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The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning


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With major announcements in the world of open educational resources, such as the funding of college OERs announced in the U.S., or the creation of OER-University being supported by WikiEducator and the Commonwealth of Learning, as well as with the success of the OpenCourseWare consortium and other initiatives, attention is now turning to the development of OERs, the role that they play, and how the process should be managed. In this talk, I argue that rather than think of OERs as contenmt objects, containing knowledge and information intended for transfer to the student, OERs should be thought of as the raw material a learner works with through the practice of managing their own learning. More specifically, the role of open educational resources is to function as a vocabulary of multimedia ‘words’ with which learners converse with each other and with experts in the field. The main emphasis of this presentation was to speak of the role of OERs in the development of learning networks - these networks that are the characteristic result of conversations, and in which our academic and scientific communities are contained.

Published in: Education

The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning

  1. 1. The Role of  Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning Stephen Downes National Research Council Canada 29 March 2011
  2. 2. The Argument in One Slide <ul><li>Learning and cognition happen in a network </li></ul><ul><li>Networks need to be open in order to function </li></ul>
  3. 3. Openness? <ul><li>Freedom to run, to read, to share, to modify </li></ul><ul><li>Perspectives on freedom, as holder, as searcher </li></ul>
  4. 4. Openness in Education <ul><li>Openness – standards, software, systems </li></ul><ul><li>Openness – educational resources, courses, assessment </li></ul>
  5. 5. Open Standards <ul><li>Learning Object Metadata SCORM </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Design, Common Cartridge, Tools Interop </li></ul>
  6. 6. Open Source Software <ul><li>Moodle </li></ul><ul><li>Sakai, Elgg, Atutor, LAMS </li></ul>
  7. 7. Open Educational Resources <ul><li>Projects: OCW, Khan, MERLOT </li></ul><ul><li>Licensing: GFDL; CC by, SA, NC, ND </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sustainability Issues <ul><li>Models: Endowment, Membership, Donations… </li></ul><ul><li>Issues: Lock-in, high-bar, flooding, conversion </li></ul>
  9. 9. One thesis: That new media constitute a vocabulary, and then when people create artifacts, they are, literally, “speaking in LOLcats” It’s not just LOLCats, of course… 61
  10. 10. What do you suppose the artist is saying? XKCD
  11. 11. What do you suppose this artist is saying? Gaping Void
  12. 12. The Accidental Tourist… 9-11 Tourist Guy
  13. 13. Iconic… Hindenberg Tourist Guy
  14. 14. Ironic… Kanye Interrupts Tourist Guy
  15. 15. There are other languages … The first thesis is to be taken literally New media is a language The artifacts are words
  16. 16. Body language, for example …
  17. 17. Clothing, uniforms, flags, drapes …
  18. 18. Maps, diagrams, graphics…
  19. 19. But more… The same sort of thing underlies inference and belief We understand the future in the same way we understand the past, by studying the signs - S. Downes
  20. 20. This means getting beyond narrow text-based conceptions we have of media
  21. 21. Conceptions Like: <ul><li>messages have a sender and a receiver </li></ul><ul><li>words get meaning from what they represent </li></ul><ul><li>truth is based on the real world </li></ul><ul><li>events have a cause, and causes can be known </li></ul><ul><li>science is based on forming and testing hypotheses </li></ul>These, taken together, constitute, a static, linear, coherent picture of the world The world, as though it were a book, or a library Not everyone sees it that way This is the same issue facing old vs new depictions of OERs
  22. 22. OERs as Language , not Content <ul><li>We have to stop treating online resources – including educational materials - as though they were ‘content’ </li></ul><ul><li>The people who actually use them have moved far beyond that </li></ul><ul><li>These artifacts constitute a new language ; they are (if you will) the words is a large, complex, post-linguistic vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>That’s why they need to be open </li></ul>
  23. 23. A frame for understanding new media Morris, Derrida and a little Lao Tzu We need this frame because if we aren’t looking for these things, we just won’t see them. Syntax Cognition Semantics Context Pragmatics Change
  24. 24. Syntax Forms: archetypes? Platonic ideals? Rules: grammar = logical syntax Operations: procedures, motor skills Patterns: regularities, substitutivity (eggcorns, tropes) Similarities: Tversky - properties, etc Not just rules and grammar
  25. 25. Semantics Semantics - Sense and reference (connotation and denotation) - Interpretation (Eg. In probability, Carnap - logical space; Reichenbach - frequency; Ramsey - wagering / strength of belief) - Forms of association: Hebbian, contiguity, back-prop, Boltzmann - Decisions and decision theory: voting / consensus / emergence theories of truth / meaning / purpose / goal
  26. 26. Pragmatics <ul><li>Speech acts (J.L. Austin, Searle) assertives, directives, commissives, expressives, declarations (but also - harmful acts, harassment, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Interrogation (Heidegger) and presupposition </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning (Wittgenstein - meaning is use) </li></ul>use, actions, impact
  27. 27. Cognition <ul><ul><li>description - X (definite description, allegory, metaphor) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>definition - X is Y (ostensive, lexical, logical (necess. & suff conds), family resemblance - but also, identity, personal identity, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>argument - X therefore Y - inductive, deductive, abductive (but also: modal, probability (Bayesian), deontic (obligations), doxastic (belief), etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>explanation - X because of Y (causal, statistical, chaotic/emergent) </li></ul></ul>reasoning, inference and explanation
  28. 28. Context <ul><li>- explanation (Hanson, van Fraassen, Heidegger) </li></ul><ul><li>- meaning (Quine); tense - range of possibilities </li></ul><ul><li>- vocabulary (Derrida); ontologies, logical space </li></ul><ul><li>Frames (Lakoff) and worldviews </li></ul>placement, environment
  29. 29. Change <ul><li>relation and connection: I Ching, logical relation </li></ul><ul><li>flow: Hegel - historicity, directionality; McLuhan - 4 things </li></ul><ul><li>- progression / logic -- games, for example: quiz&points, branch-and-tree, database </li></ul><ul><li>- scheduling - timetabling - events; activity theory / LaaN </li></ul>
  30. 30. 21 st Century Skills Languages The ‘skills’ described by Jenkins – performance, simulation, appropriation, etc - are actually languages and should be understood in terms of these six dimensions
  31. 31. 21 st Century Languages Languages Elements Performance Simulation Appropriation Syntax Semantics Pragmatics Cognition Context Change
  32. 32. Example: Performance - Syntax Languages Elements Performance (the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery) (subcategories?) Syntax: - Forms - Rules - Operations - Patterns - Similarities - Presentation acting, method acting - “Know your lines” etc - Stanislavski’s system (etc…) - Ritual Performance (etc.) - Comparing Tales (etc.)
  33. 33. A third thesis: Fluency in these languages constitutes “21st century learning”
  34. 34. <ul><li>Autonomy – each node is self-governing </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity – nodes encouraged to have varying states </li></ul><ul><li>Openness – unhindered movement of signals, nodes </li></ul><ul><li>Interactivity – knowledge and learning are emergent </li></ul>
  35. 35. Open Courses <ul><li>MOOC: Massive Open Online Course </li></ul><ul><li>Network Design, Community Based </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>Aggregate – gather resources from wherever they may be </li></ul><ul><li>Remix – mash up, put together, join </li></ul><ul><li>Repurpose – localize, adapt, mark up, tag, review, lip dub </li></ul><ul><li>Feed forward – as video, slides, graphics, text </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Big Data, Web of Data, Semantic Web, RSS, Geo, FOAF… </li></ul><ul><li>Mash-ups, APIs, the Cloud, Social Network </li></ul>The Open Learning Ecosystem
  38. 38. <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Free Learning </li></ul>Stephen Downes