Welcome to iBerry - The Academic Porthole

Open Education: Learner Support, Higher Education Resources, News Aggregator, Open Courseware (OCW).

More about iBerry.

New Connections - Old Philosophy

"Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education." - Article 13: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16th December 1966

iBerry's mission is to foster free and accessible Higher Education by every appropriate means but the appropriate means do change with time. Originally we tried to provide comprehensive lists of open education resources but now the focus is on supporting online learners in making their own choices and finding their own way through whatever open educational paths they wish to follow.

We can go so far in providing links to useful sources of information for most areas of academic knowledge but success in learning is much more than mere exposure to facts and figures. Learning with and from others of different backgrounds, cultures and levels of expertise is an education in itself and is also an enjoyable and very effective way to study. Thousands of learners from hundreds of different countries have already benefited from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and there are now numerous opportunities for interaction between self-directed learners.

Higher Education - AnywherePeace
Peace by Cayusa, on Flickr)

Recent changes to iBerry are outlined below along with some plans for future development.

  • Links to Links - The Open Education Directory brings together a limited number of links under various headings that point to portals and specialist link collections so that learners themselves can find the best Higher Education resources and support for any topic.
  • Format changes - We have completed the changes detailed in 'iBerry and Open Education Work in Progress'. Each subject area in the Open Education Directory is now introduced in the same way with content under the following headings:
    • About - Very brief introductions.
    • Open Textbooks - Links to open access (free) textbooks.
    • Support for Learners - Links to sites that actively help and support learners such as learner communities, forums etc.
    • Best Resource Sites - iBerry's choice of a representative number of links to sites providing specialist resources for particular subject areas (see menu in left hand margin).
    • Open Courseware (OCW) - A selection of links to the best OCW.
  • Learner Support - The Learner Support Pages currently provide links to listings of Open Textbooks, Resources for Online Learning, links to Websites Supporting Online learning and Open Education News. These sections are being revised and updated; comment and suggestions welcome.
  • Learner Interaction - There are many sites where learners can study together, perhaps while taking the same course, but there are very few places online where learners can find other self-directed learners to study with. iBerry would like to provide a natural and safe environment where like-minded learners can meet and find others according to their interests in Higher Education. We also would like to publish some accounts of online learning such as personal experiences of MOOCS. Payment for appropriate material may be possible - please make contact.
  • Finance - As a 'non-profit' we rely on help from volunteers and our costs are relatively low. We do not ask for donations but have some funds for distribution (eg see Top e-Learning Movers & Shakers and e-Learning Super Heroes in 2013). Having rejected the idea of forming a charity (because of the admin costs!) we are open to suggestions as to how we could distribute modest payments to whoever or whatever in accordance with our mission to make Higher Education more accessible.
  • Volunteers - The maintenance and development of iBerry depends on volunteer effort and anyone who can help in any way at all is encouraged to contact us.

iBerry and Open Education - New Format

The page on Science - is the last to be finished in iBerry's new format as discussed in iBerry and Open Education - Work in Progress. All the main topics listed in the Open Education Directory (see menu in the left margin) are now in this format with links to open access (free) textbooks, support for learners and the best resource sites etc all on the same page.

Learning for Life

Formal Education - and when it ends.

After studying for years in formal education you pat yourself heartily on the back when you land a job. School was boring, not much fun and you couldn't wait to give up studying math/ French/ science/ history/ geography/ ..... whatever - because you're not academically minded/ disliked the teacher/ not clever enough/ hated the exams/ easily distracted from study/ etc etc. University or college was better but mainly because of the socializing and the connections you made but you skipped or slept through the lecture courses and only scraped through by making a supreme last minute effort before the final exams.

But now all that's all behind you and you relax. You don't find your job very challenging but there's plenty of time to watch TV, keep up with 'friends' on Facebook or Twitter, glance at your favourite newspaper, even read a book. But things are not quite as they seem. For example, in your job clever people are promoted over your head because they're clever and you're not. They learn things more quickly than you do and pass these irksome professional exams your bosses harp on about. But wait ..... you've learned a bit about the job yourself. You've discussed it with others at work and elsewhere and some of these clever people, including the bosses, do pretty stupid and incompetent things at times. How can that be? You don't feel qualified to raise your concerns with management and you remember poor Fred who was sacked for discussing his boss's shortcomings on Facebook!

Learner on the loose
Learner on the Loose - by Nick Rice

Who can give the best advice about your learning?

From time to time I get emails from learners asking for help.

"What courses should I take to advance my education?".
Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or Open Courseware (OCW) really free?"
"I need a formal qualification in Whatology. What college or university courses are best?"

All iBerry's information is freely available on this website but there are no resources for offering detailed advice to individual learners. Higher Education is now going through a period of significant change and I doubt if anyone can keep track or understand how recent innovations such as MOOCs will impact on what we think of as 'courses'.
Higher Education - AnywherePeace
(Peace by Cayusa, on Flickr)

Who then is the best person to go to for advice? The answer is very simple - YOURSELF ! The future is with the self-learner. You know your own learning objectives better than anyone else and you probably have a shrewd idea of your own capabilities. iBerry's Open Education Directory or even Google will provide more than enough basic information on any subject you care to study. There is plenty OCW available to stimulate your interest and then why not join some MOOCs to experience study in your chosen field? You can take as much or as little interest in a MOOC as you like. From participating in discussion forums, doing all the assignments and earning a certificate to just watching a few videos, your level of participation is entirely up to you. Join as many MOOCs as you like to find out what you like and what is most useful to you. Unlike most traditional courses you will not be out of pocket!

Please enjoy whatever celebrations the end of the year may bring and have a happy and prosperous New Year !

iBerry and Open Education - Work in Progress

iBerry was founded in 1999 when universities and colleges were just beginning to publish courseware and other educational material on the web. Listings of accessible courseware provided by iBerry were useful to students, self-learners and other academics and shortly afterwards MIT popularized open education by introducing Open Courseware (OCW). This consisted mainly of lecture notes and videoed lectures taken from courses given by MIT and other universities for their own students.

Now things are very different. Vast amounts of static OCW are available to online learners whenever or wherever they want to study and open education is becoming much more dynamic. There are open forums for debate and discussion covering most subject areas of Higher Education as well as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) given by top universities and colleges connecting learners to experts and to each other for more effective learning.

Image by opensource.com

What Counts as a MOOC?

While updating iBerry's MOOC Resource Page I had difficulty in deciding whether some online courses really deserve to be called MOOCs. Providers are always happy to jump onto the MOOC bandwagon but some 'MOOCs' now seem to have drifted a little too far from the original concept of a Massive Open Online Course.

For example, 'self-paced MOOCs' are apparently online courses consisting of Open Courseware (OCW) and maybe a discussion forum but with no formal start or end. In contrast with other MOOCs, participants cannot be focused on the same part of the course at the same time and so availability of mutual help and support is less likely. These open online courses may or may not be excellent for self-study but the term 'MOOC' seems inappropriate without a massive body of participants moving through the course together.

Open Education Week - 10th to15th March 2014

Top e-Learning Movers & Shakers and e-Learning Super Heroes in 2013

iBerry is delighted to help sponsor a poll run by Zaid Ali Alsagoff, (e-Learning Manager at the International Medical University (IMU) and author of the popular education site, ZaidLearn). Over 200 e-learning nominees from all parts of the world are now listed and more than 1,000 votes have been cast. The 'Top e-Learning Mover & Shaker of the Year (2013)' will be the nominee with the most votes but the more prestigious 'e-Learning Super Hero of the Year (2013)' will be chosen using a "gamified points system" devised by Zaid that takes into account who is voting as well as the number of votes. It also encourages nominees to show professionalism and appreciation of the other nominees - rather than shameless self-promotion! Voting will end on January 27, 2014 and the results (with prizes) are to be announced at the end of January.

Results - startling revelations!

1,861 people around the world voted giving 6,680 'Votes Up' to their favorite e-Learning Super Heroes (generating 33,000+ views) - the first result: Captain Zaid himself !! - ?? (disqualified from winning the awards!) - more here.

Learning to Learn

iBerry's mission to foster free and accessible Higher Education by every appropriate means is motivated by Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

"Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education."

. . . . . .

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