Processes and networks around digital learning materials

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie

The purpose of this series of blogs is to provide arguments that may be relevant when formulating a vision and policy for OERs. Vision and policy are necessary for adoption of OERs to be sustainable. Many OER initiatives start with an initial project grant but is not continued once the project is completed (Tlili et al, 2020; Annand, 2015). Paraphrasing, we might also say “Is there life after the project grant?”. In an advisory report for the OECD, David Wiley (2007) indicated that a distinction can be made between two issues regarding the sustainability of OER:

  1. How to sustain the production and sharing of OER?
  2. How to sustain the use and reuse of OER by end users?

Vision development and policy will have to address both issues.

In the previous blog, we have presented a framework for categorization of digital learning materials and the specific position of OER. In this blog, we will present two models: a process model for how instructors and students “deal” with digital learning materials and a model for the networks/contexts in which “users” of digital open educational resources operate. Vision and policy for OER will need to take both – the practices of users and the networks in which users operate – into account (Tlili et al, 2020).

A process model for using digital learning resources

In the zone Towards digital (open) educational resources of the Acceleration Plan a process model has been developed in order to get an idea of what the use of digital learning materials looks like in practice.

Their model was adapted to include semi-open and commercial learning resources, as well as the role of the student. The adaptations were made on the basis of observations and experiences in practice of the members of the zone.

The extended process model shows the activities an instructor and a student undertake in order to accomplish their optimal mix of learning resources. “Optimal mix” is defined as the mix of learning resources that, in the eyes of the instructor or student, most effectively supports his or her teaching and learning process that should lead to the achievement of the learning outcomes.

The process model distinguishes two scenarios:

  1. Scenario 1: the reading list. The instructor assembles what he/she considers to be an optimum mix for both the learning process to be supported by the student and for use in his/her educational process. The instructor determines which learning resources are compulsory and which are recommended additionally. The student uses these materials to compile his/her optimal mix. Communication about learning resources between the instructor and the student usually takes place via a list of required and optional learning materials (“the reading list”) compiled by the instructor.
  2. Scenario 2: the instruction. The instructor defines an assignment and usually provides a list of recommended literature (in some institutions also referred to as a reference list). Communication regarding learning resources between the instructor and the student is more diffuse than in scenario 1. Initially, there will be at least one instruction from the instructor to the student that will help guide the optimal mix of learning resources for the student (“the instruction”).

Scenario 1: the reading list

Figure 1 shows the process model for scenario 1.

Figure 1. Creation of optimal mix of learning materials, process model for scenario reading list. Click on the image to enlarge

An instructor will compile a mix of learning resources that best fits the learning outcomes to be achieved and his/her own educational process. That composition is visualised by the dotted shape in the diagram. The instructor searches for learning resources that can be either open or closed. Those resources can already be in his/her possession (in a private database, generally a hard drive), a local database (for example a departmental or institutional repository of learning resources, often a shared network drive), or in the “cloud”. In many cases, an instructor herself/himself will also create learning resources, which also includes mixes and adaptations of learning resources found elsewhere. The mix of learning resources will be subject to a quality control process, which may or may not be explicit. This quality control can also be carried out by people other than the instructor (for example, colleagues). Ultimately, the mix of learning resources will either be published (i.e. made available to students) or used in educational activities. In the latter case, those materials may not be made available to students. For example, a video that is shown in the lecture hall but that is not distributed further. It may also be the case that educational resources used in the educational activity become available to students. These might include copies of the slides that the instructor uses in the educational activity. Publishing the optimum mix of educational resources in any case involves specifying the titles of the educational resources (usually textbooks) that must be studied, whether or not it is compulsory (the reading list).

Experiences with the use of learning materials can be input for a quality check and possibly lead to adjustment of the optimal mix, during or after the course for which the optimal mix is composed. Consider, for example, a situation in which students during an educational activity indicate that they do not possess the prior knowledge that the instructor assumed was present. The instructor can then supplement the optimal mix with learning materials that fill in the knowledge gap. Feedback on the quality by students can also take place via a course evaluation (represented in the figure by the dotted arrow).

Based on the published mix of learning resources (including the reading list), the student will compile his/her own mix of learning resources. While studying or during an educational activity, the student can search for or create additional learning resources and add these to his/her optimal mix of learning resources. Quality control is expected to be implicit and based on the usefulness that the student experiences in achieving the formulated learning objectives. Think, for example, of the experiences the student has when doing exercises to master a certain mathematical concept. When the student is not able to do all the exercises, he or she will look for additional sources to gain knowledge that is apparently not yet present. Such practices are described in more detail in (Schuwer, Baas & De Ruijter, 2021).

A student may decide to publish parts of his or her mix for third parties. For example, making lecture notes available to fellow students in a study association.

Scenario 2: the instruction

Figure 2 shows the process model for scenario 2.

Figure 2 Creation of optimal mix of learning materials, process model for scenario instruction. Click on the image to enlarge

The activities correspond largely to those described in scenario 1. The teacher defines an assignment. If necessary, a list of recommended literature for carrying out the assignment is compiled and, if necessary, the teacher also produces teaching materials. All of this is published and made available to students (the instruction). What was written about quality control on the instructor’s side in scenario 1 also applies in this scenario. Based on the instructions, the student starts compiling his/her optimal mix of learning resources.

In this scenario, students can also publish their own (learning) materials (open or semi-open), both in local storage and in the “cloud”. The student will then also have access to local storage for materials in his/her optimal mix. This situation arises, for example, when students create and publish learning materials as part of their learning process. Such didactic forms of working characterize educational approaches such as Open Pedagogy and Open Educational Practices. Quality control of the materials to be published can be carried out by both the instructor and the student. Conversely, when an instructor and students jointly create and publish educational resources (shown by the green dotted shape in the figure), the student can also be part of the group that carries out a quality check for the instructor.

Not shown in the figure is the situation where learning materials created by a student during his/her learning process are added to the optimal mix by an instructor the next time the course is given.

A model for the networks of users of OER

Sharing and reuse of OER is done by individual instructors and students. Their actions are nevertheless influenced by the networks in which both categories of actors operate, in both a positive and a negative sense (as seen from the perspective of the adoption of OER). Vision and policy regarding OER will therefore also need to address those networks.

In this context, we distinguish two types of networks in which students and instructors function and which affect their views and activities regarding OER. First of all, every instructor and student is associated with at least one higher education institution. In addition, students and instructors work together in all kinds of contexts. When those relationships are institutional or semi-institutional, we refer to them as communities. Temporary collaborations, such as student workgroups that are formed for a course, are not included in our concept of communities.

Communities can exist within institutions, but also across institutions. Instructor communities can be discipline-oriented (for example, the Dutch Community of Practice Bachelor Nursing) or theme-oriented (for example, a community for educational video resources). There are also communities for supporting instructors and students in dealing with OER. Examples include the libraries’ Open Online Education working group or the various Special Interest Groups affiliated with SURF.

The following figure visualises the spheres of instructors, students, institutions and communities. It does not show the situation where an individual student or instructor is associated with more than one institution.

Click on the image to enlarge

In this figure, A, B and C are three institutions. The following situations can be distinguished:

  1. A community exists locally within an institution (1b in institution B or 1c in institution C). Examples: a course team within a department or a cross-faculty partnership of teaching staff in mathematics within one institution.
  2. A community of lecturers from two or more institutions (cross-institution community). In the figure, these are 2ab with institutions A and B and 2ac with institutions A and C respectively.
  3. Situation 3 at institution C shows the situation that instructors can be involved in more than one community.
  4. Community 4 at institution A consists of students. Example: a study association at a faculty.
  5. Community 5 is a cross-institutional community in which both instructors and students participate. An example is the so-called Centres of Expertise, in which students and instructors, but also researchers and entrepreneurs, work together to solve social challenges.

The example of community 5 illustrates that people other than teaching staff and students can also participate in communities. Support staff (educational experts, library staff and ICT experts) will often also be part of such communities.

Why these models?

In developing a vision and policy for the adoption of OER, it is important to focus on how and the context in which instructors and students create and use OER. Hodgkinson-Williams et al (2017:33) refer in this context to three kinds of dependencies:

  • the activity dependency
  • the context dependency
  • the concept dependency (the ideas and images people have).

In this contribution, we have outlined models for the first two types of dependencies: a process model for how instructors and students “deal” with digital learning resources and a concept model for the networks/context in which the “users” of digital open educational resources operate.

All kinds of factors play a role in activities and networks and these factors must also be addressed in an OER vision and policy. Examples include ownership of educational resources created (in part) by students or differing views regarding OER at institutions where instructors participate in a cross-institutional community. In a subsequent blog, we will clarify these and other issues and also formulate points of view from which a vision and policy for OERs can be drawn up.

Acknowledgements

The process model for assembling and using a mix of learning resources is based on an earlier version developed in the Acceleration Plan’s zone Towards Digital (Open) Educational Resources. The participants involved in formulating this model are to be thanked. In alphabetical order by surname, they are: Hans Beldhuis, Vincent de Boer, Cynthia van der Brugge, Michiel de Jong, Wouter Kleijheeg, Gerlien Klein, Gaby Lutgens, Marijn Post, Lieke Rensink, Arjan Schalken, Frederike Vernimmen – de Jong and Nicole Will.

References

Annand, D. (2015). Developing a sustainable financial model in higher education for open educational resources. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning16(5). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v16i5.2133

Hodgkinson-Williams, C., Arinto, P. B., Cartmill, T. & King, T. (2017). Factors influencing Open Educational Practices and OER in the Global South: Meta-synthesis of the ROER4D project. In C. Hodgkinson-Williams & P. B. Arinto (Eds.), Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South (pp. 27–67). DOI https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1037088

Schuwer, R., Baas, M. & De Ruijter, A. (2021). De student gaat op zoek: de waarde van (open) leermaterialen voor het eigen leren. In: Baas, M., Jacobi, R., & Schuwer, R. (eds). Thema-uitgave hergebruik van open leermaterialen (pp 17-22). SURF, Nederland. https://communities.surf.nl/files/Artikel/download/Thema-uitgave%20hergebruik%20van%20leermaterialen_2mrt2021.pdf

Tlili, A., Nascimbeni, F., Burgos, D., Zhang, X., Huang, R., & Chang, T. (2020). The evolution of sustainability models for open educational resources: Insights from the literature and experts. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2020.1839507

Wiley, D. (2007). On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education. Paper commissioned by the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) for the project on Open Educational Resources. http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/38645447.pdf


This blog is contribution 3 in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contributions:

To be published:

  • Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  • The need for a vision and policy regarding OER at both institutional and community of practice level

A framework for classifying types of digital learning materials

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie.

Many have attempted to provide a conclusive definition of digital learning resources. In the study by ResearchNed (Janssen & Van Casteren, 2020), the following pragmatic description of digital learning resources was used (p. 9):

“Learning resources are a subset of educational tools. Educational tools include anything used by instructors and/or students (including computers, electronic learning environments and smart boards) in and for the purpose of teaching or learning. The term learning resources refers only to learning content in a particular form (textual, visual, auditory, or a mix of these forms).

‘Digital learning resources’ means any digital resource that is used as teaching or learning content by instructors and/or students in the course of a teaching or learning process. A digital resource is a resource that exists in binary numerical form, such as digital audio or digital images (this also includes the ‘book behind glass’, pdf).

Educational tools such as digital whiteboards, VR glasses, but also digital assessment tools, platforms or online discussion forums, do not fall under our description of learning resources. E.g., YouTube as a platform is not included, but the videos that are placed on YouTube and used as learning resources are.”

The following non-exhaustive list of digital learning resources is provided for illustrative purposes

digital study- and handbooks, among which (open) textbooksanimations
digital (scientific) publicationswiki’s
(PowerPoint)presentations/sheets/slideshowsYouTube video’s
digital syllabi, summaries, manuals of lectures and practicadigital images, including 3D visualisations
weblectures and slidecastsdigital newspaper articles/news sources/archivestv-uitzendingen
digital assessmentspodcasts
digital internship and assignment reportsblogs
videos, including knowledge clips, tutorials, instructional videos, vodcasts, animations and documentariesopen content and data on websites, such as reports from the Parliament and reports from policymakers and research committees
AR- en VR-applicationsdata from databases such as Skybray, BBC Monitoring, Factiva
MOOCs, SPOCs, Open Educational Resourcesessays in digital form
infographicsnovels in digital form

We are interested in digital open learning resources, not so much in what they are but more in what you can and cannot do with them. Using a dichotomy of open versus closed is insufficient for that purpose. Concepts like semi-open resources and commercial resources are also useful for the activities in the Acceleration Plan. But how do these two concepts relate to one another and to OER?

We propose a differentiated categorisation of digital learning resources that gives guidance for institutional policy development. This framework is an extension from what David Wiley has presented (source, p. 26).

Digital learning resources can be categorized using two dimensions:

  1. Access
    • no restrictions (open access), for everyone
    • non-financial restrictions, for everyone
    • non-financial restrictions, not for everyone (walled garden)
    • financial restrictions
  2. Adaptation rights
    • Adaptable (users have permission to adapt)
    • Non-adaptable (users have no permission to adapt)

Learning resources with access without financial restrictions are called free learning resources. The following figure is a graphical representation of our framework.

Click on the image to enlarge

Some background information to this framework:

  • For the open learning resources (without restrictions or with non-financial restrictions), adaptation rights are ordered from most (100%) to no rights to adapt. Licenses provide the conditions for adaptation. In the figure we have adopted the commonly used Creative Commons licenses. These licenses are about the rights creators give to others to retain, use, adapt and distribute their works and the conditions to be met when exercising those rights. The licences do not cover restrictions on access to the works.
  • The figure also shows that two Creative Commons licences do not grant rights of adaptation due to the ND (Non Derivative) condition.
  • Preference for a combination of rights of adaptation and access are context dependent. E.g. a lecturer can prefer adaptable learning materials, but will be indifferent on access. A learner will in many cases only be interested in free access and not in adaptability. But the same learner can, when pedagogy makes it necessary, also be interested in adaptability. Think e.g. about practices of open pedagogy (for examples, see the Open Pedagogy Notebook)
  • The most common non-financial restriction when access for everyone is available is the obligation to create a free account to get access.
  • The most common situation for non-financial restrictions, access not for everyone is membership of a group (institution, community of practice).
  • We have chosen for a pragmatic view on openness to widen adoption of sharing and reusing. Issues like technical openness (only open source tools and platforms are allowed to access the learning material) or content requirements (e.g. inclusive, accessible to people with disabilities) have not been considered.
  • The size of each area does not reflect a relative importance or a personal preference of that area, compared to the other areas

This framework allows us to position the different types of learning resources mentioned in the Acceleration Plan as “open”, “semi-open”, “closed”, “commercial” in relation to each other.

As far as we know, there seems to be a generally accepted definition only for the category “Open Educational Resources”. Here we use this definition in the formulation of Creative Commons.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities:

  • Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource
  • Reuse – use your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource publicly
  • Revise – edit, adapt, and modify your copy of the resource
  • Remix – combine your original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new
  • Redistribute – share copies of your original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others”

This definition is a.o. adopted by the Hewlett Foundation.

In terms of the framework, we define the terms used in the Acceleration Plan as follows:

  • Semi-open resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are available to a limited group of persons and eventually licensed in a manner that provides everyone in this group with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities, be it with the restriction that redistribution happens only within the limited group.
  • Commercial resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are only available under financial restrictions.
  • Closed resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that are unavailable for a person or a group of persons. This definition is dependent on the perspective of the stakeholder. E.g. semi-open learning resources, available for a group, appear to be closed for persons outside of that group.

In the next figure we have positioned the sets of OER, semi-open learning resources and commercial learning resources in the framework.

Click on the image to enlarge

To illustrate the framework, we have added some examples.

Click on the image to enlarge

In the next blog we will focus on ecosystems for (semi-)open learning resources and issues we encounter.

Reference

Janssen, B. & Van Casteren, W. (2020): Digitale leermaterialen in het hoger onderwijs. Onderzoek in opdracht van het Koersteam Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT. Utrecht: Versnellingsplan Onderwijsinnovatie met ICT.


This blog is contribution 2 in a series entitled A principled, pragmatic view of institutional OER policy. Previous contribution:

Introduction

To be published:

  • What is the playing field on OER? A systems approach
  • Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  • The need for a vision and policy regarding OER at both institutional and community of practice level

 

A principled pragmatic view of institutional OER policy

This blog post is a co-production of Ben Janssen (OpenEd Consult) and me. Nederlandse versie.

For years, we have been advocating the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) in publicly funded Dutch education. A study we both conducted in 2017 showed that adoption by the early and late majority of instructors is not yet widespread (Schuwer & Janssen, 2018). And in our view, the degree of adoption of OER in publicly funded Dutch higher education (i.e. funded education) is still too low to have any effect. There are more than enough indications to assert that the use of OER can have multiple positive innovative effects on and in higher education (see e.g. (Orr, Rimini & Van Damme, 2015)). In the Netherlands, this has been recognised in and by the The Acceleration Plan for Educational Innovation with IT (abbreviated as the Acceleration Plan). One of the themes of this plan is the use of digital (open) educational resources.

In the Acceleration Plan, Dutch publicly funded HE institutions, SURF, VSNU (Association of Research Universities in the Netherlands) and VH (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences) are working together to seize the opportunities digitalisation is offering to higher education in the Netherlands. The mission of the Acceleration Plan is to institutions take substantial steps in digitalisation of education, for themselves and in collaboration with others.

The Acceleration Plan is divided into eight Acceleration Zones, within which 39 Research Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences collaborate on themes such as professionalisation of instructors, use of study data, making education more flexible, linking up with the labour market, and use of digital (open) learning resources. In the “Joint Steering for Acceleration” zone, seventeen university governors are having an executive dialogue about digitalisation in higher education, with special attention for the themes of the Acceleration Plan. More information about the Acceleration Plan.

In 2020, the research bureau ResearchNed (with Ben Janssen as lead researcher) conducted a study commissioned by the Joint Steering zone into the state of affairs regarding the use of digital learning resources in Dutch higher education. A public version of their report will soon be available (in Dutch). Based on the results, a working group of the digital (open) educational resources zone of the Acceleration Plan (in which Robert Schuwer participated) has drawn up a vision document for digital learning resources with a horizon on 2025.

Based on the results of both exercises, the Joint Steering zone is now working on two themes:

  1. Achieving a national set of agreements with publishers of digital learning materials regarding the use and ownership of user data.
  2. Formulating and implementing a fully-fledged open alternative for commercial learning materials.

The second theme requires institutions to develop an OER vision and policy.

In a series of blogs, we will present arguments that may be relevant in formulating such a vision and policy. Although we will focus primarily on higher education institutions, we believe that they can also be useful to umbrella organisations (VSNU and VH), SURF, and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. We base our approach on a principled view on OER but also aim for as much pragmatism as possible so as to maximise the direct applicability of the arguments. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing blogs on the following topics:

  1. What are we talking about when we use the term digital educational resources? A proposal for a terminology framework
  2. What are the issues with OERs? A systems approach
  3. Why are OER important? The value of OER from various perspectives
  4. The need for an OER vision and policy, both at institutional and communities of practice level.

 

Reference

Orr, D., Rimini, R., & Van Damme, D. (2015). Educational research and innovation open educational resources a catalyst for innovation: A catalyst for innovation. OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264247543-en

Schuwer, R., & Janssen, B. (2018). Adoption of sharing and reuse of open resources by educators in higher education institutions in The Netherlands: A qualitative research of practices, motives, and conditions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning19(3). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i3.3390

Guidelines on the Development of Open Educational Resources Policies

Recently, UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) have published a report with Guidelines on the Development of Open Educational Resources Policies. According to a tweet from one of the authors, Dominic Orr, this publication took a long time before it was finalized:

These guidelines are published just in time for the 40th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, organized from 12-27 November in Paris. In this conference, the Draft Recommendation on Open Educational Resources will be on the Agenda for acceptance by the Member States. To realize the ambitions as stated in this Recommendation, policies both on national level and institutional level will be necessary.

The aim of the guidelines are, in the words of the authors (p. 2):

  1. Understand essential subject-matter knowledge on OER through a learning-by-doing process
  2. Develop a set of procedural knowledge on OER policy planning, working through key steps necessary for designing a comprehensive OER policy
  3. Reinforce the contextual knowledge needed to leverage OER in achieving SDG 4 through assessing the policy context and needs for OER, planning institutionalised programmes and drawing up a contextualised masterplan
  4. Ensure the commitment to policy adoption and implementation through integrating stakeholder engagement into the policy-planning process and determining adequate policy endorsement and implementation strategies
  5. Enhance the quality of policy implementation by planning a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, and working towards an evidencebased policy-planning and updating cycle

The target group are “those directly involved in policy design” (p.2).

The structure of the report is based on a 7-phase action plan, devised by the authors of these guidelines:

Each phase has the same structure in the guidelines:

  • Overview of the phase;
  • Learning outcomes: “After reading and working through this chapter, you are expected to be able to:”;
  • Guidelines for the topic on hand, illustrated with tools, literature references and examples;
  • A set of guiding questions to fill in by the user of the guidelines and with which s/he can apply the knowledge of the chapter on her/his own policy development.

With this setup, the report can really be used as a guide taking you by the hand in step-by-step developing your own OER policy.

Remarks

Overall, I consider these Guidelines as a valuable tool for formulating OER policies. I especially like the last phase on launching the OER policy. This phase is crucial for the success of policy, since it focuses on ultimately realizing impact with the teachers. As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost (in Dutch), there is a long way to go with many hurdles to pass before policies on a high level have impact on the “chalk level”. For this, more detailed guidances and good practices (e.g. to extract from the OER Worldmap) could be a valuable addition to these Guidelines.

A bit unclear for me is for which types of OER policies these Guidelines have been developed. Although table 3 (p. 34) suggests the Guidelines could be used for both national and institutional policies, box 3.1 (p. 36) points the user of the Guidelines to alternative tools and guidelines, specifically for developing an institutional OER policy. And because most examples in the Guidelines are from national policies, one could question its applicability for other than national policies. Asking this to one of the authors of the Guidelines, Ben Janssen, he confirmed applicability also for institutional policies, but considered that some of the guiding questions at the end of each chapter should be changed a bit.

OER policies could be widened to policies on Open Education. One such example can be derived from the strategical agenda from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands. In the 2015 version (soon to be updated), this agenda formulated the ambition that in 2025 all Dutch Higher Education institutions would recognize each other MOOCs. Institutional open policies are needed to realize this ambition, going beyond the framework shaped by these Guidelines.

Finally, much attention is needed for policies in other sectors than Higher Education. Although the examples provided in the Guidelines are also taken from K12 and Vocational Education (kudos!) and are not only targeted to policies on open textbooks (kudos!), the majority of the examples stems from Higher Education. When the overview of policies from OER Worldmap is representative, this Map illustrates the urgent need for policy makers to give more attention to sectors other than Higher Education. Currently, the overview consists of 172 examples of OER policies, of which 48% are targeted towards Higher Education, 37% cross sector and only 1 (0.58%) towards Vocational Education. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to bring these Guidelines under the attention of policy makers outside of the Higher Education sector.

 

 

MOOCs Guide for Policy Makers in Developing Countries


Vorige week werd bij UNESCO in Parijs het rapport Making Sense of MOOCs, A Guide for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries gelanceerd. Deze publicatie is een gezamenlijk intiatief van UNESCO en de Commonwealth of Learning. De EADTU kreeg van hen de opdracht voor het schrijven van dit rapport. Darco Jansen werd de hoofdauteur en hij vroeg mij of ik mee wilde schrijven. Ik voldeed graag aan dit eervolle verzoek, mede omdat het schrijven aan een dergelijk rapport een uitstekende gelegenheid is om alle literatuur die daarover beschikbaar is eens gestructureerd op een rijtje te krijgen en via onderlinge discussies en de feedback van de reviewers de eigen kennis te vergroten.
De aanleiding voor het maken van dit rapport is in de abstract als volgt beschreven (nadruk door mij aangebracht):

The Guide is designed to raise general awareness amongst policy makers in developing countries as to how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) might address their concerns and priorities, particularly in terms of access to affordable quality higher education and preparation of secondary school leavers for academic as well as vocational education and training. With very few exceptions, many of the reports on MOOCs already published do not refer to the interest and experience of developing countries, although we are witnessing important initiatives in more and more countries around the world.

Het rapport telt acht hoofdstukken:

  1. MOOCs – Setting the Context
  2. The Opportunities and Challenges of MOOCs for Society
  3. The Possible Benefits of MOOCs for Developing Countries
  4. Quality Assurance for MOOCs
  5. Learner-centred Approaches and the Benefits for Learners
  6. Reuse and Adaptation of MOOCs
  7. Collaboration on MOOC Development and Provision
  8. Business Models for MOOCs
Ieder hoofdstuk kent een opbouw:
  • Policy takeaways (geeft de beleidsmaker de lessen van het betreffende hoofdstuk)
  • Introductie
  • Inhoud

Daarnaast bevat het rapport een bijlage met voorbeelden van Government Business Model Canvases en een glossary met gebruikte terminologie.
Met name in de hoofdstukken 2 en 3 zijn de specifieke kenmerken voor MOOC´s in ontwikkelende landen te vinden:

  • Groot belang van toepassing van MOOC’s voor on the job training.
  • Geen grootschalige toegang tot internet. Dit leidt bijvoorbeeld tot initiatieven waarbij een mobiele telefoon wordt gebruikt voor de interactieve elementen in een MOOCen de materialen worden gedownload in een internetcafé of worden verspreid door middel van DVD’s om offline te bestuderen.
  • Er is weinig ervaring bij lerenden met leren in een digitale omgeving zoals door een MOOC wordt geleverd. Dit vereist goede lokale begeleiding. Omdat docenten deze digial literacy skills vaak ook missen is er een grote professionaliseringsbehoefte in dezen.

Commonwealth of Learning heeft dit eerder al geadresseerd via initiatieven als MOOCs for Development (een MOOC platform dat weinig bandbreedte vereist) en de ontwikkeling van een aantal MOOCs op dat platform (zie overzicht).
Naast deze verschillen zijn er echter ook veel overeenkomsten bij publiceren en gebruik van MOOC’s tussen de ontwikkelende en de ontwikkelde landen. Het rapport kan daarom ook waardevol zijn voor beleidsmakers op nationaal en instellingsniveau in de ontwikkelde landen.

OER-onderdompeling in Krakow

Van 10 t/m 14 april vond in Krakow in Polen een drietal evenementen plaats rondom OER en Open Education. In deze blog een terugblik op deze events en de dingen die me daar het meeste opvielen (naast de mooie en sfeervolle stad die Krakow is).

GO-GN

De week startte op 10 april met een tweedaagse workshop van het Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN). Dit netwerk, eertijds gestart door Fred Mulder in zijn tijd als UNESCO OER Chairholder, wordt nu gecoördineerd door de OER Research Hub op de OU-UK. Een negental PhD-studenten, afkomstig van over de hele wereld, presenteerden hun onderzoek, kregen feedback van de aanwezigen en zochten naar aanknopingspunten voor onderlinge samenwerking. De slides van hun presentaties zullen successievelijk op de website van GO-GN worden gepubliceerd.
De onderwerpen waren erg divers, variërend van OER Learning Design Guidelines for Brazilian K-12 tot Opening Up Higher Education in Rwanda. Het niveau was van een eerste onderzoeksplan tot resultaten van een bijna afgerond PhD-onderzoek. Overall was het inhoudelijk niveau erg hoog, maar moet er door de meesten nog wel gewerkt worden aan presentatievaardigheden.
>> Overzicht van onderwerpen
>> Presentaties (worden in de komende weken aangevuld)
>> Storify van tweets

Open Education Consortium Global Conference

De week werd vervolgd met de jaarlijkse Global Conference van het Open Education Consortium. Naar schatting 200 deelnemers konden kiezen uit een diversiteit aan presentaties en workshops. Grofweg konden de volgende categorieën worden onderscheiden:

  • Opening up education (op niveau van land of instelling)
  • Communities rondom OER
  • Adoptie van OER en andere vormen van open education
  • Casussen (bij landen of instellingen)
  • Learning design voor OER en MOOC
  • Onderzoek
  • Open policies
  • Open practices

Van de sessies die ik heb gevolgd sprongen voor mij die van John Hilton III en Javiera Atenas eruit in positieve zin. John sprak over recent studies in OER adoption. Hoewel het daar vooral ging over adoptie van Open Textbooks in de US, zijn resultaten te generaliseren naar andere vormen en contexten. Resultaten van zijn research (onder de vlag van de Open Education Group) zijn te vinden op hun website. Het onderwerp van Javiera was (uiteraard) Educating for Social Participation: Open Data as Open Educational Resources. Vooral de mogelijkheid om “echte” data te kunnen gebruiken om vaardigheden als critical thinking en civic engagement aan te leren sprak mij aan. Aanrader: de site schoolofdata.org (met onder meer open cursussen over hoe om te gaan met data).
Zelf gaf ik een presentatie over het onderzoek naar gebruik van OER en MOOC’s in het Nederlands hoger onderwijs dat ik samen met Ben Janssen eind vorig jaar heb uitgevoerd. Hier de sheets.

OER Policy Forum

Parallel aan de laatste dag van de conferentie werd door het Centrum Cyfrowe, in samenwerking met het Open Policy Network, als onderdeel van het EU-project ExplOERer een bijeenkomst gehouden. Het doel was te komen tot een set van aanbevelingen, voortbouwend op een policy document Foundations of OER Strategy Development. In de ochtend werden enkele presentaties gegeven. Voor mij was die van Dominic Orr van het FiBS uit Berlijn What can policy do for innovative educational practice and especially for OER? de meest in het oog springende. Dominic is een van de auteurs van het vorig jaar verschenen OECD rapport Open Educational Resources, a Catalyst for Innovation. In zijn presentatie ging hij echter in op social innovation en de koppeling ervan met open policies. Hij refereert aan een studie uit 2015 Growing a Digital Social Innovation Ecosystem for Europe in opdracht van de Europese Commissie. Die studie onderscheidt 7 fasen voor sociale innovatie, die niet noodzakelijk lineair worden doorlopen, maar spiraalsgewijs naar het begin kan terugkeren. Hij koppelt die fasen met twee strategieën voor policy, met name OER policies:

  • Pull strategie. Uitgangspunt is de motivatie van docenten en lerenden. Activiteiten als presentatie van OER use cases en toekennen van awards voor good practices helpen adoptie van OER te bevorderen. Resources zijn bijvoorbeeld aanbieden van vrijwillig te volgen trainingen voor gebruik van OER, ontwikkeling van een OER infrastructuur en toelaten van experimenten (d.i. tijd daarvoor geven)
  • Push strategie.Uitgangspunt is aanpassen van het raamwerk van voorwaarden voor gedrag van docenten en lerenden. Voorbeelden zijn het reguleren van productie van leermaterialen (OER heeft voorkeur), kwaliteit van leermaterialen (dynamisch en tailored heeft voorkeur) en de evaluatie van leeruitkomsten (competenties heeft de voorkeur)
Samengevat in één figuur die Dominic de omschrijving meegaf OER as a driver of social innovation: allows and promotes new combinations or configurations of social practices 

In de middag werden in subgroepen over key issues voor OER policies gedebatteerd. Doel van deze discussies was input te leveren voor het document van aanbevelingen dat na de workshop werd opgesteld. Ik nam deel aan de subgroep OER repositories and content production, waar met name de ervaringen met Wikiwijs van pas kwamen.
>> Storify van tweets

Tenslotte

Zowel de conferentie als het OER policy forum preludeerden al op 2017, het jaar waarin de Cape Town Open Education Declaration 10 jaar bestaat en de Paris OER Declaration 5 jaar. Het komend jaar zal ongetwijfeld worden teruggekeken op wat in die achterliggende periode al is bereikt, maar zal vooral worden vooruitgekeken naar wat er nog moet gebeuren om OER in het bijzonder en Open Education in het algemeen mainstream te maken, zowel op instellingsniveau als rondom open policies op nationaal en internationaal niveau. Dat de volgende Global Conference in 2017 in Kaapstad zal plaatsvinden is daarom geen toeval.