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2 09 groinne conole_july_final_2011


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2 09 groinne conole_july_final_2011

  1. 1. Social exclusion or inclusion - the implications of social and participatory media oneducationGráinne ConoleThe Open University, UKKeywords: Social exclusion, social networks, participatory culture, Open Education Resources,Cloudworks, learning designIntroductionIn the last five years we have seen the emergence of a range of new social and participatory media.These include blogs, wikis, social networks like Facebook, microblogging sites such as Twitter, andmedia sharing repositories such as Flickr and YouTube. Many of these tools are free, and clearlythey offer new and exciting ways to support learning, and to enable learners and teachers to com-municate and share. In parallel we have seen the emergence of the Open Source (Iiyoshi andKumar, 2008 )and the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement (Aitkins et al., 2007). andthere are now many high-quality digital resource repositories in a range of languages. Coupled tothis there has been a growth in user-generated content, enabling more learner-centred pedagogies.This chapter will focus on the implications of this changing digital landscape for education and inparticular the implications for learners, teachers and institutions. It will begin by providing anoverview of these new technologies and their associated characteristics. It will then provide someexamples of the ways in which these technologies are being harnessed to foster different pedagogi-cal approaches. It is evident that these technologies have immense potential to support more innova-tive approaches to learning, enabling more personalised and learner-centred approaches. Howeverthere is also a number of downsides to using these technologies, the chapter will outline these and 1
  2. 2. suggest that a new digital divide is being created, between those who are able to be part of this new participatory culture and those who are excluded. It will argue that we need to change the ways in which we design, support and assess learning, to take better account of the affordances (Gibson, 1979) of these new technologies. It will provide three case studies that are attempting to do this: the creation and use of Open Educational Resources and associated practices, Cloudworks, a social net- working site for sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas, and a new learning design methodology which aims to help guide practitioners in creating learning interventions that make ef- fective use of new technologies. Social and participatory media The range of social and participatory media now available is truly daunting. Conole and Alevizou (2010) categorised these into ten types of tools: media sharing, media manipulation, chat, online games and virtual worlds, social networking, blogs, social bookmarks, recommender systems, wikis and syndication/RSS feeds. Reviewing the ways in which they are being used a number of common characteristics emerge. Firstly, they enable new forms of interaction and communication. Secondly, many provide functionality to enable users to peer critique each others’ content or dialogue. Thirdly, there are now a range of tools that enable users to collectively aggregate resources, Fourthly, there are many tools to enable user-generated content, that can be shared with others in a variety of ways. Fifthly, they are participatory, enabling users to produce and share their own content and interact with others. Sixthly, they are open and exploratory, users can undertake inquiry-based queries get- ting access to rich resources and often near instant feedback from the social collective. Finally, there is an evident networked effect, possible through the connection of millions worldwide sharing, dis- cussing, aggregating and co-constructing knowledge. Within this context we are seeing a number of trends:•A shift from the Web as a content repository and information mechanism to a Web that enables moresocial mediation and user generation of content. 2
  3. 3. •New practices of sharing (see for example: images: Flickr; video: YouTube and presentation: Slide-share), and mechanisms for content production, communication and collaboration (through blogs, wi-kis and micro-blogging services such as Twitter). There are also social networking sites for connect-ing people and supporting different communities of practice (such as Facebook, Elgg and Ning).•A network effect is emerging as a result of the quantity of information available on the Web, the mul-tiplicity of connectivity and the scale of user participation. Much has been written about the characteristics of these new technologies and in particular so called Web 2.0 practices (OReilly, 2005; Alexander; 2006; Anderson, 2007) but for the purposes of this chapter I want to focus in particular on the following:•Peer critiquing – the ability to openingly comment on other people’s work. This has become standardpractice within the blogosphere for instance and is being used in general society (for example manyjournalists are now active bloggers, and traditional book writing is being supplemented by writers us-ing blogs to invite potential readers to comment on the evolving plot), by academics (through self-re-flective blogs on digital scholarship and research ideas) and in a teaching context (with students keep-ing their own reflective blogs or contributing to a collective cohort blog).•User generated content – there are now many free tools for creating content (ranging from thosewhich are primarily text-based, through to rich multimedia and interactive tools), meaning that theWeb is no longer a passive media for consumption but an active, participatory, productive media.Sites such as YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare facilitate simple sharing of user-generated content andembedded code functionality means this content can be simultaneously distributed via a range ofcommunication channels.•Collective aggregation - hierarchy and controlled structures make little sense in an environment thatconsists of a constantly expanding body of content that can be connected in a multitude of ways. Col-lective aggregation refers both to the ways in which individuals can collate and order content to suittheir individual needs and personal preferences, as well as the ways individual content can be en- 3
  4. 4. riched collectively (via tagging, multiple distribution, etc.). Social bookmarking, tag clouds and asso-ciated visualisation tools, tagging, RSS feeds and embedding code all enable collective aggregation tooccur.•Community formation – clearly the connectivity and rich communicative channels now available onthe Web provide an environment for supporting a rich diversity of digital communities. Boundaries ofprofessional and personal identity are eroding and the notion of tightly knit Communities of Practice(Wenger 1998) are giving way to a spectrum of communities from individualistic spaces throughloosely bound and often transitory collectives through to more established and clearly defined com-munities. See Dron and Anderson (2007) for a more specific discussion of collectives, networks andgroups in social networking for e-learning.•Digital personas – each of us is having to define our own digital identity and how we presentourselves across these spaces. The avatars we choose to represent ourselves, the style of language weuse and the degree to which we are open (both professionally and personally) within these spaces,give a collective picture of how we are viewed by others. Key questions In this chapter I want to consider the following questions in relation to the impact of social and par- ticipatory media on learning and teaching practices:•How are new open, social and participatory media changing educational practice?•What are the implications for formal and informal learning?•How are learner and teacher roles changing?•How should institutional structures and systems be adapted to accommodate these new technologies?•What new digital literacies will learners and teachers need to make effective use of these new tech-nologies?•How can we design effective learning interventions and environments to harness the affordances thatthese new technologies provide? 4
  5. 5. •What social exclusion issues arise and how can we minimise these? Technology trends In terms of extrapolating the changing digital landscape I draw on a number of reviews of technolo- gies and in particular their impact on both society generally and education in particular. These in- clude the NSF cyber-structure report (Borgman, et. al., 2008), the IPTS review of e-learning 2.0 (Redecker et al., 2008), a recent review of Web 2.0 tools and practice in Higher Education (Conole and Alevizou, 2010) and the Horizon reports on new technologies (NMC, 2011). The latest Horizon report (NMC, 2011) predicts six new technologies that are likely to have the most impact in one, three and five years time. E-Books and mobiles are cited as being likely to have the most impact in the next year. Augmented learning and game-based learning are listed as being most important within a three-year timeframe. Finally, gesture-based learning and learning analytics are predicted as having the most impact within five year’s time. The report observes a number of trends on how technologies are being used and their impact on practice. Firstly, it is increasingly the case (certainly in the developed world) that people expect to be able to work and learn, anywhere and anytime. This is a consequence of near ubiquitous access to the Internet and the increasing so- phistication of mobile devices with the emergence of smart phones, e-books and hybrid devices like the iPad. Secondly, the world of work is increasingly collaborative. People no longer work in isola- tion, team work is becoming more common and interdisciplinarity1 is increasingly seen as a means of addressing today’s complex and ‘wicked’ problems. Thirdly, technologies are increasingly cloud- based (Katz, 2008) and many institutions are now outsourcing core technology services to third par- ties. Fourthly, to harness the potential of these new technologies, individuals need to develop new digital literacies (Jenkins et al, 2006, Jenkins, 2009). Fifthly, the nature of academic discourse, scholarship and mechanisms for sharing knowledge are being transformed by new publication chan- nels such as blogs and wikis (Weller, 2011). This is challenging traditional metrics for evaluating 1 See Conole et al. (2010) for a review of the nature of interdisciplinarity in Technology-Enhanced Learning. 5
  6. 6. academic worth and value and traditional mechanisms for publishing via journals and books. Newevaluation metrics need to be developed to take account of this paradigm shift. Sixthly, the in-creased prevalence of free tools and resources is challenging current educational business modelsand new models will be needed to address this. Finally, both learners and teachers are finding it in-creasingly challenging to keep abreast of the range of new technologies that are emerging. It is like-ly that we will need to develop new learning pathways to guide learners through this complex digi-tal landscape and new guidance to support teachers in designing and supporting effective learninginterventions and environments that make effective use of these new tools.Harnessing new technologies and mapping to good pedagogyThe previous section, looked at technological trends and associated characteristics generally. Thissection will focus in on how these technologies can be harnessed to support different approaches tolearning. In their conclusion to the review of Web 2.0 tools and practices, Conole and Alevizou(2010) reflect on the implications of how these tools are being used in Higher Education as follows: Effective use of new technologies requires a radical rethink of the core learning and teaching processes; a shift from design as an internal, implicit and individually crafter process to one that is externalised and shareable with others. Change in practice may indeed involve the use of revised materials, new teaching strategies and beliefs - all in relation to educational inno- vation.Table 1 considers a number of commonly used pedagogical approaches and shows how these can besupported through use of a range of social and participatory media. What is notable is the way inwhich the affordances of these technologies can be used to promote what are considered to be goodpedagogical approaches; such as constructivist and socially situative pedagogies. However to 6
  7. 7. achieve these effective practices, as Conole and Alevizou (2010) observe, will require a rethinkingof the ways in which learning interventions are designed and supported.Table 1: Mapping of different pedagogical approaches to toolsPedagogical approach ToolsPersonalised learning Ability to customise tools to create a personal digital learning environment, use of RSS feedsSituated, experiential and problem-based Location aware devices, 3D-worlds like SecondLifelearningRole play and inquiry-based learning Search engines, online resources, social networking and micro-blogging sitesResource-based learning User-generated content tools, media repositories, Open Educational ResourcesReflective, dialogic and peer-based learning Blogs, wikis and e-portfoliosPositive and negative aspectsTable 2 looks at five common effects associated with new technologies and suggests some of theconsequences or paradoxes that arise as a result.The first is the fact that there are now many free tools, resource and services; leading to an ever ex-panding body of knowledge. Digital technologies amplify this body of knowledge, by providingeasy access to information, new ways of aggregating resources and multiple ways of disassemblingand recombining information. In a world of increasing complexity and knowledge, it is no longerpossible to know everything about a domain. Whereas a century ago a professional Chemist couldhave a pretty good grasp across all the main sub-domains of Chemistry; today’s Chemist strugglesto keep up with their own area. Some celebrate this expansion, arguing that it means everyone hadthe potential to be a ‘just-in-time’ expert and to be able to access and use knowledge for different 7
  8. 8. purposes. There is a vast array of information available online on medical conditions, so arguablebefore seeking the advice of a doctor individuals can look up information on symptoms from theWeb. Surowiecki coined the term ‘wisdom of the crowds’ (Surowiecki 2004) arguing that collectiveaggregation of information can lead to better decisions than those any individual might make. Oth-ers caution against this, lamenting the death of expertise. Keen in particular cautions against the‘cult of the amateur’ (Keen 2007), arguing that the Web 2.0 revolution is not providing more depthof information, rather it is leading to superficial observations and judgement. He talks of the ‘sheernoise of a hundred million bloggers; simultaneously talking about themselves’ and argues that weare decimating our ‘cultural gatekeepers’ (critics, journalists, editors, etc.).On the positive side, these tools mean that leaners have access to a rich set of resources, which theycan adapt and personalise. The abundance of tools and resources also means it is possible to supportniche specialist disciplines, the so called long-tail effect (Anderson, 2004). On the negative side, ina world where tools, resources and services are increasingly free, what is the role of formal educa-tional institutions? What should be the balance of institutionally supported services verses freeones? Institutions are increasingly seeing learners picking and mixing the tools they use and theyare no longer solely reliant on institutional systems.Change Positive impact Negative impactFree tools, resources and ser- Access and personalisation, abil-Raises questions about the rolevices ity to support niche specialisa- of institutions and increasing ev- tions - the so called ‘long tail’ idence of a lack of institutional phenomenon controlUbiquitous access Technologies as core tools for A narrower, but deeper digital learning and teaching divideMultiple communication and Increasing opportunities for Fragmentation and no centraldistribution channels peer, tutor and expert dialogue, repository or sole learning path- beyond the confines of the for- ways mal course boundaries 8
  9. 9. Change Positive impact Negative impactRich media representation New forms of sense making Learners and teachers not equipped with the necessary new digital literacy skillsUser-generated content Increasing variety and forms of Quality assurance issues in terms knowledge and more opportuni- of the validity and worth of these ties for leaner control materials, issues in terms of whether learners and teachers have the right skills to make ef- fective evaluation judgments about these materialsSocial profiling and networking Increased opportunities for Inappropriate digital voices and knowledge sharing and commu- potential fragmentation of identi- nity build, a network of dis- ty tributed communities possibleTable 2: The positive and negative aspects of new technologiesSecondly, ubiquitous access is becoming the norm, learners and teachers are expecting to be able toaccess tools and resources from anywhere, and hence be able to learn and teach anywhere, anytime.In particular mobile devices make it easier to access information and communicate online. Users areusing a range of communication channels to connect with others all over the world. Learners areable to access expertise beyond the confines of their formal courses. The downside of this is thatthose that either choose not to connect or are unable to connect are becoming increasingly isolated;the digital divide is narrower but deeper (Norris, 2001; Warschauer, 2004). 9
  10. 10. Thirdly, there are now numerous communication and distribution channels available for learnersand teachers. Content can be accessed, shared and discussed through a variety of mechanisms.Users are posting across inter-related sites such as blogs, Twitter and facebook. Users are using arange of communication channels to connect with others all over the world. Learners are able to ac-cess expertise beyond the confines of their formal courses. However this is also leading to learnerconfusion and to fragmentation of voice.Fourthly, there are a rich range of multimedia and ways of representing content. This can be har-nessed by learners to view ideas and concepts in different ways. There are also now a range of inter-active sensemaking tools - such as concept mapping and argumentation tools that learners can useto make sense of their understanding and to connect and represent ideas (Okada et al., 2008). But toeffectively use these representations and tools learners and teachers need appropriate new digital lit-eracies skills, which arguably many do not have at the moment.Fifthly, there is now a critical mass of Open Educational Resources, as well as tools for the creationof user-generated content. This means that learners can augment their course materials with relatedmaterials developed elsewhere. They can compare and contrast these resources to triangulate theirunderstanding of new concepts. But finding and making effective judgements on the worth and rel-evance of materials is non trivial. Furthermore there can be quality assurance issues as many ofthese resources are not quality assessed for accuracy and relevance.Sixthly, there are opportunities for social networking and profiling. This means it is possible forlearners and teachers to be part of global, distributed communities and to actively participate andco-construct knowledge and understanding. A key feature of social and participatory media is thepower of the collective; the potential to tap into a collective mass. This suggests ‘expertise at one’sfingertips’ as well as a collective endeavour to tackle problems, where the ‘sum will be greater than 10
  11. 11. the individual parts’ – why tackle an issue with one mind, when one can use hundreds or thousands,with different perspectives and different types of expertise? This gives rise to the concept of ‘col-lective intelligence’ (Lévy, 1997) i.e. a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collabora-tion and competition of many individuals. Although this is a well-established field of enquiry, thesheer capacity of the Internet means that huge numbers of people can now work together on ashared problem, as the same time utilising the vast quantity of information and tools available onthe Internet. Lévy for example, predicted as far back as 1997 that new communications technolo-gies could profoundly effect the range of social bonds (Levy, 1997: 40).However this social collective co-exists with what Wellman and Gulia termed ‘networked individu-alism’ (Wellman and Gulia, 2001), i.e. the notion that there is a shift away from tightly boundgroups to loosely knit networks of individuals. Furthermore, these networks are also complex andcan lead to confusion in terms of digital identities.The general increasingly complex digital landscape is challenging our existing vocabularies andmeans of description. The very terms digital spaces and landscapes hark back to a time when the di-gital was considered as a mere extension of the real. Terms such as ‘virtual universities’ and ‘virtualcafés’ give the impression of the digital as a ‘bounded place’. Whereas the kinds of patterns of be-haviour we are now seeing in the digital realm, the distribution of content and tools, the multi-fa-ceted and inter-connected nature of the digital means that the vocabulary of ‘time’ and ‘space’ is nolonger adequate. We need new vocabularies and metaphors to describe what is happening. I have ar-gued previously that: There is a need for new approaches to help navigate through the digital environment and also to help make sense of it and the impact it is having on our lives. Simplistic descriptions of the digital environment replicating physical spaces are no longer appropriate, it is neces- 11
  12. 12. sary to take a more holistic view and describe technologies and users together emphasising the connections between them (Conole, 2008).Finally the apparent utopian drive towards an Internet where tools and content are free, and whereopen source principles, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and mash ups appear to offer anevolving, collectively improved set of content and tools, which can be used in a multitude of ways,may not be all that clear cut. Such practices challenge existing ideas around quality and ownershipand do not fit in with current business models for commoditising knowledge. This suggests there isfar more to do in terms of understanding these and redefining our ideas around ownership, qualityand business models.Social inclusion and exclusionThe previous section highlighted some of the paradoxes which can arise as a result of new socialand participatory media. This section will focus on how these relate specifically to notions of socialinclusion and exclusion. It provides a definition of the terms and considers the ways in which newsocial and participatory media can result in certain groups being excluded, but also how these tech-nologies can be used to enable inclusion. It will provide some case study examples of how this isbeing achieved. One definition of social exclusion is that it is ‘a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the nor- mal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live’.2This can include lack of access to earnings, education, technology, community or simply basic hu-man rights. Cullen et al. (2009) define it as the:2 12
  13. 13. process whereby individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from partici- pating fully by virtue of their poverty of lack of competences and lifelong learning oppor- tunities or by discrimination. They go on the define social inclusion as the: process that ensures that those at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain the opportunities and resources to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life. Clearly social and participatory media can result in social exclusion in a number of respects; indi- viduals may not have access to the technologies, they may lack the necessary digital literacy skills to use them or they may be prevented in some way from accessing them. However, Cullen et al. (2009) also suggest that there are two ways in which Web 2.0 technologies can be used to promote social inclusion, namely by: i) preventing digital exclusion and ii) by exploiting new technologies for better inclusion. They describe eight case studies which have attempted to use new technologies to support different pedagogical approaches and types of learners (Table 3). It is interesting to see the ways in which each of the case studies harnessed new technologies in particular contexts; utilising blogs, wikis, e- portfolios and virtual worlds to meet the needs of particular excluded groups, coupled with imple- mentation of different pedagogical approaches, such as story telling, peer coaching and open, col- laborative pedagogies. The examples are drawn from across both formal and informal learning con- texts and demonstrate how technologies can be used to support learners of different learning levels, needs and in different contexts.← Case study Description 13
  14. 14. Notschool Online school for drop Constructivist pedagogy, peer buddy systemAssistive technology wiki Supports knowledge creation around ‘Routes of desire’ pedagogy modelMundi de Estrellas Aimed at young people in hospital, shared storieswww.juntadeandalucia.esALPEUNED Students with disabilities at the Open University in Joven eSkills for at risk and excluded groupswww.conectajoven.orgMOSEP Self-esteemed through e-Portfolios, learning companionswww.mosep.orgSchome Park Gifted kids and those with autism, in SecondLife, pedagogy based on collaborationBREAKOUT Offending and drug prevention, a life-swapping modelwww.breakoutproject.odl.orgOpen Educational Resources and PracticesHaving defined social inclusion and exclusion, this section will consider ways in which the OpenEducational Resource movement (Atkins et al., 2007) is fostering more open and socially inclusivepractices. I draw in particular on the work being undertaken by the Olnet3 and OPAL4 initiatives, but3 http://olnet.org4 14
  15. 15. also broaden this to discuss how this work sits within a wider context of adopting more open prac-tices.The Olnet initiative is being funded by the Flora and William Hewlett foundation and is a partner-ship between the Open University, UK and Carnegie Mlelon in North America. It aims to provide aglobal social-technical infrastructure to promote the use and reuse of OER. The focus is on ensuringthat OER research findings are translated into practice through fostering a dialogue and exchangebetween researchers and users or OER. The rationale behind the initiative is the realisation that de-spite the plethora of high-quality resources now available, evaluation studies show that they are notbeing used as extensively as might have been hoped by teachers and learners and they are being re-purposed even less (McAndrew et al., 2009). The hypothesis is that if we can better understand howOER are currently being created, used and reused then we are likely to be able to develop strategiesto help teachers and learners use them more effectively. A central argument around the promotion ofOER is that education should be viewed as a fundamental human right and that therefore resourcesshould be made freely available. However the focus to date has primarily been on the creation ofOER repositories with the naïve assumption that if resources are made freely available learners andteachers will use and repurpose them. 15
  16. 16. In trying to tackle the issue of why this is not the case, Olnet ran a series of workshop with teachersto get them to explore and discuss OER and in particular to consider how they can be designed foruse in a new context, namely to support collaborative learning (Conole, et al., 2011). Evaluation ofthe workshop discussions identified a number of issues. Firstly, that an OER has an associated in-herent design, which is not normally made explicit. Therefore a teacher looking at whether or not anOER is relevant for their context of use has to first attempt to make this design explicit and then re-design for use in a new context. It was evident that many teachers do not have the necessary skillsto do this and also that the design can be represented in a range of ways, to foreground different as-pects of the resource and its associated pedagogical design. Participants reported that they had a lotof difficulty understanding the OER in their raw state and felt they were missing important informa-tion. They were also unsure of the quality and provenance of the OER. It was therefore evident thatdeconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of OER is complex. Conole et al. (2011) identifiedfour layers that need to be considered to make most effective repurposing of an OER: 1.Visual representation of the design – how can the implicit OER design be made more explicit and hence shareable? 2.Opinion of goodness – how appropriate is the OER for different contexts? 3.Transferability through pedagogical patterns – how can generic patterns be applied to specific contexts? 4.Layer of discussion, critique and contextualisation – how can social and participatory media act as a supporting structure to foster debate between those using the same OER? 16
  17. 17. In addition to having difficulty in deconstructing OER, participants also had problems in terms of repurposing for a new context. Conole et al. (2011) provided a set of collaborative pedagogical pat- terns (Hernández et al., 2005, Hernández et al., 2010) as a means of structuring and guiding the re- design process. Participants reported that these did help them think about how to repurpose the OER for a new collaborative learning context. Participants cited a number of ways in which the use of these patterns were useful: i) only a few patterns are needed to get started and to help think about how a collaborative learning element might be introduced, ii) the patterns were generic enough that they applied to many different learning situations, iii) they encourage thinking at different levels and iv) they encouraged a fresh view of the resources. Building on the experience of Olnet and in particular the importance of understanding the context of the design and use of OER, I will now go on to consider a related, complementary initiative, OPAL. The OPAL initiatives focus is on the articulation of dimensions of OER practice, with the hope that through this we can better understand how to support the use and reuse of OER. OPAL identified OER practices by analysis of 60 case studies of OER initiatives. Open Educational Practices (OEP) are defined as a set of activities and support around the creation, use and repurposing of Open Edu- cational Resources (OERs).Through this eight dimensions of practice were identified initially:1.Strategies and policies2.Quality Assurance (QA) models3.Partnership models4.Tools and tool practices5.Innovations6.Skills development and support7.Business models/sustainability strategies8.Barriers and success factors 17
  18. 18. These were then validated with the user community through a series of workshops and an expertpanel, leading to the refinement of the dimensions to four: strategies and policies, tools and toolpractices, skills development and support, and barriers and success factors. It is evident, that eachof these dimensions of practice might either promote social inclusion or negate it. For example ifpolicies are in place to provide for funding to support the development of OER this will lead to anincrease in the availability of high quality OER. Similarly, staff development activities and supportcan be put in place to help address the kinds of digital literacy skills described earlier in terms of ef-fect design and repurposing of OER. Articulation of barriers can help to put in place policies andpractices to alleviate them. Similarly identified success factors can be replicated in different con-texts. Finally, innovative use of social and participatory media can lead to fostering more discus-sion and engagement amongst practitioners on the use of OER.The dimensions have been used for the creation of a OEP quality model5 that can be used by organi-sations and individuals to self assess their level of OEP maturity (Figure 1).5 This was developed by T. Koskinen for the OPAL project. 18
  19. 19. Figure 1: The OPAL OEP maturity cubeTherefore an organisation that had in place effective OER policies might be placed in 2AX at levelof maturity defined. Similarly an individual who uses uses social and participatory media to organ-ise and share OER might be placed in 1CX level defined. This model has now been translated into aset of guidelines for OER stakeholders (learners, teachers, institutional managers/support staff andpolicy makers). Figure 2 shows a conceptual overview of the different aspects of the guidelines thateach of the stakeholders need to consider, representing a metromap metaphor to emphasise that theguidelines provide a structure trajectory for stakeholders to develop their OER practices. 19
  20. 20. Figure 2: The OPAL OER practices represented as a metromap6Promoting communication and discussionThe previous section discussed how OER might be used to promote social inclusion. This sectionwill consider the ways in which practitioners can share and discuss learning and teaching ideas andhence be part of a global network of scholars. When teachers are asked what would most help themmake more effective use of technologies in their teaching, the overwhelming answer is ‘show meexamples of what others have done and give me access to others with similar interests that I can talkto’ (Clark and Cross, 2010, Wilson, 2007). The social networking site, Cloudworks7, was created toprovide such a site. It amalgamates a range of typical Web 2.0 functionality (such as RSS feeds, fa-vouriting, following, activity streams, aggregation of resources, and activity streams) to provide asocial space where teachers can share and collectively improve learning and teaching ideas, re-sources and practices. Conole and Culver (2009) provide background details to the development ofthe site and the underpinning theoretical perspectives and in a related paper they describe some ofthe initial design and evaluation of the site (Conole and Culver, 2010).6 Thanks to Inge Richter for producing the metromap7 20
  21. 21. From our evaluation data we can see that the site is promoting a range of practices, providing prac-titioners with different ways in which to communicate and interact. It has been used effectively tosupport real and virtual events (conferences and workshops), virtual reading circles, open reviewsand expert elicitation, and is also been used in some instances to share the design of new courses orby students as a space to share and discuss their learning. The site appears to provide a niche socialspace and complements established sites such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs. The distinctfeature of the site is that it is based around ‘social objects’ (Engeström, 2005) called ‘Clouds’,which can be anything to do with learning and teaching (such as a discussion about a tool or re-source, details of a particular learning intervention or discussion about a particular pedagogical ap-proach and how technologies can be used to foster it). Clouds can be discussed and also can be col-lectively improved by the community, through addition of more content (including embedded multi-media) and by inclusion of relevant links or references. Clouds can be grouped into Cloudscapes.The site now has a vibrant self-sustaining community of users from around the world and demon-strates how such sites can promote social inclusion, not only through the sharing of ideas, but alsoby breaking down barriers between different educational sectors. Teachers and learners from acrossthe formal and informal educational spectrum are participating.Learning designFinally this section will describe a new learning design methodology that has been developed to en-able practitioners to make more effective use of technologies in the design of learning interventionsand resources for their students. The methodology is fundamentally socio-cultural in nature and isbased on the notion of the creation of a range of Mediating Artefacts to support design practice. Itaims to help teachers shift from an implicit, belief-based approach to the creation of learning inter-ventions to one that is explicit and design-based. As part of this methodology we have created arange of visual representations, which teachers can use to create and document their design activit- 21
  22. 22. ies. These range from a task swimlane representation that can be used to map learning activitieswhich take place over a few hours up to a holistic whole course map view. In the task swimlaneview, the roles of those involved in the activity (for example learner, tutor etc.) are represented aslanes of individual tasks (such as read a book, participation in a forum, etc.) and for each task anyassociated resource, tools or outputs are connected. The course view map enables the practitioner toarticulate against four aspects of the course: guidance and support, content and activities, commu-nication and collaboration, and reflection and demonstration. In addition, keywords are used to de-scribe the nature of the course and a short summary of the course is provided. Three other viewshave also bee produced: a pedagogy profile view (which articulates the types of activities the lean-ers are expected to undertaken, a course dimensions view which gives more details against the fourheadings described for the course view map (such as the extent to which the course is tutor orlearner-centred, the degree of formative or summative assessment, the extent to which Web 2.0tools or Open Educational Resources are used, etc.), and the learning outcomes maps, which en-ables the practitioner to ensure that the learning outcomes are achieved either through the activitiesthe learners undertaken or via the assessment.RecommendationsThis section puts forward a number of recommendations to overcome some of the barriers to usingsocial and participatory media cited in this chapter; for learners, teachers, institutions and policymakers.For learners it is important that we provide support and guidance in terms of the development of thedigital literacy skills they need. We should encourage more learner-centred approaches, whichmatch the affordances of new media. We need to encourage new active and participatory forms ofcommunication and collaboration, both within formal cohorts and beyond. We need to shift from afocus on content to activities. 22
  23. 23. For teachers we need to develop new approaches to the design of learning interventions (Conole,forthcoming). Teachers will need to adopt more explicit and reflective teaching practices. The bestway for teachers to engage with these new technologies is through technology immersion, learningby doing in other words. We should continue to encourage the creation of a networked educationalcommunity of teachers and learners, to enable them to share and discuss learning and teachingideas.At an institutional level, we need to ensure that strategies and policies are in place that reflect thechanging context of learning. We need to ensure there are appropriate resources and support to fa-cilitate the shift in practice needed. Strong leadership is likely to make all the difference, institution-al leaders who have a clear understanding of the issues (technical, pedagogical and organisational)and who have the power to revision structures and infrastructures.Finally nationally (and indeed internationally) we need to move to the creation and support of highquality Open Educational Resources, along with the description and sharing of case studies of goodpractice. Appropriate strategies, policies and funding should be introduced to help teachers andlearners make more effective use of these media and resources. Professional networks and com-munities should be encouraged to promote scholarly discourse, and there needs to be an ongoinghorizon scanning of technological changes to feed back into what is happening at both an individualand institutional level.There is no doubt that new social and participatory media enable new forms of communication andcollaboration, but communities in these spaces are complex and distributed. Teachers and learnersneed to develop new digital literacy skills to harness their potential effectively and are likely to needsupport to be able to achieve this. Part of this is that we need to rethink the ways in which wedesign, support and assess learning interventions. New social media sites such as Cloudworks can 23
  24. 24. provide mechanisms for teachers to share and discuss learning and teaching ideas and hence im- prove their practice. Finally we are seeing a blurring of boundaries: learners/teachers, learning/teaching, content/activities and real and virtual spaces. This is the reality of the context of modern education. The opportunities are exciting and potentially transformative, the challenges are significant. Addressing the challenges of social exclusion/inclusion A series of questions were listed at the beginning of the chapter in relation to social exclusion/inclu- sion and technologies, these are each now briefly discussed.•How are new open, social and participatory media changing educational practice? As this chapter has described, it is evident that new open, social and participatory media have the potential to transform educational practice, however to date the impact of these technologies has not been significant. There are a range of reasons for this, not least that teachers and learners need to develop new digital literacies skills in order to harness the potential of these technologies. Effective support in terms of more widespread use of Open Educational Resources and guidance such as the learning design methodology articulated in this chapter are mechanisms that make help address this.•What are the implications for formal and informal learning? New technologies offer a variety of ways in which learners can access and represent information and ways in which they can communicate and collaborate. New technologies enable learners to be part of a global distributed network of peers and experts and effectively are blurring the boundaries of formal and informal learning.•How are learner and teacher roles changing? Roles are blurring, teachers are becoming learners and vice versa, learners and teachers participate in these new technologies in a more equal fashion than was possible in more formal learning con- texts of the past.•How should institutional structures and systems be adapted to accommodate these new technologies? 24
  25. 25. New technologies have significant implications for institutional structures and systems. In particular institutions need to take account of the fact that learners and teachers are increasingly using non-in- stitutional systems. They also need to consider how to best integrate the use of institutional Learn- ing Management Systems (LMSs) and cloud-based services.•What new digital literacies will learners and teachers need to make effective use of these new tech-nologies? To the 11 digital literacies that Jenkin et al. (2006) list, I would add creativity. Learners and teachers need to develop these skills in order to effective navigate around online spaces and to make effec- tive judgments about the value of different online resources.•How can we design effective learning interventions and environments to harness the affordances thatthese new technologies provide? Adoption of more design-based research approaches to the development of learning environments is one way of ensuring that new technologies are used effectively, as well as enabling the designers to adopt an agile and responsive approach based on user needs and behaviours. The learning method- ology described in this chapter aims to guide and support practitioners in creating more effective learning activities and environments that make effective use of new technologies.•What social exclusion issues arise and how can we minimise these? Despite the evident benefits and potential of new technologies for learning, some learners and teachers will be excluded. This may be because they lack the necessary digital literacies skills to harness their potential or may be due to lack of technical access. There may also be issues in terms of learners and teachers not having enough time to engage and experiment with new technologies and hence get a feel for how they can be used in an educational context. Conclusion The chapter has considered the implications of new social and participatory media to promote social inclusion. It has described three instances; namely the use of OER and associated practices, the pro- motion of communication and interaction through new social media, and application of a new learn- 25
  26. 26. ing design methodology. As stated earlier the digital divide is still evident and as social and particip-atory media and users behaviour continue to co-evolve it is only likely that the divide between thosewho are able to use social and participatory media and those who cannot will increase. It is import-ant for us to be aware of this and to continue to develop mechanisms to promote social inclusion inlearning and teaching.To return to the central question posed at the beginning of this chapter: can social and participatorymedia support social inclusion?’ The answer is yes in that these media can provide rich multimediarepresentations and multiple communication channels, enable learning opportunities to be accessedfrom anywhere and provide mechanisms for storing and sharing an abundance of free educationalresources. However the answer is also no, in that these media are resulting in a new kind of digitaldivide, the digital environment is increasingly complex and many learners and teachers lack the ne-cessary digital literacy skills to navigate and effective use this space.ReferencesAndersen, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0?: ideas, technologies and implications for education: Citeseer, available online at, D. E., Seely Brown, J. and Hammond, A. L. (2007), A review of the open educational re- sources (OER) movement: achievements, challenges and opportunities, a report for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, available online at, B. (2006), ‘Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?’, Educause review, 41(2): 32-44.Anderson, C. (2004), The long tail, Wired, October 2004.Borgman, C., Abelson, H., Dirks, L., Johnson, R., Koedinger, K., Linn, M., Lynch, C., Oblinger, D., Pea, R., Salen, K., Smith, M & Szalay, A. (2008), Fostering learning in the networked world: 26
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