Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CIT 2007 - Open Educational Resources For Teaching and Learning

This half-day workshop was delivered by Thad Nodine and Cynthia Jimes from the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), based in California. ISKME is an independent, nonprofit research institute that helps schools, colleges, universities, and the organizations that support them expand their capacity to collect and share information, apply it to well-defined problems, and create human-centered, knowledge-driven environments focused on learning and success (from the ISKME Web site).

This workshop focussed onlooking at open source and open sharing of free resources, the sharing of educational content (a big issue with faculty - what do I share?), Open Educational Resources (OER), the creative commons licensing process, and the paradigm shift facing educators today.

OER is free educational resources. One of the best sites is the OER Commons, a comprehensive collection of resources for K-12 and higher education. There are several institutions that are offering some or all of their educational resources for free. Some of these institutions include:
There are several other resources available to educators as well:
These sites provide an almost unlimited source of content and resources for educators. The big issue of course, for much of the material found on line, is what can you do with it? Can you localize it for your use, modify it for your courses? The answer is yes you can, but with some conditions. In most cases these conditions are controlled through the use of a Creative Commons license.

If you are producing any materials for use and are then sharing them online, a creative commons license makes a lot of sense. The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry (from the CC web site). I have put a Creative Commons license on this blog for example that states that anyone can use anything from here as long as it is not for commercial purposes and that you let people know where it came from. If you are an educator, or anyone sharing online, check out the Creative Commons license options - I am sure that one will meet your needs.

There is a paradigm shift happening with the increased use of the Web for online earning and the availability of online resources. As educators we need to be aware of this shift. The key elements of this paradigm shift are:
  • Sharing - much of what we do we now share
  • Commenting - anyone can now tag or comment on what is posted online
  • Authoring - anyone can author and authoring tools are powerful and easy to use
  • Collaborating - we live in an increasingly collaborative space
  • Training and mentoring - more and more we are developing mentoring relationships with peers, colleagues and learners from around the world.
So what is the process of producing and consuming fre content? Here is a quick diagram that might help explain:

Like most things we do educators, this is a cyclical process. Once we do get into this process though, the sheer volume of content available to us will be staggering. The keys are context and the ability to localize content to fit your needs and requirements, and then returning that localized content back "into the wild' to increase the knowledge base.

The key things that I learned at this workshop are that sharing of educational resources is the way to go, and there are some amazing tools and resources out there for use. In my opinion, the future is a combination of social networking and open educational resources. That combination will truly allow us all to become learning centred and collaborative. Bring it on...


Benjamin Boudreau said...

I confidently predict that collaborative technology will be revolutionary once fully adopted by professionals around the world.


Ian H. MacLeod said...

Love your post Benjamin - everyone should follow it and take a look - http://bensprblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/writing-solo-about-collaboration.html, you say some very important things, particularly about virtual information management and the ongoing evolution of communication.

I hope that the process will be evolutionary and not revolutionary. We'll have to wait and see...