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Tag: OERs

Look out: innovation in open networked learning ahead #MSLOC430

This post is going to be a bit of a mashup. Mainly because I haven’t blogged in a while and I want to throw a few crumbs of learning gleaned in the meantime into the mix. See what comes up.

I’ve been thinking about openness quite a lot recently. That’s why before Christmas I participated in Connected Courses #ccourses

Connected Courses is a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.

and why over Christmas I read Martin Weller‘s book, The Battle for Open – how openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory.

So with both of these in mind, no wonder I was interested to see Jeff Merrell post his plans to open up his course (on enterprise knowledge sharing or enterprise social networks (ESNs)). Yes, that’s the very same Jeff Merrell of the the open, online seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks #xplrpln that I participated in back in 2013; and which turned out to be a truly powerful learning event, not just for me but for a number of other participants too (see my post at the time and Helen Blunden’s or Maureen Crawford’s just recently).


Popping the lid off‘ a regular college class is an intriguing development. Now that the hype surrounding MOOCs has died down it shows the kind of experimentation (in the original connectivist sense of the phenomenon) that’s possible, a point that Martin Weller makes in his book.

Much of the hype around MOOCs has positioned them as being in competition to formal education. While this adversarial framing may make good sense in terms of a media narrative […] it underplays both the actual impact of MOOCs and the adaptability of education. An alternative perspective is to view MOOCs as being similar to OERs, and complementary to formal education.

Here he cites the example of ‘opening up a portion’ of a course, and goes on to give a whole load of reasons why, and the positives that might be gained.

The aim(s) expressed for Exploring Innovations in Networked Work and Learning is to explore the potential innovation that comes from criss-crossing domain boundaries (my kind of thing!!), that is from business and management practices and from education or organizational learning practitioners, and also to integrate other (out there) enterprise social networking enthusiasts with students enrolled in the face-to-face class.

I welcome this kind of innovation, and anything that helps learners to connect and learn in the open has got to be a good thing. Shall I see you there?

OERs = open educational resources


Weller, M. 2014. Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI:

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OERs: need a licence to thrill #oldsmooc

This week #OLDSMOOC looks at the principle of the open licensing of online content and the relevance of Open Educational Resources (OER) to curriculum and learning design.

Open Educational Resources [OER]
Open Educational Resources [OER]
Although the introduction to this topic gave us plenty of places to source OERs, SCORE, for example; I think that one very simple method was overlooked. Namely, that a great way to find OER resources is often through your PLN. This is how I found the resource, “Syllabus for Social Media Literacies” from Howard Rheingold. Having been previously signposted to the resource by a member of my PLN, I already had the resource bookmarked because I knew it would be useful to me at a later stage. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth tagging and bookmarking potentially useful OERs as and when they crop up. In this way you can develop your own archive of searchable OER resources and you’re not starting a search from scratch as you already have a bank of resources, which have been vetted by your peers.

Nonetheless, as Dave White acknowledges in the OLDSMOOC blog “it’s not as easy as it first appears though, many of the participants […] have been discovering that often resources are free to use but that they don’t have a proper open licence”. Indeed, on closer inspection the situation relating to OER licensing does seem to be a little murky. In the case of the Howard Rheingold resource, the following permission has been given by the author: “please feel free to use, modify, and share this syllabus. Reorder the modules, add or subtract required or recommended texts and learning activities. Use your own assessment methods”. However, I can’t find any indication as to the existence of an open licence, so consequently, at this stage, I’m not as confident as I was initially about using the resource.

Dave White explains “it’s […] likely that the author has uploaded their material with the expectation that it will be used and modified as this is the generally accepted ‘culture’ of the web i.e. if you put it online you accept a certain loss of control over the use of your work(?). It’s interesting to reflect on how the inherent principle of the web is based on sharing and how this is in tension with legal issues that are still largely modelled on physical world paradigms”, without a doubt!

All in all though, this has been an interesting introduction to the topic of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and to its complexities.

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POT Cert Week 11: creating digital objects for teaching and learning – copyright and intellectual property implications of remix culture

I’m sure that I might be forgiven for at first supposing that this week’s topic, “Class Resources and Intellectual Property”, might prove to be a little dull, but I was wrong.

Before reading  Chapter 8: “Copyright, Intellectual Property, and Open Educational Resources”, I watched the signposted video of Lawrence Lessig’s 2007 TED Talk, “Laws that Choke Creativity”. Immediately, I was captivated by the idea of remix that was presented and what this means, not just in terms of the law, but in terms of culture and what it means for teaching and learning in a digital age.


New digital tools give us the ability to create new kinds of digital texts or artefacts, which often incorporate and appropriate the works of others.  Referred to as ‘remix’, this practice of borrowing and building on existing works is becoming very common. However, remix, rather than simply being seen as a matter of copying, and akin to plagiarism, is much more than that because it requires a creative re-working of the original material so as to take on a new meaning and/or significance in a new context. There are some excellent examples of this in Lessig’s presentation.

The concept of remix made me think of the digital reincarnation of Bloom’s taxonomywhich has ‘creating’ as its pinnacle.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy
Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Concept Map

What’s more interesting, the suggested verbs and associated activities within the high order thinking skills category of this digital taxonomy refers specifically to remixing. And not only that, but to other activities that might reasonably contain elements of  ‘borrowed’ content in their production as well.

In order to address the fact that in terms of ‘remix culture’, the law severely constraints the creation of new texts and artefacts, Lessig and others have developed the ‘Creative Commons‘ licensing system. The system makes licenses available that clearly describe what intellectual property rights the creator would like to reserve.

So, in terms of teaching and learning, if either students or faculty are creating digital products along the lines of ‘remix’, it seems sensible to ask them to make themselves familiar with fair use guidelines, reference what they have incorporated from elsewhere and publish to the internet with the appropriate licence.

I’ve found this to be not only a fascinating topic, but to be an important one as well. And, although I learnt plenty this week, it’s an area that I’ll have to become better familiarized with, along with issues of accessibility that were also signposted in this week’s reading.

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