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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Catherine Ngugi, Director of OER Africa, got the conference started with a synopsis of the history of the University of Nottingham, how it had been founded with the help of philanthropism, and contrasted this with the similar spirit that can typify the sharing of educational resources. For OER to work, she said, we had to be prepared to change and accommodate different outlooks; be willing to build sustainable relationships; and spend the necessary time and effort to make things work. 

Luke Mckend from Google revealed that overall 81% of visitors to websites got there after using a search, and searches for HE related terms (such as ‘online courses’) are increasing. Looking at YouTube Edu we learnt about the web statistics it was possible to obtain.

Samuel Nikoi introduced the CORRE framework which forms part of the OTTER project from the University of Leicester.

Peter Robinson spoke about the Open Spires project based at the University of Oxford which aggregates audio and video content. It includes a range of content across many discipline (including physical sciences) and makes extensive use of iTunesU.

Andy Lane from the Open University demonstrated OpenLearn with its concept of reaching out to new people and places and being open to new educational ideas. OpenSpace makes resources available but also related tools to support them, such as social networking tools to enable resource users to connect. LabSpace makes resources available to a developer audience.

Russell Standard (University of Westminster) spoke about the role of social networking in OER, particularly his use of Twitter.

Jackie Milne (JISC Legal) gave a presentation on OER legal matters highlighting the key areas of accessibility law, data protection and IPR. We were reminded that owning work did not necessarily equate to owning the IPR and authors had to check their employment contracts. Also, once Creative Commons licenses were embedded into resources they could not (easily) be revoked, so it was important to be certain that the IPR owner had been consulted as mistakes could lead to loss of reputation or legal damages being sought. Further advice could be obtained from the Creative Commons website or JISC Legal.

Bjoern Hassler from the UK National Commission for UNESCO told us more about forging links between OER in the UK and OER Africa. OER freedoms include legal (in respect to the license used with the resource), technical (ability to use and reuse) and educational (reusable in different context/countries). The OERSchools project in Zambia is using OER to increase and improve access to learning.

Neil Butcher (OER Africa) talked about two projects: one in Rwanda is to deliver HE courses based on OERs  delivered on low-cost mobile devices; the other in Kenya is to provide an online MBA course based on OERs. Both projects are interested in partners and interested parties are encouraged to make contact.

Keynotes were recorded and will be made available on the conference website. Tweets including the conference tag have been recorded.

Online Learning Conference

Twitter stream for #0lconf

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I got involved with personal development planning (PDP) through working on the Centre’s e-Portfolio Framework project, since e-portfolios, when employed, are so often used to support PDP in the UK.

Through talking about this work and giving presentations at institutions around the country I quickly picked different attitudes towards PDP. One that really struck me was the belief that PDP didn’t have anything to do with teaching X (fill in your own choice of subject); it was extra, students and staff were busy and the timetable was already full.

Stressing the benefits of PDP doesn’t work against this argument because it’s a practical one. So you have to find a practical rejoinder.

There are a few times when you will find that paperwork will turn out to be your friend, this is one. Scan through the QAA benchmarks and you will find, even for the ‘hard’ sciences, they are full of what we often call transferable skills. Communication, team work, time management, all expressed as part of the discipline. For subjects without a benchmark, take a look at course descriptors.

So there you have it. If anyone says typical PDP activities are nothing to do with their subject, a quick inspection of the benchmark will probably prove otherwise. And if students know this, they may have a greater respect for PDP, it being part of the subject they elected to study. They may not enjoy learning transferable skills, that’s still up to you!

e-Portfolio Framework project

Supporting Student e-Portfolios

Oh dear. What a waste of an opportunity to explore the use of microblogging on yesterday’s episode of the Moral Maze. Instead we seemed to be offered only a debate built on the flimsy foundation of the now familiar stereotypical image of Twitter.  If you missed it and want to hear the episode it is available for the next week though sadly I will warn you, you will probably not be challenged and will likely learn nothing.

The usual criticisms were made about the impossibility of depth or reflection given the character limit of the message, these observations made by… non-users. Well you can’t knock the programme for being elitist when it comes to qualifying to speak or present. And how much easier it is to see when your view is unclouded by actual experience, I do look forward to my invitation to debate the pros and cons of keyhole surgery or in fact anything else I haven’t done. 

Herd mentality, mob rule… yes, worthy topics of discussion but are they special and distinctive of microbloggers? Hardly, so why was this this focus of discussion?

I’ve lost count of the number of positive experiences I’ve gained through the use of web 2.0 tools, it’s what keeps me using them, but part of that experience has stemmed from my approach: Twitter, like life, is what you make it.

If you don’t want to Twitter (or anything else) my advice is: ‘don’t’. But you didn’t need that advice did you, or to be reminded that what you don’t find useful some others might. I’ll be sure to remind the panel of this when I’m invited along to wax lyrical on dry stone walling and its role in the breakdown of family life next week.

This is an annual event organised by the Centre for new and aspiring lecturers from all the physical sciences. Attendees this year had various levels of previous experience and came from a range of HEIs across the UK.

As well as being there to tell attendees more about the Centre and what we could do for them, I gave a very short presentation on web 2.0 tools and some simple examples of how they might be used in higher education, for themselves and for their students.

Having covered the same material last year I was interested to find that this year’s attendees had a significantly greater awareness of social software and could name specific examples of tools that were available; some were using them at least for their own development or collaboration between colleagues.

For those still finding their way around, the Centre offers examples of RSS feeds from the Centre’s website to which visitors can subscribe, the Centre’s Twitter feed and an account on Delicious.

The talk itself (including an image located through the CC search on Flickr) was posted on SlideShare and a list of all the references from the talk were posted to a list on Diigo.