By David Wells, editor at Surviving the OU

David looks at Open Educational Resources and MOOCs

Week 9: OER reuse and sustainability

Open Learning heavyweight Martin Weller introduced us to this week’s activities and OER in general. The study objectives, if met, would enable us to understand: 

  • the use of appropriate licences
  • the sustainability of OER
  • different approaches to OER
  • the evidence for approaches to sustainability.

Firstly we were introduced to David Wiley’s 5Rs of reuse which gave a nice overview of the type of information we would examining over the coming week. This then merged into Creative Commons and we discussed in the forum about what type of licenses we would attribute to our own blogs and content. Attribution, non-commercial and share alike were the three options and I found this an interesting activity (no. 9).

For Activity 10 we looked at sustainability of OER within projects and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (the people behind Hewlett Packard) who have funded such projects in the past. We read David Wiley’s 2007 paper on the On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education and looked at some current course providers like Coursera, Open Learn and Future Learn to see if where we could apply Wiley’s models their approaches.

Activity 11 closed out the week as we focused on The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER. An explanation of these terms can be found here:

We have seen large-scale projects (such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare) that can be viewed as institutional approaches to OER. It is these types of project that Wiley focuses on, and which we can classify as ‘Big OER’. However, another approach to OER is to produce them at the individual level, as a by-product of the everyday activity of educators, researchers and teachers. This embraces not only specifically designed teaching material, but also other types of content that could be used in a teaching context; for example, presentations, articles, blog posts, etc. This ‘Little OER’ approach is not in conflict with the larger projects but represents another means of tackling sustainability.

We then wrote a blog post off the back of Weller’s slidecast on the benefits and drawbacks of big and little OER. That closed out week 9.

Week 10: An introduction to MOOCs

I enjoyed Week 9 and thought a lot about how we implement OER into our working situation on a daily basis. I’ve heard a lot about MOOCs in recent years and have taken a couple of courses with the Khan Academy so was interested in looking at them more closely in this week of activities. Martin Weller once again opened the week’s proceedings and the study objectives covered:

  • the different types of MOOC and the issues surrounding them
  • the evidence of learner behaviour and the effectiveness of MOOCs
  • the learner experience in MOOCs
  • the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs as an approach
  • personal learning networks.

Activity 12 asked the question “what are MOOCs?” and I’m sure some people will be wondering the same. Wikipedia offers a nice concise explanation.

“A massive open online course (MOOC /muːk/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions among students.”

We listened to an online Google Hangout discussion between Martin Weller, George Siemens and Dave Cormier on the subject of MOOCs which was very interesting as all three had plenty of opinions and ideas around the subject and were involved in the very early stages of bringing these courses to fruition. Activity 13 was more about knowledge building and we had to choose out of three separate readings; I picked this article by Paul Stacey. For Activity 14 we compared DS106 with the offerings from FutureLearn or Coursera and how they matched or differed. The final two activities were about Personal Learning Networks. We had to define our own for Activity 15. Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

‘an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection.’ (Wikipedia, 2012)

In activity 16 we examined our definitions and were required to create a visual representation of the tools, resources and people in your PLN, before posting this on our blog. I also found this video useful in the process.


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