Posts Tagged 'OER'

Open Education – What’s Next?

open education, OER, bon education, anna batchelder

Recently I’ve participated in a number of discussions around creating open education repositories and initiatives in the Middle East. Beyond the question of finding sizable portions of open Arabic content to seed a new repository, the questions of sustainability (how do we pay for this?), language (who’s Arabic?) and so what?! (What will people do with the content?) always come up shortly after.

Putting the first two bold words aside, let’s focus on the so what?! of OER. As Max Fawcett (Managing Editor at Alberta Venture) points out in the Open Education Open Debate:

Education, after all, isn’t an acquisitive process, an exercise in procuring and storing information. Instead, learning is a social process, one in which people get from point A – ignorance – to point B – enlightenment – through a messy combination of challenge, failure and consolidation. While there might be a few people who can (and should) take advantage of open-source learning models, there are, I suspect, far more who can’t. Information, in the absence of the ability to apply it, isn’t very valuable, as anybody who’s ever tried to fix their own car using only the supplied factory manual understands only too well”.

This reminds me of a comment in Brian Lamb posted in his blog two years ago:

“If we live in an era of information abundance, why is the primary drive around OERs the publication of more content? And what other activities around the open education movement might be an effective use of our energies? What other needs have to be met?”

In the past couple of years we’ve seen online course initiatives like P2PU and the Open High School take steps towards using the open content out there in meaningful ways. But, I would like to hear directly from teachers and students:

With so much free content out there on the Web, what services or apps would you like to see built in conjunction with all that content to help bring more meaning, value, time savings and/or joy to your education?

Anna

@bon_education

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5 Ways to Keep on Top of OER News

Originally posted on the Curriki blog.

As an addendum to 10 Ways to Support OERs via Social Media, I thought it would be nice to write a follow-up post on how to keep up with open education news. If you are a fan of OER or OER curious, here are a few ways to stay “in the know”:

  1. Google alerts – Set Google alerts for terms like “open education,” “open education resources,” and “OER” to have the latest and greatest OER news delivered to your inbox as-it-happens, daily, or weekly.
  2. Twitter search – Search for #OER to see what people are saying about OER now!
  3. Trusted tweeters – Follow OER tweeters like:
    1. @Curriki
    2. @OpenEdNews
    3. @creativecommons
    4. @MITOCW
    5. @OERCommons
    6. @opencontent.
  4. OER bloggers – Add OER blogs to your RSS reader! Here are a few to start with:
    1. Curriki’s blog – FYI we blog about OER content on Mondays and OER news on Fridays!
    2. Open Education News – For an up-to-the minute play-by-play on all things OER, this blog is a must-read!
    3. OpenSource.com – Read our review of the site here.
  5. OER Conferences – Digital discussions are great, but what about meeting the people behind the alerts, tweets, and blog posts?! Here are a few upcoming conferences in which OERs will be discussed!
    1. The Global Forum on Technology and Innovation in Teaching and Leading (Dubai, UAE, April 15-17, 2010)
    2. The 8th COMMUNIA Workshop – Education and the Public Domain: The Emergence of a Shared Educational Commons (Istanbul, Turkey, April 19-20, 2010)
    3. University Leadership: Bringing Technology-Enabled Education to Learners of All Ages (Massachusetts (MIT), USA, May 23-26, 2010)
    4. ISTE 2010 (Colorado, USA, Jun 27-30, 2010) – Make sure to check out the Open Source Lab!
    5. Open Ed 2010 –  (Barcelona, Spain, November 2-4, 2010)

Gotta love OER Fridays!

Anna

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Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it.

I just posted a blog entry on Curriki that I suspect many Literacy is Priceless readers will enjoy as well. To see the original post, visit the Curriki blog.

The movement towards open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. -2010 Horizon Report

Open education enthusiasts will be delighted to read the 2010 Horizon Report—an annual document put out by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative highlighting six emerging technologies/practices likely to enter mainstream education in the coming five years.

This year’s list includes:

  • Mobile computing (next 12 months) – Learning via devices such as smart phones and netbooks
  • Open content (next 12 months) – Think Curriki (i.e. free education resources that people can mix, modify, customize and share)
  • Electronic books (next 2-3 years) – Electronic reading devices à la the Kindle and the Sony Reader
  • Simple augmented reality (next 2-3 years) – Real world images with virtual computer-generated imagery/data overlays (Watch this video to see examples of simple augmented reality.)
  • Gesture-based computing (next 4-5 years) – Devices controlled by your body movements (See video example here)
  • Visual data analysis (next 2-5 years) – A combo of stats, data mining and visualizations to better understand large data sets (For examples of this, take a look at visual complexity.)

The Horizon Report points out that behind these emerging technologies/practices are four trends:

  • The abundance of information available online today is challenging traditional notions of what it means to be educators from keepers of information to coaches and sense-makers.
  • People expect to work and study anywhere and anytime.
  • Technologies are increasingly cloud-based. (For more on cloud-computing, click here.)
  • The work of students is increasingly collaborative and multidisciplinary.

If you have the time, this year’s Horizon Report is a fascinating and practical read filled with examples and further readings on each of the technologies/practices above. Make sure to check out the section on Open Content where you will discover more great OERs such as SmartHistory and FolkSemantic.

Until next week…

Anna Batchelder

Founder, Bon Education

@bon_education

P.S. Curious what emerging technologies were highlighted last year? Check out our 2009 summary of the Horizon Report.

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Education is Priceless

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

- Benjamin Franklin

Gotta love Ben F! Lucky for us, education doesn’t have to come at such a steep price thanks to the growing open education movement

Last week while reading Open Education News, I learned about the January 6, 2010 launch of NalandaU (Chennai, India)—a free online university that aggregates video and course content from universities such as MIT, Stanford, Yale, Berkeley and the Indian Institute of Technology. As Nalanda’s blog points out:

Apart from watching the videos, the students can take notes in the page and access them later – organized by courses. They can also connect with their friends in Facebook who are also in the same virtual class, and share information. The course pages also have related courses that the student can take next and improve the knowledge further. Selected courses also have online quiz that the students can take to get their grades, and can manage their transcripts from a central location. It has a simple search tool with search suggestions and course results organized by broad topics.

The site has been designed to reduce distraction and information-intimidation as much as possible. The information available at each page is organized well, unintimidating and more homogeneous, and when playing the videos you can go full screen or hide everything other than the lecture by using “Dim the lights” option.

NalandaU is a wonderful site of reference and study for educators, parents and high school/university students wishing to brush up on subject matter knowledge, explore new areas of interest and connect with subject-specific enthusiasts around the world. Course topics range from the American Novel to the History of Economic Thought to Mobile Application Development (see more courses here).

I wonder what good ol’ Ben would have thought of NalandaU? Off to explore some Nalanda U courses on entrepreneurship

Anna

@bon_education

PS Curious about the original Nalanda University? Learn a bit of history here. Moving to the other side of the globe… For more tips and quotes from Benjamin Franklin, click here.

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Putting Lessons Within Teachers’ Reach

This was an exciting week for my company Bon Education and our partner Curriki in the Middle East, as interest continues to grow in our efforts to create an Arabic version of Curriki–i.e. an open source platform that would house open source Arabic language curricula and learning objects created by teachers and education stakeholders in the region.

Today, a story was printed in the National (UAE) about our efforts titled, “Arabic move to put lesson plans within UAE teachers’ reach“. The following is a brief excerpt from the article written by Kathryn Lewis:

“One of the things we know that improves teachers is for them to build their own knowledge, to get engaged in what they’re teaching,” Dr Kurshan said.

Curriki, she said, encouraged teachers to get involved in the design and implementation of lesson plans, rather than simply presenting the content of a lesson without engaging the material.

If you can engage teachers in building their own knowledge they are going to have a significant impact on students and their students will do better.”

“Teaching is one of the most isolated professions. They spend a lot of time in their classrooms behind a closed door and they don’t have an ability to ask other people if what they are doing is having an impact.

To the sharing of knowledge and curricula across borders, languages and professions!

Anna

@bon_education

P.S. To learn more about Curriki’s curricula and teaching projects around the globe, watch this video. To tell a friend about the site and to give him/her access to the 32,000 free learning resources Curriki has to offer, click here.

Eliminate the Education Divide: Notes from the Middle East

Last week Curriki (one of the organizations my company works with) was awarded the Qatar Foundation WISE Award for innovation in education. As a result, Dr. Barbara Kurshan (Curriki Executive Director) and Peter Levy (Curriki Strategic Development) came to Qatar to accept the award (watch interview here).

After Qatar, Dr. Kurshan and I spent five days in Dubai chatting with ministries of education, universities, CEOs and teachers about our next initiative to create an Arabic language version of Curriki–i.e. a free and open source Arabic language curricula repository and online community. Our five days of meetings were VERY exciting as there is much enthusiasm in the region to support the use of English and Arabic open education content.

To learn more about Curriki, open education and the work Bon Education is doing to support the integration of education technologies into classrooms across the Middle East, I welcome you to listen to the Dubai Eye Nightline interview with host James Piecowye above. Curriki and Bon Education were also featured in a recent Khaleej Times article, “Improve Arabic Content on Net, Urge Experts“. Exciting times indeed!

Thanks for listening and reading!

Anna

CEO, Bon Education

@bon_education

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The Teacherless Classroom

I just published this post on Curriki’s blog, would be curious to hear thoughts from Literacy is Priceless readers…

Empty Classroom

In his recent New York Times article, “Virtual Classrooms Could Create a Marketplace for Knowledge,” author Anad Girdharadas writes:

In the autumn of 1963, the American magazine Popular Mechanics heralded an innovation that seemed bound to change the world: the ‘teacherless classroom’ … Fate and technology have pummeled many professions since 1963, from bookseller to travel agent to auto worker. But teachers have resisted the powerful forces reorganizing industry. The dream of the teacherless classroom has remained just that … Today the dream has returned.

Citing examples such at the Open Courseware Consortium, to iTunes U to Curriki, Girdharadas points out that education is no longer a seller’s market, where deans decide what you know, at what cost and where. With an increasing number of university professors and subject-specific enthusiasts putting their course materials and expertise online in multimedia formats, students (poor, rich, young and old) have a significant number of options when it comes to where to get (or rather how to build) an education. Furthermore, with this abundance of free or almost free courses and education resources online, universities and other certificate granting institutions have to compete on quality, price and convenience more than ever before.

Taking all of this into account, what do the aforementioned changes and market pressures mean for teachers and professors in terms of their role within the classroom and education marketplace? Or, as Independent Thinking founder Ian Gilbert writes in his forthcoming book, “Why do I need a Teacher when I’ve got Google?

Scott McNealy, Founder of Sun Microsystems and Curriki, states that educators will have to re-envision themselves as coaches. Their focus should move increasingly towards motivating learners and customizing materials to individual students, often including the work and expertise of others in the process. Or, as this Edutopia article points out, “It is better to coach than cajole”.

What do readers think? With the recent digital education explosion, how will (or rather how should) the role of the teacher and professor change? Where will educators teach/coach? How can we better prepare educators for their new roles and responsibilities in education?

Anna

Founder, Bon Education

Twitter @bon_education

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The Anatomy of Open Education

Kevin Simpson (International Educator and Founder of Know Do Serve Learn) recently asked me to write a short article on OER for his newsletter. I’ve pasted a copy of the article below. To see the original post and to read Kevin’s full newsletter, click here. Thanks for the opportunity Kevin!

Anatomy

The advent of the Web brings the ability to disseminate high-quality materials at almost no cost, leveling the playing field…We’re changing the culture of how we think about knowledge and how it should be shared and who are the owners of knowledge.” - Cathy Casserly, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

With an increasing number of educators putting their lessons, curricula and learning objects online for others to use, customize and share, the open education movement is at a tipping point. That said, with so many educational resources available on the Internet, how does one go about finding the “perfect resource for class tomorrow” without losing too much time, money or sleep?

Before we get to the answer of this question, it is important to take a quick step back and understand “the anatomy of open education”…

What is Open Education?

Open education is a term that refers to education in which knowledge, best practices and learning objects (lessons, units, etc.) are shared freely via the Internet for others to use and under many licenses to modify and re-share.

Why Open Education?

The benefits of open education are many (customization, cost-savings, freedom to innovate, etc.), but one of the primary advantages of the open education movement is that of access. Anyone who has an Internet connection via computer or mobile phone can access millions of readings, videos, simulations, lesson plans, interactive courses and more… all for free!

Open Education and Teacher Effectiveness…

Research shows time and time again that teachers have the greatest potential to influence student achievement (North Central Regional Education Laboratory 2009, McKinsey 2007, Darling-Hammond 1997). Furthermore, the literature indicates that effective teachers tend to exhibit—commitment (to help every child succeed), information-seeking (intellectual curiosity), flexibility (willingness to differentiate), and passion for learning (drive to support student learning) amongst several other traits (UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning 2004, Kemp & Hall, 1992).

Luckily, the ethos of open education goes hand-in-hand with these findings, enabling educators endless opportunities to improve their craft. Thanks to the millions of people actively engaged in sharing their ideas and content online, teachers today have 24-7 access to continued learning opportunities, professional development, lesson planning guides and resources for differentiation. Take one look at sites like Edutopia, Discover Ed, and Connexions and you will be blown away by the number of free resources available to help educators continuously improve the content area knowledge, skills and expertise they bring to the classroom.

Where to Start—Finding the Perfect Open Education Resources for your Classroom

The following is a curated list of open education resources targeted at helping K-12 teachers find classroom and professional development resources quickly, easily and for free:

  • Curriki.org—“Curriki is a social entrepreneurship organization that supports the development and free distribution of open source educational materials to improve education worldwide.  The online community gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools”.
  • FreeReading.net—“FreeReading is a high-quality, open-source, free reading intervention program addressing literacy development for grades K-3. Schools and teachers everywhere can use the complete, research-based 40-week program for K-1 students, or use the library of lessons to supplement existing curricula in phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. The site is also filled with free, downloadable supplemental materials including flashcards, graphical organizers, illustrated readers, decodable texts, audio files, videos and more”.
  • OERCommons.org—“OER Commons has forged alliances with over 120 major content partners to provide a single point of access through which educators and learners can search across collections to access over 24,000 items, find and provide descriptive information about each resource, and retrieve the ones they need. By being ‘open,’ these resources are publicly available for all to use, and principally through Creative Commons licensing, many thousands are legally available for repurposing, modifying and improving”.

To find additional open education resources of note, visit Bon Education.

The Future Cost of Education

A recent post on Mashable, titled, “In the Future, the Cost of Education will be Zero,” author Josh Catone shares a recent statement by VC and “Hacking Education” organizer Brad Burnham. He writes:

Knowledge is, as the economists say, a non-rival good… If I eat an apple, you cannot also eat that same apple; but if I learn something, there is no reason you cannot also learn that thing. Information goods lend themselves to being created, distributed and consumed on the web. It is not so different from music, or classified advertising, or news.

A nice notion indeed!

To the sharing of knowledge!

Anna Batchelder

Founder, Bon Education

www.boneducation.com

@bon_education

Are Textbooks Going the Way of the Dinosaurs?

I recently posted a blog on Curriki that I think Literacy is Priceless readers will find of interest as well. So, here it is…

Anna

Dinosaur

Not likely, but thanks to the Internet and social media tools, the traditional model by which textbooks are written, produced, distributed and updated just might be!

In a recent post by Dan Misener on Spark, he writes:

So how is digital technology affecting on the textbook business? According to a New York Times story from this past weekend:

Many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.

As more and more players enter the digital textbook and open educational content space, it is interesting to see the variety of strategies, platforms and styles of digital textbooks and textbook alternatives that are sprouting across the Web. Here are a few to sink your eyes, ears and creative sharing, mixing and remixing juices into:

  • Flat World Knowledge (FWK): Looking for free and open college textbooks online? Take a look at FWK’s catalog and course listings to start browsing. If reading on a bright screen is not your thing, FWK gives you print, audio and self-print PDF options, as well as numerous mixing and remixing tools to customize your “text” to your needs. To learn more about FWK’s business model, listen to this interview with Eric Frank (FWK co-founder).
  • CK-12’s Flexbook Tool: As the website states, “CK-12 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide. Using an open-content, web-based collaborative model termed the “FlexBook,” CK-12 intends to pioneer the generation and distribution of high quality educational content that will serve both as core text as well as provide an adaptive environment for learning.” For a sample of what Flexbooks look like, take a look at these resources on the human body. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, start creating a Flexbook today!
  • Curriki: California is pioneering an experiment with free high school digital textbooks. Curriki has two science books—chemistry and earth science—in the running, and is calling on science teachers to make these open source books the best they can be. That means you! Click on the curriculum tabs on the aforementioned chemistry and earth science links to get started! Or, if high school science is not your subject, search for digital textbooks and textbook alternatives here! Feel free to share your own content too!

Obviously there are a lot of great digital textbook and textbook alternatives out there beyond the three above. Leave a reply below to share you content and favorites!

Curriki

Note: The image above is a public domain work and can be found in its original form on Wikimedia Commons.

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Participation Requested: One Click Can Make a Huge Difference!

Dear Literacy is Priceless Readers,

I am writing to request your click (or rather your vote) here.

As many of you know, I am quite involved in a number of open education projects in various countries–in a nutshell projects that provide free curricula and technology resources to teachers and students across the globe.

One of the organizations I work with is Curriki–a 75K+ member community of educators that are committed to using and sharing education ideas and resources with education stakeholders across the globe. For example, Curriki has a project that is currently providing free Arabic language math and science resources to teachers in Yemen, a project to provide free curricula to teachers across Indonesia, along with various partnerships and projects in India, Bahrain, Europe, the US, etc.

Curriki is applying to get funding from the former Google Exec Paul Buchheit to build a full K-12 free curricula that can be used by any teacher in any school district anywhere in the world. In order to be considered for funding, Curriki needs a number of people to vote here (the whole process should take 1 minute max).

To learn more about the initiative and why Curriki would like to receive funding, check out this blog post.

Thanks!

Anna

PS If you happen to use twitter or if you blog, feel free to retweet and/or post this:

Your vote can help fund the development of free and open curricula! Please vote here: http://tinyurl.com/m2xn5h Feel free to RT! #OER


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