During the last two days I have been participating at the conference “Educational Media Ecologies: International Perspectives” held at the University of Paderborn. It was a small (approximately 30 people) group which aimed at interesting discussions. For me the notion of ecology and its relations to media were rather new.
So I have learned a fair amount of new things. How technology and communication is related to human perception and understanding is a really inspiring topic and have been investigated since the influential books by McLuhan and Postman.
A recurring issue was that there is a considerable gap between informal and formal learning. Whereas in informal learning people use social media (youtube, Facebook) as a cultural resources to express themselves, in formal learning people are mostly forced to write. The potentials of social media to influence formal learning which means to pick up the dynamics of informal learning and bring them to formal settings, is an important research project.
In my presentation I argued that we need to find a theoretical foundation for the increasing openness in education. Especially with regard to the recent emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (e.g., #change11) we are face with a huge amount of uncertainty and complexity. Traditional learning approach which are usually acquired a long time ago during formal schooling do not help on. They cannot explain all the changes. For instance, there are neither learning goals nor examinations in a MOOC. So how can you deal with that?
I strongly believe that Bildung in the traditional sense defined by Humboldt as an interaction between yourself and the world is a much better theoretical lens. In a modern sense, Bildung is now referring to the transformations of patterns for navigating through the complexity.
Further details on my research approach are described below in my presentation slides.
Rory McGreal asks in this week’s MOOC #change11 if his description represents an accurate view of a typical situation in a Higher Education environment.
I would like to share my perception of the circumstances at a large distance teaching university in Germany. I have recently encountered the following situation. I wanted to take a week off and went online to use our new workflow system. After logging on I saw this
I contacted our helpdesk and got the suggestion to use Internet Explorer instead of Firefox. As a matter of fact, Firefox browser is not supported and you are forced to use proprietary software.
This is just a small example of the non awareness of the changed reality that is more an more using open source applications. Why don’t they support Firefox? Is it because of restricted DRM or because of just not knowing the benefits of open source? I am not sure. Also many tools provided on our Intranet are proprietary software. When I use a stylesheet for grading the papers of my students which is in doc-format and open it with LibreOffice I have to manually change some elements.
On the other side, I am following the strategy of sending documents in open source format and when people reply that they cannot open it then I send them a link to the download of the software.
This an other small things may change the mindsets and behaviours of people.
Do you have similar experiences??
What I most like about David Wiley’s ambitions to promote openness in education is his great talent to bring arguments to the bottom line. In presentation like this, he clearly points out the role of openness in education. Despite other implicit meanings of that, David Wiley goes on to postulate that openness is the only means of doing education. That means without being open towards sharing my thoughts and materials there will be no education.
This leads me to a classical construct in education and pedagogy, the didactic triangle. Most of you are familiar with that as it describes the basic relationships between teacher, student and content. Now throughout the advancement of Openness which is reflected in many writings such as here by Michael Peters new insight into the specific meanings and benefits for educational processes have emerged.
With reference to the didactic triangle, openness has several impacts which can be elaborated on as illustrated in the following figure.
First, access to content is no longer a big deal for teachers as well as for learners. Thus, a much more diverse body of information is available for learning and teaching.
Second, support can be received in broader forms such as peer support via new technologies like ResearchGate and can so enhance the quality of the research process.
Third, we are currently witnessing new forms of open teaching such as this MOOC #change11. Despite the classical teaching approach with a fixed and pre-defined curriculum, Open Courses do not require you to cover and process all the materials and subjects and to pass an exam after a certain period. In fact, it is totally up to you what you make out of it.
Surely there a many more options around the classic triangle triggered by Openness. And in keeping with David Wiley, the open didactic triangle can be a tool to communicate the core meanings of Openness in Education as it is directed to the bottom line.
Taking part in two Open Online Courses (MOOC #change11 and P2PU) demands a lot of attention and effort. Sometimes it may feel like you have to carry a big backpack or rucksack as we in Germany call it.
Does anybody feel the same??
I have to come up with a learning plan and I have to cover some of the recent stuff on the MOOC #change11. Receiving feedback from other people increases my motivation. I also try to provide feedback to other contributions. And I am experimenting with various social media tools but on the other hand they are time-consuming. Although you can utilize RSS feeds to scan blogs quickly but if you have a big list of blogs than the scanning itself takes some time.But I think all these tools have value for particular purposes which will evolve as you use them.
So I am confident for the next week but still want to know:
What are you strategies to overcome feelings of being overloaded?
As part of my research fellowship at the OLNet I am investigating how people make use of OER and how that is affecting their learning process. I have set up a little survey for this with 16 questions. So it will not take much of your time.
The survey is open for everyone interested in Open Education and Open educational Resources. Your participation will help to better understand the potentials of OER, especially its impact on education. The current transformations towards more Openness in education provide new possibilities but also new challenges to current educational practices. In order to understand and reflect the dynamics inherent in these changes, we definitely need more empirical evidence.
I would be very happy if you could participate in this survey.
Results will be discussed here in my Blog but also in the context of the MOOC #change11.
This week’s topic in the MOOC #change11 is about the digital scholar, a concept thoroughly researched by one of my colleagues in the OlNet team, Martin Weller. He just published a book with the same title which can be accessed here. I found the parallels between Open Education and the music or newspaper industry interesting and helpful to engage other people in discussions.
However, when we consider digital scholarship from an individual perspective, I think that the abilities to manage your own digital learning process (which then leads to scholarship) are different from the abilities for traditional learning. Rita Kop has published a paper in IRRODL which elaborates a little bit on that with regard to MOOC.
Last year and before even knowing about MOOC, I published an article, coincidently also in IRRODL, that describes the concept of volition as a helpful theory to provide a new dimension to explain learning in informal settings. My perspective at this time was Distance Education with its long tradition of using innovative media to bridge the gap between teacher and learner. However, the more „innovative“ or complex these media are, the more challenging are the tasks learner have to do. I have focused primarily on motivation as a key for goal-directed learning and have provided some cases that can endanger motivation when learning at a distance. Then I have introduced the concept of volition that can compensate decreased motivation, for instance with specific action control strategies. These strategies are crucial for self-regulated learning which put a lot of pressure on the learner (e.g., control of attention when facing distractions, monitoring your learning progress).
It seems reasonable to assume that volition is also of importance for learning in open learning networks such as the MOOC #change11. I will follow my line of research as outlined in the aforementioned paper.
The recently raised question concerning cooperation and collaboration in settings of change such as the MOOC #change11 is surely an important issue. Here is an interesting blog post with a related discussion.
I have been involved in a large EU project where we attempt to build a model for team-based development in Higher Education to promote use and resuse of OER. We have analysed different forms of groups and networks, including more loosely structured forms such as the Humanities Network with its new international Course Exchange project. Their work mode can be perceived as somewhat of a connectivist approach, i.e. without clear goals or shared agreements of the partners that should cooperate. On the other side, we have investigated the Mediterranean Network of Universities which is based on clearly defined structure. They have a predefined mission and based on that an agenda of their activities.
Now when it comes to the assessment of the efficiency of these two approaches, we discovered that the more rigid approach seem to be more conducive for the utilization of innovations such as the adoption of OER in current learning and teaching practices. The rather open approach on complementary course production was seen as to be too unstructured to take full advantage of the potentials of OER.
I will provide the full report of this project as soon as it is finalised.
Meanwhile, I am adding the slides from a recent presentation at the EDULEARN Conference in Barcelona with some of our findings.