Keynote: Chris Lehmann

The PETE&C Tuesday Morning Keynote: Chris Lehmann:Chris Lehmann is the Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. http://scienceleadershi…

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Digital Literacy

BECTA does some great stuff. School age is where digital literacy is instilled and developed, not HE.

BECTA has come up with a short guide (pdf) which explains what digital literacy is. Also, there is a Digital Literacy Planning Tool (pdf) that helps digital literacy to be incorpoated into teaching.

Next Generation Textbooks – Flexbooks

Sometimes you encounter something that changes your own mindset, the way you work, the way you want to do things. You want to get involved, to make this better. I’ve just come across one such idea.

The work of the CK-12 Foundations is mindblowingly excellent. Their mission is to create access to cheap textbooks both for the US and Worldwide. How will they achieve this? Well, they’re pioneering the ‘Flexbook‘, which is an open-content, web-based collaboration model where it’s possible to take Creative Commons Licensed content from one of the available standard text on the site and repurpose it for the learning experience required. This is achieved using the online software to extract chapters or sections from the text, mix it with your own content from a Word file for example, and package it together into a ‘book’ that can be exported to a pdf file for printing out and use with learners.

For cK-12’s much better explanation:

Screenshot of Flexbook site

This needs to be made to work in a much wider contexted. This template could be used throughout education. It’s brilliant. It works for both formal learning setting and individual, informal learning.

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.

Tom Whitby talks Twitter, PLN, and social media in teaching

I find this video today. It’s only 2min 30sec long and was filmed at a conference. It’s a very quick interview with Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) where he talks about the use of Twitter by the teaching community and how this is an element of a personal learning network (PLN). He then goes on to explain the importance of social media for students who are learning for an ever changing world.

Video: Guide to Diigo Annotations

Yesterday I wrote about Google Sidewiki and its potential use for annotations. However, you might have gathered that I’m a big BIG fan of Diigo, and I mentioned its use for educational annotation in that same article.

José Picardo has produced a short informative video for his students about using Diigo annotations and sending a link to the pages including annotations.

Laptop for pupils in NSW

I came across this video today about how children in New South Wales (NSW), Australia are being given 10″ laptops to aid their education in “The Digital Revolution”.

I recognise that we are seeing differing reasons for a move towards digital material for learning (e.g. a lack of resources for booking in California), but this NSW venture seems to be grounded on good reasoning. I for one applaud the initiative.