Category Archives: BlogHub

Students and open education

For an article I am writing this week, I’d like to showcase work by students relating to open education and Open Educational Resources (OER). I’m writing this brief post mostly to gather comments from others on examples I don’t know about!

 

Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Student advocacy on campuses and what it has accomplished: there has been some great stuff happening at UBC due to student advocacy around OER, and I’ll talk about that. What else has student advocacy accomplished?
  • Students creating OERs: I will speak about work I know of here at UBC where students are creating OER, including Wikipedia projects and also other open educational resources. What else is out there?
  • Students contributing to open textbooks: Yes, open textbooks are OERs, but I’m separating them out here just for now. I know that Robin DeRosa has involved students in creating open textbooks, and this blog post from the Conversations on Open Education for Language Learning blog talks about a couple more (by students in classes with David Wiley and Lixun Wang). What other such projects do you know about?
  • Anything else that would fall under students working to create, revise, or promote OER?

Please provide your ideas in the comments!

Open Case Studies project

I am involved in an OER (Open Educational Resources) creation and sharing project called Open Case Studies that started about a year ago. I’m writing this post to give a general overview of the project to introduce it to new people who might want to participate.

This post will generally follow the format of a couple of presentations I’ve already given recently. Here is a set of slides from one of them, that goes over the basics of the project.

Motivation for the project

This project started from an idea by Daniel Munro, who was in 2015-2016 the Associate VP Academic for the student association at UBC, the Alma Mater Society. He wanted to start a project that would allow for several things:

  • Creation and adaptation of OER by both faculty and students at UBC, to be shared for revision and reuse by others
  • Interdisciplinary discussions and activities–students and faculty working across disciplines
  • Students avoiding “disposable assignments” and instead creating things that add value to the world; this is also connected to the idea of students as producers of knowledge rather than just consumers

You can see more about the objectives of the project on the “about” page of the Open Case Studies project website.

Project in a nutshell

Our project and site involve both faculty and students creating or editing case studies that are openly licensed (CC BY) to allow for revision and reuse by anyone with no restrictions except an attribution to the original source. See here for more about CC BY and other Creative Commons open licenses.

We held a two-day sprint in May 2016 in which faculty and students wrote the first set of case studies. You can see all about that sprint in my blog post about it.

How the case studies have been used in courses

In the 2016-2017 academic year, several faculty members used the case studies in their courses at UBC. There are many ways to do so! Here is what has been done so far:

  • One faculty member has assigned a case study “as is” in a course
  • One has asked students to add “action plans” at the end of one of the case studies (see here)
  • Several have asked students to write their own case studies
    • See the Forestry case studies on our site
    • And also this case study from Civil Engineering
    • A class in Gender, Race and Social Justice had students write case studies too, but they’re not on the site because we haven’t yet sought permission to give them a CC BY license. You can see them on the UBC Wiki, here.

We have a teaching guide for the project that shows some examples of assignment instructions faculty have used with the case studies. See the “sample assignments” on the Teaching Guide page for the project.

We are particularly interested in developing interdisciplinary activities involving the case studies. So far students in single disciplines have been approaching the case studies from those disciplines. But we would love it if students could approach existing case studies from a separate discipline and add their own perspectives. There are places in each case study where such perspectives can be added.

Or perhaps two classes could work together on creating case studies from two (or more) different disciplines.

Help with implementing open case studies into courses

This project is funded in part by a Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant from UBC, which allows us to hire graduate assistants to help faculty design and implement assignments.

We also have access to help from the UBC Library and the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology in creating resources to help students understand how to write or otherwise contribute to the open case studies.

So anyone from UBC who would like to join has access to help in implementing open case studies into their course (at least for the next year or so)!

Anyone can contribute

We have focused most of our efforts so far on UBC faculty and students, but we are also opening out the project to anyone who would like to join in, from any post-secondary institution.

We are working on creating a form for people who are interested to fill out that will be posted on the site, but for now, please just email me if you would like more information or think you might be interested: c.hendricks@ubc.ca

And be sure to check out our website!

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating open pedagogy, part 2

many different colours of embroidery thread, tangled together

Trying to pull together stray threads. Threads image licensed CC0 on pixabay.com

This is the last (for now) in a series of posts over the last couple of days on open pedagogy. Previous posts:

  • Part 1, where I do some not terribly focused reflecting on some recent posts on open pedagogy, as well as my own view before reading them (warning: long!)
  • Part 1.5, where I consider: why try to define open pedagogy at all?

This post is dedicated to trying to pull together some of the threads from what I’ve read in the last two days.

What is “open” about open pedagogy?

In part 1 of this series, I discovered that I don’t have an answer to the question of what is added to “pedagogy” or “educational practices” when I put “open” in front of them. Now I’m going to try to come to some clarity for myself on that.

Note that I’m using open pedagogy (OP) and open educational practices (OEP) interchangeably here. Maybe someday I’ll separate them.

Some commonalities in what I’ve gathered from others’ views

I’m here including links to some new posts and resources that I didn’t have in part 1 of this series, as well as some that I did.

  • OER: a number of people (e.g., Wiley 1, Wiley 2, Hegarty) define open pedagogy in terms of practices that are made possible by open licenses, so practices that are made possible by OER
    • Under this view, one might say that OP or OEP include things like revising, remixing, redistributing OER (is retaining them an open practice, though?)
  • Access:
    • Robin DeRosa: “The open license helps us reduce textbook costs, but it also symbolizes the belief that college costs– everything from tuition to transportation– should be addressed and reduced/covered as part of a strong public educational infrastructure.”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices privilege access: access to content, access to learning.”
  • Connections: A number of posts talk about OP as promoting connections–between students, between students and teachers, between the class and people outside the class, etc. E.g.,
    • Jim Luke: “Isolation vs. Connectedness:  Does the pedagogy and learning activities exist predominantly in a closed, isolated space such as the traditional classroom or do they engage and form connections with the larger, outside world?”
    • Maha Bali: “A focus on students networking in public. Having students interact with each other or people outside the class altogether on social media like Twitter (see my Twitter Scavenger Hunt as a small-scale example) or creating entire courses where students are constantly interacting with others outside of the course (a recent example is Networked Narratives by Mia Zamora and Alan Levine)….”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices emphasize connection and community enabled by technology.”
    • Tannis Morgan: “Open as a means to connect with a broader, global community”
    • Robin DeRosa: “Connection. Helping students become lifelong learners is a real thing, and I am tired of the lip service that we pay it. … Teaching them the skills that help them enter a collaborative scholarly and/or professional community will give them access to the content in their fields as it changes over time.”
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: “connected community: participate in a connected community of professionals”
  • Students as co-creators, as having more authority & autonomy in their education
    • Heather Ross: “If teachers and students can now modify their textbooks and learning materials, we shift the student emphasis to contribution to knowledge as opposed to simple consumption of knowledge.”
    • Devon Ritter: “the ability for learners to shape and take ownership of their own education”
    • Samantha Veneruso: “Open practices are learner driven.”
    • Catherine Cronin: “Overall, open education practitioners and researchers describe OEP as moving beyond a content-centred approach to openness, shifting the focus from resources to practices, with learners and teachers sharing the processes of knowledge creation.”
    • Robin DeRosa: “Learner-Driven Structures. Another thing Higher Ed pays a lot of lip service to is the idea of “student centered learning.” Working with OER helped me see learning materials as more shape-able, and involving students in that shaping had a profound effect on the location of authority in our classroom.”
    • Jim Luke: “Teacher as “the” authority vs. Students being able to bring other sources of authority.”
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Involving students in co-creating the curriculum, such as through helping to choose some of the course topics, choosing the nature of assignments for the course, or creating texts, videos or other content for the course.”
  • Students contributing valuable knowledge and resources to the world
    • Maha Bali: “…trying to create assignments that are sustainable or not disposable, assignments that would have benefit to others beyond the limited course time and space. For example, having students create their own blogs or domains (see Domain of One’s Own), edit Wikipedia or create podcasts or websites that have value beyond the course.”
    • Gill Green: “Learners contributing novel ideas and original research to pressing contemporary problems.”
    • David Wiley 2013: “Because students know their work will be used both by their peers and potentially by future generations of students, they invest in this work at a different level.”)
    • David Wiley 2016: “A “renewable assessment” differs [from a disposable one] in that the student’s work won’t be discarded at the end of the process, but will instead add value to the world in some way.”
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Asking students to do renewable, or non-disposable assignments in courses. These involve students creating things that others can revise and reuse, that add value to the world beyond the course.”
  • Social justice, equity
    • Maha Bali: one of the two components of the ethos of OP: “A social justice orientation – caring about equity, with openness as one way to achieve this”
    • Open Educational Practices Scotland, which I found through this slide deck by Beck Pitt et al.: “We think of Open Educational Practices as those educational practices that are concerned with and promote equity and openness. Our understanding of ‘open’ builds on the freedoms associated with “the 5 Rs” of OER, promoting a broader sense of open, emphasising social justice, and developing practices that open up opportunities for those distanced from education.
  • Open-mindedness, receptivity to change
    • Suzan Koseoglu: “What are our “spaces of possibility”? How do we construct those spaces and nurture democratic learning environments where people get exposed to different perspectives, challenge the way they view the world and their position it?”
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: open practices “encourage spontaneous innovation and creativity”
  • Transparency
    • David Wiley: “No doubt we have yet to see definitions of open pedagogy that approach from other open traditions, like the “open” in open government where open primarily means transparent.”
    • Rajiv Jhangiani: “open pedagogy would also encompass instructional practices such as open and transparent course design and development”
    • Rajiv Jhangiani: “even though we may operationally define “open” differently, we share a common foundation that values access, agency, transparency, and quality.”
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Open course planning, which I first saw via Paul Hibbits at an ETUG (British Columbia Educational Technology User’s Group) meeting in 2014. See my blog post about that here.”
  • Reflective practice: this could be part of transparency, but I’m pulling out as separate for now
    • Me, in part 1 of this series: “Engaging in open reflection on educational practices and processes, whether by students or profs or staff or anyone else involved in an educational experience.”–I was thinking of public reflections like on this blog
    • Bronwyn Hegarty: “engage in opportunities for reflective practice”; Hegarty includes the value of feedback from peers on this practice (p. 10), so it sounds like doing reflection to some degree openly would be good

And as I am reading through, finally, I think all of the posts and slide decks on Maha Bali’s curated list, I find that Open Door Classroom by Jesse Stommel (slides) has many of the above points in it as well.

What else?

Have anything to add? Please put it in the comments, below!

What might all this have to do with open?

I’m trying to figure out, recall, what is added to “pedagogy” when we talk about “open pedagogy.” And if it’s something like the above list (with the list being not final, not necessarily the last word and me policing boundaries), then why might we call something like a gathering of the above things “openness” in terms of pedagogy?

There’s open as in:

  • visible: transparency
  • changeable: open-mindedness, openness to change; 5R’s (e.g., revision, remixing)
  • available: access
  • crossing boundaries: connections, wider communities, students contributing knowledge and resources to the world
  • freedom: autonomy, shared authority

Where does equity/social justice fit in here, though?

Here’s another way to think about it. Open is the opposite of closed, and to me, closed means things like:

  • encircled by boundaries that keep some things in and others out
  • private
  • hidden
  • locked or restricted

And these have to do with social justice, because they often mean that what is private and hidden to some is not so to others. So in a way, all of the above might be related to social justice and equity.

So maybe we could think of the above in terms of reducing boundaries, or making them permeable (because I don’t think a practice without any boundaries at all is even conceivable)? (And with due credit to Alan Levine for helping me understand the difference between porosity and permeability!) Making things visible, available, changeable, and providing freedom to be self-directed would all be connected to permeable boundaries to some extent.

From this, I tried to come up with some pithy definition, but I’m not really succeeding. So for now I’m just going to think of OP or OEP as: teaching and learning practices that open up otherwise closed educational boundaries to promote access, agency, connections, transparency, and transformation for the sake of improved student learning along with equity and social justice. But that’s a mouthful and not really all that more helpful than the list above. Hmmmm….

And I discover that after all this, I am very much in agreement with Maha Bali’s two aspects of the ethos of open pedagogy!

I would say open pedagogy is an ethos that has two major components:

  • A belief in the potential of openness and sharing to improve learning
  • A social justice orientation – caring about equity, with openness as one way to achieve this

 

I welcome comments on these reflections, as well as attempts to put the above together into a less wordy way of thinking about open pedagogy!

 

 

 

 

 

Why define open pedagogy?

This is a kind of addendum to my last post, where I did some summarizing of and reflecting on a few definitions of open pedagogy given on blogs and elsewhere lately.

When I first heard about the flurry of blog posts on open pedagogy, and the disagreements on how to define it, I thought: why do we need to spend so much time arguing about the definition? Why is it so important to focus on how to define it?

black and white image of a fence along an urban road

Do we need a fence around open pedagogy? Fence image licensed CC0 on pixabay.com

One of the first posts I read during this flurry was by Jim Groom: “I don’t need permission to be open.” There, among other things, he wonders:

In a moment when fences and lines are being drawn all around the world according to ideologies that other and petty definitions that exclude, why would this seem a good time to start drawing lines around open? Frankly, it seems a bit more like fear mongering.

And further, taken from two different parts of his post:

Seems to me there is an attempt to define it in order to start controlling it, and that is often related to resources, grants, etc.

I think the locking down of open is dangerous. I think it draws lines where they need not be, and it reconsolidates power for those who define it.

Groom points out that once we start drawing lines around a concept like open pedagogy, this can have the effect of closing down new ways of thinking about and doing it. If we start to say, “this is open pedagogy” and to get a grant or to publish something under that umbrella you have to be doing x, y or z, then someone who is doing q or p may be left out of what is the current “new shiny thing” in the zeitgeist of open education.

That’s how I felt too when first stumbling upon the overwhelming number of recent blog posts on the issue. Or rather, I had some vague sense of wondering why we needed to spend so much effort on it, and then reading Jim’s post helped clarify the issue for me.

Still, given that I just spent over 3000 words in my last blog post talking about open pedagogy, apparently I think it’s worthwhile to try to get some further clarity around it. Why do I think that? What follows is me thinking my way to understanding my own views through writing about them.

Openwashing

David Wiley points to the problem of “openwashing” when he says it’s important to define open pedagogy. And that makes sense to me. If we don’t have a good sense of what “openness” in education or educational resources or pedagogy is, how can we criticize an edu-disruptor-innovator company who claims to be promoting open pedagogy when most in the open education world would agree they’re not? How can we point to what it’s not if we don’t have at least some clarity on what it is?

Giving credit where credit is due

Sometimes there’s a tendency to speak of open pedagogy and open educational practices as if they are definitely something different from other educational practices or pedagogies. And maybe they are. Or maybe not; maybe what these end up being are combinations of other educational theories, or perhaps even just slightly reworded versions of one educational theory that already exists. Honestly, I don’t know because I don’t have a background in educational or pedagogical theories. But if we can’t define what we mean by “open pedagogy,” then how can we tell if it’s something different or if we should just be using a view that is already in existence?

A sense of clarity about one’s own views

I’m a philosopher, and it bothers me a great deal if I am using words and trying to make arguments about something that I can’t define. And by “define” I don’t necessarily mean that I have to put strict boundaries around it; this could be a rough idea with lots of porosity. But my previous post convinced me that I don’t know what I would say if someone asked me: what is it that is added to “pedagogy” or “educational practices” when you add the word “open” to those? What unifies that list of things you think of as open educational practices? There are a whole lot of things that could go into an answer for that, and they’re a bit jumbled in my head right now and as a philosopher that bothers me.

Should it? I do think this is important. If we can’t get clear on what we mean by particular words or phrases, then what are we doing when we try to advocate for those things, or explain what it is we’re doing when we say we engage in those things? Which leads me to:

Advocacy

There are a number of us who give talks, facilitate workshops, in which we talk about open pedagogy or open educational practices. Are we talking about the same thing? Are we advocating for different sorts of things, for different reasons, and calling it all one thing? It’s hard to see advocacy working towards promoting change if it’s working at cross purposes.

Other?

I’m curious to hear others’ views on why having some further clarity on open pedagogy (or some other form of “open”), if not a strict boundary line around a definition, might be useful.

 

But there are still those worries noted above

How can we get more clarity on open pedagogy without doing so in a way that supports the power of those doing the defining (or those who would define it similarly)? How can we leave the boundaries open enough for there still to be room to move beyond them and change them?

Can we have a flexible, porous fence that’s not really a fence but more of a gathering that leaves space for differences in details and upheavals in the future?

 

 

Navigating open pedagogy, part 1

In April 2017 there was a flurry of blog posts and a hangout about open pedagogy–various ways of defining it, thinking about it, etc. That was during a heavy teaching term for me and mostly I just saw that it was happening and read maybe one or two of the many blog posts at the time.

You can see a curated list of them, here (thanks Maha Bali!).

In a couple of days I am presenting on a panel for the BCcampus Open Textbook Summit, called Open Pedagogy Case Studies & Examples from Langara, UBC and Athabasca. Marianne Gianacopoulos (Langara), Michael Dabrowski (Athabasca) and I will be speaking on projects we’re involved in that we each think of as having an element of open pedagogy. So we’re starting with a discussion of just what “open pedagogy” is.

Thus, I figured it was time to visit that large number of blog posts linked above.

I won’t be able to read them all before Wednesday. And I definitely won’t be able to synthesize all of even those I manage to read. I am writing this post just to gather some thoughts from what I am reading in the next day or so. Think of it as my own filtering, focusing on what I find most interesting or surprising or what I want to think further about, rather than a definitive analysis of what I think open pedagogy is. [Aside: As I’m writing this post I’m surprised to find I don’t already have a tag on this blog for “open pedagogy.” Just changed that.]

This post is my somewhat rambling reflections on reading some of the posts Maha Bali curated (linked above). The next one, part 2, is where I will try to pull some of these threads together into a revised view of my own.

This post is my somewhat rambling reflections on reading some of the posts Maha Bali curated (linked above). In part 2 I will try to pull some of these threads together into a revised view of my own.

[Addendum added later: Actually, it turns out I wrote another one before part 2: part 1.5, why define open pedagogy?]


My initial view, to start

Before I start looking at what others have said, here is what I think of when I think of “open pedagogy.”

I have considered OER to be about content, while I’ve thought of open pedagogy more along the lines of practices. And that brings  me to a chart of a spectrum of open practices that the Open UBC group (which I’m a part of) created, which you can see on the Open UBC website, here: http://open.ubc.ca/teach/what/

I’m also posting the chart here for reference:

chart with a range of open practices, from "low touch" to "high touch"

Spectrum of Open Practice, by Cindy Underhill, licensed CC BY-SA 3.0

If I remember our discussions about it correctly, the spectrum ranges from low-ish degree of difficulty (on the left) or effort to higher (on the right). That said, we had a lot of conversations about this because there are so many different factors to take into account, and not everything fits well on a spectrum like this. Plus, adopting OER for a course is not necessarily on a low level of degree of difficulty! It requires actually finding relevant and high quality OER, and changing up one’s course at least to some degree, to accommodate the new material. Still, it’s arguably somewhat less effort that adapting or creating new materials.

This chart is still partly focused on content–it talks largely about adopting, adapting, creating OER. But there is more there, especially towards the right side of the chart. We talk about students and instructors connecting and collaborating with communities outside the course, as well as about students co-creating courses. On the far right there is also discussion of students and faculty sharing their reflections and processes, which could include how they created content, or how they collaborated on courses, or reflections on how things went.

In an explanation of open education that I wrote for a teaching award (which I didn’t get but am happy I wrote this!), I quoted Tom Woodward from an interview Mary Grush did with him for Campus Technology.

[Woodward refers to open pedagogy as] “a general philosophy of openness (and connection) in all elements of the pedagogical process,” where “[o]pen is a purposeful path towards connection and community” (Grush, 2013; italics in original). Thus, open pedagogy can also include open assignments, which allow students to shape how they will show evidence of learning (or even create assignments for other students to do); open course planning, in which one invites comments and contributions from others when planning a course; and what Woodward calls “open products,” where students publish their work “for an audience greater than their instructor. … Their work, being open, has the potential to be used for something larger than the course itself and to be part of a larger global conversation” (Grush, 2013).

Based in part on the above, here are some practices that I have thought of as part of open pedagogy:

  • Open course planning, which I first saw via Paul Hibbits at an ETUG (British Columbia Educational Technology User’s Group) meeting in 2014. See my blog post about that here.
    • I have practiced open course planning twice so far; see blog posts here and here.
  • Asking students to do renewable, or non-disposable assignments in courses. These involve students creating things that others can revise and reuse, that add value to the world beyond the course. I wrote a post about renewable assignments for UBC’s Flexible Learning site in 2015.
    • These can range from things like students contributing to Wikipedia to students doing work for community partners, to students writing blog posts that might be useful to others (the latter is what I have done in my courses so far).
  • Involving students in co-creating the curriculum, such as through helping to choose some of the course topics, choosing the nature of assignments for the course, or creating texts, videos or other content for the course.
    • I haven’t done any of this yet in my own courses, though I keep thinking I should!
  • Engaging in open reflection on educational practices and processes, whether by students or profs or staff or anyone else involved in an educational experience.
    • A number of professors use blogs to do this sort of reflection, such as this blog right here!

Now, as I write this, I wonder if I have any sense of a distinction between open pedagogy and open practices. And my answer to that at the moment is “no.” I feel more comfortable talking about practices than pedagogy, actually, as I’m not sure I have a good sense of what “pedagogy” is, and then there’s that whole thing about pedagogy vs andragogy that I’m not well versed in (and I just found this on pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy, which made sense of this post by Josie Fraser asking why we aren’t talking about open heutatogy). And this post by Lorna Campbell brings up a point that using “pedgogy” may seem harder by people who are not teachers than using “practices.”

Nevertheless, since the conversation is currently about open pedagogy rather than open practices, I’ll stick with the former term here for the moment.


Views from recent blog posts on open pedagogy

Rather than trying to summarize and synthesize all the blog posts Maha Bali gathered, I’ll mention a few things that were brought up in some of them (I can’t read them all!) that leading me to think more deeply about open pedagogy and my own previous views.

Open pedagogy as requiring involvement of OER?

a chart of the 5 R's of openness: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute"

5 R’s chart, from a slide deck by David Wiley called “Open Education: A Simple Introduction,” licensed CC BY 4.0

David Wiley has defended a view that open pedagogy is

the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions. Or, to operationalize, open pedagogy is the set of teaching and learning practices only possible or practical when you are using OER.

 

Here is a more in-depth discussion of the 5R’s Wiley is talking about.

This emphasizes open licenses as part of open pedagogy–the latter is what is made possible when people share their work using an open license. That is what allows, e.g., for revisions of OER by faculty and students. And students creating work with open licenses then would count as open pedagogy.

Note, though, that after a flurry of Tweets and blog posts, he added  another set of thoughts, looking at how there seem to be two views of “open” working in the recent discussions of “open pedagogy.” More on that below.

[Addendum the next day:] Maha Bali pointed out to me that Wiley wrote yet another blog post in which he said he was going to stop using the term “open pedagogy” and use the above definition for a new term called “OER-enabled pedagogy.” This is because the terms “open pedagogy” and “open educational practices” do not have agreement on what they mean, so it’s difficult to use them, he says.

Rajiv Jhangiani agrees with Wiley’s earlier definition, stating in a post on the Year of Open website that “open pedagogy refers to innovative teaching and learning practices that are only made possible through the application of open licenses.”

A couple of the posts in Maha Bali’s curated collection point to “Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources,” by Bronywyn Hegarty (Educational Technology July-August 2015). As the title suggests, Hegarty also connects open pedagogy to OER. From my reading, the article links open pedagogy to open educational practices (OEP), and Hegarty uses definitions of OEP’s that are directly connected to OER, such as

Open Educational Practices (OEPs) constitute the range of practices around the creation, use, and management of open educational resources with the intent to improve quality and innovate education.(OPAL, 2011a, p. 4)
Still, Hegarty’s suggested list of 8 practices that could be considered ‘open pedagogy’ include a wide range of things that need not (?) all require use or contributions to OER. Here is the list of 8 from p. 5 of that article:
  • participatory technologies: use for interacting via web 2.0, social networks and mobile apps
  • people, openness, trust: developing trust, openness and confidence for working with others
  • innovation and creativity: encourage spontaneous innovation and creativity
  • sharing ideas and resources: share ideas and resources freely to disseminate knowledge
  • connected community: participate in a connected community of professionals
  • learner generated: facilitate learners’ contributions to OER
  • reflective practice: engage in opportunities for reflective practice
  • peer review: contribute to open critique of others’ scholarship
Even if not all of these require the use or creation of OER, they are, I believe, meant  to be part of a larger practice that involves use/revision/creation of OER:
Immersion in using and creating OER requires a significant change in practice and the development of specific attributes, such as openness, connectedness, trust, and innovation. (p. 3)

What is the “open” in open pedagogy?

My view of open pedagogy is basically a list of practices. But what makes these “open”? What is it about reflecting publicly on teaching, or having students contribute to public knowledge or co-create the curriculum that makes these things “open”?

The following is a list of ideas gleaned from several recent blog posts on open pedagogy. It is in no particular order.

Open licenses

One view, as put forward by Wiley in his earlier blog post on this discussion, is that what makes things open is the permissions granted by open licenses:

As I’ve argued many times, the difference between free and open is that open is “free plus.” Free plus what? Free plus the 5R permissions. While almost the entire internet is free to watch, read, and listen to, only a small slice of the internet is open – licensed in a way that grants you the 5R permissions. These permissions are the distinguishing feature of open, whether you’re talking about open educational resources, open source software, open data, or a range of other open things.

But I have still thought of students helping to co-create the curriculum as “open” in some way even if this doesn’t involve creating content that is given an open license. Why do I think that?

Power and freedom

Jim Luke has some thoughts that help me here. He argues that pedagogy is a process, as opposed to OER as a product, or content. So if licenses/permissions are what make a piece of content open, what makes a process open, Luke asks? He points out that pedagogy, as a process, is about power relations:

Humans are the center of pedagogy or educational praxis. It’s students and teachers and their interactions that are the essence of pedagogy. That means that pedagogy is not just about some instructional design strategy, it’s about power relations. Who gets to do what? Who gets to tell whom what to do? Who sets the bounds and the rules? … To me, any pedagogy is primarily about power relations and therefore freedom.

(Of course, if the reason pedagogy is about power relations is because humans are at the centre, then pretty much every human interaction is about power relations. But as someone who has done a lot of work on the view of Michel Foucault, this makes sense to me!)

Luke then goes on to say,

Since pedagogy is about process and power relations, then openness in pedagogy is about freedom and connection. It’s about the degrees and ways in which a pedagogy is free and mutual.

This starts to make sense of my previous just kind of rough sense of some kinds of practices being “open.” Providing students more freedom in their education, freedom to co-create curriculum, and interactions with people outside the course fit with these ideas on freedom, mutuality, and connection. Luke talks about a range of openness in pedagogy, such as courses that take place and encourage interactions only with a closed group of people vs. those that involve connections to wider communities, or courses that involve the students bringing their own authority rather than only emphasizing the authority of the instructor.

Social justice

Maha Bali, in a post on the Year of Open website, lists a number of practices that could be part of open pedagogy (somewhat similar to the list I made earlier in this post of my own views of such practices), and then characterizes open pedagogy helpfully as an “ethos”:

I would say open pedagogy is an ethos that has two major components:

  • A belief in the potential of openness and sharing to improve learning
  • A social justice orientation – caring about equity, with openness as one way to achieve this

I like how Bali focuses on the social justice aspect of openness and open pedagogy. In large part those of us who are interested in these things are so because of the two elements of this ethos: improved learning for students and caring about equity for them and in the wider world.

Different perspectives

Suzan Koseoglu agrees with Bali, and adds another aspect to the “open” in open pedagogy, inspired by bell hooks:

I’m under the spell of bell hooks right now so I will define open pedagogy as the way she frames it in her book Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope:

Intentional approaches in teaching that encourage students to have “the will to explore different perspectives and change one’s mind as new information is presented”(emphasis mine).

Koseoglu goes on to discuss further the emphasis here on exploring different perspectives: “How do we … nurture democratic learning environments where people get exposed to different perspectives, challenge the way they view the world and their position it?” So here, openness in pedagogy is connected to having an “open mind,” one might say, and being willing to listen to alternative views and change one’s mind where that is called for.

Open web

David Wiley, in a blog post responding to a number of those in Bali’s curated list, talks about two different kinds of openness: one having to do with open content, open access, open data, and the like, and one having to do with the idea of an “open web”:

On reflection it seems that the subtle difference between these two forms of open is that the open in OER, etc. is a matter of free access plus copyright permissions, while the open in open web is a matter of free access plus no requirement to seek approval before creating or inventing.

This could connect to Luke’s point about freedom and Hegarty’s view that one aspect of open pedagogy is encouraging “spontaneous innovation and creativity” (as quoted above).

Transparency

Wiley also briefly mentions in the above-mentioned post another way of thinking about open:

No doubt we have yet to see definitions of open pedagogy that approach from other open traditions, like the “open” in open government where open primarily means transparent.

This makes sense to me: open pedagogy could involve being transparent about how one is teaching and why, or what one is doing as a learner to show one’s learning, and why. Rajiv Jhangiani, in a post on the Year of Open website, also says that “open pedagogy would also encompass instructional practices such as open and transparent course design and development.” And one could argue that things like learning outcomes and program outcomes are in part doing that kind of work.

Autonomy, freedom, choice

Tannis Morgan looks into the history of the term “open pedagogy” (so does Gill Green, in his post on the Year of Open website) and discusses (among other things) a 1979 article in French by Claude Paquette called “Some fundamentals of an open pedagogy” (translation mine; probably not an adequate translation as my French is not very good!).

Morgan notes that

Paquette outlines 3 sets of foundational values of open pedagogy, namely:  autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation.  He goes into some detail about these, but us ed tech folks will recognize some of the themes – individualized learning, learner choice, self-direction, – to name a few.

She goes on to say that for Paquette, “open is very much about learner choice.”

“No gates, no hoops, no end”

This isn’t from one of the blog posts curated by Maha Bali, but from a set of slides by Robin DeRosa that I found while searching for an image for the top of this post.

In one of the slides DeRosa states that open pedagogy emphasizes:

  • Community and collaboration over content
  • Connects the university with the wider public
  • Treats education as a learner-developed process
  • No gates. No hoops. No end.

The first three are pretty self-explanatory, and she goes on in later slides to discuss them further. [Addendum later: DeRosa also talks about the first and third points in this blog post included in the curated list by Maha Bali). The last one I think of as making learning as accessible as possible, and trying to make, as she says in a later slide, the community and the course continue even after it is over. One could do that by encouraging lasting connections between students, students and instructor, students and people outside the course, or between students and what they are studying such that they continue that work later. These things are my own interpretations of what she might mean by her last bullet point.


An interim conclusion

Basically what this review of some of the recent blog posts out there on open pedagogy has done for me is make me realize that I have been operating with a kind of list-of-activities view of open pedagogy, without really understanding why I think those activities should be categorized under “open practices.” And this feels pretty overwhelming because I have gone down the road in the past of trying to determine what I think “open” means and didn’t get very far. Partly because I think it’s quite likely different for different kinds of “open” practices and entities (e.g., open government, open science, open access, open source software, OER, etc.).

So what could it be that is added to “pedagogy” to make it open, that might be similar to or different from what is added to, for example, science or data that makes these open?

What’s even harder, for me, is that to start to answer that question one has to determine what “pedagogy” is (or andragogy, or heutagogy, as noted above). And the fact is, there are many different kinds of pedagogy. I’m starting to wonder if David Wiley might be right in suggesting that perhaps “open pedagogy” by itself makes less sense than trying to think about what “open constructivist pedagogy” or “open connectivist pedagogy” might be.

So for me, this might be another reason to start talking more about open educational practices and less about open pedagogy. Or maybe that will just lead to the same problems.

Okay, more tomorrow in part 2!

Sharing some stuff from my open EdTech road show

I’ve been on the road doing some talks and workshops this spring, and this blog post is more of a way for me to aggregate the various bits of media that has resulted over the past few months. Dumping stuff to my outboard brain.

Piloting Open Learning – Sandbox Collaborative podcast

My colleague Amanda Coolidge and I were guests on the Sandbox ColLABorative podcast with Brian Fleming, Deputy Director of the ColLABorative at Southern New Hampshire University. I met Brian at EDUCAUSE last fall and he invited us to take part as guests on the podcast, where we talked about the BC Open Textbook Project and the BC Open EdTech Collaborative and the work of BCcampus more generally. Podcast and transcript (nice!)

Open Technology: The Third Pillar of Open Education – Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Rajiv invited me to speak at KPU on open technologies. This was a completely new talk for me, picking up on some of the streams of my work over the past year on open technologies, privacy, student data. The talk is still rough and needs to be refined and I am grateful that I had a patient audience. But this is a theme that I hope to be able to speak more about in the future. Here are the slides

And the video (not often I have a talk captured, so grateful to Meg Goodine at KPU for putting their new Kaltura server to work).

BCNET Conference

BCNET is an annual higher ed IT conference here in BC. Think of it as a regional EDUCAUSE. I did three talks at BCNET. One was an operational talk with BCNET on the Kaltura Shared Service. The other two were in partnership with BC institutions.

NGDLE: From Monolithic to Disaggregation was a talk/facilitated discussion I did with Marianne Schroeder of UBC and Maureen Wideman of UFV. This is another theme of my work for the past year – exploring the changing role of the LMS and what kinds of potential opportunities and challenges institutions are facing as the LMS changes and evolves from the single learning technology, to be a central technology that others integrate with. I had some fun with the slide for this, as you’ll see, drawing comparisons of the LMS to a Swiss Army Knife.

The second presentation was with Scott Robarts and Auralea Mahood of Capilano University where they spent some time talking about their eportfolio project, built on WordPress. My piece was to come in at the end and talk about some of the other projects happening around BC built on WordPress at TRU and RRU, and again promote the work of Brian, Tannis and Grant and the BC EdTech Collaborative.

Creative Commons Global Summit 2017

So grateful to have been able to attend this event (thank you Creative Commons). I didn’t present, but was part of a Virtually Connecting session with Doug Belshaw, Laura Hilliger, Terry Greene, Alan Levine & Helen De Waard talking about co-op’s. I’ll have some separate posts about the summit and co-op’s in near future. For now, here’s the Virtual Connecting session.

Digital Pedagogy Network Symposium

The talk I never gave at the SFU/UVic Digital Pedagogy Network Symposium on open tools, open pedagogy (I had to miss my time slot waiting for a plumber at home). I’ll share the slides here anyway.

Building an Open Textbook

I did make it for the second day of the symposium where Amanda Coolidge and I facilitated a 2 hour workshop on building an open textbook where I did a deep dive into some of the early research about open textbooks, drawing on 2 blog posts I wrote about pedagogical features of textbooks (here and here.

Open Textbook for Intro to Philosophy

Drawing of a book with "open textbooks" on it, and arrows pointing out to people using the book in various contexts

Open Textbooks, by Giulia Forsythe on Flickr, licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

After talking about it for a few years, I am finally able to start working on an open textbook for introduction to philosophy courses. There are a few of us working on it already, and we’re going to need all the help we can get…so this post is to introduce the project and talk about how others can get involved.

Open textbooks

First, what is an “open textbook”? The easiest way to think about it is that it is like any other textbook except in two crucial respects:

First, it is free of cost to students. There is no price tag. This comes with another implication: we are doing this for free ourselves. There is no publisher who is paying us to create the textbook, and there are no “royalties.” But frankly, I can’t imagine ever making much off of a textbook anyway (how many new textbooks are there a year, and how many actually make money? I don’t know but I am skeptical of it being terribly lucrative in philosophy).

Second, open textbooks have an “open license” that allows others to reuse, revise, remix it with other things and release new versions publicly for others to use, revise, etc. The most common open licenses for educational resources like this are Creative Commons licenses, which come in several versions. See this CC page for a general discussion of the licenses and different license types; the University of British Columbia Creative Commons Guide has further information, including a comparison chart. The license we will be using for this textbook is the most permissible of the CC licenses that require attribution of the original content creators: CC BY, which lets content be used and revised by anyone for any purpose as long as the original creators are attributed.

Why do this?

I can’t speak for others, but I myself have two main motivations, having to do with the two characteristics of open textbooks given above.

  • Saving students money
    • Textbooks are expensive, and getting more so as time goes by. There is a good deal of research on open textbooks that explains the costs to students and how this affects them not just financially but pedagogically (e.g., when they go without textbooks because they are too expensive, or choose what courses to take based on textbook costs). I am co-author on an article whose literature review details some of this literature; I’ll try to remember to link to it here when it comes out (it’s in press right now). Or you can check out this 2016 research review on open textbooks by John Hilton (open access), though it doesn’t have information on costs.
    • I also get frustrated that students are paying a lot of money and I might not be using the whole textbook. Which leads to…
  • Ability to revise the book
    • Only want to use Chapters 3 and 8? Great–delete the rest.
    • Want to add in some of your own interpretations, or change what you think might be misleading, or add in a graphic you have created that helps illustrate an idea? Excellent–go ahead and change what’s there.
    • Can’t understand why the textbook excerpted Mill’s On Liberty in a way that leaves out that crucial part? Put it in!
    • Dislike the example used to illustrate a point because it only speaks to a limited audience of students and may not make any sense to others? Change it!
    • etc.

Basically what an open textbook does is provide a starting point that you can adjust if needed…or not. You can use it as is, or you can make it fit your course or context better. I want to be involved in a project that provides this starting point for myself and others.

For some, creating educational resources that are used by others can be considered for merit, tenure and promotion. That is going to depend on your college or university context.

Rebus open textbooks

We are working with an organization called The Rebus Foundation, a Canadian non-profit that is made up of wonderful people who are doing great things with digital publishing and open textbooks. We are part of several open textbook projects that are creating new models for publishing open textbooks, through connecting people into a community to collaborate on shared projects.

The Rebus open textbook projects are all being discussed on the Rebus Community Forum. There you can see and contribute to multiple textbook projects. Each is going to need help in the form of reviewing and copyediting as well as writing, so even if you just want to contribute a little without writing anything, that’s possible too. All help is appreciated.

Some basic parameters

Please see this document for an explanation of some of the basic parameters of the intro to philosophy open textbook, some of the ideas of what, generally, it should be like and why. The following is copied and pasted from part of that document:

This Open Textbook “Introduction to Philosophy” should be, firstly, an accessible introduction to philosophy, suitable for college or university students taking a philosophy class for the first time.

As such, the book should:

  • cover a broad range of the fundamental ideas in philosophy
  • present these fundamental ideas in a clear and accessible way
  • focus (first) on presenting existing arguments, rather than making novel arguments

As an Open Textbook, this Introduction should be considered the starting point: a reasonably complete (eventually), and relatively accessible “map” of the important intellectual traditions of philosophy.

But it should also be considered a framework upon which further (open) explorations could easily be built, further sections or additional materials added, by a professor for a particular class, by students as part of course work, or by future contributors (or current contributors) to the project itself.

Note that there is a table of contents on that document; we are not saying nothing else could be there. That is what we have come up with at the moment. As new people are added to the project, new sections might be created.

The process

I am serving as the main editor for the whole thing, but mostly what that means is being the central organizer. I will be writing some parts, but this is a joint venture that will come to fruition from the work of many people. That way, no one person has to do a great deal of work but it can be spread out. We’re all doing this on a volunteer basis, after all.d

Here is a list of tasks for the book.

I will be the overall editor, but each section of the book (e.g., ethics, social and political, metaphysics, philosophy of mind) will have a section editor who is responsible for that section. That means helping to find people to write subsections, arranging for others to review/comment on what has been written, ensuring those texts are copyedited (by themselves or by volunteers), etc.

Here is a post describing what we are envisioning for section editors.

We have already started discussions on general topics to include in a textbook for introduction to philosophy courses, and we found that we were rather scattered…so we have decided to start by focusing in on two sections. I asked the group who would be willing to be section editors, and we came up with two volunteers:

Ethics section: editor George Matthews (see here for a discussion board devoted to that)

Aesthetics section: editor W. Scott Clifton (see here for a discussion board devoted to that)

So those are the two sections we’re making a push on at the moment, but I would also love to hear if anyone else would like to volunteer as a section editor.

How do I get involved?

Does this sound intriguing? Or even better, are you excited to get started? Here are your next steps:

  1. Join the Rebus Community!
  2. Peruse the conversations we’ve had so far on this textbook if you want, and add your thoughts. It’s a long thread, but you can skim it! Introduce yourself and what you’re interested in about this project.
  3. Add your name and interest area to our spreadsheet (go to the ‘people’ tab at the bottom)
  4. If you would be willing to write something for the Ethics or Aesthetics sections, we are particularly interested in hearing about that right now. You can go straight to the discussion threads for those:
  5. Email me if you have questions: c.hendricks@ubc.ca
  6. Spread the word!!

 

 

Does Open Pedagogy require OER?

I recently had the opportunity to attend a student showcase of Digital Humanities projects, put on by the Digital Pedagogy Network. The Digital Pedagogy Network is a collaborative project between the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.

The context of the event was to give Digital Humanities students an opportunity to showcase the DH projects they have been working on to fulfill the requirements of their various undergrad/graduate level DH programs at UVIC and SFU. I am grateful to SFU Digital Scholarship Librarian (and Whitecaps soccer fan) Rebecca Dowson for suggesting that I attend. I am very happy that I did.

First and foremost, the student projects are fantastic. These are students that are working hard to capture and preserve significant, but often overlooked, pieces of our cultural heritage, like the Fred Wah archives. Fred Wah is a Canadian writer and Parliamentary Poet Laureate. His online archive is a DH project by English student Deanna Fong. Then there is the Wosk–McDonald Aldine Collection a digital preservation project being worked on by DH students and made available on the open web which celebrates the work of Aldus Manutius, “the Renaissance’s most innovative scholarly publisher”. There is a curated digital exhibition that explores authorship and readership of Victorian-era pornography created by BA students Erin Huxley, Keirsten Mend, Donna Langille and Leah de Roy, and a cultural mapping exhibition of the legends that are included in E. Pauline Johnson’s 1911 text, Legends of Vancouver,  which is based on the narratives of Chief Joe Capilano of the Squamish nation (and which prompted a great discussion around the tensions involved with non-Indigenous people researching and mapping Indigenous territories).

All of these educational resources, created by students and available on the open web. But none openly licensed.

Which made me consider open pedagogy and the way in which open pedagogy is defined. Granted, that term “open pedagogy” is fairly new and evolving. My first exposure to the term was in a 2013 (was it really 4 years ago?) blog post from David Wiley where David defines open pedagogy as being directly connected to the (at the time) 4R permissions of OER (emphasis mine).

Open pedagogy is that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and 4R permissions characteristic of open educational resources.

So, with that definition, the assignments that these students have done are not open pedagogy. While some of them do use open access resources (mostly public domain resources), none of the students have released their material with an open license, and, in fact, some resources are made available with full copyright and only under academic fair use policy.

But yet publicly available. On the open web. Students working on the open web, on meaningful projects.


But yet, not open pedagogy, at least by David’s definition.

Which made me wonder: is open pedagogy only possible if the work by a student meets the 5R open licensing criteria? Or is what makes open pedagogy open is that students are working in the open with their work on display to the world? Is that the defining feature of open pedagogy?

Don’t get me wrong. Encouraging students to release meaningful and significant work they do with an open license is the best possible outcome as it enables the widest possible distribution and application of their work. But if a student creates a meaningful piece of work and simply makes it open access on the web without actually assigning and open license to the work, does that make it a less meaningful and impactful open pedagogy experience?

To the students who created these projects, I would say the answer is no. In a Q&A I asked them to talk about working in the open and how they felt as students to have their work in the open and view-able to the world.  Their responses were that they felt it was important to have their work in the open; that they felt the work they were doing needed to be open and accessible to the wider world, and the world needed to know about this work. Not one said the reason they wanted their work open was to have it reflect favourably on them, or that it would look good as part of a digital resume/portfolio. They felt an urgency that their subject matter be made available to the broader pubic.  It mattered to them, and that motivated them. They wanted to do justice to their subject matter.

To me, this is open pedagogy. The motivation that it gives to students that what they do matters in the world. That they are contributing to something bigger and greater than themselves. That the work is meaningful. Yes, it would have an even greater impact if this work was released with an open license, but the fact that this work is not openly licensed doesn’t make it any less of an open pedagogy exercise to me.

As I was expressing this point on Twitter, Tannis  Morgan at the JIBC sent me a link to a wonderful blog post she wrote that made me realize that, despite having a French-Canadian last name, I should have paid closer attention to French class.  In the post, Tannis digs into the history of the term open pedagogy and finds traces of it in the linguistic culture wars of a 1979 Canada with Quebec educator named Claude Paquette.

Paquette outlines 3 sets of foundational values of open pedagogy, namely:  autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation.

In her post, Tannis wraps up with an astute observation

In other words, open pedagogy is currently a sort of proxy for the use and creation of open educational resources as opposed to being tied to a broader pedagogical objective.

Which begs the question; what is the broader pedagogical objective of open pedagogy? Does open pedagogy only exist when it is connected to the use and production of OER’s?

Addendum: After I wrote this, I realized that I had read an excellent 2014 interview with Tom Woodward in Campus Technology where Tom spoke at length about open pedagogy as a broad and holistic set of values and approaches.

Looking at open pedagogy as a general philosophy of openness (and connection) in all elements of the pedagogical process, while messy, provides some interesting possibilities. Open is a purposeful path towards connection and community. Open pedagogy could be considered as a blend of strategies, technologies, and networked communities that make the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all the people involved.

I think this holistic view of open pedagogy as a messy space where the values of openness inform teaching and learning practices is one that appeals to me.

Photo: BCOER Librarians by BCcampus_news CC-BY-SA

Adding Creative Commons licenses to Kaltura MediaSpace videos

I’ve been working on an internal BCcampus project to set up and configure Kaltura MediaSpace for our internal use. We have a number of use cases, not the least of which are providing a central hosting space for videos created as part of a grant associated with the BC Open Textbook Project. Since these videos will be openly licensed (as is everything we create at BCcampus), I want there to be a visible Creative Commons license with each video to let users know the terms of usage for each video.

Out of the box, MediaSpace has a lot of functionality, but the ability to apply a Creative Commons license to a video is not one of them. So, with a bit of consultation with my colleague (and knower of all Kaltura secrets) Jordi Hernandez at UBC, I was able to add a basic CC license field to the videos we host in Mediaspace.

It is actually a pretty straightforward 2 step process. First, you need to create custom metadata fields in the Kaltura Management Console (KMC), then you have to enable the fields in the Kaltura Mediaspace administration console.

I am using an OnPrem service of Kaltura. The MediaSpace instance I am working on is 5.38.07.

Create Custom Fields in the KMC

After logging into the KMC, I went to Settings > Custom Data. This is where I will set up the custom data scheme and define the CC licenses. Click Add New Schema to create a new Creative Commons Metadata Schema. Give your Schema a name, description and a system name. The system name should be one word and short. We want each video to be able to have their own CC license, so we want this metadata schema to apply to Entries and not Categories.

Once you have the Schema set up, you will want to add the actual licenses as field values. Choose Add field and enter in the different CC licenses that you want to make available to your users. These are the options they will see when they upload a new video, and what people who view the video will see on the screen associated with the video. I chose to make my list a Text Select List so that it would appear as a drop down menu for the person uploading the video.

One nice feature of the custom metadata schemas in Kaltura is that you can enable these items to be searched for in the built in search engine. So, with CC licensed material, someone could come to our video portal site and search for nothing but CC0 videos in our collection. I haven’t explored this fully yet, but it does seem to work at a granular level. Which is both good and bad. Good if you want to search for a specific type of CC licensed content in our collection, like a CC0 or CC-BY video. But not so great if you wanted to search for all CC licensed videos regardless of flavour.

Once that is done, the Schema is setup and we can now slip over to MediaSpace to apply it.

Add the custom fields to the upload form in MediaSpace

I logged into the MediaSpace admin console. The area we want to play in is called Customdata. It may appear with a line through it in your admin console. That just means that the module has not been activated.

Go into the Customdata module and make sure it is enabled. In the profileid field, you should be able to find the custom metadata schema that you just created in the KMC. Choose that. You can also make the field a required field and, if you wish, enable the showInSearchResults field to enable the search index.

 

That’s it. Save the changes and you now have added a custom CC license field to your videos. When someone uploads a video to MediaSpace, they will have an additional field in a dropdown menu that they can choose a CC license to apply to the video.

And, when people come to view the video in the MediaSpace site, they will see that the video is licensed with a Creative Commons license.

Now when we upload a video to our MediaSpace site, we can assign it a Creative Commons license that people can see.

Good first step

For me, this is a good first step that gives us the option to apply a visual marker to the video in MediaSpace. However, what would be great (and I am not sure that this can be done) would be to have that CC license metadata embedded in the page in the correct metadata format for CC licenses. This would ensure that it would be found in search engines when people search for CC licensed content.

The second improvement would be to somehow embed that CC license metadata right in the video so that if some were to take a copy of this video, the original license information would go along with the actual video when they downloaded it. Doubt that is possible, but that would be a great feature for organizations like ours that produce a lot of openly licensed content.

Finally, I think that it might be a good idea to add a visual bumper as part of the video that would spell out the CC license. It is what we currently do with our videos, and is good practice to help make it clear that the content is openly licensed.

Photo: CC Stickers by Kristina Alexanderson CC-BY

Open Network Learning at Royal Roads University

Next week I begin teaching a course in the Royal Roads MA in Learning & Technology (MALAT) program. The opportunity to teach in the program came up via George Veletsianos and the MALAT program head Elizabeth Childs.

This is a course that George usually teaches in the MALAT program, but George (and Elizabeth) are currently busy developing a new MALAT program at RRU.

Last week, I had the chance to see the new program when I attended a 2 day session at RRU with other associate faculty from both the MALAT program and the wider School of Education.

The new MALAT program at RRU is intriguing. Really intriguing. Theoretical foundations for the program emphasize open pedagogy and network learning.

Over the past 5 years, there has been extensive consultations with various stakeholder groups. The results are a graduate level education program that feels innovative, contemporary, and grounded in the reality of what it takes to learn in a digital, networked enabled world.

It’s a bold vision. Students in the program will take an active and participatory role with the wider education community. They will openly blog (on a newly set up WordPress network at Royal Roads) and develop a social media presence, using both of these tools as pedagogical springboards to take a deep dive into the world of open, networked learning.

Not to dismiss my own experiences as a MALAT grad and the program at the time I was a student (yes, I have all kinds of tendrils intertwined with RRU and this particular program), but there is a small part of me that is slightly remorseful that the timing for a program like this wasn’t quite right 8 years ago when I enrolled as a student. Blogging, using social media, developing a professional network, and using social media tools as personal learning tools is how I operate.

Needless to say, I am smitten with the vision for the program.

What has jazzed me the most in the days since the retreat is that my thinking has been re-energized. I have been jolted back to some of the past work I did on network learning and informal learning, much of which went into my Masters thesis. Things I haven’t thought or written about in years. I realize that I miss having the time and space that a graduate program provides to really think about this stuff; about how the Internet has changed the nature of informal learning, and how important it is to prepare learners with the skills and knowledge to truly become life-long learners.

I see it everyday in my kids as they digitally manouver between formal and informal learning situations. They follow their own interests and passions via YouTube videos and online courses. Beside the regular social stuff that teens and pre-teens do with friends, they do video hangouts with their friends to complete homework assignments. They get daily mobile prompts on their phones to complete micro-French lessons, and stay playfully motivated to keep ahead of their uncle on the leaderboard. They collaborate on school projects with their peers using web-based tools, conducting research online.

These are the types of learning activities I see pedagogically reflected in the new MALAT program that excites me. And I feel lucky to be part of the ride.

Photo: Open Teaching – Thinning the Walls – Revision #2 by Alec Couros CC-BY-NC-SA