represented with the student thought of as being at the centre </li></ul><ul><li>But is in fact a mesh or a web of interconnected students </li></ul>
  6. 6. Connective Knowledge (1) <ul><li>The most common way of representing connective knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>The knowledge created and shared by an interconnecting community of learners </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is distributed </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is created by conversation and interaction </li></ul>
  7. 7. Role of the Learner <ul><li>Participates and engages in a community </li></ul><ul><li>Participation is guided by personal interest and motivation </li></ul><ul><li>(Not staged, akin to Lave & Wenger, no hierarchy of interaction, akin to Salmon, Carr) </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Connectivism Course <ul><li>A good example of such a learning network </li></ul><ul><li>There was no ‘right’ way to interact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No set of processes to master or undertake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No specific body of knowledge to assimilate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The connectivist course is an example of open sharing </li></ul>
  9. 9. Connectivism as Mesh
  10. 10. The Pedagogical Imperative <ul><li>But why? Why do it that way? </li></ul><ul><li>What pedagogical purpose is served by open sharing (as opposed to, say, curricular materials, or scaffolded practice)? </li></ul><ul><li>The answer lies in the nature of knowledge and learning itself </li></ul>
  11. 11. Views of Science (1) <ul><li>The traditional view: science (and knowledge) as a set of propositions </li></ul><ul><li>Learning = the remembering of the body of these ‘facts and principles’. But: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facts, principles are dynamic, not static </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In chaotic systems, facts and principles do not exist </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Views of Science (2) <ul><li>The functional view of science, as a set of procedures or practices </li></ul><ul><li>Amounts to the teaching of methods or rules rather than facts </li></ul><ul><li>This creates the danger of emphasizing process rather than result </li></ul><ul><li>Amounts to a confusion of indicators with results </li></ul>
  13. 13. Science as Conversation <ul><li>The first conversation, scientists with their body of enquiry, experiments, tests, projects, etc., - a conversation with nature </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists with each other, a network of interactions instantiating a vocabulary, ontology, way of thinking about the world </li></ul>
  14. 14. Science as Mesh
  15. 15. Science as Connecting <ul><li>As George Siemens said yesterday, science becomes essentially the formation of connections </li></ul><ul><li>The result is a complex web of connections between concepts, artifacts, phenomena, people, theories, actions… </li></ul>
  16. 16. Scientists <ul><li>The key to science is the creation of scientists as connectors </li></ul><ul><li>That is to say, the creation of people who are literate in this form of conversation </li></ul><ul><li>(This is akin to the creation of scientists as experts, who recognize patterns, who see the way scientists see) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Connective Knowledge (2) <ul><li>The less common way of representing knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>This is personal knowledge , the knowledge shared by an interconnecting network of neurons </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is distributed </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge is ineffable </li></ul>
  18. 18. Connecting neurons <ul><li>Neurons (like scientists) are connected through principles of association </li></ul><ul><li>Major mechanisms include Hebbian association (similarity), proximity, back propagation, Boltzmann (harmony) </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is therefore a process of varied, authentic experiences, which generate patterns in the mind </li></ul>
  19. 19. Views of Learning (1 & 2) <ul><li>Learning as the remembering of facts </li></ul><ul><li>Learning as processes or skills </li></ul><ul><li>Learning as conversation - where the product of learning is the set of connections in the individual that results </li></ul><ul><li>(ie., learning where the product is the learner) </li></ul>
  20. 20. The Language of Thought <ul><li>Papert - constructionism - when people construct artifacts they are constructing media with which to think </li></ul><ul><li>What vocabularies are we using in our digital materials? What vocabularies are publishers using? Are students using? </li></ul><ul><li>Who owns the conversation? </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Students Own Learning <ul><li>Alejandro Piscitelli - we have this mystic idea that by saying things that people will change </li></ul><ul><li>from mention to use -- technology as persuasion -- it is by speaking the language that we internalize it, that we become it </li></ul>
  22. 22. Social Networks as Mesh
  23. 23. The Meta-Message Revisited <ul><li>We cannot produce knowledge for people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The greatest beneficiaries are the people who produce the resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why then do we fund universities and institutions to produce knowledge? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The only sustainable OERs are produced by the learners themselves </li></ul></ul>