iBerry and the Networked Learner

Many groups of educators, researchers or students on existing courses already benefit from networked learning. These web-savvy early adopters have acquired the necessary skills and technical expertise but there is a very much larger group out there who could benefit but, for many different reasons, do not have the opportunity or motivation. Web access may be limited, speeds can be low and the lack of open educational resources in languages other than English can be a major disincentive. Websites exist that offer support to the online learner over and above basic Open Courseware (OCW) and iBerry has been active in surveying these but such initiatives differ considerably in their approach and exactly what is on offer is not always clear .......

OER Quality is in the Eye of the Learner

Having recently examined and commented on several sites offering the online learner something more than basic Open Courseware (OCW) it is encouraging to see how things have moved along since we started this exercise in 2009. More sites are available now than ever before and the diversity is welcome although, sadly, many of the criticisms we made in 2009 still apply - please see below! . . . . .

Learner Support Sites - first impressions (from 2009)

This was written about 2 years ago but unfortunately much of the criticism seems just as valid today!

I've now spent some time looking into education sites that go further in supporting Higher Education's online learners than simply providing searchable repositories or links to Open Courseware (OCW). OCW such as MIT's OpenCourseware may be excellent learning material in its original context but it does not come with the same support available to enrolled students such as expert tuition or interaction with fellow students.....

Plans for 2011

Having spent more time than I meant to on the CCK11 MOOC I'm now in a position to start thinking about - umm ... New Year's Resolutions. It's become increasingly clear to me that iBerry needs to change but exactly how is not nearly so clear. So before I get to grips with this I thought I'd simply list a number of general points on what iBerry is about - and ought to be about. Your comments are welcome!

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

I recently joined CCK11, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge and this has been taking up much of my time over the last few weeks (my CCK11 blog is here). I'm not so interested in the theory of Connectivism as such (there's considerable controversy about its role in educational theory) but I am interested in connectivist practices, particularly as they affect online learning in adult education.

Online Learner Support Sites - opinions please!

My looking at online learner support sites has been delayed by seasonal activities, not to mention snow, ice and the usual crop of colds and coughs and so I've only managed to comment on a few sites. All sites being considered can be found in Learner Support.. Comments can be added by anyone for personal expressions of opinion, suggestions, corrections etc. - please contribute (no need to register) !

Support for Online Learners

Open Courseware (OCW) may be an excellent basis for learning in its original university or college setting but it does not usually come with the support available to enrolled students such as interaction with experts and fellow learners. Although there are now good examples of sites offering online learner support extending beyond the simple provision of searchable repositories or links to OCW, there is certainly some way to go. A would-be learner can be greatly discouraged if too much time and effort is needed to wrinkle out exactly what's on offer and whether it's what they really want. In the great diversity of sites out there it's not always easy to find the learning essentials in the face of mandatory logins, pushy advertising or misleading links pointing to little or no content. Pages of derelict message boards with scores of plaintive unanswered questions or even undeleted spam can also frustrate a learner in finding genuinely active forums where learning topics can be usefully discussed.

Education Futures

Dr Boss (iBerry's revered and ancient founder) tells us he's managed to contact 'Biffo' from the future - yet again! Transcript follows:

£g%^ *%%£!_-^dUU ^%FG%"(*] ghj%"` - Sysop validate?: 176467890078: 14th Nov 2033
B: Eh? You're not decoding right! Education for adults you say? It's usually the kids that keep hassling me for education! Hey! - you're a lost oldster, right?
DB: Yes I'm most interested in adult education.
B: OK, fine though I'm no educat and anyway it's changed a lot for kids since I spent time in real edurooms - classrooms they called them. I guess kids learn like anyone else now.
DB: Have universities had to make big changes?
B: Dunno - never went to one - there's one or two left but they're usually too expensive to get to.
DB: I see - so the fees have rocketed.
B: Nooo! Where've you been? - they've gotten very low since the bottom fell out of the edumarket but unless you're near one you probably won't get there because of the carb tax - up again this year! You oldsters have a lot to answer for! Where are you from anyway? - I can't see a profile.
DB: Umm .... what do you do for a living and how did you become qualified?

"A Cautionary Tale" - and now the Movie!

Some time ago, ("Try This at Home"), we commented on how there is considerable scope for educators, self-learners or anyone at all, to help improve and reuse Open Courseware and that the work involved is often less than many people think. This certainly applies to xtranormal Technology's text-to-speech animations as I discovered after being inspired by Zaid Ali Alsagoff's efforts on ZaidLearn. Zaid used xtranormal to create an animation, ".. by simply writing the dialogue script (text only! Seriously!). The whole production process (thinking and writing the script) took me around 30 minutes only. Now, that is what we want from awesome learning tools; Minimal effort, amazing output!"

Welcome to new students! Exploit Open Courseware (OCW) and enhance your education!

This is the time of the year when a large number of new, often young and certainly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, students join formal university and college courses for the first time. So iBerry feels compelled to offer advice. (First piece of advice: always listen to advice - you don't have to take it!)

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