Thursday, March 06, 2008

WEEK 1: Ilkka has created a valuable contribution

I found this paper by Ilkka filled with a very good description of OER and some very important statements about OER and it influence on education. I really appreciated the historical references and how OER is tied to the Open Source movement. Tuomi (2006, page 4) makes the important observation that “When educational processes and objectives qualitatively change, new systems are needed for measuring their performance and benefits.” This stands out for me because I am seeing change in much of education and I see OER as one of the influences. I also believe this is important for it recognizes that we need new approaches to measuring performance and benefits within the use of OER.
Pedagogical Benefits
Ilkka also does well in pointing out the pedagogical benefits of the Open Source movement where he speaks of how “The informal communities of practice that develop open source systems have produced some of the leading software engineers of today. In some cases, open source projects seem to clearly outperform traditional formal educational models in their capability to create expertise and skills.” I share the constructivist belief that one of the best ways to learn something is to have to teach it. So having people develop OER and be a contributor to a global OER repository may be the best way for them to learn the subject. Being involved in a community of practice focused upon the developing OER for a subject domain may well be the best way to learn the subject.
Context Area
As I got further into the paper my appreciation for its depth increased. The introduction of the three areas (page 25) really got me thinking and I began to wonder if there was a fourth area, the context of the resource. Or does context fall into the social? It doesn’t seem to in the paper. Either way the three areas are valuable, though I believe context needs to be considered an area itself.
Levels of Openness
The three levels of openness are also very thought provoking and Openness II makes me wonder if there is the need for a new type of global institution that grants formal degrees after working through (or creating) a number of OER courses.
The fountain
I really like the visual of the open fountain and when it comes to education where knowledge can be shared and created in large numbers of learners from a single source really is a fountain. How this will be recognized within the concept of the commons and the idea of academia and commercial endeavour will be interesting to be a part of.
More on Context
As the paper came to a close with the five points of view I again began to wonder where learning context fits within these views. I believe there is room for one more view that would sit between learner view and teacher view. It would be the contextual view – context of learning (the what/where/how/language/culture/localization of the OER being utilized). I believe this idea is reinforced at the top of page 33 where Ilkka speaks to how the resources are consumed in qualitatively different markets.
My Conclusion
I found this paper a great introduction to OER and all the issues which surround this amazing topic. I did find the paper did require a level of technical understanding with regard to the subjects of frameworks, SCORM, etc.