Sunday, September 30, 2007

Week 5's assignment:

What do these representative open education projects have in common? What differentiates them? In the context of open education projects, what does "quality" mean?

Comparing six organization's examples of Open Education Projects, I have to agree with Karen that they have more in differences than they do in common. These six organizations are: Open U, Rice Connexions, Carnegie Mellon, UNESCO, MIT, and the National Repository. Rob and Greg have already described the courses individually, so I will leave that out and speak more generally to the set as a whole. The biggest commonality between them is the purpose of providing free and open courses (or parts of courses) to the public, without accreditation. They tend to:

  • focus on higher education (usually 1st year university courses) and therefore focus more targeted at adult users;
  • define "interaction" as writing comments/posts and have a "register" option which allows you to post;
  • view content in the traditional "banking" way - where instructor GIVES info to students to receive (although there are exceptions here);
  • not have a sustainability plan (as most seem to be funded through things like the Hewlett Foundation, and it is unclear what the contingency plan is when this dries up);
  • English focused, particularly an American focus (even a course on World Religions was premised on the idea that the learner would be an American!).
Differences abound though:
  1. The secondary purpose of each site differs. Some, like the Open U and MIT seem to also promote their university in this way. Others, like Rice Connexions and the National Repository, seem to focus on linking to other Universities (Rice does this a lot) or organizations (like the National Repository's links to Hippo Campus and OER Commons).
  2. Some provide whole courses (Carnegie Mellon and UNESCO), while others provide modules that can be compounded into courses (Open U, Rice Connexions), while the others seem to mix these two (National Repository, MIT)
  3. Types of courses also differed. Many offered 1st year University courses, particularly on the Maths and Sciences, with some History/Economics mixed in. But the National Repository also offered Advanced Placement and High School courses on these subjects. Rice Connexions had a great section on Music! And UNESCO gave the kitchen sink on subjects.
  4. Users?! It is clear that several of the sites haven't really thought about their end users (I'd say Carnegie Mellon is the exception, focused on students!). Some of the courses/modules would be most useful for an educator looking for resources to teach. Others are more geared at students looking for stuff to learn. Most sites seemed to have a mix of these, without being clear as to who the info would be most useful to! In fact, most of the sites varied in learning levels as well - yet only Open U seemed to provide a useful scale to know how advanced the information was.
  5. Content focused - what about skills?? Carnegie Mellon's courses were clearly designed for students to learn - and they have spent a lot of time honing the courses to engage students in an active learning way. Many of the other courses read more like a textbook or a wikipedia type knowledge - begging the question as to why I, as a student ,would look here for the information, instead of Wikipedia. Content seems to rule, with little attention paid to the skills that could be learned online. Perhaps the answer to this is contained in Scott Leslie's screencast on client-side extensions and educational resources (which fellow-classmate Abject Learning led me to! Thx!!).
I must say that the site that most impressed me was the Carnegie Mellon - because I readily saw its use in helping students that have to take basic "101" courses, typically done in lectures of more than 500, suddenly being able to learn better through this kind of medium. Their focus on how students would actually engage and learn something like Statistics (as opposed to just posting the content as a textbook) is commendable. Learning, not content, focused.

As for quality definitions, these also seemed to vary across the sites. Some retained their quality focus by just posting their own university's creations (Open U, MIT, Carnegie Mellon). In fact, with MIT, only some courses were really available online, whereas others were really just the syllabi and a few exercises thrown together - it was good quality, but limited content in some courses. In Open U, other creators can create in a separate space - but not post in the learner's space. In contrast, other sites allow content from wherever. Rice Connexions has a "post publication review" in order to allow for the fast pace of the Internet. The National Repository has developed a "course development guideline" which it uses to evaluate each course for quality. UNESCO doesn't seem to evaluate at all - and although some of the courses I looked at were incredible (e.g. Rural Finance Centre's material on starting micro credit orgs), others were an embarrassment, full of Google advertisements taking up more of the screen than the content.
I was very excited by the potentials of these organizations, despite the design improvements that are needed. I still don't quite understand how these organizations will create a synergy between them all. Someone last week had said something like "we don't need millions of 1st year university courses at every U, raising questions in quality - we just need a few really good ones, which everyone can use." (If anyone knows where this is from, please let me know!). How to do this remains an unanswered question.

A last comment, as Edocet asked, and I wondered:
At the end, from teacher to teacher, David: why didn’t you put in the list this resource? –>
Maybe next year?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Week 4 - Comparison of 3 Overviews of OER

Over the last few weeks, we have been reading four overviews on Open Education Resources (OER), from the OECD, OCLOS and the Hewlett Foundation (titles at bottom), for David Wiley’s Course. First, it is notable that these are three influential and large organizations. The very fact that they would have each undertaken an overview of OER, outlining its growth, shows how important they feel it is on the educational, economic, and region/global front.

The overviews have several features in common. First, their definitions of OER, as Antonio describes, are reasonably similar. It appears to have something to do with the expanding the common good, and cover aspects of content, software tools, and copyright laws. My fellow classmate, Mela, has drawn out some of the other common ideas that seem to be found in the three documents, which I agree with. In her/his words, namely:

  • interoperable;
  • accessible;
  • re-usable;
  • free;
  • digital;
  • shared;
  • easy to be changed and translated;
  • the way to supply them is the open source sw;
  • the privileged media is the new technology;
  • the preferred way to share them is Creative Common License (By NC SA).
  • create contents repository open and free.

The three documents also similarly bring up the enablers/drivers and inhibitors/challenges to OER. However, they tend to limit their discussion to the realm of Higher Education, most likely because this is the area where the most financial resources seem to have been concentrated on developing OER to date. Karen notes the lack of focus on regular schooling, and textbooks in particular, the later of which I had mentioned in my previous blog. To this, they also lack OER’s potential for education in the realm of informal learning, popular education, adult literacy, potential for emanicaptory learning, or learning how to become a critical thinker and become involved in particular social movements. These latter, I think, has great potential, especially in the area of international development, governance and democracy. I can only imagine what will happen when social movements and NGOs start engaging in OER to systematically further knowledge about select issues (be it Darfur or water or the right to education).

There are several notable different emphases and biases in the documents. In fact, I would argue that these different emphases are the result of the hidden biases of the organizations. The OECD document tends to focus on the economic arguments. I found that the writers were almost surprised by the fact that people would be “giving knowledge for free”, and dealt with the potential economic benefits and the shortcomings of this. In contrast, OCLOS tended to focus on a discussion of learning styles, and OER’s potential to shift from a teacher-centered to learner-centered pedagogy. Karen describes this as a constructivist bias, and I think I agree with her. The Hewlett Foundation document profiles the successes and variety of the OER projects they have helped fund. It is an important document in that it highlights the fact that the initiatives don’t all connect and build into a greater entity – at the moment they tend to be more one-offs. As they describe, what is needed are a few high quality first year undergraduate courses, not every university to have its own, where people are unsure of who/where to trust for quality. The Hewlett Foundation report is also the only one to mention and draw out the importance of OER in Developing countries. I would like to see more work in this area.

The Hewlett Foundation report spoke most clearly to me out of the three. I think this is because it mostly dwelt more on highlighting concrete programmes, which forced me to briefly explore these programs online. Of the three documents, it was the one that actually needed to be read on the screen, so that I could flip frequently to the internet. By doing so, I gained a much greater and clearer perspective of what OER was. I know that the other two documents mentioned other projects, but their style of writing did not necessitate me to actually look at their references. In this manner, the Hewlett Document itself is much more in line with the new learning style that OER calls for, as compared to the other two documents which replicate a typical report. I also appreciated their International Development focus, as it is my area of study.

These readings have provoked numerous questions and areas for further investigation. In order of importance:

1. I feel very ignorant of copyright, and the inhibitions of it. I read a news article the other day of two cases (one Canadian, one America) where people’s pictures were used without permission by advertisers, b/c they were supposedly in the public domain! What are the ramifications of copyright, the lack of copyright, privacy, etc.?

2. Why are OER being developed? It is not free. As the Hewlett article points out, it cost MIT about $25000 to put each of its courses online. Although I can see the benefit for the common good, I still am skeptical about this being the reason behind its take-off. I just don’t think Universities are that altruistic, even if I wish they were. The overviews dealt with this subject, but not enough for me to truly grasp the rationale behind!

3. Why don’t we have OER K-12 textbooks, as both Karen and I have mentioned? This could be significantly more beneficial to the common good than university courses online!!

4. What are OER’s effects on democratization? Improving governance? These are key issues in many developing countries, particularly for USAID. How/Can OER contribute?

5. How sustainable, truly, is this?

6. David, in light of what I have learnt about OER learning processes, I wrote this last week - a tinkering suggestion for designing your OER courses - I think it is worth repeating, as I'm fairly certain you'll read this week's blog, but not sure about last week's:

Following on OLCOS's process of value chains I think it would be much smarter to require two posts - even if they are each a little shorter. The first would be one's own reflections on the reading (due on Sunday eve?). The second would incorporate others' views of the reading, - it would be my other reflections on the reading in light of this, or perhaps a change to my original post. It would be due a few days later, given that I and many of my peers seem to post nearer the Sunday deadline. This would allow me to articulate my own thoughts clearly, but would also force me to revisit/rethink them in light of others' comments - an excellent learning value chain. Because this would not all be done on Sunday night before midnight, I actually would have a chance to read my peers' work before posting mine.

Week 2-4 questions answered within:

What are the aims of the authors of each report? Do you see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or approaches in any of the reports? Which report spoke the most clearly to you, and why do you think it did? Based on where the field is now, and these initial ideas about where it might go, what part of the open education movement is most interesting to you? Why? What do these overviews of the field have in common? What do they emphasize differently?

Three Overviews of OER:

Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources (OECD, 147 pages)

Open Educational Practices and Resources: OLCOS Roadmap 2012 (OLCOS, 149 pages)

A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities (Atkins, Brown, and Hammond, 80 pages) Hewlett Foundation

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week 3: OLCOS & Education as the practice of freedom?

Paulo Freire, in the 1960s, spoke about getting rid of a "banking" notion of education, and thought that learning, particularly literacy, should begin from the learner's own knowledge and building from their experiences (e.g. in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Education as the Practice of Freedom, and We Make the Road by Walking).

This week's reading, the European OLCOS article: Open Educational Practices and Resources: OLCOS Roadmap 2012, seems to centre around these same themes - of slowly transforming the practice of teachers and learners. Although this vision has yet to be achieved, four decades later. Similar to Freire, OLCOS speaks about the need for teachers to change from dispensers of knowledge (i.e. banking), to facilitators of learning (Ch. 4). Although OLCOS explicitly recognize that changing institutionalized teaching habits takes time, I thought it is very important that OLCOS suggests that Open Education Resources (content, software and tools), are only the means to the end of furthering this innovative form of learning and knowledge creation (innovation being one of the key hopes of the institution). Their focus on practice, and innovative practice at that, is notable. Will open education become a practice of freedom? too early to say.

Below I have some of the more pertinent thoughts this week's reading elicited. namely 1) collaboration and creating garbage. 2) value chains - rejigging this course to ensure more reflection on others' work - thereby re-using/improving one's ideas. 3) why don't we have open textbooks?

1) I really like the idea of collaboration and co-creation. But I do wonder what will happen to quality of content, and what will happen when so much garbage is on the web. Although there has been a massive growth in the access to useful info on the net (it was amazing to research my thesis and have a digital library of 1/2 of my references, as compared to nothing 10 years ago), on the other hand, this growth has been dwarfed in comparison to the amount of non-peer-reviewed material I need to wade through. And I only expect it to get worse - especially if each class, each year, is constantly creating and recreating. This can be a really wonderful thing, but how do we deal with it in terms of volume? quality? the dividing line between learning for oneself and collective learning?

2) I was inspired by OLCOS's notion of "value chains", where content is provided on the web, then reused and modified by the learner to become better. From this, I have new ideas what I think should be the requirements of postings on Sunday night... The following is a description of the creation of a value chain:

"Collaborative learning practices are most likely to allow for such value chains to emerge and
progress, because the learning community will:
| use some existing digital content or courseware as a starting point;
| consult other available content from e-learning repositories or other relevant sources of
| document their own study process and results, such as use cases, experiences, lessons learned,
guidelines, etc. (note: documentation also includes metadata);
| make this enriched content available again to other learners, e.g. via repository and/or syndication services, and
| thereby share the results for re-use, and enrichment, by other learners." (OLCOS pg. 43).

It occurred to me, while reading this, that this is truly how I do learn in collaboration with my peers in the Open Education course. However, I have noticed that most people do not post until Sunday afternoon/evening...making it difficult to read and incorporate their views into my postings. The fact that it is late Sunday evening also means that my peers don't have a chance to read my work! As well, if I read their stuff at this time, before I write/post my views, my own views tend to get muddied in my post. It is as if the speed of learning I need to compose something that I like, that reflects my views but incorporates others, is too fast. The time period is too short for me to do this!

Following on OLCOS's process of value chains, described above, I think it would be much smarter to require two posts - even if they are each a little shorter. The first would be one's own reflections on the reading. The second would incorporate others' views of the reading, - it would be my other reflections on the reading in light of this, or perhaps a change to my original post. This would allow me to articulate my own thoughts clearly, but would also force me to revisit/rethink them in light of others' comments - an excellent learning value chain. Because this would not all be done on Sunday night before midnight, I actually would have a chance to read my peers' work before posting mine. How this process would correspond to OLCOS's value chain is described below:

"Collaborative learning practices are most likely to allow for such value chains to emerge and
progress, because the learning community will:
| use some existing digital content or courseware as a starting point; [e.g. the OCLOS article is the starting point this week]
| consult other available content from e-learning repositories or other relevant sources of
information; [in this case, I drew upon Freire, or I could have drawn on past weeks info too, or some of the resources mentioned in the OCLOS article]
| document their [the student's] own study process and results, such as use cases, experiences, lessons learned, guidelines, etc. (note: documentation also includes metadata); [I think this would be exploring my own ideas, as I have done in this piece - documenting what "I" think about this]
| make this enriched content available again to other learners, e.g. via repository and/
or syndication services, and [This would be through my post, by Sunday evening midnight]
| thereby share the results for re-use, and enrichment, by other learners.[Well, I think that by Wednesday evening, I should have to post another short blog, highlighting worthy thoughts/comments on other people's blogs. it would allow my thoughts to grow as a learner] (OLCOS pg. 43 - [closed brackets are my thoughts]).

Based on this thought process, I think I will try to imitate this chain over the coming weeks...starting this Wednesday...(David, let me know if this is not advisable, please - but it is my recommendation for future courses...)

3) The OLCOS article touched the important and different roles played by teachers vs. publishers. However, it also described publishers as the stop-gap for open content. Copyright issues can stop the re-use, modification and open sharing of content (p. 29). Although I recognize the important work that publishers do, I am of a similar opinion that textbooks are one area where the public would greatly benefit from having its own group of publishers that produces textbooks for schoolkids Gr. 1-12, within one country or region. The price of these textbooks, and replacing them every few years, is quite costly for the school system, and the books are "static" content - which is not very compatible with OCLOS's vision of the new learner in an information society. By having public publishers, we could afford to create high quality textbooks at a much lower cost, as the costs would be dispersed across a whole nation. How else would we resolve this tension between creating profit for publishers, and serving the common good? Or do we encourage a new breed of publishers to emerge as well....??? Perhaps I need to look again at OCLOS and the OECD's description of incentives!

My good friend, Mark Federman, drew my attention to the issue of providing textbooks for free as an OER quite a while ago. I later found out he had blogged on this very issue of free textbooks in 2005. I think it is an idea that should be thought about and grown - in the very same way that a values chain is a worthy idea!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Who benefits from OER

I had reflected upon this in my blog for Week 2 below, but I was reading other people's posts today (everyone seems to have posted at the last minute!) - and I really liked Sylvia's perspective on focusing on the end users. Thought I'd link to it, as she's said it better than I have: Will the real beneficiaries please step forward?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Week 2: OECD - Getting Knowledge for Free - just some thoughts

Reading over this week's blog, I keep coming back to the idea of WHO is OER currently focused on - and it seems to be more about the creators than the end-users/learners (but then again, it could be just this article)...For those who happened upon this site, this is a response to the article, the OECD's : Giving Knowledge for Free - the Emergence of Open Ed Resources. It had never occurred to me the liberating possibilities of Open Education...and I'm now more glad to have 'opened' up this field a bit.

The article appears to be biased towards an economic perspective of the possibilities of Open Education Resources (OER) - this is only to be expected by an organization like the OECD, as it is part of its mandate. Copyright, in particular, seemed to be a focus - although this may be just because I don't know much about the field yet. Perhaps copyright is the biggest issue out there on OER? It certainly would be the biggest for the creators of OER.

What I find fascinating about the OECD article is the connection that they implicitly draw between free and accessible OER and the possibility of future growth. I agree with my colleague, Jessie that OER focuses generally on the English speaking richer countries (particularly OECD countries), even though the OECD article documents that some other countries are trying OER initiatives). I had addressed this geographic at the end of my last blog.

The article mentions “The 4 A’s – accessible, appropriate, accredited, affordable” (Daniel, 2006, in OECD). These are great ideas, but it must be questioned, the 4 A's for WHOM??? The article mentions (p. 47) that not much is known about the end user. I think that without actively trying to create more equity for OER access in other countries, OER is more likely to be used as a tool to further the digital divide, than to help address it. As well, until the end user is taken into account, the issues that OER revolves around will be around its creators (profs, businesses, etc.), such as copyright. How can one focus on "learning", not "education", as the article suggests, if one does not know anything about the learner?

I was happy that the OECD article pointed out that OER can lead to a greater access of informal knowledge. Academia has tended to play down these other sources of knowledge (including experiential knowledge, which OECD does not mention), as if they aren't important or valid. Perhaps Open Ed, by freeing up formal knowledge, will more closely align formal and informal knowledge - legitimating both, and bringing some areas of academia closer in line with everyday challenges and issues.

Perhaps OER also offers a way to bring some responsibility for learning back into the education system. At a recent PhD graduation party, one friend commented, "Profs have tenure on the basis of their expertise - assuming that being an expert gives you the right to know better than your students." And for this reason, profs can get away with a heck of a lot.

In the striving to become an expert, the very act also privileges one's knowledge - and there's a heck of a lot of power that comes with that privileging (I think Foucault has said this) . In a sense, it can de-legitimate others' views, such as where students feel silenced. Open Ed, in contrast, maybe allows the possibility of giving a little more voice to those with less power. It was difficult, last week, for me to post the first week's response, because it was the first time I'd ever openly shared a work in progress - not the final product of a published material, but thoughts in the making. And yet, this is what profs do all the time - in their lectures, talks with students, open debates. Open Ed certainly offers the possibility of having your voice heard - and it seems to be an iterative process - the more you have your voice heard, the more you feel okay making your voice heard. Very empowering.

I hand in my final Masters Thesis this coming Friday, so I'll stop here, to go do revisions there. I'll address this article more fully next week, when I have another to compare it to - to get more of a sense of what is truly being written in the field. Wish me luck on my final push for this thesis!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Week 1 : Right to Education

The following is for an Open Education course on Open Education offered by David Wiley of Utah State University. It is unique (but hopefully not for long!) in that he has made it not only accessible for people throughout the world, but also free – taking “Open” to its extreme.

As a quick introduction for those who are in this course, I’ve just finished my Masters thesis at OISE/UT, Canada, on how civil society networks affect education policy in Tanzania. I’ve got a background in comparative education and critical international development, and have lived/worked in several ‘Southern/developing’ countries. I’m also very involved in the Canadian Global Campaign for Education – which is part of the international GCE – a transnational advocacy network for the right to education. Coming from that perspective....

Week 1's Question of Open Ed Course: In your opinion, is the "right to education" a basic human right? Why or why not? In your opinion, is open *access* to free, high-quality educational opportunity sufficient, or is it necessary to *mandate* education through a certain age or level?

I find the first question, of whether education is a basic human right, as a bit misleading. Human rights are essentially social constructs. The notion of rights itself has only come into common usage in the past 100 years (and the Convention on the Rights of the Child only since 1989!!), although connected ideas like habeas corpus, have existed for several centuries. I think the common denominator for the enactment of human rights, or habeas corpus for that matter, is that societies and/or states agree that these should be the standards from which to conduct themselves, and certain guarantees that all people should enjoy, simply for being human. In other words, if we agree that the right to education is a human right, then it becomes so. Given the number of countries that have agreed that education is a human right, even if they cannot fulfill it (both of which Tomasevski (#2) demonstrates), I think it is safe to say that education is a basic human right.

Finnemore and Sikkink (1998), from the international relations field, have argued that novel and quaint ideas, such as women being equal and having the right to vote, or that slaves are real people, can over time morph into accepted norms of thought and behavior. For the first while, not everyone accepts these principals, and the ‘norm entrepreneurs’ must work very hard to advocate for these ideas. But a critical mass can slowly build around these ideas, which leads to what Finnemore and Sikkink refer to as a ‘norm cascade’, and then finally into a situation where these ideas are internalized and become the default of our thinking. In this way, the right to education, too, has evolved from being a novel idea into a critical mass. As the ideas surrounding it are further worked on, and as more countries get closer to realizing its enactment, ‘education as a human right’ will also become an entrenched internalized idea, an idea that years from now people will look back on and say, “well, of course!”.

A more practical question may be: what is the utility of having education as a human right? What use does it serve, especially if countries cannot even uphold their commitments? In fact, appealing to human rights has allowed civil society organizations (CSOs) and international organizations (such as Unicef and Unesco) an important moral high-ground. Over the past decade, CSOs have tended to shift towards a “rights-based approach”, as opposed to previous approaches that favoured developing human capital (biasing aid towards higher education, at the expense of basic education), or a ‘needs-based’/charity perspective, where Southern/developing countries were seen as incapacitated, poor and helpless (which allowed Northern/richer countries to engage in a ‘holier-than-thou’, ‘white-man’s burden’ relations – which Anto'stuff and Karen rightly criticized by stating that ‘we’ shouldn’t be telling ‘them’ how to do ‘their’ education - whoever we and they are). A rights-based approach, however, allows Southern governments to appeal for aid, not out of charity, but because it is their duty to provide education for their children, and it is the international community’s responsibility to assist. This is incredibly important, especially given the increasing interconnectedness of our world – both through communications and trade.

An example of the utility of education as a human right is pertinent. In about 1998, only 60% of kids in Tanzania went to primary school, only 6% went past Grade 7, and less than 1% went to University. (It is interesting to dwell upon how many doctors/lawyers/engineers/teachers were actually possible with these numbers, particularly when richer countries contributed to a brain-drain, preferring those educated – on another countries dime - to immigrate). Tomasevski (#1) mentions that in 2000, world leaders committed to the Dakar Framework for Education for All. Equally important, world leaders also agreed in 2000 upon the Millennium Development Goals, of which the universal primary education is the second goal. A group of NGOs got together to form the Global Campaign for Education, in order to keep the pressure on governments to fulfill these goals – using the premise that it was the governments’ human rights responsibilities. Oxfam, in particular, connected Southern government’s inability to fund basic education to the high debt payments they owed – i.e. Tanzanian children were not getting their right to education because the money was instead being used to pay interest on debts owed to rich countries. This line of reasoning was really effective in both getting debt-relief for Southern countries, as well as freeing up money in the budget and outside aid for basic education (Mundy & Murphy, 2001). The result? As of this year, Tanzania has close to 100% of primary kids in school (although kids with disabilities and nomadic ethic children still pose challenges) – in fact, when the Tanzanian government announced that primary schooling would be free in 2002, 1.6 million more children got a chance to go to school (UNDP, HDR 2005). (Secondary level is also being expanded to 25%, because of the pressure of parents to have more schooling for their children.)

As to the second question, whether access is enough, or whether it is necessary to mandate education to a certain age or level, I think that Tomasevski would have argued that mandating it to a minimum age or level was important, to ensure that governments fulfill their responsibility to provide education. By mandating some basic education, governments and parents are not able to deny children with disabilities or children who are working some basic knowledge (even if school is confined to only a few hours in the evening a week in the case of children that work, or maybe a few weeks a year, in the case of the Masaii or Lesotho herders). To deny children basic knowledge on nutrition, HIV-AIDS, health, literacy and numeracy is to assume that we now that these children will not need these skills in the next 50 years. It also ignores the fact that individuals have an impact on their communities, that a person who is malnourished cannot work as effectively or one who has HIV-AIDS must be cared for by others. Education has the potential to help prevent some drains, while enhancing other aspects of contributing to a community. Education has also long been known as the great equalizer, and it would be wrong to deny children a part in this. That being said, I agree with Stian and Tomasevski that the type of education, provided by whom, in what language, during what hours and in what building, is very much still an open debate. One that I will leave for another day.

Basic education aside for a moment, it is a more difficult question as to whether higher education should be free and accessible to all. I would love to think it should be, but do believe that basic education should come first. I am, however, grateful to the Canadian government for subsidizing about half of my high education costs, because I see the benefits of having several smart but quite poor friends who are subsequently able to afford to go to University. As well, although this course is provided free, with open access, it is really only accessible to those who already have a certain skill base and access to technology. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to take this course, and I hope to be able to teach the type of course David Wiley advocates for, being open, digital, mobile, connected, personalized, and participatory. But I am also aware that this trend has the potential to further widen the gap between those who have technological access and those that don’t. I believe it is known as the digital divide? Perhaps the $100 laptops that others also mention will make this argument obsolete. I hope so.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

This is just to say...

Welcome! This blog is dedicated to my intellectual/academic ideas - a place to explore and learn, and compose. I just finished my Masters in Education a few days ago - so, this is great for a new opportunity to expand.