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“The night of the living MOOCs”: a feasible and high-impact proposal

Annalisa Manca - March 21, 2018 in guestpost, MOOCs, oer, Open Educational Resources

By Fabio Nascimbeni, assistant professor in the International University of La Rioja and member of the Open Education Working Group Advisory Board.

The current  #fixcopyright campaign that aims to modify the upcoming European Copyright Reform by instilling more openness for the benefits of citizens, educators, and researchers across Europe, can be summarized in one sentence: “Europeans deserve freedom to use digital content in education”. This very same sentence was used by one of the speakers during a recent webinar organized by EDEN in occasion of the Open Education Week 2018, and generated an interesting debate on how policy should make sure that education is treated with particular care, when it comes to guaranteeing access to open and quality learning resources.

Interestingly, within the webinar the sentence was not referred to online learning resources in general, but specifically to MOOCs. The claim of the speaker, a university teachers who is using MOOCs as a complement within the curriculum, was that MOOCs, that potentially represent an unprecedented set of online learning resources, are limited in their use by educators by one major issue.

Any researcher in the field of OER and Open Education would quickly say that this issue is the act that MOOCs contents are normally not released as Open Educational Resources (OER), making impossible for a teacher to adapt them to the specific needs of his/her context. While this is certainly true, our professor said that adapting the content of MOOCs is not the problem – she would not have time to do that anyway and if you are able to search for good quality MOOCs there is not that much to change, in her words – while the real issue is another, somehow a simpler one.

The fact is that typically MOOCs are “open” for participation only in some specific periods of time, and therefore cannot be used by a teacher as a curriculum complement in case the course that we want to complement takes place outside the MOOC duration. A quick non-exhaustive search on Class Central, one of the most complete directories on MOOCs, seems to confirm this. If we search for example for MOOCs on mathematics, we see that out of the 292 mapped courses 45 are actually “in progress” and 82 are self-paced, meaning that they remain constantly open. This makes 127 actually “usable” courses out of the overall 292, that is only around 44%. The situation is even worse for MOOCs on business studies (only 36% of which are actually available) or on medicine (32%). Further to this, what is most striking is the high number of so-called “finished courses” (33% in mathematics, 26% in business, 40% in medicine): the content of these courses is simply no more available.

This “MOOC demography” is striking: in our example on Business studies, out of a population of 1510 MOOCs the living people are a minority (36%), the not-yet born are quite a lot (Recently announced and Future Courses sum up to 38%) and the dead ones are 26%. In other words, this means that in general terms and with all due exceptions (such as MOOCs platform that might grant access to content also when the course is not running) the majority of content produced within so-called Massive Open Online Courses, not only is not open in the OER meaning, but is not even accessible Online.

Advocating for MOOCs providers to make available the content of the courses under development prior to the courses launch (the not-yet born) would probably be too much, but on the other hand allowing teachers (as well as any other user) to access the content of the Finished Courses (the dead ones) is something that could be easily done, and arguably would not represent a problem in terms of MOOCs business models. Bringing these finished MOOCs “back to life” would increase the amount of available MOOCs content by roughly 25%, and would allow teachers accessing them for their classes in a permanent way.

This would not transform MOOCs into OER, but would surely represent an important step, especially considering that MOOCs are increasingly being used as complementary resources integrated in the curriculum, towards the freedom that Europeans deserve to use digital content in education.

Writing a PhD in Open Education

Javiera Atenas - September 2, 2016 in featured, OEP, oer, Open Educational Resources

Today, and in collaboration with the Global OER Graduate Network, we have a post by now Dr Kati Clements from University of Jyväskylä who gives future PhD students great advice on doing a PhD in Open Educationlogogognblue128pixheight

Thinking of doing a PhD in Open Education? Sounds like a good idea, yes? Well, I guess I could tell you some stories. In my case, I started my PhD, working in a EU funded project on Open Education. Getting funding from an Open Education project sounds like a good idea: You can work in the project while making your PhD – none of that Grant nonsense in which no one pays you when you get ill, forget about pension… And there is the willingness to share in this community: Data collection surely cannot become an issue – in the open community, everything is freely accessible, right?

I started my PhD working on the quality management of open educational resources (OER) repositories back in 2007, when the OER boom was rising, first repositories had been built and it was all promising and exciting as at that time, the European Union was particularly keen on funding projects around Open Education, as since UNESCO’s declaration of OER back in 2002 this community was expanding.

Jyväskylä University

Jyväskylä University – Wikipedia

I thought I could probably finish in the standard four years. However, even back then, the projects around OER tend to last for 2-3 years and I soon realized that these repositories only kept on growing in their user and resource base, until the project’s funding ended. After there was no EU support, many repositories became graveyards of bad metadata and broken links, where no one ever visited. My experiences urged me to get interested in these repositories success… Why are they all failing?

It is impossible to study a repository, which disappears after three years or is actually turned into an entirely different repository. How can you study something that is not there anymore? These are the challenges of Open Education: When the funding ends – who cares about it? What is the motivation for people to keep on working around the materials, technologies or content, if no one is getting paid…? I was working on another project after my initial one had ended and I visited conferences and workshops to try to find out the answer. There are some promising cases of repositories still being around even, after the initial funding has ended.

But in all of those cases, someone must care. Maybe it is a ministry of education within a country is encouraging the teachers to all go into the portal and upload some content. Maybe it is that the community itself cares because they realize that they can get quality materials and help from their peers. But unless someone takes the responsibility and interest, nothing is going to happen.

I was not the fastest person to write a PhD, just look at my record. I wrote my research plan 5 years after I had gotten the initial idea to start this work. And finished in 4 years from that. I got involved into the European projects and project work is time away from research. But maybe it was not all my fault. When I started with my PhD, I had a clear research plan: I am going to build a behavioral model, have a dependent variable and test it with the user community of thousands of teachers from 22 countries around Europe. That’s what I thought. What I did not count on though, was on how hard it is to get people to answer questionnaires that are long. And they needed to be long enough to provide me the evidence of my phenomenon through structural equation modelling. I needed to rely on the country coordinators and workshop organizers to collect the data, which was a negotiation process itself. The whole preparation of the questionnaire also needed to be negotiated within the project’s working group, through an open discussion: Do we really need to ask the teachers about this and that… Finally after one year of negotiations, there were two closed questions left in the questionnaire on Quality of OER, which was my topic. Needless to say that this data would not be enough for completing a PhD, so I had to change strategies and go qualitative.

Open education as a field, provides us with many opportunities: To meet new people who might potentially help us. Who might open the doors to a faster and easier way of completing our PhDs. Open education as a field also opens the doors to many voices, which might have agendas that are not in line with your PhD topic – well, let’s just say they never are… PhD students have to be careful to stay on their target – more open means more opportunities, but also more potential to get lost and distracted. I certainly would do many things different if I started my PhD today. But that’s what it is supposed to be: Another opportunity to learn.

Open education means freedom, but also responsibility. You are in charge of making it happen, making sure you learn and your papers get written. Open Education is a rewarding, rich and giving playing field when you get a hold of it; so remember to have fun in the process, even through your struggles. You can do it!

 


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Kati Clements is a project researcher in University of Jyväskylä, Finland and a visiting professor in Xi’an Jiaotong University. She finished her PhD in April 2016 on the title of: “Why Open Educational Resources Repositories fail – Review of Quality Assurance Approaches”. She has been working on the field of Open Education since 2006, in various EU funded projects such as Cosmos, Aspect, Open Science Resources and Open Discovery Space. Clements is currently working on a PCP (Pre-commercial procurement) project IMAILE which is developing innovative personal learning environments for the 21st century schools’ needs.

If you are interested in reading Kati’s PhD, you can access her PhD online here:

https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/handle/123456789/44031

 

A Scuola di OpenCoesione: Using Open Data in schools for the development of civic awareness

guestauthor - March 15, 2016 in data, featured, guestpost, mooc, OEP, oer, Open Educational Resources

A Scuola di OpenCoesione ( ASOC), from Italian, translates as Open Cohesion School. It can be understood as an educational challenge and a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) designed for students in Italian secondary schools. ASOC was launched in 2013 within the open government strategy on cohesion policy carried out by the National Government, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Representation Office of the European Commission in Italy; it is also supported by the European Commission’s network of “Europe Direct” Information Centres.

The third edition of ASOC was launched in November 2015. While you are reading this post, about 2800 students and 200 teachers are involved in a collective learning experience focused on civic monitoring of public funding through open data analysis, and also by visiting sites and conducting “data journalist” research.

A_scuola_logo_quadricromia_png

The main objectives of ASOC are to engage participating schools in actively promoting the use and reuse of open data for the development of civic awareness and engagement with local communities in monitoring the effectiveness of public investment.

The participating students and teachers design their research using data from the 900,000 projects hosted on the national OpenCoesione portal in which everyone can find transparent information regarding the investment in projects funded by Cohesion Policies in Italy. The portal provides data including detailed information on the amount of funding, policy objectives, locations, involved subjects and completion times: so schools can select the data they want to use in their research, which can be related to their region or city.

ASOC’s Teaching and learning programme

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The teaching and learning programme is designed in six main sessions. The first four sessions aim at developing innovative and interdisciplinary skills such as digital literacies and data analysis to support students to assess and critically understand the use of public money.

Students learn through a highly interactive process using policy analysis techniques, such as tackling policy rationales for interventions, as well as understanding results and performance. This process employs “civic” monitoring to work on real cases using data journalism and storytelling techniques.

During the fifth session, and based on their research projects on the information acquired, the students carry out on-site visits to the public works or services in their region or city which are financed by EU and national funds, and also they interview the key stakeholders involved in the projects’ implementation, the beneficiaries and other actors.

Finally, the sixth session is a final event where students meet with their local communities and with policy-makers to discuss their findings, with the ultimate goal to keep the administrators accountable and responsible for their decisions. Here you can find all the video sessions and exercises: http://www.ascuoladiopencoesione.it/lezioni/.

The teaching method combines asynchronous and synchronous learning. The asynchronous model is designed following a typical MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) style where participants learn through a series of activities. Teachers are trained by the central ASOC team through a series of webinars. The synchronous in-class sessions share a common structure: each class starts with one or more videos from the MOOC, followed by a group exercise where the participants get involved in teacher-led classroom activities. These activities are organised around the development of the research projects and reproduce a flipped classroom setting.

In between lessons, students work independently to prepare data analysis reports and original final projects. Also, in order to have an impact on local communities and institutions, the students are actively supported by local associations that contribute with specific expertise in the field of open data or on specific topics such as environmental issues, anti-mafia activities, local transportation, etc. Furthermore, the European Commission’s network of information centres “Europe Direct” (EDIC), is involved supporting the activities and disseminating the results. On ASOC’s website there is a blog dedicated to sharing and disseminating the students’ activities on social networks (see here ASOC in numbers).

ASOC’s pedagogical methodology is centred on specific goals, well-defined roles and decision-making. This has allowed students to independently manage every aspect of their project activities, from the choice of research methods to how to disseminate the results. On the other hand, the teachers are also involved in an intensive community experience that allows them to learn not only from their own students, but also from the local community and from their fellow teaching peers involved in the project.

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Ultimately, this takes the form of a collective civic adventure that improves the capacity to form effective social bonds and horizontal ties among the different stakeholders, actors of the local communities. In fact, detailed Open Data on specific public projects has enable new forms of analysis and storytelling focused on real cases developed in the students’ neighbourhoods. This, in turn, has the key goal of involving the policy-makers in a shared, participatory learning process, to improve both policy accountability and the capacity to respond to local needs.

Finally, ASOC’s key element is that the pedagogical methodology we have developed can be used as a learning pathway that can be adapted to different realities (e.g. different policy domains, from national to local, in different sectors) using different types of open data with comparable level of detail and granularity (e.g. detailed local budget data, performance data, research data, or any other type of data).

If you are interested in learning more from ASOC’s experience, you can read a case study which includes the results of the 2014-2015 edition on Ciociola, C., & Reggi, L. (2015). A Scuola di OpenCoesione: From Open Data to Civic Engagement. In J. Atenas & L. Havemann (Eds.), Open Data As Open Educational Resources: Case Studies of Emerging Practice.

You can also watch ASOC’s documentary video of the 2014-2015 edition here: https://vimeo.com/138955671

About the author

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Chiara Ciociola Is the community manager of the project A Scuola di OpenCoesione at the Department for Cohesion Policies, Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers. She holds a BA in Political Science, with a focus on New Media and Journalism at University of Florence and a MA in Digital Storytelling at University of Turin. In 2013 she founded Monithon Italia, a civil society initiative for citizen monitoring of EU-funded projects. Since 2011 she is a contributor of Neural magazine, a critical digital culture and new media arts magazine.

 

**Part of this article was originally published in the Open Education Europe blog as “OpenCoesione School” – An example of scalable learning format using OpenData as Educational Resources. We thank Maria Perifanou for sharing this post with us**.

Reflections from Policy Debate about copyright and education: How to ensure user rights in education? Copyright reform and Open educational resources

Guest - November 23, 2015 in featured, guestpost, licensing, Open Educational Resources

Reported and written by: Sandra Kucina Softic, M. Sc.; University Computing Centre SRCE, Croatia

The debate (http://oerpolicy.eu/please-join-us-in-brussels-for-policy-debate-on-copyright-and-education/) was held at the European Union on November 17, 2015 and was hosted by Michal Boni, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from Poland. The debate focused in particular on user rights: the freedom of educators and learners to use resources in the process of education.

Introduction to the debate:

Freedom to use educational resources is a fundamental issue in education. It can be ensured either by copyright rules or through sharing of Open Educational Resources (OER). The European Commission communication on the modernisation of copyright rules has defined educational exceptions as an issue that requires action in the European reform planned for 2016. At the same time, recent policy developments once again prove the importance of Open Educational Resources: UNESCO members have just committed to supporting OERs within the Education 2030 Framework for Action. OECD will soon publish a new report on “Open Educational Resources. A Catalyst for Innovation”. The event will focus on the European level of policy making, with the goal of discussing possibilities of strengthening European policies and programs.

Picture1: MEP M. Boni opens the debate on copyright reform and OER

The debate was organized by Centrum Cyfrowe and Communia as the part of the ExplOERer project. On behalf of the organizer the meeting was moderated by A. Tarkowski.

Mr. Alek Tarkowski reported on document Foundations for OER Strategy Development (http://oerstrategy.org) which provides concise analysis of where global OER movement currently stands. Intention of this document is to serve as a starting point for conversations about strategies for mainstreaming OER and extending its reach and impact globally.

Speakers at the debate were: Mr Dominic Orr (Consultant, OECD), Ms Teresa Nobre (Legal Lead, Creative Commons, Portugal) and Ms Josie Fraser (social and educational technologist, Leicester City Council, UK). Over 40 people participated at the debate.

In his introduction Mr. Orr gave an overview on the OECD report: Open Educational Resources- a Catalyst for Innovation which will be published on December 1, 2015. In this report highlighted are three key potentials of OER:

  • digital technologies have become ubiquitous in daily life and OER can harness the new possibility to afforded by digital technology to address common educational challenges
  • OER are a catalyst for social innovation, which can facilitate changed forms of interaction between teachers, learners and knowledge
  • OER have an extended lifecycle beyond their original design and purpose. The process of distribution, adaptation and iteration can improve access to high quality, context-appropriate educational materials for all.

Picture 2: Mr. D. Orr presenting OECD report

The report also focuses on the contribution of OER to six educational changes that concern educational systems today:

  • fostering the use of new forms of learning for the 21st century
  • fostering teachers’ professional development and engagement
  • containing public and private costs of education
  • continually improving the quality of educational resources
  • widening the distribution of high quality educational resources
  • reducing barriers to learning opportunities

Ms Teresa Nobre reported on the different national laws of the EU member states regarding the quotations, compilations and derivatives. National laws are often vague and in unclear language, and certain acts are allowed in face to face teaching but not in online context. Quotations are usually for free, but only 16 member states allow quotes of full-sized images. In preparations for teaching teachers often make compilations of learning materials. But some countries don’t allow it for free. At the moment only 12 member states allow teachers to make a non-commercial compilation without payment. Teachers often need to translate materials and want to use them in their work, some countries do allow it but 10 member states do not permit translations for educational purposes.

Picture 3: Ms T. Nobre

Suggestion is to establish single mandatory exception to ensure EU–wide educational uses of copyrighted works. Emphasis should be on limitation of the purposes not users. There is a need for stronger harmonization between member states. Possible solution is Digital Single Market (http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/digital-single-market) in which the free movement of persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence. The Digital Single Market strategy (http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/docs/dsm-communication_en.pdf) has been adopted in May 2015 and aims to open up digital opportunities for people and business and enhance Europe’s position as a world leader in the digital economy.

Ms. J. Fraser stressed was that teachers create amazing resources but they need training not only in technologies but also in methodologies and abilities to integrate technology into the educational process. Also there is an increasing trend towards making educational contents and resources freely available. Still lots of issues have not been settled, especially copyright issues. Academic staff is often not aware of open licensing and Creative Commons. Although the academic staff have a good experience with CC, it doesn’t solve all the problems. Copyright issues is still present and need to be regulated.

Adult Education and OER: conclusions and policy recommendations for Europe

Paul Bacsich - October 21, 2015 in adulteducation, featured, mooc, OEP, oer, Open Educational Resources

This posting deals with the conclusions and policy recommendations from the Adult Education and Open Educational Resources study for the European Parliament, a 140-page “Study”, written by Sero, released on 15 October 2015. The Study reviews the current use of Open Educational Resources in Adult Education in Europe (with a focus on Member States of the European Union), assesses its potential and makes recommendations for policy interventions, taking account of the European Commission’s policy frameworks and those developed by the European Parliament and relevant European agencies. The majority of the research was carried out in the first five months of 2015.

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Using the data from the OER Research Hub

Guest - October 1, 2015 in featured, guestpost, oer, Open Educational Resources

Given the topicality of the OER Research Hub recent research outputs we are pleased to be able to reproduce on our blog a post from Robert Schuwer on how he is using the data that the OER Research Hub has generated, especially that on formal learners and educators.

The post was authored by  Robert Schuwer and edited on to the blog by Paul Bacsich. For Robert’s original posting see http://robertschuwer.nl/blog/?p=1213

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Open Education Information Center

Guest - September 9, 2015 in Open Educational Resources

Tijdens de afgelopen zomervakantie is de eerste versie van het Open Education Information Center (OEIC) van het Open Education Consortium gepubliceerd. Het doel van het OEIC is antwoord te verschaffen op allerlei vragen die bij het bezig zijn met Open Education naar boven kunnen komen. Het vervangt de Toolkit die eerder vanaf die website toegankelijk was, maar die sterk verouderd was.

Bij de opzet van het OEIC is ervoor gekozen om vijf ingangen te kiezen:

  • Staf (docenten, ondersteuners) (Faculty)
  • Studenten
  • Administrator
  • Onderzoekers
  • Beleidsmakers

Bij iedere categorie zijn vragen verzameld vanuit de praktijk. Deze vragen zijn binnen de categorie ingedeeld in clusters. Een voorbeeld van zo’n cluster is Using OERs in my classroom in de categorie Faculty. Het antwoord bij iedere vraag bestaat uit een korte tekst en verwijzingen naar bronnen (meestal websites) met een uitgebreidere toelichting.

Deze vraagbaak zal voortdurend worden aangevuld met nieuwe vragen. Iedere gebruiker kan eigen vragen indienen via een Submit Info button op de startpagina van het OEIC. Dat gaat nu nog via e-mail, maar het is de bedoeling hier een webformulier achter te plaatsen.

Behalve vragen indienen kunnen ook opmerkingen over antwoorden en suggesties voor bronnen bij bestaande vragen worden voorgesteld. Bij iedere vraag is ook een item gemaakt in een Community Forum. Gebruikers kunnen hun opmerkingen bij een vraag ook daar achterlaten. Zoals bij veel van dergelijke communities is er nog weinig activiteit daar. Een grotere bekendheid van het OEIC, resulterend in meer traffic, is voorwaardelijk voor meer community activiteit.

Vorig jaar hebben Bert Frissen (Avans, maar inmiddels pensionado), Pierre Gorissen (HAN) en ondergetekende een opzet beschreven voor functies die een dergelijke informatiesite beter toegankelijk zouden maken voor iedere belangstellende, met name voor docenten die bij adoptie van OER problemen ondervinden. Het OEIC beschouw ik als een eerste aanzet van implementatie van dat idee. Wat mij betreft zou een eerste uitbreiding bestaan uit het categoriseren van de bronnen waarnaar verwezen wordt in vereist kennisniveau van het betreffende onderwerp om de bron nuttig te laten zijn (bijvoorbeeld geen of weinig kennis vereist – gemiddelde kennis vereist – veel kennis vereist). Tevens zou de ingang naar te onderscheiden aspecten die nu deels in de clusters is terug te vinden wellicht moeten worden verfijnd.

Het Open Education Consortium heeft mij gevraagd de verdere uitbouw van het OEIC aan te sturen. Ik heb volmondig ja hierop gezegd omdat ik een one-stop-shop waar iedereen met belangstelling voor Open Education terecht kan uiterst waardevol vind voor adoptie van Open Education.

Ik ben erg benieuwd naar ervaringen die gebruikers met deze site hebben. Schroom niet die te delen met het Open Education Consortium en, indien u tevreden bent, maak reclame voor deze site in uw netwerk. Gebruik en participatie in het forum is voor iedereen; je hoeft dus geen lid te zijn van het Open Education Consortium (hoewel ik lidmaatschap wel wil bepleiten, maar dat is een ander verhaal).