- Open Education Directory (help)
- Open Courseware (OCW) Sites
- Open Educational Resources (OER)
- Learner Support
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There is plenty activity surrounding Open Educational Resources (OER) in general and Open Courseware (OCW) in particular but the more I look at sites that offer some sort of learner support the larger seems to be the gap between what they offer and what could be made possible. Much activity is being generated by an army of educators anxious to exploit and develop OER and this is to be applauded but as previously discussed, the situation for the learner is not nearly so advanced. To an extent, learning is a 'bootstrap' activity. If you are pig ignorant about a field of study then the first step is to find out something about the very basics. This in turn leads to the discovery of introductory material (subject guides, 'road maps' etc) which should then inform later decisions about further study and so on.
What should be the next step on the slow road to an Open Global Education Network? We now have Open Courseware 1.0 in abundance and directories such as our own Open Courseware Directory can locate plenty of it but many potential online learners are finding that Open Courseware (OCW) in its raw state is barely useable for serious academic study (We are hardly in the position described by Biffo in his mysterious posting from 2020). OCW may be excellent learning material in its original context, usually that of a conventional university or college, but it is much less likely to be well-matched to online learning and the process of finding this out can be extremely time-consuming, uninspiring and ultimately demotivating for the serious online self-learner. Open Courseware 2.0 should go much further in deliberately and intelligently re-purposing existing OCW for online use. Here are some of the features we might expect of OCW2:
I know that Whatology is an academic subject with the breadth of Biology, Electronic Engineering, or Philosophy but I need to study it so I connect to my Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and select 'Whatology'. My PLE knows I'm pig ignorant and impatient when it comes to academic stuff so it highlights the 5 min option from, 'Introductory Video (5, 10, 30 mins)'. It also links to basic guides of just about any length, 'Whatology Subject Guides (1, 3, 7, 15, 30 pages) and pops up, 'Latest Learner Comments: "Watology is not for me - life is too shrt ....." - Kevin (2 mins ago - Read More)'.
Open Courseware Search has seen much use over the last few months locating a wide range of Open Courseware (OCW) for learners, educators and others. However, this "raw" OCW is usually a by-product of existing university or college programs of study and does not come with learner support such as expert tuition or interaction with fellow students. Fortunately, an increasing number of organizations are now rising to the challenge by encouraging the growth of open learning communities and the re-use, adaptation and creation of OCW that is better matched to online learning. We have already mentioned the impressive Connexions as a first class example and recently a promising initiative by the Peer 2 Peer University has been announced.
There is much to see of the education archipelago from this Porthole. The islands come in many shapes and sizes and vary tremendously in what they provide and who they provide it for. Many are free and open to anyone and we visit these as frequently as we can although now there are so many this is anything but a day trip. Maybe there are also great things going on behind the massive walls and closed doors we see surrounding certain other islands but we can't afford to visit them or just can't be bothered to jump through the hoops they place at their entrances.
The amount of available Open Courseware (OCW) has increased considerably this year and this is to be welcomed but it is becoming inceasingly difficult for us to keep up with the avalanche. As an experiment, we are hoping to speed up the process of entering items in the Open Courseware Directory by making our lists of unchecked websites public on delicious. These websites may possibly be suitable for the Open Courseware Directory, either as OCW or Higher Education Resource items.
The availability of Open Courseware (OCW) is now widespread (as our Open Courseware Directory will confirm) but OCW usually comes without important parts of the educational process such as expert tuition, assessment or interaction with fellow students (see Everyone Has the Right to Education) and this significantly detracts from its usefulness.
An improved search tool has now been installed that we hope will provide more efficient searching of the Open Courseware Directory. You can now choose any number of tags from 'Subject', 'Media Type' and 'Academic Level' to identify all OCW items either having all your chosen tags (Boolean AND) or any of your tags (Boolean OR). For example: select all OCW items with tags, 'Intermediate', 'Biosciences', 'Exams'.
Please try the Category Browser and let us have any comments.
Note that the tags that appear in red underneath every OCW item belong to that item but if you click on one, then all items in the directory having that tag are displayed.
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