By David Wells, editor at Surviving the OU

David has got the TMA out of the way and focuses on H817 Block 2

Week 7: Introduction to openness in education

This is our introduction to Block 2 which is entitled Open Education so it gives us a pretty clear indication of what we are going to expect. I enjoyed this week and there was plenty of quality engagement in the forums about it too. Old friend of H800 Martin Weller introduced the block and the study objectives were as follows…

After studying this week, you should:

  • understand the areas of debate and priorities in the changing area of open education
  • be able to make an initial consideration of evidence to support priorities in open learning research
  • be able to make initial readings in open education literature
  • be able to create a representation of openness in education.

There is going to be a big focus on blogs in this block and the chance to gain some badges on our blogs, no less! The award of them is linked yo understanding OER, MOOCs and Open Education. In this section we also had to create or activate our blogs (if we hadn’t done so already) and put the link in the forums so that fellow students could access them.

What does “open” mean when it comes to education and resources? Good question and that’s what we need to find out in this section. Activity 2 set us a task to pick and read two articles from a list of six; I chose this piece by Tony Bates and the video below which was also an option by Open Education celebrity David Wiley.

Then for Activity 3 we had to create a visual representation that defines openness in education by drawing on some of the concepts listed in our two chosen resources. We could use Powerpoint, Prezi or similar to create this and there were some really well-made efforts from across the scope of the three forum groups. Finally for this week Activity 4 moved us towards priorities of openness and open education resources. We had to identify prioirites for research on behalf of a fictional funding organisation around three of the following:

  • Sustainability – many OER projects have received initial funding from organisations such as the Hewlett Foundation. How sustainable are they after the funding stops?
  • Pedagogy – are different ways of teaching required to make effective use of open education?
  • Barriers to uptake – what prevents individuals or institutions from either using or engaging with open education?
  • Learner support – how can learners best be supported in these open models?
  • Technology – what technologies are best suited to open approaches?
  • Quality – how can we assure the quality of open educational content?
  • Rights – how do we protect the intellectual property of individuals while encouraging wide distribution?

Week 8: Using open education resources

And so we move on to week 8 (fairly flying through the course now!) and the return of TMA01 where I scored a highly respectable xxx so happy with that. This week gets introduced again by Martin Weller and he takes us through to the study objects which are listed as:

  • identify the key issues for open education resources
  • analyse OER literature to identify issues
  • specify a course design using OER
  • review the learning object approach.

Acitivty 5 introucesd us to learning objects which are defined by Sydney University as being…

“Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning. A learning object is “A digital self-contained and reusable entity, with a clear educational purpose, with at least three internal and editable components: content, learning activities and elements of context.

First for Activity 5 we read Stephen Downes’ paper on resources for distance education worldwide which started off promising enough but became a little difficult to understand as Mr Downes started talking about XML and SCORM and other code languages. We then were required to pick from one of three papers that served as criticisms of learning objects. I chose a transcript of a presentation given by Brian Lamb and a 2003 paper by Norm Friesen which was not as engaging as Lamb’s content.

Activity 7 invited us to explore OER issues by reading a JISC report on OER or the OER Research Hub evidence report and then, based on the 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.

Finally, for Activity 8 we had to work within the constraints of a scenario and imagine we were constructing a short online course in digital skills for an identified group of learners (e.g. undergraduates, new employees, teachers, mature learners, military personnel, etc.), focusing on resources available, suitability etc. This was a bumper five-hour activity and required a considerable amount of planning time.

We then had to see how much of our desired content could be accommodated by using OER repositories. We searched the following repositories and made a quick evaluation for each week of our course on the type of content that is available. These were the repositories:

And that’s it for now. plenty to be getting on with and I’m looking over Week 9 already, making notes and printing off.

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