Cameron Esslemont – Open Content to Meaningful Learning

October 30, 2007


Cameron Esslemont – Open Content to Meaningful Learning
Originally uploaded by openlearn2007Cameron Esslemont: Bridging the abyss open content to meaningful learningTalking about the issues surrounding the sharing and re-deployment of material that is freely available. One of the key articles is a memory stick! So, when creating openlearn material, you need to think inside the learner’s box, when the learner is actually learning offline.So – series of steps to serve the offline learner.

Deploy digital repository that is available offline

Look at extraction of information into a portfolio

Better Content Searching
He begins by talking about OER libraries. Material uploaded by people who want to disseminate and share material, and simply put it online. However searching is difficult for people – they end up with tons of material that they can’t sift through. So the first thing they did to make material more accessible was to create a keyword search facility to help learners find meaningful information. So, immediately users get more information about the context of what he or she is searching for. Using a point and click method of selecting search terms rather than having to type them in.

Concept of learning in terms of thematic portfolios. Thematic domains at the student level.

So – what was the effect of OpenLearn movement?
They’re looking for organisations like OpenLearn who give them access to information that they can then extract, say using XML, to the desktop. The system detects the format automatically.

He points out that many may say that this is too complex for the user, but this would take place at the resource centre. Just select what you want, click to say that it comes from OpenLearn and then download. Librarians get excited about being able to specify which referencing system to use, but end users just want to be able to download material and understand what rights they have to it.

He’s demonstrating the system as he talks and it is quite interesting. In comparison to the OpenLearn website, it does look fairly unsophisticated (less whizzy) but I think that it’s simplicity probably makes it far more accessible to a wider audience.

This looks like just the sort of value-added service that OpenLearn is designed to fit in with. But it does make me wonder whether OpenLearn is as accessible as it might be.

However, some users wanted the portfolios created for them. He says that he has lots of modified content from OpenLearn, but that we won’t find this stuff on our OpenLearn website because copyright won’t allow them to re-upload it. He says they have a lot of material they can send back to the OpenLearn site, but that he cannot do this under the share alike license. I think he mentions the page level attribution and that at this level, the content can’t be changed and re-uploaded, but I may have lost the thread a bit here. It sounds like OpenLearn may be missing out on acquiring some content because of it’s license. Probably worth following up on this.

Now moves onto compendium. Apparently there are some problems with linking to compendium. He displays a map that may have been created out of compendium, but is certainly not produced by compendium. Talks about producing concept maps and their role in group learning – but I get the impression that compendium is somehow incompatible with their system.

Overall, a very interesting talk. It’s nice to hear somebody talk in real terms about how they’ve actually used and adapted open content to suit the needs of learners.  It’s also interesting to listen to the barriers to such use. 

He’s summarising now using compendium.

 Adopted an unconventional approach. Trying to get from Open Content to Meaningful Learning. Went into detail about what remoteness means – not just geographical, but cultural, technological, gender, linguistic, telecommunications. Also looked at dimensions of access and attempted to resolve issues using their portfolio system. Taking content and massaging it so that somebody else can pick it up. 

Technology: XML, Memory stick, RSS and VOIP.

Process: Information aggregation, personalisation accreditation

Cost: Segmented value chain and open accounting.

Concludes that the final step is always manual. Either the learner comes and picks up a usb stick, or they have to go to print. Don’t delude yourselves that everybody has a computer.

OpenLearn – great – he can strip out what he wants

MIT – comes as a chunk

Prerequisites can be a pain. Often he’s downloading stuff and comes across a pre-requisite that isn’t actually on the site.

Re-use and re-mix

Persistence – he doesn’t like the idea of people modifying the original content and putting it back because he cannot then guarantee that the same material will still be available.

Chap from Peoples Uni – Asks about the copyright problem mentioned earlier. Still didn’t quite understand the problem. There is alot of grey material out there, people download it but there seems to be some problem about them using it, but I can’t quite work it out. Maybe somebody else who was at the talk can comment and elaborate on this as I keep missing the point.

Marc Eisenstat from the OU. Senses a tension between the tools that are appropriate for the learner and those that are appropriate for the educator. Tools look nice for the person assembling the materials but then you have the learner who has beautifully preassembled stuff but maybe doesn’t need all this.

Cameron – The full tool is the electronic resource centre where librarian or curator can help you put together your teaching assets. Then for the learner they can download the map, the booklet and representation. They can go and re-order that on their desktop if they want to.

Marc wonders how he reconciles this with the fact that learners will be doing other things. Do they actively encourage that – going to wikipedia etc.

Cameron says yes they cater for this very well by allowing students to add additional material to their portfolio on their desktop. Finds that students are quite discerning about what they want to keep.

Seb Schmoller – Holds up his usb stick and asks if Cameron has talked to the $100 laptop people.

Cameron is talking about running the booklet type compendium on the usb using firefox. This is useful for many people in developing world countries where delivery of internet is not through fixed line, but through mobile. Not the fact that it’s there, but can you afford it when it is there. They plan to talk to the$100 laptop people but plan to when they have content online. Optometry repository due to go online in November.

Seb – Will there be a bottleneck if you’re concentrating on stuff with huge demand

Cameron – the tool will go on the $100 laptop. OpenLearn does not have course on Optometry, but he does. He’d like to upload it back to the OpenLearn website where everybody could access it.

Eileen Scanlon – Noted that Cameron had put copyright on his material and asks what he’s asserting by this

Cameron – he’s asserting that he’s the author under the creative commons license.

Eileen Scanlon – Asks what he authored – the learning sequence

Cameron – He designed the original diagram and is happy for people to use that provided they acknowledge his authorship.

Eileen – there were many concept maps.

Cameron – authorship rests with them.

Hmm, interesting discussion.

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2 Responses to “Cameron Esslemont – Open Content to Meaningful Learning”


  1. […] content is equally accessible to people. Andrew is talking about visually impared people, earlier Cameron spoke of learners from socially or economically deprived groups. This must be one of the biggest […]


  2. I held up my USB stick because when I bought it 5 years ago it cost $200 – i.e. what an OLPC laptop currently is said to cost. I felt that Cameron’s ealier comment that a $100 laptop was “never going to happen” – or something along those lines – might have been injudicious.

    Seb


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