Research Panel Team for the second day

October 31, 2007


Research Panel Theme for the second day
Originally uploaded by openlearn2007

The panel has changed slightly … Josie isn’t here … and there is a promise of no ppts 🙂

Erik is starting: He thinks of openness as being removing barriers and he is afraid that he cannot ideologically can stick or he doesn’t care about things he has to pay for it (i.e. happy for his university to pay for it), for it just needs to be there when he wants it there – he just wants convenience. He wants to remove the barriers (he is just repeating what he said earlier). He thinks we often worry too much in advance about the barriers when these barriers are only in our heads. He is talking about if a few years ago if we talked about putting out our content a committee would have been set up to decide if they wanted to put out these content and how to do it … he is saying with google and yahoo doing it – we are all too happy to get it indexed right away now …

Robin: Implications of the OER is quite vast in particular at the OU, where content has always been highly prized, then the role of the tutor in the OU becomes vague and it needs to be rethought about. Some people at the OU are quite wedded to their content and can’t see themselves without it. She is seeing scope for having institutions for accreditation etc. but she doesn’t see it happening … because there have been lots of technology new dawns (cites the examples of tv showing the best lecture) – and this never happened. She thinks that OER should become part of our scholarly activity. Libraries have been around for 150 years and it has not dented university roles – content is not everything … content is NOT king, whoever said it was king … it is so ISN’T. OER is just a modern version of a library – the OU has gone a bit further by providing tools – we therefore need some more support … gives an example of some guy who learned and became an expert on Turkish carpets through reading books. Talks about some other guy who failed to get into medical school in because he didn’t know Botecelli (?) painted the Venus.

John (?American guy ?): Talks about the OU degrees being accepted as being perfectly accepted degrees here in the UK. His job is to be the director of the OpenContent Consortium at MIT. He is wondering if people putting up more course materials up would make any significant difference. Mentions creative commons, wikiversity etc – things he picked up from the last 2 years. He is thinking we have the raw materials (nails, hammer and board) but we’re not sure what we’re building or rather to what end are we doing this for. He is thinking that we should consider how all how individual little projects fall into the grander scheme. He is thinking at some point we should get something call a “Open degree” but this does not replace the formal education … He likes the idea of that big goal, although it is controversial and may cause fear in people’s hearts.

Terry (American? Canadian?): We are not culturally equipped for rapid change … there is a crisis coming into higher education as the entry class is declining whilst life-long learning is increasing … the reason we have been doing so well, is because the university people have connections in the elite and the cabinets .. and he thinks until there is a cultural crisis there isn’t going to be any change to use these in any big way … Athabasca is planning to start accreditation these courses and have applied to the Hewlett foundation to do this. What are we assessing and how do we assess? Especially with the plagiarism issues and especially with the life-long issues.

Andrew: We are in a state of crisis … and what is going to follow on … he cannot separate digital revolution with the OER. With the context of this, he winces when he hear contents too much. He would like a change in educational practices, new epistemology … He is saying phase 1 has been the technology as we’ve developed enough content to last out a life time … and should enter phase 2 (not sure what this is) … he is thinking we should look at tools instead … in particular use and reuse of tools. If things are going to be used it should address a problem or do something interesting and we’ve been commodifying things. We need to form social relationships and do interesting things together – and we can have a bigger landscape in which to do these things as we become more fluent in these digital technologies. If we stop being in those old-fashion models then things become more interesting and fun.

Question time:

Simon: Is saying that academics don’t creative content but rather narrative as everything they do is free and is out there … if that is what academics have always done then people will continue to do that as people are lazy.

Steve: How do you acquire a skill … as these are usually acquired through practice? This sometimes get missed …

Andrew: He thinks it is absolutely true but cannot be change, becoming competent in these new digital literacies is not going to happen in a one-day training course but being committed to engaging with it. Mentions Imagine a programme on BBC that shows web 2.0 stuff – asks if anyone watches it – as it turns out nobody does.

Denise: What does the panel think about heading up a mix-and-match university of the future? How can you accredit me in some way when we do taster courses?

Terry: Athabasca has been doing that with $100 to challenge the exams and something etc. He is saying that his students would do things for marks but wouldn’t do things without the incentive marks. He is saying he doesn’t agree with Simon, as he thinks the narrative can be spun by other students and other people in general.

Erik: He doesn’t agree with the marking thing – the only reason why the students are so focused on marking is because they show up after 12 years of being conditioned to marking and also most of the things we teach have no relationship to their lives so unless we have the marks they won’t care about it. He mentions his 85 yr old father who goes to classes to enjoy it (makes a joke – which we heartily laugh at – that his father alone raises the average age of the class).

UNICEF guy (Mike?) – He is referring back to John’s speech. He’s talking about a book “White man’s burning” (?) – he is saying he works at the UN and he knows that big ideas don’t work. He is saying historically that it mightn’t work. He is saying let’s use the survival of the fitness format, in that if we continue in the small projects that we do, then the best one will eventually succeed. He is saying that the content we need is probably no longer quantitative but qualitative since in the 3rd world country that the content is quite archaic. He is thinking that this will be a great thing for the African continent. There is a real hunger for knowledge by the young people – so more knowledge available – all the better.

Robin: Is giving an example about Nepal that money was given to build a library but no money for books. And she now understands why they use an instructivist approach but it is because they don’t have the resources and hence everything has to come from the teacher.

Some guy: How does OER links to research?

Robin: Is talking about an European project which she has funding for in writing course materials and checking to see how easy they’re able to write them … talking about a participant in her project said that it might be easier to start from scratch rather than reuse materials.

Erik: Saying there is a lot of irrelevant research occurring as well as in teaching … and by making things more transparent or in a metadata style then it can become better.

Terry: I think there is a huge opportunity for research … (but there is little funding for it in comparison to health research) but does thinks it is a good idea.

Andrew: Thinks are changing quickly so we need to ask the right research questions and be quite agile in the way we do things so it can feed into it quickly … so we have to change our research methods.

John: He is commented on big ideas being impossible (UNICEF guy) – and he is saying call me an idealist (?) but he just look at Google and Wikipedia they’ve done well, but he takes the point that most big ideas fail … but that we shouldn’t lose the spark that a big idea might just break through. And that we can have a lot of fun doing it.

Robin: Was Web 2.0 a big idea … no it just grew suddenly

Andrew: Is saying that lots of things weren’t considered as a big idea such as the internet.

UNICEF guy: Says that one thing we’re missing that the biggest motivator was profit (in reference to Google) whilst we don’t have that in the OER.

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4 Responses to “Research Panel Team for the second day”


  1. OK, mapping this session was more realistic than doing JSB’s keynote, since it was a true multiway discussion. Although I’m obviously a true convert to Dialogue Mapping already, I genuinely think that this example shows how contributions at different points on the same issue (“returning to Bob’s point raised earlier…”) can be linked in a coherent way to bring out the conceptual structure of the debate.

    This map, plus JSB’s, plus slides on our paper’s homepage:

    http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/document.cfm?docid=10451

    Simon

  2. sgodwin Says:

    I perhaps found the final session a little negative after a very positive experience at the conference. I certainly did not get the feeling of crisis, rather opportunity, innovation and invention.

    For me it was John’s talking of the notion of the emergence of a ‘Big Idea’ that represented a vision for the future…that out of these projects and from the enthusiasm of creators and users something spectacular would come into being.

    Ok…call me and optimistic but….let’s wait and see!

  3. simonfj Says:

    Yo Steve (it is steve isn’t it?)
    But wait and see? I think it just needs a proposal, like this one. http://info.cern.ch/Proposal.html
    something vague but exciting

    I can’t help but feel that it’s just in front of us, if we could just get past this idea of burying a groups records inside (institutional) domains (names.

    Imagine what would have happened if TBL had pointed from his “A proposal X” to his little group rather than his institution (CERN). By now the web would have been populated by tens of thousands of (subject specific) global groups. Oh that’s right, it is!


  4. The panel got on to talking about a crisis in education as a reason for the world to take open resources seriously. While it could be seen as negative to say that such a crisis is approaching, from the point of view of working on open content it says this is the right sort of thing to do to address the changing world.


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