Sunday, November 25, 2007

Week 12: Reflections on OERs

I am just about to write my last post - but realized that I needed to go back and put down my thoughts about other people's blogs on Week 12.

I think part of the reason why I was late on this post, as opposed to the others, is that I really found the content boring. It was contrasting Learning Objects with OERs. As David Wiley pointed out, my experience was very much like the Mr. Miyagi lesson - I eventually realized why it was important to learn and understand the dieing phenomena of Learning Objects - I appreciate what we can learn from them - but that doesn't make it any less boring.

However, I did learn some important things from my colleagues:

1. I liked Jennifer Maddrell's conception of OERs as the next iteration of LOs - as if it is perhaps on a continuum. As usual, her charts are something to make me think visually - I'm glad she posts them, and this one, comparing OER and LO in particular. In many ways, comparing the two made me think again of the differences between CC or GNU licences and regular copyright. The parallels in open and closed spaces are apparent.

2. I also liked Alessandro's example of a Learning Object. It was an audio recording in which he says "this is a learning object" - how very true. He mentioned that it was the first time he had read something about pedagogy in the course. I agree with him. Although, having finished a Masters degree in Education, I'm amazed at how little we actually look at pedagogy. It seems to be almost a lost art. It got me thinking about how John Dewey's style of learning - being learner-centered - could be manifested in one way through OER. However, there are still such limitations of any of these technologies on people's learning, without having a resource there to tutor or guide. I agree with Alessandro whole-heartedly:
I believe - strongly believe - that the pedagogical aspect is far more important than the object itself...We as teacher are not interested in objects - which are in themselves static (whatever small they can be), we as teacher are interested in processes (of learning) and relationships. Education is all about relationships and the processes of learning.
3. Karen and I have similar streams of thought about the OER movement in general. It has such great potential, but at the moment:
The bottom line is that there is too much focus on structure, technology, and systems and not enough attention on learning, learners, and content.
Perhaps this was the same mistake as with LOs - its root is partially in the fact that OERs are still being technically designed - by designers, not necessarily practitioners or end-users. But that means there is a role for people such as myself, who are not interested in the design aspect - but rather who can focus the attention on the learners. Perhaps an upcoming PhD??

4. Rob Barton seemed to take the above thought (at least in my mind), and apply some practical thoughts to it:
de Souza & Preece (2004) point out two components by which an online community can be assessed: sociability (people, purposes, and policies) and usability (software). In their framework, these two components have to be aligned to produce success. Any community (whether online, offline, or a hybrid) will have sociability factors that change as the people (or purposes or policies) in the community change. For any online community, the software has to work with those people, purpose, and policies. They continue on to discuss Semiotics and HCI and how communication takes place among users and designers. The important part, I thought, was that everyone is communicating all the time, but the message doesn't always get across how we expect it.

5. Antonio spoke about the fact that he was just commenting on others blogs, and then keeping track of the comments, using . Although I have decided not to do it this way, it got me thinking about whether his method was in itself an OER or a Learning Object? and where does the learning start or stop?

I have read many of the other blogs, but found that the majority of us have more provided synopses of our readings. Although different nuances came out, I found that I actually learnt the most when aspects outside of the readings were brought into the discussion. Otherwise, I had very little to think about or comment on. I wonder how much this is key to the way that we interact in the classroom - and if this is perhaps what truly provides the enrichment.

I'll leave this as it is for today - as I want to get going on the final blog.

No comments: