Support for Online Learners in Computer Science and Information Technology

Working on the 'support' page for 'OCW2 Computer Science and IT', I've been trying to locate sites where online learners can find good general advice on Computer Science and IT from experts or other learners. There are numerous computer-related forums available. (Earlier this year we looked at Learner Support Sites in general.) Some forums have yet to achieve a critical mass of users so queries tend to get no replies. Others are more popular but are mainly concerned with the types of problems encountered by computer users while yet others focus on the specifics of particular gadgets, specialist programming languages etc. These can be very useful sources of information as far as they go but are not very suited to online learners who want to stand back and take on Computer Science at a fundamental level before (perhaps) moving onto more specialist areas of practice.

OCW2 Computer Science and Information Technology - 3 pages now completed

The first 3 pages of Version 1 are now more or less complete: Computer Science and IT, About Computer Science and IT and Basic Computer Science & IT. These pages contain numerous open resources aimed at motivating and introducing this topic to the online learner at a basic post-secondary level. More pages, along the same lines as OCW2 Maths, will be added in due course. Comments are welcome!

What are we doing wrong please?

In keeping with our vision of an Open Global Education Network, iBerry has gradually extended the use of facilities provided by free external services such as delicious (iBerry on delicious), Scribd (iBerry on Scribd) and OER Recommender not to mention generous individuals such as Zaid Ali Alsagoff (ZaidLearn's links) and Clayton R. Wright (list of educational technology conferences). However, the downside of an unwalled garden with a multitude of signposts pointing to other places is that not so many people hang around long enough to talk with us! This is a particular problem now that we are into content creation, in at least a small way, with our Open Courseware 2.0 (OCW2) Project.

Linking Up

From time to time iBerry receives emailed requests for "link exchanges" - we include a link to the sender's website and the sender in return includes a link to iBerry. These emails usually come from commercial sites, frequently student recruitment sites in our case, and after reading a few lines of how interesting they find iBerry, it becomes obvious that the same flattery is being spammed to hundreds of other sites with "iBerry" replaced by whatever.

Delivering Today's Open Courseware to the Online Learner

Today's Open Courseware (OCW) usually consists of educational material (lecture notes, videos, slide presentations, assignments, readings, etc etc) created for a conventional university or college program of studies and comes without learner support such as expert tuition, contact with fellow learners or examination and the prospect of recognized qualifications. What, if anything, can be done to address these limitations for the online learner? This is the aim of our OCW2 project - to bring together recommended links to OCW items, guides, motivational material, learning communities etc, for specific academic topics - all based on Open Educational Resources (OER). (We have made a start with OCW2 Maths.)

How can today's OCW and OER be delivered more effectively to the online learner in Higher Education?

There is no problem with today's OCW - just find it with a search engine and then use it
8% (1 vote)
The problem is finding the right OCW - more well-researched OCW link collections on different topics are needed
0% (0 votes)
The problem is suitability - more OCW should be designed specifically for the online learner.
33% (4 votes)
OCW links and other OERs (eg open textbooks), should be intelligently combined to form study guides to academic topics.
42% (5 votes)
As above but with significant re-purposing of existing OCW by reuse and "mashups" as appropriate.
17% (2 votes)
Total votes: 12

iBerry OCW2 Project - guidelines

As the first version of OCW2 Maths is now complete apart from some minor adjustments and polishing, it's probably a good time to review the iBerry OCW2 Project. The basic idea is to help online learners find relevant Open Educational Resources for a particular academic area and use these effectively according to the learner's individual academic background and goals.

General guidelines for iBerry OCW2 presentations are now emerging on the basis of our initial experience with OCW2 Maths. Version 1 of OCW2 Maths probably does not live up to these guidelines in all respects and it certainly does not live up to our original conception of OCW2 discussed in Open Courseware 2.0 ? but it is a start and at least something to improve upon. What do you think? Your opinion on what we are trying to do is very important at this stage as there is very little out there aimed at bringing together a variety of different OERs in a coherent way. Please leave a comment or contact us by email.

If anyone else wants to try developing OCW2, following our guidelines or not, do not hesitate! We can publish here in a format similar to OCW2 Maths or simply link to material elsewhere.

iBerry OCW2 - Guidelines

OCW2 Project - roll on 2014!

The iBerry OCW2 project (attempting to fill the gap between existing Open Courseware (OCW) and its efficient use by online learners) is off to a good start with OCW2 maths under construction. As we are still maintaining the Open Courseware Directory, progress has not been rapid - at our present rate the entire project should be complete by 2014! Perhaps we'll speed up with time but at present, just how to create worthwhile OCW2 in a cost-effective way is not entirely clear.

Is our OCW2 project a waste of time? Are online learners just as likely to find what they want by using directories such as the Open Coursware Directory or even Google? We prefer not to wait until 2014 to find out so please look at OCW2 maths and let us know what you think - you don't need to have any interest in maths to comment on the format! Comments are welcome here or by email.

The following points arise from our current work on OCW2 Maths but are probably applicable to the OCW2 project in general -

How do you use Open Courseware (OCW)?

Never ! I'm here by accident (if so, why not at least look at some OCW?).
16% (3 votes)
I sometimes find the videoed lectures interesting.
21% (4 votes)
I look at videoed lectures and other material too although not too seriously.
16% (3 votes)
I study seriously making use of whatever relevant OCW I can find.
26% (5 votes)
I'm a dedicated self-learner with considerable experience of OCW.
11% (2 votes)
I'm an educator with a professional interest in OCW.
11% (2 votes)
Total votes: 19
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