Open Ed Conf 4: summary

This is the final of the four posts on my topic at OpenEd 2009.  Just for the sake of completness.

Here is my handout/summary. Summary Notes (Word format)

An Approach to the Problems of Personalisation and Context Dependency in Open Educational Resources

We had some initial conversations: how are we going to move ahead in our programme, that developed into a set of interview questions.  Some roadblocks were clear. Two interesting problems emerged from those keen to share more: resources that were less useful because they were highly personalised and contextualised.

Some things were actually working. Even in a very small scale way.  There were identifiable pockets of success, and small leaps forward.  What were some of the features that contributed?  A few comments.

1. The power of the tiny network

In this tiny informal study, most of the success occurred in small groups.  Not in the larger scale.  No doublt there are some good reasons for this: scalability, networks of relationships becoming more complex, trust, synergy etc.

There is the reports from quite a large scale project where small informal networks seemed to work better than the big mother ship, described in the first post in this series.

Another story: a lecturer is teaching in a subject and course unique to the University. In other words, there are no others doing this. This lecturer has established a personal network with two other staff, one each at two other universities. Even in the initial stages it is showing good promise. The proposal is to put material online, which is sharable.

2. The power of a further audience of one

This was an observation that emerged several times quite spontaneously from those interviewed.  It seems that at the development stage, writing with even one other person/context in mind can see the product becoming more generic and more reusable, more transferrable.

It may even become easier to do the writing/creating with this added element.  Maybe as one person suggested it helps “provide focus”.  “I’m learning to make my work more generic, less time bound and less limited to use in just one course/level.”

3. The power of feedback

Quite obvious really, and may seem like a no-brainer.  However some teachers see asking for feedback as being an imposition.  My view is that they can perceive their work as being siloed.

It was unclear of the exact parameters and features of this attitude, to suggest more detail would require some more unpicking of the themes. There are a wide range of factors involved: security and confidence of the lecturers, the lack of competition for jobs, and interestingly, just plain personal organisation.

Sharing ideas and outlines with others, the reports say, has been hugely beneficial. This may be stating an obvious fact but such sharing has been proved to be not very common, or easy for some.

I revisited a few of my initial contacts to ask about this. They report pressures of time, lecturers preparing material quite late, often a day before it’s due to be used in class.  Also a feeling of not wanting to worry someone else who was also very busy.

As a corollary there was mention of the desirability of tweaking resources soon shortly after an initial use as being desirable but it rarely happens in practice.  There is a little more in the handout.

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