Live blogging 9AM – 18th March 2010 – GUIDE Workshop, Rome

Dr Indrajit Banerjee of the UNESCO ICT in Education, Science and Culture starts by considering some of the challenges and benefits of distance education.

Next, he recommends practitioners the use of  the ICT Competence benchmarks for teachers, launched by UNESCO.

UNESCO is focusing on 3 key areas, having launched its Open Suite Strategy.  It has 3 components: 1) Open  educational resources (Unesco is developing its own educational resources platform); 2) Open Access to Scientific Information and 3) Free and open source software.

He also mentioned UNESCO’s Open Training Platform (OTP) with more than 3500 courses in 21 subject areas. The OTP has over 630 training providers and has attracted more than 1 million visitors (


At OLnet/TEL day workshop. The group discusses what it means to be a researcher 2.0 .

Martin Weller presents his session on Elluminate and and points to the importance of trying and exploring new media and innovative ways of publishing and sharing content.

‘Liberate the archive’ is Martin’s message to the Open University. The community could consider more ‘distributed research’, with a set of interesting research questions generated by the community. Share results in a wiki for example, and blogs to overlap and share parallel conversations.

Working on the OpenLearn project I think one of the surprises has been the ingenuity shown by other people. When we launched there were somethings that were in need of a bit of development. One of those was the upload/download of content. But at least it was possible. That has proved to be a good move as a few people have now taken the XML we provide and reworked it to suit themselves. I suspect I only know about some cases as there is no need to ask permission or contact us in order to do what you wish with the content.

The key example for me is the work that Tony Hirst has been up to on his OUseful site. Motivated at first by wanting to provide different navigation Tony took our XML apart and made it into RSS feeds. He has then played with it in various ways including a very neat way to make the content into daily feeds. He has set up a way to subscribe to the OpenLearn courses on a daily basis. Have a look at (If you want to try it and you are not using an RSS feedreader at the moment then Google Reader is fairly straightforward). I presented a joint paper with Tony at the TENCompetence workshop, the paper and presentation for that are available via

At the technical side this is a push towards providing RSS feeds so that there is no need to convert our pages before processing. On the more general side it should encourage us to consider ways to have various of the possibilities that the open content offers happen, whether as part of our core site or through the efforts of others.

Tony Hirst is not the only one working with OpenLearn content, at the same conference Stefan Dietze from the Luisa project talked about ways to use the content to illustrate the semantic web and learning designs. These are both examples from people working at the OU, but with no connection to OpenLearn. A further example comes from Australia where as part of their work on a Global Library Services Network OpenLearn content is being put into a collection of material under Creative Commons licence so that it can be distributed to remote communities.

There is no need for anyone to ask us or work with us to do this sort of thing – so is there anything else out there yet to be found?


July 24, 2006

The use of patterns in the project is definitely taking off. They are now an integral part of the transformation prcess and I think they are serving a good purpose alongside the integrity model for the content. It means that even if changes are limited the report back gives the transformation team a chance to explain ideas and share their interpretation.

Ideas for later trials

July 24, 2006

The open content system is potentially of use to eveyone. However as Maurice Sloman said in a recent seminar it is hard to design only for emergent use, he would rather try to meet the needs of some user group, and then let other uses emerge. This means we should  pick some targets we expect to be included and set out to study them. Candidates include:

  • Transistion from school to university

  • Remote communities – the commonwealth of learning has sugested the virtual university of the small states of the commonwealth

  • Enthusiast communities – e.g. Birdwatchers, sports fans, health, etc.

  • Retired people

  • Education drop outs

  • Partner universities eg in Brazil

There are many more.


July 24, 2006

We are starting to plan the trial set for OpenLearn. I am very keen to set up two early trials. One would be be as initial technology trial with some friendly users very probably from aross the university. They would be able to understand the role for the system and step it through but stop short of a real test. The second trial though would take a potential uer group through a scenario. This use of trials worked well  on the MOBIlearn mobile learning project and should take place as soon as we can, in practice that will be September.

I have now produced the research and evaluation plan. I always knew it would be quite tricky to do this so had written in a couple of month delay before issueing it. That time has been very useful in bringing out ideas and adjusting the emphasis however I have also felt the lack of a written plan so with hindsight I should have made myself deliver this earlier. I intend the plan to serve as a way to collect thoughts and options as well as tie down things that must be done. This fits with the model for agile research that I proposed last year. To emphasise the living nature of the plan I am putting it in a space on the wiki and also publicly available on the KN. Preparing the plan also remminded me about our short timescales and the need to get moving on a research environment, initial trials and data collection methods.