Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Open Ed Week 4: On constructivism and knowledge and...

The three readings from the past weeks have all been somewhat of an overview of the Open Education Movement (see posts below for synopses and reactions). The text, Giving Knowledge for Free, Talks mainly about the movement, reasons behind it and the models that it embodies. This text gives little suggestion for the direction that the OER movement needs to take in the next few years, rather, it tells about the movement based on survey information. Interesting notes about this article can be seen in previous posts under Open educational resources and the decentralized development model. It is interesting that most who share educational resources rarely do it for personal benefit or money. As Karen wrote in her blog, wikinomics explains how open resources and capitalism are not mutually exclusive, “And once you start thinking about changing the world, who cares how much money you make?” Great point Karen. It seems like those who share OERs already do well financially anyway. But this is a loaded comment, because open educational resources are out there to help the disadvantaged (financially and otherwise), yet in order to localize it purveyors of OER will have to rely on those same people who do not have money or time.

An interesting note about using the word knowledge (as in this text's title) to describe open educational resources or open content is made by David Wiley on his blog. I couldn't agree more with him, free knowledge can never be provided on the internet. Last year at OpenEd 2006, Dr. Paul Kirschner said something about how learning does not happen online or at a university, it happens in the mind of the learner. It takes a knower to have knowledge, and until the knower interacts with the content, it cannot become knowledge. what is on the web will always remain content.

A random video:

The OLCOS road map also provides a survey of the OER movement but talks more in depth about the end user/remixer/re-sharer. This person is often viewed as a mere user (see below under learning with media, not from). Of all of the three readings, this one resonated better with me because it talks about how the open education resources movement will have to provide support for users of OERs to help them appropriately use OERs in the classroom etc. and reshare them for continuing spread of OERs. This is where I believe the field of open educational resources converges with instructional technology. Practitioners need to be supported in using open educational resources in appropriate ways to effectively instruct (see below under learning with media, not from).

This text also talks a lot about constructivist virtues such as end users remixing and re-sharing resources. A post by Rob Barton, on a relevant blog entry not associated with this class talks about a constructivist learning environment, the results of which indicate that, "the effectiveness of the constructivist environment relies heavily on the learner's task management and decision-making processes." Rob mentions that this is a loaded conclusion. I believe that students in the information age need to have quality task management and decision-making processes that they use. Rob continues, “so do constructivist learning environments fail because of inherent problems in the process or because we have trained students (and been trained ourselves) that the teacher's job is to stand in front of a classroom expounding and exhorting while the student's role is to sit there and bask in our glory, soaking up the knowledge that we spew forth? ” I think that this is hitting the nail on the head. The OLCOS roadmap talks a lot about supporting learners to be able to analyze the quality of information, use self-directed learning skills, practice task management, and make good decisions etc. to become lifelong learners. Students will increasingly need these skills as they get into a knowledge based economy. The old model of “sage on the stage” will not achieve these results. But a paradigm shift will need to take place in our education system.

The OLCOS report clearly advocates such a paradigm shift and is quite ambitious. Sylvia put it very well when she said, “I liked the fact that OLCOS looked beyond the provision of OERs and LOs and recognized many of the inherent barriers in our current educational systems. I just have some serious doubts that there is any possibility of achieve their goals by 2012!” Yet this paradigm shift will have to happen if the potential of OERs is going to be achieved. Otherwise it could just become the next in a series of failed innovations in education.

In A Review of the Open Educational Resources Movement, The authors talk specifically to the hewlett foundation and give recommendations to the foundation about where to put their money in the future. This text overviews prominent projects dealing with open educational resources and then talks about future technologies that will allow for the spread of open educational resources. What is noticeably left out in this text is any mention of instructional effectiveness. The authors are focused mainly on technologies that are used to share OERs. The author mentions that content + context is king. I don't agree. I think that content + context is great, but content + context + effective instruction is king. Sometimes advocates of OERs miss the point. The point is to help more people get more education, not more content or more access to the internet or digital resources. These are only the means to the end.

1 comment:

  1. Does this paradigm shift you describe have to be system-wide? Can it not start with one professor and a few classes? If so, how then does it propagate through the system? If not, what other model is there?

    If you doubt it can be done by 2012, can it every be done?