Open Teaching #ioe12

In some ways I’ve perhaps found this topic to be the lightest on content with regard to the topic ‘readings’, perhaps because I’ve encountered both videos previously, not least from participating in the other MOOCs. However, I also found the content going some way to present me with more of an insight into how the separate MOOCs are managed, and the differences taken by the facilitators of each.

Inevitably there is bound to be a comparison of styles if you are participating in multiple open courses run by different people.

My own, less than rigorous analysis of the three approaches I’m currently being exposed to run something like:

  • With Change 11 the facilitators are providing direct support, from the ioe12 topic readings this approach is resource intensive and time consuming for the facilitators.
  • With DS106 the facilitators, from my perspective, are rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in with the rest of us. I’m rather liking this approach.

But perhaps the most insightful reading for me from the topic was the Graham, Hilton, Rich, & Wiley, 2010Using Online Technologies to Extend a Classroom to Learners at a Distance’. I think it goes some way to explain the less involved approach taken by David Wiley with his Open Courses. For me, and I might be wrong in this, it shows how the boundaries of a campus based course can be expanded out to an open participatory course without creating undue burdens on the course facilitators. I think this is the essence of David’s approach; to enable a widening of access and participation to education in a potentially sustainable model.

This reading gives details about how previous open courses were designed and what technologies were employed to enable them. There are also estimates of how long setup would require for educators with less technical proficiency than David. There is analysis of the course to develop an idea of participation and which areas of the course structure were given greatest weight by participants; carried out by questionnaire.

There are three types of interaction:

  • Learner – Content interaction
  • Learner – Learner interaction
  • Learner – Instructor interaction

The Learner – Learner interactions for an open and campus combined course are different as without the instructor facilitating interaction the two groups can remain separate, but it is felt that there is much that can be gained from an interaction beyond the classroom/lecture theatre.

However, for David Wiley facilitated courses, the course readings seem to carry most weight with distance participants. I’m personally finding that the case at present due to the course structuring and ‘reward’ system. (I’ll write more about that in the future.)

The MOOC Guide‘ by Stephen Downes, 2011 I found particularly interesting and useful if one wants to develop and facilitate a MOOC. It is an open wiki for anyone with MOOC experience to contribute to and already it has much useful information for a number of previously run MOOCs. I hope to use this information to develop and run a MOOC in the near future, and to contribute back my own experiences from that venture.

OpenLearn 3 years on & OLnet

[Additional (25/1/10): Many thanks to Patrick McAndrew for taking the time to comment and clarify some points in my post that I had misinterpreted from the presentation. Please read Patrick’s comment for correction to my piece.]

Thanks to a tip off by @mweller I found out about the Berrill Stadium webcast by the Open University (OU) about OpenLearn 3 Years On. I didn’t manage to see the webcast live, but watched the video afterwards (available from the Berrill Stadium link – click on “Past Events”, then look for Tuesday 19th January 2010 in the list and click on “OpenLearn 3 Years On” – videos are at the bottom of the page). All I can say is Wow.

Here are some of the points I pulled out from Patrick McAndrew’s initial presentation. Patrick is the Associate Director (Learning & Teaching).


  • reached 10 million users by January 2010
  • has a global reach
  • less than 50% of users from UK
  • brings students into UK (~13000 went on to enroll on OU courses)
  • reaches new sectors of students not usually entering HE
  • the fact that it’s free reduces the barrier to participation
  • means the OU can experiment with courses and technologies
  • improves the understanding of the learning process

OpenLearn acted not only as a place to provide open resources, but as a research mechanism to reflect on the experiment and gather evidence to share what advantages OER can bring to the world. The OU worked in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in the US, who had the Open Learning Initiative, allowing them to research and explore people’s use of open resources.

There has been an expansion of this type of work through the Open Courseware Consortium, of which many universities are members.

From this work, the OU is to act as a hub for OER in the UK, and receive hefce funding.

OLnet is the next phase in this activity (due for public beta Feb 2010), and will be subsuming the resources from OpenLearn. OLnet will be collecting and collating views from the wider community, listening to others, testing ideas including designing materials and other tools for learning, and gathering data through interviews and generally talking to people. This will generate evidence about OER for sharing with the community. It is hoped that findings about participatory learning and how people learn from key resources will lead to a greater understanding of potential future learning.

What has come out of OpenLearn is that quality content attracts people and enables a community to develop around a topic. And a proportion of people want to learn with people like themselves as a social activity, where they can collaborate, share expertise and spread control.

The OU has developed a useful structure where open research runs in conjunction with open learning.

Laura Dewis, the Managing Editor for OpenLearn, explained a little more about OLnet and how open resources can bring people closer to the OU. There are to be more regular updates of content, so that people interested in items making the news can develop a greater contextual understanding.

There are three levels of use for the open resources site;

  • Explore – play & browse,
  • Try – a bit more depth,
  • Study – no degree or tutorial support.

There will also be easy links to registration for formal learning courses.

I find it very interesting what the Open University is doing here. I’m also interested by the linkage between informal and formal learning processes, and this desire for at least a big enough proportion of informal learners to want to enroll and study a formal course. But it also emphasizes this latent desire for knowledge from quality OER, and that is the area where I’d like to be involved, as shown from my recent post that considered the use of a VLE for Open Education.