Open education: what is it, why is it, for whom is it and how to begin
Activity: What is the topic more difficult to understand for my students at the introductory level of my teaching? Look for a resource that can help them understand the topic in an easy way and with no additional cost. Answers:
- [my answer] In e-Government, ironically it is difficult to define the context and all the different approaches to the topic. So I invite them to follow some given hashtags (one of them the one belonging to the subject I am teaching) so that they get on with the community of practice that works in this field.
- A video about the physics of power by Foucault.
- Use of mindmapping tools to create conceptual networks.
- See films and then comment them on a hangout.
- Grammar assignments for free available on a website.
Most of the materials that we find online are copyrighted and cannot actually be used for education. The idea behind open education is to eliminate the frictions between copyright holders and users of educational materials. How to use materials without permission? With a license.
But open content is only a small fraction of what constitutes open education. Open education is about resources, tools and practices within a participatory open framework to improve access to education. Without sharing there is no education.
Why should open content be free (as in free beer)? Is it enough for open content to be free?
- Free, but quality content.
- Context matters.
- Knowledge is a social construction, comes from dialogue, thus cannot be captured or enclosed.
- It’s not about being free, but accessible. Again, social context matters: content is neither teaching nor learning.
- Comprehensiveness or completion: content has to be enough to achieve a certain learning goal, not require extensions, enhancements or upgrades.
Whom is open education for?
- For everyone.
- As a support for any kind of learning.
- [my own answer] For the educators, to enable communities of practice by sharing open education resources and practices.
- To enable communities of learning, besides (or complementing) what happens in the educational system.
How do we proceed? Step 1, the simplest one, is to tell the world what anyone can do with your stuff: choose a license.
- OER: 0, BY, BY-SA, BY-NC, BY-NC-SA.
- Not OER: BY-ND, BY-NC-ND.
The 5Rs of Openness, by David Wiley:
- Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content.
- Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video).
- Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language).
- Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
- Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
In an open education project, we should think about who benefits the project. Especificaly:
- The students.
- The community.
- The society at large.
- The promoting institution.
Strategies for open education:
- Institutional change.
- Help people access formal education.
Emilio Alvarado Badillo
Education of the future: Projections into the future
Since 1975 information is growing at an exponential rate. Should education adapt to this increase in available information? Will there be a role for traditional institutions? How will learning be assessed?
There will be a change in what we learn and in the ways we do it.
Corporate universities will seriously compete with traditional educational centres, as will other informal learning environments — including autonomous learning, and social learning.
Envangelizing technology for learning. Hackidemia
HacKIDemia designs hands-on workshops and projects for maker education and DIY learning. Our mission is to empower children to become makers of technology, art and science. So far, over 400 workshops, throughout 15 countries, 25 cities and 8,000 kids participating. Workshops are carried on anywhere, not only at schools, because learning happens everywhere.
Hacking, as learning, is not about how to use a given technology, but how to design it. With educators, it is about the same: it is not about training them to use a given technology in their classrooms, but how to design leaning experiences with that given technology.
A lot of hacking is closely related to playing, to games, to having fun. The desire to play is a powerful motivator.
A key to success in hacking for education projects is peer-to-peer collaboration, that the student can shift roles and become an educator, to help their peers at a given time.
Kids are more engaged if they are involved in their community, if they can solve real problems, rather than learning by learning, or trivial approximations to real problems.
Q: how do you plan a workshop? Druga: our approach is to have a “library of workshops”, with different goals, designs, tools used, etc. and then present them to the community (usually the parents) and see what are the needs of that given community, what do they already know, etc. Then comes a training of the local mentors — workshops are usually conducted by locals &mdash and then comes the actual implementation of the workshop.
Q: do we need to be kids to learn again? Druga: a dire truth of kids is that they do not care about certification or careers. And this is crucial to be able to correctly set your learning goals, not to kill your motivation, etc.
Q: how can we transpose these workshops in 100% virtual learning environments? Druga: social media is sort of doing this, enabling sharing activities and projects and interests, making easier for people to collaborate and participate in others’ projects, etc.
Hacking for education is about breaking complex things into simpler things, and then putting them together again.
Kenneth C. Green
Use and appropriation of technology in higher education. The Campus Computing Project
There is an increasing acknowledgement that students in distance education are doing better than in traditional education. But, is this true? Or, even more important, is this relevant? Should the how or the where people learn be important at all? And, if it is true, why is it so?
We are living the fourth decade of the ICT Revolution, a revolution that began back in the 1980s:
- 1980s Personal computers.
- 1990s Internet.
- 2000s Wireless and mobility.
- 2010s Social media.
Technology has shifted from being nice and convenient to being compelling and obligatory. And we have shifted from big aspirations of ICTs in education and learning, to assessment and accountability.
We have to balance high tech with high touch. Teaching is a “high touch” profession, and the more tech we put into it, the more touch has to be delivered to balance de output. High tech + high touch = tech-enabled high touch.
Technology is a conversation about change. Technology is also a metaphor of risk. Innovation is about gathering information to reduce the uncertainty about the advantages and disadvantages of innovation itself. Innovation must be safe: we build an infrastructure, a safety net so that innovation is safe for everyone, to let people innovate without people risking too much.
Key issues in technology in higher education:
- The consumer experience now defines (rising) expectations about IT resources and services.
- Rising pressure for education to provide the much promised productivity for all the ICT spending.
- Why don’t teachers and professors make more effective use of technology in instruction?
- Why don’t schools and colleges make more effective use of IT in operations and management?
Some problems or dilemmas of innovation in education:
- We have “legacy systems” that are clear barriers to innovation, to change: professors, classrooms, buildings and campuses.
- We have tried several times in distance education — handbooks, radio, television — and it not always did work.
Innovation requires infrastructure and an ecosystem to support it. How do we assess our infrastructure?
- Minimizing risk.
- Fostering visualizing the horizon we are aiming at.
And we have to provide recognition and promotion to those eager to innovate.
And to assess these infrastructures, we need data. But data not as a weapon, but as a means to know what failed and how to avoid it, and what worked, and how to promote it.
Rules for a Machiavellian change agent (J. Victor Baldridge, 1983):
- Concentrate your efforts.
- Pick issues carefully; know when to fight.
- Know the history.
- Build coalitions, make friends. Who can help you? Build trust.
- Set modest, realistic goals
- Leverage the value of data.
- Anticipate personnel turnover.
- Set deadlines for decisions.
- Nothing is static, anticipate change.
Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation
Why does data matter? Data is evidence for action, it’s about facts that support action.
Data is not sacred: data is partial and data is profane. Data is a by-product of former actions of many actors, especially institutions.
Data needs a critical literacy to understand it, to understand the hidden message. And it also needs data infrastructures as socio-technical systems.
Datasets are a mixture of different sources gathered for different purposes. But is data relevant? Is it collected for what we need? Is it useful?
There’s another problem concerning data and it’s its excess: a fever to collect so much data that (a) then it becomes difficult to treat, at it is difficult to handle with current tools and (b) we begin to “throw data” to try and cover everything without making much sense of it.
Will here be a data revolution? Can we democratize access to data?
There are many things that civil society can do to (a) change the way public institutions measure, (b) to become more responsive and creative in the way datasets are given life outside of the public sector.
Data infrastructures shape life and civil society.
Connected Development Festival 2015 (2015)
Communication works with single minded propositions, providing a conversation value, aiming at doing good, and trying to establish a relationship.
People have to watch communication deploy before their eyes, and be aware of the nuances. Communication is crucial so that people understand and even end up loving what they are hearing.
Listening to people is crucial so that people remain interested in what you have to offer.
Dominance is just as important as relevance. And new always gets attention, and it’s a good way to work for dominance. Supernormal stimuli awake interest, but we have to be aware that sometimes they can be intimidating. Stimulation of instinct is very powerful, such powerful that it can even nullify our own will, or trigger it towards very directed targets.
The goal of some communication messages is going from image to icon, from what you see to the representation of what you aim to.
- We are vain.
- Make it complicated.
- Relevance is as important as dominance.
- Supernormal stimuli help with that.
- Attract attention.
- Drive awakening.
- Use them ‘slightly out of context’.
- Transform them into iconic design language.
- Tool or weapon?
PS: my gratitude to Babah Tarawally for the translation tips! [original talk in Dutch].
Connected Development Festival 2015 (2015)