Wednesday, 23 July 2014

#Phd update: interest for older employees learning research niche

The quest to provide research based evidence to upgrade or at least hold on to older employees, and build a rationale to keep them in corporations based on their expertise and knowledge. EU, US, Canadian statistics are clear, we have an aging population and there is a need to keep employees at work, in meaningful work based on their expertise and knowledge.
It is a marginal option that I can chose to work on after my PhD is finalized (yes, still a lot to do, but ... reflection is a nice pastime). It feels like an interesting professional research and knowledge niche. So this subject is just something that sits in the back of my mind as I work on my heutagogy-MOOC-online learning based PhD topic, for I see a future in MOOCs or by that time enhanced, global online learning - for older, lifelong learners, including employees.

While looking for a solid research definition of 'learning episode' I came across a FREE, online book from 1971 by Allen Tough entitled 'The Adult's Learning Projects: a fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning'. The book is freely available online (per chapter) and chapter 2 provides a really handy definition of learning episodes, which comprises learning actions, and relates it to personal learning goals of the learner. I am still filtering out a transparent, useful definition that I can converge to my research participants, but getting there and will hopefully be able to share soon.

The weird - and nice - thing about this book and follow-up research done by Hiemstra (1976), based on Tough is that all of a sudden I realized it resembled the learning factors I was looking at: learning happens based on networked connections (I admit the term networked learning or anything closely resembling it did not come up in 1971, but grouped learning - either by experts, family/friends, ... - is mentioned). Hiemstra, based on ideas of Tough (1971) seemingly also looked at learning via non-human objects (check), and individual learning (call it self-determined learning - check), and offers the similar drivers for learning: professional, recreational,  ... (check) but also offers one that I had not contemplated, although very important: social/civil. So, I am adding that last term to my research as well. The sources of information have been changing over the last forty years, but again they resemble each other: written, multimedia, ...

So all of a sudden I find a short overview of what I look at, in a brief learning project dating from 1976, done by Roger Hiemstra (a very Fries/Dutch name at that - I am 25% Fries, so it feels familiar even though the researcher worked for Iowa State University), and where adult learning is connected to learning happening in older learners (older defined as 55-64, and older then 65 years). At present a nice paper that emerges from my pilot study findings, and relates to this over 40 year old research begins to crystallize in my head. And I like it.

The wonderful comic is part of: "Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham - www.phdcomics.com

Linking #k12 to #mLearning, networked learning, cloud computing

As the New Media Consortium report is out looking at the upcoming trends for k12 and online learning, I was pleasantly surprised by the emerging combinations which clearly embrace new educational technologies and student-centered focus.
The almost 50 pages report is a source of interest for any teacher, school, or elearning expert. It provides a nice overview of new options and trends for young students, as well as interesting assumptions. One of the assumptions is: mobile acceptance in schools, teacher proficiency in a variety of digital skills, and even the contemporary classroom (filled with ICT and edtech options). This is the ideal setting and for many schools not (yet) achievable. Nevertheless the points raised in the report are interesting.

For those with little time a quick read through the 9 page preview report will already raise interest, but for those having more time, I do recommend reading the full report as it narrates not only what is to come, but also why the authors of the report think so, and what importance it can have. The NMC reports always have the same structure providing a nice overview of which technologies are already adopted, which to watch out for and what lies in the (5 years) future.
The emphasis on the importance of networked learning, open content (open educational resources or OER), cloud computing and the allround student (and teacher) mobility is nice to read.

Quickly sharing the table of content here:
I. Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Ed Tech Adoption 
Fast Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools over the next one to two years
! Rethinking the Roles of Teachers..........
! Shift to Deep Learning Approaches...........
Mid-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools within three to five years
! Increasing Focus on Open Content..............
! Increasing Use of Hybrid Learning Designs ......
Long-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools in five or more years
! Rapid Acceleration of Intuitive Technology .....
! Rethinking How Schools Work ........

II. Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Ed Tech Adoption 
Solvable Challenges: Those that we understand and know how to solve
! Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities.
! Integrating Personalized Learning ..
Difficult Challenges: Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive
! Complex Thinking and Communication ..
! Increased Privacy Concerns .
Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address
! Competition from New Models of Education...
! Keeping Formal Education Relevant....

III. Important Developments in Technology for K-12 Education
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
! BYOD.....
! Cloud Computing .............
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
! Games and Gamification ....
! Learning Analytics .........
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
! The Internet of Things........
! Wearable Technology.........

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Searching experienced #MOOC people: academics & corporate #eMOOC2015

In the next couple of weeks I want to gather the next #eMOOC2015 group of MOOC colleagues (in the broad sense) that will help me and my fellow chair Nathalie Schiffino in assembling the committee for the eMOOC2015 experience track. 

How many people will be in the experience track committee? Between 8 and 10 people. 
When will it take place: 18 - 19 - 20 May 2015

Gathering names suggested by you
I ask every one of you if you could send me suggestions: MOOC people that you admire, and that have set up or lead a successful MOOC or MOOCs. The experience track committee will consist of MOOC practitioners with shown experience/s in MOOCs and MOOC-related contexts. 
If you know of a really fabulous MOOC experts with a clear and strong MOOC background, mail them to me ingedewaard at gmail , add them in a comment to this post, or tweet them @ignatia
I will gather all of the names, and select a committee in collaboration with Nathalie. 

What is eMOOC2015?
For those not familiar with the eMOOC stakeholder summit, look at the past eMOOC2014 summit which took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. This is a world MOOC summit, but organized in Europe. Most of the major MOOC stakeholders were present during those three days and the summit resulted in many collaborations and of course in a multitude of knowledge transfers. 

Where will eMOOC2015 be organized?
eMOOC2015 will be organized in Mons, Belgium.

Who can you suggest, or who is welcomed?
Every experienced MOOC leader is welcomed. So anyone with an interesting (positive) experience in either the corporate, academic, or k12 world is a potential member of the eMOOC2015 experience track. 
I would like to include a mix of MOOC experiences even in the basis of the experience track committee (so mixing k12/corporate/academic experts - enabling a horizontal presence of those experiences during the summit and in the organization). 

What will those who are selected for the committee have to do?
Review papers that will be submitted after a call for contributions/papers/communications will be send out (this call will be send out around the beginning of October 2014)
Suggest possible keynote speakers for the summit: the keynote speakers are selected by all the chairs, so only suggestions can be made by each track committee. 

What do experience track committee members get out of it?
No money, just esteem and networking connections. 

Is this the regular way of gathering a committee?
No, it is not. But I thought it would be a nice way of gathering new names. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

#PhD journey: preparing main study #MOOC

The next big step in my PhD journey is coming up: the main study. Once September comes, I will hopefully get massive amounts of data coming my way (well, lets say massive yet controllable data would be ideal, not BIG data, rather meaningful data in manageable abundance). Rolling out a main study is more difficult than organizing the pilot study for multiple reasons: personal knowledge (by knowing more, additional reflections come to mind when planning an follow-up), getting more people to agree that I come and gather a flock of research participants, making sure all questions will lead to meaningful research...

My previous steps during my PhD journey were:
  • writing a probation report (which included my pilot study set up, some literature and rationales for the research choices I made at that point in time)
  • considering the pilot study data analysis and filtering out key findings (e.g.what influences MOOC learning, what is of importance for learning what is not, is there a difference in learning depending on online learning experience...) that were of use to my upcoming main study (I will put these into a more legible document in the upcoming weeks)
  • rewriting my central research question and following sub-questions
  • building my research instruments (which in my case are questions I will ask the research participants: keeping learning logs, engaging in interviews)
  • and of course, very important for a PhD: rationales for each step. 
Research focus
For my research I look at experienced online learners (adults in most cases), and how they self-determine their learning (this links to heutagogy, I wrote briefly about the why of this approach in an earlier post here). There are multiple reasons why I like this: relevance to lifelong learning, adult learners can be more self-determined due to their own experience or professional/personal needs, it is advanced learn-to-learn combining personal goals with digital skills with a mediation linked to critical thinking (which content do I find of interest, of all the discussions I am engaged in - who do I learn from, which argument do I feel is more to my liking...). This emphasis on experienced (adult) online learners immediately opens up the MOOC space for me, it brings it back to its first roll-outs (cfr. CCK2008) and it relates to what young as well as adult learners do in terms of 'internet use for learning': you want to find a solution for something, you connect through the internet (tools, objects, people), you surf the net, you connect with others, you make curate in your mind what is useful, and assemble the information into new knowledge (well, that is how I think it goes, but a lot needs to be investigated). An adult learner makes decisions for their learning, they make their own decisions based on their own expertise (I assume here): we all have our own agenda's, and as such we need different bits of information (chosen drops from the Internet fountain or our own networks). Of course in this learning chaos, there might also be emergent learning happening, no matter how experienced one is as a learner, and this is of course also of interest (how does it work, might it become integrated in durable learning...).

So my central research question is: "How do experienced online learners manage self-determined learning when engaged in a MOOC in order to attain their learning objectives?"

Research environment
In order to investigate this, I was looking for research participants that would be engaged in MOOCs that would attract or support that type of learning. And I wanted MOOCs that had different feels to it as well, or could attract different populations that would (possibly, hopefully). I was also looking for MOOCs that would take more than two weeks, as research shows that there is an interesting chasm in interaction between week 2 and 3 of a MOOC. And as I am part of The Open University and its partners, I have the pleasure of being able to ask MOOC organizers from different universities that are all part of FutureLearn  to see whether I have their permission to gather research participants from their MOOCs. 
The world of academics is amazing, as I got three agreements of the lead facilitators of each MOOC I was interested in (SO GRATEFUL!). I gladly share the three MOOCs here:

The Science of Medicines: learn the science behind how and why medicines work, and what can improve the patient treatment experience. This MOOC is organized by Monash University in Australia, and lead by Ian Larson. The Monash University is a leading university for pharmacy and health courses, and I really look forward to the course. I choose this course as it was health related: building on past experiences I would think a lot of health professionals might be interested in this course as it might provide extra insight into medicines and pharmacy. The course also provides support for carers and people with diseases mentioned in the course. This is an additional bonus, as my pilot study showed that health issues can be a reason to follow a MOOC. And I am a diabetic type 1 (= insuline dependent, so interested in that health part as well). 
The course starts 1 September 2014, and lasts for 6 weeks, with a 4 hourse pw study time. 

Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World is my second MOOC of interest. This course will teach us the first principles of complexity, uncertainty and how to make decisions in a complex world. It is organized by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and Lex Hoogduin is the course lead. The reason for choosing this MOOC to look for research volunteers was based on its content related to complexity. For MOOC learning, and especially experienced online learning has a lot to do with dealing with complexity. As such, I thought it would be interesting, and I hope to see some parallels coming out of the content, and the learning reflections. 
The course starts 15 September 2014, lasts for 6 weeks, and has quite a hefty 6 hours per week study workload (which is of interest as well, as high expectations sometimes provides high effort return). 

Basic science: understanding experiments is a hands-on course which introduces its participants to science-based skills through simple and exciting physics, chemistry and biology experiments. It is organized by The Open University, and lead by Hazel Rymer. This MOOC offers a different learning set-up: it is more practical, as course participants are asked to try out experiments in their own home (one of which is: getting DNA !). So this might ask different learning to occur. 
The course starts on 22 September 2014, lasts for 4 weeks, and has an estimated study workload of 3 hours per week. 

Excited by the prospect of getting people on board for this research... so will post as the next steps are ready. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fabulous ideas: economics, innovation, #education

The past 50 minutes I have been blown out of my mind with this 74 pages slide deck "Personal learning in a Networked world" symbolizing the synopsis of a keynote Stephen Downes gave at the London School of Economics yesterday. In some cases Stephen rehashes slides from previous talks, but in this case all the slides seemed so new in their relating to one another, so connected in that they visualized an interdisciplinary, holistic picture of new learning opportunities, new data and computer ownership issues, looking at all people (not just students), and contemplating economic impact with autonomous ownership linked with cooperation. Really... from these slides I got so much information I am only capable of saying: read it!

Great points such as: "New versions of old models don't produce new results" (cfr. text to mobile book, or boring class to instructivist MOOC), or the importance of personal (not personalized), networked learning and a lot of links to new tools (indietools) and yes philosophers. So for me, there was a lot of information, reshaped in such an inspiring set of thoughts. I am going to go through it again, reflecting upon it, hopefully building upon it... Admittedly I like what Stephen does, his professionalism linked to freedom of learning relates to my thinking, but the way he is able to connect fields to create the overall, bigger picture is at times so invigorating. I really envy that - in a good way, and as such it lifts me up.

And there are similar minds that connect. One particular person Yishay Mor who immediately came to mind due to his work on Design Patterns and design Narratives which features a simple, yet often overlooked action: engender collaborative reflection among practitioners by a structure process of sharing stories and successful practice. This work and idea came up as an addition to Stephen's slide 52 on pattern recognition. Yishay organized a great workshop yesterday on MOOCs, more on that later.



Okay, back to my writing work.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Big contest to enable reading for children around the globe

USAid has just launched a contest for anyone willing and able to develop a software or tool that helps children in developing regions with learning how to read. Getting in the final will provide you with great feedback on your project, and how to improve it, with a bonus of 12.000$. The winner will get 100.000$ prize money, but ... this does mean extra creativity and understanding the challenges of native languages and mobile realities will be essential for this project.

A nice contest for a worthy cause, do not take my word for it, read the promo message from the organizers:
"All Children Reading:  A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) is hosting Enabling Writers, a $100,000 prize competition to spur the development of software solutions that allow authors to easily create and export texts in mother tongue languages to help early grade students in developing countries learn to read.
Three finalists will be awarded $12,000 each and offered feedback to improve their submissions for field testing. The technological solution that best enables local writers to quickly and easily create appropriate and interesting texts that follow tested reading instruction methodologies, and provide the optimum reading and learning experience for early primary school children, will win the $100,000 prize."  
The deadline for Enabling Writers is October 1, 2014. However applicants must register by July 18, 2014.  To learn more about the Challenge and to apply, go toAllChildrenReading.org or follow @ReadingGCD on twitter.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

#free report on learner at the center of a #networked world

The US based Aspen Institute, together with the MacArthur Foundation just released on useful report entitled The learner at the center of a networked world. The 115 p. report offers insight in the strategies that are put forward by an intelligent task force of experts in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning (experts from Google, UN, public libraries, national council of education, Microsoft, School districts, creative commons, Voto Latino, to name a few). The focus on open learning environments to benefit all is also a nice motivation to read. Bring Your Own Technology, digital literacy, connected learning, educators as guides supporting the student... all of the keywords of late are mentioned and put into a nice, useful overall framework.

The report focuses on young students, but also puts forward pointers on getting the complete family and communities to which those families belong involved, raising their knowledge and digital skills as well. I like this more holistic approach, as education and specifically learning and knowing how to acquire new knowledge is increasingly important.
The report is an easy read, and offers practical strategies and visions for implementing a more learner centered set up for both schools, as well as external (non school related) approaches.

The report starts with indicating that US youngsters have an increased literacy gap, concretely with Hispanic and
African American fourth graders being two and a half years behind white students. For this reason the task group has experts who understand the difficulties faced by these groups, and who have successfully tackled some of the challenges faced by those student groups.

The five core strategies are:

Learners need to be at the center of new 
learning networks.
We first make recommendations for actions that will truly put learners at the center of the networks that can enhance and accelerate their learning. Parents and teachers need support to help them integrate new methods of learning into and outside the classroom. Community organizations, including libraries, museums and other civic and cultural institutions must become full-fledged participants in learning networks.

Every student should have access to learning networks.
We recommend steps that are needed to ensure equity of access so that all young people can pursue their learning goals. This includes every student having adequate connectivity—including reliable broadband connections—as well as access to the hardware, applications, digital age literacy and high-quality content necessary to support their learning.

Learning networks need to be interoperable. 
We believe that learning networks need to be maximally interoperable to ensure that valuable educational resources are not isolated in separate silos and that innovations can be shared across networks. Interoperability is also important to allow students to move freely across networks to assemble their learning objectives and to receive credit for all learning accomplishments, wherever they occur

Learners should have the literacies necessary to utilize media as well as safeguard themselves in the digital age.
We also believe that all learners and educators need a sufficient degree of digital age literacy, where media, digital and emotional literacies are present,  to be able to use these learning resources to learn through multiple media confidently, effectively and safely. Every student must have a chance to learn these vital skills.

Students should have safe and trusted environments for learning. 
We focus on steps needed to create a trusted environment that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn. Parents should be able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress. We argue for a shift from a negative, fear-based approach that attempts to insulate children from all harm (and may also create barriers to valuable resources) to a positive approach that will enable students to pursue learning experiences online without fearing for their safety or privacy.

The report additionally offers links to great projects and innovations. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

#Flipped classroom streamed conference & some #history

With all the changes that are happening in education (more online, more access for many students) the concept of the flipped classroom has gained a lot of attention, and it attracted a lot of researchers investigating its benefits and challenges. In the last CALRG conference, I saw a presentation of one of the prolific researchers on flipped classrooms in the UK (Beatriz de-los-arcos) who was mentioning a flipped classroom conference that is happening next week. 

Virtually attend the flipped learning conference: 23 - 25 June 2014
The Flipped Learning Network is organizing its 7th conference (23 - 25 June 2014) on flipped classroom learning, and it is streaming the sessions! So you can still register for virtual participation, allowing you to hear and question the speakers first hand. Registering for the virtual conference will cost you between 109 - 149 dollars for the three days of the conference). For those in the neighborhood of the Mars Area High School near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  - you can join the face-to-face group. 

For those interested in the impact of the flipped classroom as perceived by educators, the survey results on the take up of the flipped classroom: Growth in Flipped Learning: Transitioning the focus from teachers to students for educational success 
have been released May, 2014, the FLN and Sophia conducted an online survey in February, 2014. 2,358 educators answered 36 online questions. 

A bit of flipped classroom history
During the presentation of Beatriz de Los Arcos (who is always ready to share her work in the OER Research Hub in collaboration with the Flipped Learning Network via http://oerresearchhub.org or her personal blog http://oscailte.wordpress.com), some people in the audience questioned the novelty of the flipped classroom. And it made sense, as good teachers will be and always have been innovative, creative people. A really nice blogpost was caught my eye thanks to Rovy Branon tweeting, a blogpost written by Mike Caufield, on the subject of 1972 flipped classroom approaches, and also with a really interesting link to the Hidden History of Online Learning (quite a nice cooperative wiki project that is open to anyone willing to participate). 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

#nanodegree #badges #lifelong learning thoughts

The new Udacity and AT&T initiative rolling out nanodegrees for people who follow specific MOOC or online courses in general has a logical and nice ring to it. The idea is simple: for all learners following a course successfully (= as indicated by the institute/corporation designing the course and its interactions/assignments/tasks), a nanodegree can be earned that illustrate immediate job skills and knowledge. This earning does cost: 200 $ per month (courses on average 6 - 12 months), but it is much cheaper then a college degree. As such Udacity goes for the corporate MOOC creation which (in part) addresses training people for specific jobs through MOOC. Smart move of course from Udacity to corner the more entrepreneurial need job/training market. And although other MOOC providers, such as Coursera do have similar tracks (i.e. specializations), Udacity seems to be a fore runner for this type of MOOCs.

Less discrimination?
A definite bonus of this approach is that companies indicate niches in their workforce, resulting in courses that will indeed develop a capable learner into a potential professional for the job. The fact that the course offered is right on target of the job, also saves time (and costs) for all involved. And, the best learners come out of it based on their actual delivery, so selection based on color, race, ability might fade as a result (yes, utopia). And the fact that nanodegrees are also linked with scholarships to non-profit organizations is a bonus as well. It feels like really good news. In Europe you have entrepreneurial schools popping up, who listen to the industry to find out were there is a gap in the job market and offer courses to alleviate these gaps (iMinds academy is one).

Jobs that will not make it into the future?
So I was hopeful, good initiative to get people into jobs. But then my critical mind set in and suggested some possible downsides.
I can see how many people (increased employment) might enter a contest to get jobs: the best MOOC learners get the position. And those who would go for these jobs - when reading the articles on the nanodegree from NY Times, seem to be the less financially secure. This means there is another divide and conquer tactic being set loose on an already sensitive population. And it would seem to me, that if a job can be learned in a fixed amount of time, it will be one of those jobs that vanish in the near future due to automation, Harold Jarche wrote on the subject of automation on several occasions (but in spite of this critique my other positive brain tells me: yes, but in the meantime people will gain some money in the process, that is good, any income enhances self-esteem, increases economic stability, will lift others as well).

The idea fits in with what Mozilla started using open badges to allow informal certification to be offered when completing certain learning tasks or paths. But then again open badges can be provided for free, and tailored to any need or vision.

Industrial era training approach?
While thinking it over and over again, I cannot seem to shake the feeling that the concept of nanodegree is much more a training following the industrial era (but I can completely miss the ball here, as the courses are still being constructed and might well be creative in their pedagogical approach), but it is the teacher (industry) who offer a fixed set of content and tasks (cfr old books and assignments) to learn to pass one specific set of tasks. So although this is indeed a new approach, purely on the basis of the corporate/job specific angle, it does sound like old school pedagogy).

Concern added by Rebecca Hogue on shift employers need to pay their training
After reading this blogpost Rebecca added a relevant remark: "One issue I see with this model is that this specialized industry specific training used to be paid for by companies. It used to be that you would be hired for your general skills, and the company would pay you to be trained in the specific skills that they needed. What I see here is an opportunity for the companies to stop paying to have their employees trained in the specific skills they need, and push that cost of business to the employees themselves". 
And those employees would not even be sure that they would actually be employed, even after attempting (and paying) several nanodegrees out of their own pocket. Thanks Rebecca!

Creativity and replacing more expensive workers?
From an economic point of view, there is this automation risk. Though I admit, first nanodegrees seem to have an openness towards creativity as front-end/back-end web developer come into mind, but of course not sure what is really meant by that or how open/creative this is envisioned. But there is more, once these types of courses become more mainstream, they might result in a discrimination of those who cannot afford the courses, and thus getting into a more difficult predicament.

Older workforce?
The first nanodegrees seem to target entry-level jobs, but there might be strategies being worked out for higher level jobs as well (digital skills, networked professionals). What about older workers? Is there a risk of more experienced workers being replaced by on-the-job-focused-less-expensive workers? If so, how to deal with that?

Copying societal global North as model?
And, if the jobs are provided by profit, then they are part of a chosen, institutionalized societal pattern, which always risks increasing those digital divides that already exist in that society. Additionally, it is a model coming from the global North, which means it has a colonial ring to it, and potentially transforms those norms and ways of working over onto other areas on the globe. All of us need to work for those, in jobs that are existing (yet possibly be extinct through automation soon).

Do I like the concept of nanodegrees: of course! but it is always nice to ponder, reflect and try and figure out potential pitfalls as well. 

#OER on higher ed, corporate, personal & #development

Thanks to my new contact Vivienne Bozalek from UWC, I got redirected to ROER4D (Open Educational Resources for the Global South or for development). She shared an interesting talk with Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. And as I was listening to this 30 minute talk, another OER movie caught my attention: Using OER for workforce development which was presented by Una Daly from the Open CourseWare Consortium. Which led to the OER use in an open course, which is (among others) done and shared by the Tompkins Courtland Community College through the Kaleidoscope project. This in term reminded my of a talk given by Stephen Downes on the MOOC of one, which in a small (but to me relevant way) links OER to personal learning environments. And that made the circle full from my perspective: global, local / personal and institutional / higher ed and corporate ... you cannot deny that OER has taken up speed, and has grown in importance. This of course turns the internet into a global content that can be tailored by all of us, to result in learning paths (personally relevant learning paths).

Learning paths for sharing 
One of the learning paths is to provide customized, or better yet curated content, but there are easier/quicker options as well, and one that sticks to mind (I saw this while I visited Quallcom in Cambridge) was Pathgather, a nice piece of software that enables people to map where they found/find useful content for their purposes, and which they can rate. From there other colleagues/networking peers can check out those shared learning paths and rate them in turn, to indicate how useful the path is for their own professional or personal development. But ... Pathgather is not an open educational resource or OER, nor is it Open Source, so it cannot (yet) be used in the open. Would like to see something similar in the open though. If anyone knows of such a tool, feel free to share.

OER, the movies, with brief focus
Here are some of the movies I have been listening to, and brief ideas or interests from each (there is much more content of interest in every one of those movies of course!). And a brief wrap up at the end, on why I find this interesting.

ROER4D
ROER4D started (2012) as a project to see whether the claims being made by OER were actually true and could help the global south (increasing access to Higher Education, reducing costs, improving content quality in education, due to a shortage of teachers in the global south and lack of resources). And as most work is being done in the global North, there is a gap of proof and testing those claims. Another objective to look at ROER4D is to get a network going (next to testing the claims) in order to bridge the isolated spaces the current OER academics are in (for the global south, miles from conferences), and build a research capacity on OER in the global South. A wonderful thing about ROER4D is that they want to open ALL data, not only results, but the full process in order to provide this research capacity and insight (NICE!). Cheryll also mentioned some of the challenges and issues on ROER4D on global South: increasing amount of students, financial constraints and resulting pressure on educational institutions. Part of the challenge is about also keeping the research capacity inside of the global South (stop braindrain) and at the same time offer real insights into methodologies, analysis... and possibly allow the global South to develop contextualized methodologies from there.



Moving from ROER4D to corporate use of OER in training
Important focus on community colleges from which students need to enter the job world, and need to understand how to be able to keep up with workforce development. From the labour department (US) they did push the agenda to create more OER for US based workforce development. There are increasingly more entrepreneurial schools, and they develop OER. Una also covers IP and copyright licensing options, as well as cost reduction options by using OER. Una also shares some good OER coming from government resources in the Public domain : NASA, Department of Labor, department of energy (all US). But she does mention that not much is known in the public about these high quality OER provided by government. She also shares the Saylor.org resources site (how to present yourself, where to search for jobs...), they currently have 23 courses on workforce development.



And then moving to OER for personal learning environments
The interest of this talk by Stephen Downes (INTED2014) is about the selection each learner makes when following online education that offers a big amount of content (OER). And to look at organic learner dynamics as a space that can be used for OER. Stephen also focuses on the learner, but specifically the process that becomes ever more important to learners to understand what they need to do/have in order to become critical learners using OER (and non-OER). A nice concept launched is the semiotic approach: the learner trying to make sense of the world (meaning, context, representation), and in addition the critical/digital capacities being made by the learner for personal use (trying to make sense of our own experience, knowledge). And in sharing among all of us, concepts are constructed, OER take shape. Multiple viewpoints to create meaning, but looking at it from the personal perspective.



The open course
This short (5 min) video shows the process and adoption of an open course, as it was experienced by the Tompkins Courtland Community College through the Kaleidoscope project.



My thoughts on why this is interesting
Now why do I find all of this of interest? (aside from the obvious benefit of OER being there for all of us). I find it interesting because it is an evolution that affects or will affect all of us, in a strange - come together kind of way. If all of us develop OER, or curated content, then we are all recreating the internet by populating it with meaningful content built on the shoulders of giants (which means all of us with our expertise in our own contextualized environments). That is a sweet thing. For this also means that all that ever matters is no longer in us, but outside of us and each of our living space, it is in a layer build by shared meaning. Following an online course, is by definition open (as not all the material is sent to you, and as such a closed content package), and becomes part of a discussion by all interested parties (positive and negative). The interesting tension is between the individual and the joint-us, I have my own needs and contextualized expertise, but the built upon content is from the collective. No longer of the one singular institute, corporation...