Monday, 22 April 2013

Technology and Open Education

What tools are of value for open education?

This post relates to activity 22 in the H817 MOOC. We've been asked to consider a technology that we consider is important for open education.

This particular MOOC has a VLE (virtual learning environment) which has provided a central or common meeting point for all of the participants. Our tagged blog postings have been aggregated and hence visible to all for commenting on, reacting to via another post, or as a stimulus for discussion within this VLE or distributed across various platforms.

Dialogue has mainly been asynchronous. To my knowledge, learners have been using the VLE forum, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for discussions as well as commenting on blogs. In relation to blogs, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds have been used to network with other learners. Some Master students (including myself) have also retreated to our own MA groups on the OU (Open University UK) forum site and have chatted about our MOOC experiences there with our tutor. Synchronous communication has occurred via Blackboard Collaborate and Google Hangout. Some of these discussions have been prearranged by the providers of the MOOC and others initiated by students. I'm not sure if other synchronous audio-grahic tools have been used. Some students have engaged in written collaborative work and implemented etherpad for this in order to produce an open resource. A number of links to other resources have been shared across the many platforms in use.

On reviewing this list then the following tools have been utilized:

  • Open Learn VLE
  • Asynchronous forums
  • Synchronous audio-graphic tools
  • Aggregator
  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • RSS 
  • Hyperlinks
  • Collaborative tools

This list of course does not take into consideration the tools and devices that individuals have been using to search, view, save, store, communicate with and create and share artifacts etc. Tools that have been taken from their own personal learning environments. It would be interesting to take a survey and find out exactly which tools have been used; how many of these overlap with other users' choices; whether or not they are being used for the same purposes and whether they are being used optimally or not.

In view of this list I feel that we could have made more of curation or social bookmarking sites. I curate three topics via Curation is an effective means of filtering material from the internet that is of interest to me and being able to:

  • store resources 
  • share via several social media platforms
  • add comments 
  • comment on other curators' links and thank people for their scoops

As comments can be made and links can be shared, curation tools become another means of being able to connect with your networks and build up relationships with other people. It's adding to this participatory culture that has been made possible through Web 2.0. technologies. Open education is about being open; about being producers and not just consumers; about sharing ideas and artifacts. So in relation to this I feel social bookmarking sites would offer another platform where learners could connect and engage in dialogue and have access to a diverse range of material that has to some extent already been prefiltered.
    In the case of MOOCs, social bookmarking sites are an avenue where learners can move beyond the VLE of a MOOC and use their own and each other's content as a starting point for discussions. They can in a sense build and direct their own curriculum. Hence learning becomes more distributed and diverse and is perhaps more likely to continue when the MOOC is finished, as participation has already shifted beyond homebase.

I've created this visual here which illustrates most of the listed tools above and a few additions. It's not meant to illustrate patterns of connectedness in relation to open learning. That would naturally be much more chaotic and unstructured. I used RealTimeBoard to design this and as you can see there are blanks to fill. I've left the board public and was hoping to let you add your own suggested technologies that you consider to be of value for open education, but unfortunately two fellow MOOCers have just informed me that they don't have editing rights. To do this I'd have to make the board private and invite you via mail. For the H817 MA students we can always experiment with this tool if we feel it's going to be suitable for Block 3 group work. For the other learners if you like to add any technologies or comments to the design just let me know via the G+ group, Twitter or OU forum and I'll make the adjustments and add a comment to this blog saying who has contributed to the growth of the design.
  Do however use the link to enter the board for a closer look. Perhaps you might feel creative and make a contrasting visual representation using this tool or one of your preference.

    Posted by Patricia Daniels


  1. I love this! I will play. I don't think we are on the same group on the MA but I will suggest to my group - great idea. Thanks, Patricia.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you both for leaving a comment :-)

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