open education

Launching DiscoverEd—an education search prototype

Jane Park, July 20th, 2009

Last year, we demoed DiscoverEd along with ODEPO at the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah. CTO Nathan Yergler explained its various features and some if its issues. Since then, it’s been worked on extensively and some of its functionality has improved. We’ve even gone ahead and produced a white paper, which explains what DiscoverEd is, what it aims to do, and what you can do to help improve it.

With the production of this white paper, we would like to officially announce the launch of DiscoverEd. Entirely open source, DiscoverEd is an experimental project from ccLearn which attempts to provide scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. Metadata, including the license and subject information available, are exposed in the result set.

As noted above, DiscoverEd has been discussed at a few meetings already, so this launch is mainly to help spread the word and to spark additional conversation. If you are an educator or anyone else looking for educational resources, it is available for immediate use and we welcome your feedback.

We want to emphasize that DiscoverEd is a prototype intended to explore how structured data may be used to enhance the search experience. We are by no means launching this as a definitive tool; in fact, we intend just the opposite. We are launching this so that others in the search and discovery space can contribute to this project. There are a number of known issues which we would love help on, especially since we think the community’s input and work should go into shaping future versions of this tool. This tool is currently intended for educational resources, but there is no reason anyone can’t take and adapt it for other purposes.

Where do the search results come from?

Results come from institutional and third party repositories who have expended time and resources curating the metadata. These curators either create or aggregate educational resources and maintain information about them. If you’re a producer or curator of educational resources and would like to be included in the search contact us. If you’re an educator, we want to hear from you. What works for you? What’s broken? What can be improved?

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OER Session at UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education

Jane Park, July 16th, 2009

As part of UNESCO’s World Conference on Higher Education, UNESCO hosted a session and panel discussion on open educational resources (OER). The topic of the conference was “The New Dynamics of Higher Education and Research for Societal Change and Development,” and OER was considered an important dynamic in higher education. The conference took place over four days, ending on July 8, with over 1200 participants from 150 countries.

The OER session took place on July 7, 2009, and the summary is as follows:

“Building Knowledge Societies: Open Educational Resources Panel session

This conference aims to take stock of transformations in higher education since the 1998 World Conference on Higher Education and address the new dynamics likely to shape the strategic agenda for the development of higher education policies and institutions.

The growing Open Educational Resources (OER) movement has the objective of increasing access to quality educational content worldwide. Digital content that is open to re-use and adaptation is a public good that can be shared widely. The panel session is intended to explore OER as an example of a new dynamic in higher education that will contribute to building knowledge societies.”

The final Communiqué of the conference is available online. The Communiqué states some of the following conclusions:

“There is need for greater information, openness and transparency regarding the different missions and performance of individual institutions.”

“ODL (Open and Distance Learning) approaches and ICTs present opportunities to widen access to quality education, particularly when Open Educational Resources are readily shared by many countries and higher education institutions.”

The global nature of OER is integral to their quality and value. OER that allow adaptation, derivation, and redistribution encourage global activity like translation, transcontinental collaboration, and more. If OER produced from the American Graduation Initiative are licensed to allow these freedoms, U.S. college courses become global, thereby increasing their quality and value.

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Reuse of material in the context of education and research

Jane Park, July 6th, 2009

Last December, when ccLearn issued its report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Creative Commons Netherlands published its own entitled, “Reuse of material in the context of education and research.” However, the report was only available in Dutch until recently. Now, thanks to Paul Keller (Creative Commons Nederland) and Wilma Mossink (SURF), the English version of the report is online. It recommends the most open Creative Commons license, Attribution Only, for reuse of material in the context of education and research. From the original announcement,

“The rise of the Internet and other new ICT tools have led to drastic changes in the options for distribution and reuse. These changes demand a reorientation in the rules for sharing educational and research materials.

Since sharing educational and research materials is high on the agenda of Dutch higher education and research institutions, SURFdirect and Creative Commons examined the different Open Content licences that are available and that will make clear to reusers what they are permitted to do with material held in repositories.

SURFdirect has indicated that the choice of licence must not create barriers to the future use of educational and research material, that it can be applied at both research universities and universities of applied sciences [hogescholen], and that this can in fact be done in 80% of cases, this report recommends using the most liberal Creative Commons licence for textual output…

Another important recommendation in this report is that SURF should set up an effective awareness-raising campaign in order to introduce and explain Creative Commons licences to those ‘in the field’.”

The report itself is licensed CC BY, and you can download the report as an openly editable document.

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ccLearn at the Whipple Hill User Conference 09

Jane Park, July 2nd, 2009

ccLearn presented on CC and Open Educational Resources at the WhippleHill User Conference yesterday in Boston. WhippleHill Communications is a company that started off more or less building websites for schools. As the Internet evolved, so did WhippleHill’s business model into a service one meeting schools’ online communication needs. WhippleHill targets independent high schools and is a for-profit. However, like a lot of companies who offer services around next generation web technologies, they promote open content and tools for their clients. They also host an annual user conference where they invite cutting edge initiatives to lead sessions on new media and technologies pertinent to the changing world. ccLearn had the opportunity to lead one of these sessions entitled, “Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources: How the world is changing and what you need to know to keep up” targeted mainly at education around CC and copyright for high school students.

The slide show is up under CC BY (except otherwise noted). We would like to acknowledge Jessica Coates’ slide show “Creative Commons in the Classroom” from which we co-opted some great slides!

Thanks again to WhippleHill and its President, Travis Warren, for the strong support!

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UNESCO publishes “OER: Conversations in Cyberspace”

Jane Park, June 30th, 2009

In case you missed it, last Friday UNESCO published “Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace”, three years worth of documentation surrounding the UNESCO OER Community. From their announcement,

“Since 2005, UNESCO has been at the forefront of building awareness about this movement by facilitating an extended conversation in cyberspace. A large and diverse international community has come together to discuss the concept and potential of OER in a series of online forums.

The background papers and reports from the first three years of discussions are now available in print. Open Educational Resources: Conversations in Cyberspace provides an overview of the first steps of this exciting new development: it captures the conversations between leaders of some of the first OER projects,and documents early debates on the issues that continue to challenge the movement. The publication will provide food for thought for all those intrigued by OER – its promise and its progress.”

You can access the online edition at their wiki, licensed CC BY-NC-SA. You can also buy a print edition.

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The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

Jane Park, June 26th, 2009

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) announced a new report called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age,” now available at MIT Press. The report is in response to our changing times, and addresses what traditional educational institutions must know to keep up. From the announcement,

“Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg in an abridged version of their book-in-progress, The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges. This report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.”

A central finding was that “Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

Not coincidentally, one of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education: “Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an “open source” culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The report is available in PDF via CC BY-NC-ND.

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Teaching About Copyright and Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Jane Park, May 26th, 2009

Last November, the Center for Social Media at AU released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, which followed on the heels of a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. These guides were aimed at clearing up many of the urban myths surrounding copyright, especially when it came to classroom use of copyrighted materials.

Now, the Media Education Lab at Temple University has produced excellent resources based on the original guide to help teachers teach about copyright and fair use in their classrooms. Resources include lesson plans, Powerpoint slides, videos, case studies, podcasts, and FAQs. The lesson plans iterate on topics from the code such as “Understanding Copyright”, “The Cost of Copyright Confusion”, and “Defining and Applying Fair Use”.

What tickles me: that in order to find out just what you can do with these resources, you get to view and use them first—Learning fair use via fair using! To use these resources in your classroom or study group (or for simply personal edification), check them all out here.

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Open Translation Tools 2009

Jane Park, May 12th, 2009

One of the social barriers to wide adoption of educational resources is the availability of them in various countries’ native languages. When educational resources are licensed openly, sans the ND term, this barrier is easily overcome via translation practices. However, a lot of issues still remain even with OER at hand to be freely translated, such as stream-lining translation processes, exploring tools that aid in translation, and seeking the best ways to distribute such translations.

To address these issues and more, FLOSSManuals.net and Translate.org.za, with generous support by the Open Society Institute, are putting on Open Translation Tools 2009, a conference that,

“…will convene stakeholders in the field of open content translation to assess the state of software tools that support translation of content that is licensed under free or open content licenses such as Creative Commons or Free Document License. The event will serve to map out what’s available, what’s missing, who’s doing what, and to recommend strategic next steps to address those needs, with a particular focus on delivering value to open education, open knowledge, and human rights blogging communities.

… “Open content” will encompass a range of resource types, from educational materials to books to manuals to documents to blog content to video and multimedia.”

One of the agenda items is “Addressing the Translation Challenges Faced by the Open Education, Open Content, and human rights blogging communities, and mapping requirements to available open solutions.” ccLearn’s Ahrash Bissell will be in attendance, having helped to shape the vision for the event.

Open Translation Tools 2009 will take place in lovely Amsterdam from June 22-24. They are currently calling for participants and do not require a registration fee (though donations are requested). Limited scholarships are also available.

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H.R. 1464 — The “OER Bill”

Jane Park, March 27th, 2009

The open educational resources movement has been picking up steam lately, even attracting the attention of legislators. What’s hot in the new Persian year (aka the start of spring) is the recently introduced “OER Bill“. What’s that, you say?

Well in its own words, it’s a bill “To require Federal agencies to collaborate in the development of freely-available open source educational materials in college-level physics, chemistry, and math, and for other purposes.”

Like David Wiley, we also don’t quite trust our eyes. (Italics don’t really do it justice either.)

Read further, and you’ll see that the bill requires all federal agencies expending more than $10,000,000 a year on scientific education and outreach to “use at least 2 percent of such funds for the collaboration on the development and implementation of open source materials as an educational outreach effort in accordance with subsection.”

The bill also complains a great deal about the cost of closed (versus open) textbooks. This is an undeniable fact that might finally get recognized by Congress. Read the full bill now.

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Mozilla and CC to teach online seminar on open education

Jane Park, March 17th, 2009

ccLearn is collaborating with the Peer 2 Peer University and Mozilla to teach practical open education skills to educators and anyone else who is interested. From the announcement on the course wiki:

“This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment practices. Participants will share project ideas with a community of peers, work on individual projects, and get feedback from experienced mentors. We will also take a close look at some of the most innovative examples of open education projects, and speak to the people who designed them, including:

  • The Open Source Software courses at Seneca College;
  • David Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education;
  • The open blog infrastructure at Mary Washington University; etc.
  • The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all three), but don’t need to be experts.

    Interested in participating? Head over to the course wiki, and submit your project idea!

    Course outline: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse

    Sign-up page: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse/SignUp

    For questions about the course or the sign-up process, contact:

    Philipp Schmidt
    Peer 2 Peer University
    philipp AT peer2peeruniversity.org”

    Spaces will fill up fast, but that doesn’t prevent non-registered learners from having open and complete access to the course as it plays out. And since all Mozilla Education materials are available for reuse, redistribution, and remixing under CC BY, nothing stops users from creating a mirror wiki and developing their own projects!

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