I was supposed to be in Samoa of this week to take a WikiEducator workshop. Unfortunately I was missing one vital piece of information: I need to have more than six months left on my passport to be able to go to board the plane. I only found out this when I arrived at the airport. The workshop has been aborted.
However it has been an interesting process.
The workshops involve developing some skills in using media wiki and going on to produce an OER resource which will be available under a Creative Commons license. I was only asked to do the workshop at the last moment.
OER: Open educational resources. In brief: Open educational resources are educational materials and resources offered freely and openly for anyone to use and under some licenses to re-mix, improve and redistribute. From Wikipedia.
Question One: In considering the workshop the first question I had to ask myself was do I know enough about media wiki? “I think so: was the answer.
Question Two: The second question was my attitude and qualification to be involved in anything with open educational resources (OER). For a number of years I have been involved on the periphery and the question was: How genuinely committed am I? until today I didn;t even have an OER tag here,
At the time there was an intense debate going on in the wiki educator Google group. This had to do was issues around collaboration, ownership, central control in terms of standards versus uses determining their own standards etc. It seems that any decision to quote “open things up” always has unintended consequences to close something else down. Example if you require all materials to be created and free and open source tools such as Openoffice, but then means some people who are forced to use Microsoft office have to then learn and become familiar with a new platform. For some this will be a big enough barrier.
I spent a little time reflecting on this question, and decided “Yes, I am committeed”.
Revisiting a few of the key events
The Cape Town Open Education Declaration: www.capetowndeclaration.org/ The first bit says:
Unlocking the promise of open educational resources
We are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning. Educators worldwide are developing a vast pool of educational resources on the Internet, open and free for all to use. These educators are creating a world where each and every person on earth can access and contribute to the sum of all human knowledge. They are also planting the seeds of a new pedagogy where educators and learners create, shape and evolve knowledge together, deepening their skills and understanding as they go.
This emerging open education movement combines the established tradition of sharing good ideas with fellow educators and the collaborative, interactive culture of the Internet. It is built on the belief that everyone should have the freedom to use, customize, improve and redistribute educational resources without constraint. Educators, learners and others who share this belief are gathering together as part of a worldwide effort to make education both more accessible and more effective.
A few links:
www.repository.ac.nz/ A link to a few Moodle sites. They say: Project Goals and the Challenges of Modular Course Design – The first objective of the NZ OER project is to develop some ‘proof of concept’ courseware that is freely available to all tertiary education institutions in New Zealand. Underpinning this objective were our goals to increase the quality of eLearning materials, increase flexibility in their re-use and significantly reduce the duplication of investment in their design, development and production. The license used was the Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 therefore the content is actually free to all. Note that this project is planning to develop a New Zealand version of the Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
This illustrates some of the joys and perils of OER. Spin offs. local inititives, re-inventing the wheel. Both a strength and a potential weakness.
www.oercommons.org/about: About OER Commons: OER Commons is the first comprehensive open learning network where teachers and professors (from pre-K to graduate school) can access their colleagues’ course materials, share their own, and collaborate on affecting today’s classrooms. It uses Web 2.0 features (tags, ratings, comments, reviews, and social networking) to create an online experience that engages educators in sharing their best teaching and learning practices.
The emergence of OER signals the growing trend toward openness for teaching and learning materials.
The mission of OER Commons is to expand educational opportunities by increasing access to high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER), and facilitating the creation, use, and re-use of OER, for instructors, students, and self-learners.
Again supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
But if you visit Merlot, you will find a labyrinthe of ideas and resources, very difficult to find, all sorts of odd useage arrangements and the issues of quality, metadata emerge,
We can mistake a clear view of an objective for “easy to reach”. Here is a libnk to the wikieducator Google groups thread, which shows the good, the bad and the ugly all in one place, and illustrates that we can work togewther even if we disagree, and that there is (at least ibn my opinion) real hope in the range of OER futures.