Learning opportunities in FLOSS

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FKFT presentation on Learning opportunities in FLOSS, by R.Glott & P.Schmidt
Part 1 Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS
Part 2 Example: “Students\' Knowledge Base”
Part 3 Conclusions
FKFT Free Knowledge, Free Technology
Education for a free information society
First International Conference, Barcelona July 15th to 17th 2008

Published in: Education, Technology
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Learning opportunities in FLOSS

  1. 1.                        Learning opportunities in FLOSS Rüdiger Glott (UNU-Merit) Philipp Schmidt (UWC) FKFT Free Knowledge, Free Technology Education for a free information society First International Conference, Barcelona July 15th to 17th 2008
  2. 2. Agenda Part 1 Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS Part 2 Example: “Students' Knowledge Base” Part 3 Conclusions
  3. 3. Part 1 Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS
  4. 4. Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS Stylised Characteristics of Learning in Traditional Educational Settings ✔Roles of teachers and learners are fixed ✔Static content (more or less) ✔ Definition and changes of content depend on teachers ✔ Content is organised in form of fixed curricula ✔ Re-usage of content rather by teachers than by learners ✔ Exclusive access (performance tests, financial capacities, etc.) ✔ Limited set of learning resources (books, readers, specified websites, ...) ✔ Learners are consumers (passive) ✔ Learners must show performance (no lurkers!) ✔ Performance is continuously measured across all themes / disciplines ✔ Support and learning resources are often disconnected ✔ Support is mainly provided by teachers ✔ Opaque and hierarchical structures ✔ Top-down knowledge transfer ✔ Slow adoption of new educational technologies
  5. 5. Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS Stylised Characteristics of Learning in FLOSS ✔ Dynamic roles of teachers and learners ✔ Dynamic content (regular revisions and updates) ✔ Definition and changes of content depend on community ✔ Re-usage of content through teachers and learners ✔ Open access (no performance tests, no charges, etc.) ✔ Broad set of learning resources ✔ Learners are also producers (active) ✔ Learners need not to show performance (lurkers are welcome!) ✔ Performance can (but does not need to) be measured ✔ Performance counts rather theme-specific than in general ✔ Support and learning resources are connected ✔ Support is provided by teachers and learners ✔ Open and transparent structures foster discussions between equals ✔ Discursive knowledge transfer ✔ Fast adoption of new educational technologies
  6. 6. Characteristics of learning in traditional learning environments and in FLOSS Requirements from Open Participatory Learning Environments (OPLE) • Interest must be generated ● Content must be generated / collected, structured and provided ● Technical and organisational maintenance must be provided (technical infrastructure, changes, links, communication, ...) ● A (large enough) community must be established ● A support network must be established within the community ● Quality assurance must be provided ● Visibility (of good contributions) must be secured (incentives)
  7. 7. Part 2 Example: “Students' Knowledge Base”
  8. 8. Example: “Students' Knowledge Base” Brief Overview • Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) • Student Wiki of Open Educational Resources (http://wiki.sch.bme.hu) • Provides learning materials for Electrical Engineering and Informatics Faculty • Including: ✔FAQ ✔Forum ✔Manuals ✔Mailing ✔Wiki
  9. 9. Example: “Students' Knowledge Base” Establishment ● Project started as an intranet site (set up by 4-5 students living at the Schoenherz Dormitory of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics) ● Original motivation: hobby of informatics students, with the objective to save the other students some time by providing a centralised server for all materials that is part of their curriculum ● Students in the dormitory were already sharing and exchanging materials regularly, the wiki simply provided a new and more convenient way of doing that ● Creators started setting up those courses first that they took themselves ● Next step: Lecturers were informed about the wiki and reviewed it, then started uploading materials themselves ● First few months: site was only accessible within the dormitory, access to the site was opened up to the public after this initial phase ●Created without requiring funding from University
  10. 10. Example: “Students' Knowledge Base” Current Status (February 2008) ● 5980 pages of content ● receives on average 1.2 million hits per month ● 2628 registered users ● more than 500 users are regularly logged on ● 890 changes to the content per month ● Materials are reviewed by the community and get corrected if something is wrong ● Reputation / visibility: no formal assessment; participants gain reputation from participation - the wiki provides the name of the user who created a particular page ● Official position of the faculty with respect to the site is mostly positive ● Problem: Knowledge Base cannot grow without funding
  11. 11. Part 3 Conclusions
  12. 12. Conclusions Requirements from OPLE - Revisited • Interest must be generated => No ● Content must be generated / collected, structured and provided => Yes ● Technical and organisational maintenance must be provided (technical infrastructure, changes, links, communication, ...) => Yes ● A (large enough) community must be established => No ● A support network must be established within the community => No ● Quality assurance must be provided => Yes ● Visibility (of good contributions) must be secured (incentives) => Yes
  13. 13. Conclusions Lessons Learnt • No need to generate interest if OPLE is created within a field of latent interest ● Traditional learning environments provide such fields ● A (large enough) community is inherent to such fields ● Support networks are likely to evolve in a self-organised way in such fields ●Quality assurance is eased in such fields because the community is easy to overlook and its members are familiar with the content ●Visibility (of good contributions) can easily be provided because community members know each other ● Expansion within University is difficult if volunteers with IT skills and infrastructure are missing in other departments and if there is no funding ●Alternative: Expanding by connecting different departments with similar Knowledge Bases across Universities (Problem: Organisational coherence)
  14. 14. Thank you for your attention! Contact: Rüdiger Glott glott@merit.unu.edu / r.glott@merit.unimaas.nl Philipp Schmidt phi.schmidt@gmail.com For further information on the FLOSSCom project see: www.flosscom.net

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