Nov 26, 2007

OpenEd week 14 - Reflections on posts

I reviewed some posts today, and saw some interesting persectives. I am of for Thailand this week, so I try to finish off all assignments, 2do's etc before Wednesday.

Jennifer Maddrel has put some nice illustrations in an online video (@ voicethread.com so you can add voice and text comments). Still a draft, but worth looking at.

Jessie focuses on the Chinese education system and says:

I feel like it is too difficult to change the traditional system of higher education.
I feel that too, but rather than changing an existing system, I think in creating a new system, which might replace existing ones. Think about what you need for learning: materials, support & guidance, and a reason. I think at least part of the reason will be the future ability to get a job and earn money. With flexible employment mechanisms built in a new system of learning, people may be willing to put effort in that system in building up a reputation that can be used in order to get job opportunities.

Rather than expliciting these ideas in more depth, I rather focus on the opportunities for new forms of education created by the Internet: these are almost endless. If existing structures are too rigid and bureaucratic to surf new waves of learning and education, well... it's their problem right?

And for culture: I think that if a country has broadband and sufficient mobile coverage, the more successful new and open education initiatives will be copied instantly, with a little cultural twist so it fits in.

Karen talks about the opportunities of informal learning being increased (in quality and quantity) by OER. She says that even when
“formal” OER community (higher ed courseware projects, Hewlett funded projects, etc.) implode under their own weight, there are a number of other open efforts that cannot be stopped.
She refers to Wikipedia (and related projects), YouTube, TeacherTube, Facebook, etc. And then she asks a very valid and interesting question. Great question:
One question I have is whether all of these resources and the learning opportunities they present will at some point decrease the value of a traditional higher education degree? Especially as formal education gets even more removed from truly relevant content (critical thinking, collaborative skills, higher order thinking), will industry realize that a solid informal education and demonstration of real-world competencies outweighs a piece of paper from a university?
That really depends on the formal educational reform: will they reform fast enough, or not? I think that traditional universities, funded by government, such as the university where I study, will receive funds until the end of time, because of tradition, name, reputation, etc... Still, they feel the pressure of change. I talked to the university's Vice-Chancellor and Executive Board Vice President about open education last week, and one thing they mentioned is that we are only starting to see some of the benefits of IT. The need to keep on investing in IT related projects remains unabated in order to keep up with trends and technologies. They even mentioned new structures and processes for accreditation and evaluation, and explained a new division of labor at the university. So, my point is that some universities recognize not only the potential of IT, open education, informal structures, etc. but do indeed link that to organizational change. The way that change is brought about, and the speed, will determine the value of the university of tomorrow.

But, I must say that this question is one of the most important questions that need to be asked at universities. I have drafted a paper describing this new learning/working system, and might start developing it when I finish my thesis. Someone interested?

Another interesting issue is the following, which was not mentioned by David Wiley in his interesting future history of OER.
What an empowered Africa and Asia will contribute to the world will make MySpace and Wikipedia look like baby steps.
This implies also that one need to be able to learn from all those resources online. I think that we should not afraid of having not enough content online, but how to find your way? Anto refers to George Siemens' Connectivism Learning Theory, and whether it is a learning theory or a pedagogy, I think that Siemens provides a new and very interesting view on learning, which is more capable of handling the overload of information than current ones.

The Stupendous Man of Mystery aka Erik L. says that
I don’t think that OER will have that large of an effect in the next century, but in time I can see some of the things discussed in the readings coming to pass.
Clearly, OER alone will not have the impact that has been previsioned by David, but it will have the described impact in combination with other factors, such as social change and newer technology. OER might form the hubs around which some communities will come into existence, and different technologies will form the glue between people and content. New ecosystems will come into being, I suppose, and change, partly caused by OER, open source software, and their philosophies spreading into other corners of society, is eminent. Who says that you cannot make money from Open Source Software? Who says that you cannot make money from OER? Why not use this strong incentive to create better infrastructures, better education, and better content? I do see change happen at least partly because of these incentives.

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