OER university: Feb 16-Mar 2, 2011

Take the OER Challenge!

Take the OER Challenge!

by Paul Stacey -
Number of replies: 11
Given the world wide interest in the upcoming OER University events I thought I'd define an early activity and invite you all to start right away.

Take the OER Challenge

The OER Challenge is a dare to all of you that tests out the ideas behind the OER University.

The OER challenge is a three step dare:

Step 1. Identify a set of learning objectives you personally want to achieve.
  • These can be formal or informal.
  • You can find and pursue learning objectives that are part of formal academic offering.
  • You can identify informal personal learning objectives that are an area of interest you'd like to know more about or skill you'd like to acquire.
  • Reply to this OER Challenge post with your objectives in point form.

Step 2. Find OER that help you meet those learning objectives.
  • Pair the OER you find with the learning objectives you identified in step 1.
  • Try and find OER that not only includes content relevant to your learning objectives but learning activities too.
  • Reply to your Step 1 OER challenge post with a follow-on posts or series of posts identifying OER related to your learning objectives.

Step 3. Identify who you'd like to have as your OER credentialing agent.
  • Who is qualified to assess you to ensure the learning has occurred?
  • Who would you like to see as the entity that publicly states that you have achieved those learning objectives?

That's it.
Easy as 1, 2, 3!

If you decide not to personally take the OER Challenge I encourage you to help those who are by assisting them in finding OER related to their objectives and/or suggesting credentialing agents.


In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Wayne Mackintosh -
Hi Paul, First a word of thanks from to you and BCcampus from the OER Foundation on behalf of the 100s of educators who have registered for the open planning meeting and millions of learners the OER university concept will serve for the foresight and initiative to host a pre-meeting Seminar. BIG thank you BCcampus.

So here is my response to your dare to take up the OER challenge :-)

Step 1: Learning objectives

My specific objectives with this seminar is through a process of sharing and networking to find out what we need to do realise free learning for all students of the world, ie what are the barriers and opportunities to creating an "OER university", and what are the steps we need to take to achieve this objective.

I'm hoping that the seminar will provide substantive inputs for the meeting agenda of 23 February 2011 so we can start collaborative work on the development of a logic model for the OER university concept -- i.e. inputs, initiatives, activities, outputs and ultimate outcomes.

Step 2: FInd OER that can help.

Good question -- I've not conducted any detailed search for OER on how to plan an OER university -- perhaps there are open content materials available in the Higher Education Management disciplines that focus on this kind of strategic planning. However, that said all the planning documentation that will be developed by this collaboration will be OER. The OER Foundation subscribed to open philanthropy -- which means all the strategic planning documents will be carry open content licenses and therefore be OER. It's rather COOL -- out collaborative planning for an OER university will be OER :-) We've started listing resources which we think will be valuable in helping us plan for the OER university -- please feel free to add to the list. For example, Paul's blog post on the University of Open is an OER (thanks Paul for releasing this under an open content license) and provides a high-level big picture of what is possible. Fortunately there is no copyright on ideas - -so we can used closed resources to plan the OER university cool.

Step 3 -- Who would you like to have as your OER credentialising agent.

The OER university concept must plan for credible credentials -- this mission critical to the success of the concept. I don't see the OER university as a separate entity that confers degress - -rather, it is a virtual collaboration which works in partnership with existing institutions in the formal education sector. I would like to see OER learners earning credentials from the same institutions which confer degrees in the formal system. Think of the OER university concept as creating what Prof Jim Taylor from USQ has called a "parallel learning universe" which augments and adds value to existing post-secondary provision.

Paul -- great challenge to get the ball rolling. I enjoyed that :-D.

In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Paul Stacey -
Awesome to see Wayne's OER challenge response already.

Having devised the OER Challenge I thought I'd actually take it myself too.

I'm involved in an OER science related initiative right now that involves year one physics, biology and chemistry courses.

I've decided to pursue Physics 100 learning objectives to see how easy it might be to assemble the learning required through OER.

First challenge is finding clearly defined learning objectives that fit my learning interests. After looking around some I found that it's actually difficult to find clearly written Physics 100 learning objectives. I eventually chose Physics 100 learning outcomes associated with a University of British Columbia course. http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~kotlicki/Phys100/

The Course Goals state that students should be able to:
  1. Apply conservation of energy and thermal physics principles to real-world thermal systems, such as home heating and climate change.

  2. Apply knowledge of work and Newton's laws to calculate basic dynamics and energy consumption of common transportation systems (cars, bicycles etc.)

  3. Qualitatively explain how electricity is generated in various types of power plants and the “life cycle” of electricity from production through transmission to consumption, and calculate power consumption for various common circuits.

  4. Use algebra to solve simple equations.

  5. Appreciate that while physics often gives approximate answers, it is very relevant to the real world and is a useful tool for solving problems at the global as well as the personal level.

  6. Develop the inclination and ability to apply problem solving techniques to simplify "real world" problems in terms of simple physics concepts and to compute or estimate solutions.

  7. Recognize that scientific conclusions - whether from an outside source or from your own calculations - may be incorrect, and develop the ability to check these conclusions with simple calculations, 3rd party information, and/or common sense.

I like the way these learning objectives are related to human life - home heating, climatic change, transportation systems, power plants, ...

I also like the goals that relate to physics becoming a personal and global problem solving tool.

Let the OER adventure begin.

I'm on the search for physics OER that can help me achieve these outcomes.
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Ethel Enstrom -

I'll be interested to follow your quest. I'd also be interested in the story of your search--which repositories, how much time, etc.

Good luck.

In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Paul Stacey -
OK, so I've started my search and thought I'd log a bit about where I've searched and the time it takes in light of Ethel's request.

First I did a search for Physics at http://freelearning.ca.

Based on the results returned I decided to start with the PhET Interactive Simulations site http://phet.colorado.edu which provides fun, interactive research-based simulations of physical phenomena for free. Searching physics on PhET returns 93 results some of which relate to my objectives. However, when I started to review some of the actual resources that seemed relevant the additional information showed that the standards these activities were targeted to were for K-12 not post secondary. So I decided to move on.

I'm very interested in the possibility of finding a free, open textbook for my physics 100 and the Free Learning search results indicated there was a book Motion Mountain The Adventures of Physics that is a free physics textbook and even has a section on "the physics of love". Well given tomorrow is Valentine's day that sounded interesting so I went to check it out. (Its hard to stay focused on my learning outcomes when there is so much interesting related material.)
http://www.motionmountain.net/index.html In looking through the Contents (http://www.motionmountain.net/contents.html) it seemed to me that the first volume related to my outcomes but the remaining volumes seemed a bit advanced. So I downloaded the first volume which comes as a .pdf. I've taken a quick skim through it and find it really quite interesting - lots of tables, full colour images, and diagrams illustrating concepts. Also asks interesting questions like "Why do clocks go clockwise?" and puzzlers like ‘Where am I?’ is a common question; ‘When am I?’ is never asked, not even in other languages. Why?" This book extends the exploration of physics into unusual dimensions. I've set it aside for now but intend to come back with one of my specific learning objectives in mind and see how well it supports me in achieving them.

Sticking with results generated by Free Learning for a while and knowing I'm a visual learner I decided to explore the Open Video Project http://www.open-video.org. Again I searched for physics and 32 videos were found. I've decided it might be worth focusing on my objectives to narrow down what I'm finding and have picked the one that relates to applying Newton's laws to common transportation systems (cars, bicycles etc.). One of the search results NASASciFiles - The Case of the Radical Ride (2004) is 10 video segments exploring the future of transportation involving concept cars and how new vehicles will look like in the future. That sounds interesting. I clicked through for more info. Its a hundreds of MB download but seems quite relevant - explores the history of transportation including inventions such as the wheel, steam engine and combustion engine and goes on to explore future transportation such as personal air vehicles, air taxis, and space travel by tourists. Only thing holding me back from using this is its humungous size.

One more resource before I stop. Free Learning also identified the WikiPremed MCAT course as having some great resources for physics including flashcards so over to there I go http://www.wikipremed.com. I'm sticking with Newton's forces and this site provides a great summary of key must know basics. Includes concept illustrations, flash cards, question drills and other activities that reinforce the memorization of fundamentals.

OK, so I've spent an hour of my Sunday morning coffee time searching and so far I've found simulations, an open textbook, video, and flashcard drill resources all from using just one OER search engine Free Learning. Pretty good return for my effort. However, here's where I'm seeing some challenges. If as a learner I'm expected to construct my own learning around pre-defined learning outcomes I have a long way to go. The process of searching, finding, exploring and assessing is proving to be fascinating but also time consuming and I've still got to pick and choose what pieces of each of the resources I'm finding are relevant, organize them, and then apply them through use to achieve my desired learning outcomes. Historically this selecting, organizing and structuring process has been done for students by the teacher.

In the OER University will students construct their own learning, as I'm doing with OER they find, or will teachers/mentors still construct learning processes and activities for students?

In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Dr. Nellie Deutsch -
Hi Everyone,

I am so pleased about the initiative because I have been doing all I can to promote free e-learning around the world and here we are doing just that. My reason for becoming a facilitator of the Learning for Content (L4C) initiative on WikiEducator was to help others learn about developing OERs and more importantly learning to collaborate. The call to collaborate is not an easy one because many instructors in higher education have not practiced the skill of online collaboration. From my experiences, when they take workshops that involve online collaboration, they learn to value it. This brings me to another point. Content is not enough for learning. Learners need to interact with the content, peers (these may be international colleagues or those who are outside the campus), and an instructor. While the idea for a free credited university is great, there is a need for social learning. There are many ways connect learners with each other and the instructor for social learning through Moodle, Wordpress (org) and so on.

However, there should be hands-on workshops for instructors on how to facilitate using OERs so that learners become critical independent learners. Furthermore, assessment may need to focus on skills need in today's society such as creative thinking and problem solving. Collaboration is the key and we need to work on ways to persuade those who are not members of SCoPE and WikiEducator about the value of collaborative learning.
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Maria Droujkova -
I like this task because it is open enough to address different levels and contexts, but has enough structure to get going. Nice task design there, Paul!

My answers have to do with Math 2.0 Interest group, a "community of communities" for mathematicians, math educators and developers.
Math 2.0 logo

In 2009, we started doing weekly online events where project and community leaders talk about their work.

Step 1. My learning objective is to find ways to aggregate and tag news from 100+ math communities that allow topic-specific following of automatic live feeds.

Step 2. This is harsh right now. Live events, for example, are all over the place with most community calendars not talking with iCal (the meta-data standard). Q&A aggregators like Quora or OSQA look hopeful. gRSShopper is a way to work with blogs and microblogging, but many communities and individuals don't have their own blogging platforms and need one provided. BuddyPress for Wordpress can be such a platform, but it does not talk with RSS as nicely as I want. Moreover, most existing platforms can't parse math symbols in any way. Oh, the joy of multiple clouds!

Step 3. This will have to be an international entity that understands (1) technology, (2) communities, (3) open education and (4) mathematics education. I am very open to suggestions! Meanwhile, I would have to go with conditions (1), (2) and (3) only; I am thinking of TED and O'Reilly, though they aren't currently credential-giving agencies. But they play this role.
In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Valerie Taylor -

As part of the evolution of open education, there is now a pressing need to work out how learners find and use all the great OERs out there. If this comes about because of accreditation, so much the better.

Step 1: Learning objectives

I'd like to find a way to describe a path through a curriculum segment such that the learner can find an appropriate entry point, learn about the topic by following through a bunch of OERs and determine that they have indeed learned about the topic. Variables include learner's prior knowledge, level of interest, need to know and preferred information delivery format.

  • find representations of curriculum following the logic model idea
  • identify what information is necessary for learners to determine where to start and end within the logic model to satisfy the "completion" requirements
  • outline a structure for recording and enhancing the curriculum representation

Step 2: Find OER that can help

Starting from the logic model for the OER university concept -- i.e. inputs, initiatives, activities, outputs and ultimate outcomes - OER University/Open curriculum and OER University/Open student support are of particular interest. This may be a Connectivism thing. Stay tuned...

Step 3 -- Who would you like to have as your OER credentialising agent.

I'm more interested in there being direction for learners than in university credit.

In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Robert Schuwer -

Thanks for the opportunity to join this challenge. My name is Robert Schuwer and I am in the OER field since 2006 when I was appointed project leader for our OpenER project at the Open Universiteit Netherlands.

Here is my challenge.


Step 1. Identify a set of learning objectives you personally want to achieve.
Originally being a mathematician, I would like to pursue the following learning goals:

a. Being able to explain the string theory for an interested audience
b. Understand the math behind the string theory
c. Understand the derivation of the string theory from relativity theory

Step 2. Find OER that help you meet those learning objectives.
I used several search engines to find course materials. I did not want to buy suggested textbooks, but was looking for open course materials that would provide me the theory needed to pursue my learning goals.

  • The search engine of ocwconsortium.org. Search term: string theory. Returned 10 hits, but none of them was sufficient because of my demand to not buying textbooks.
  • To test the abilities of Google Custom Search, I have created a prototype search engine, using the list of suggested sites for higher education on http://content.wikiwijs.nl/ho (in Dutch). This gave the result: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quantum-field-theory/ (1)
  • Using a more sophisticated implementation of Google Custom Search on www.openleermiddelen.org, the following learning materials were returned: http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=398656 (2)
  • Using the search string "snaartheorie" (Dutch for string theory) the following useful results were returned: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/ (3)
  • Using Google with "string theory Witten" to find the mathematical backgrounds returned: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-ex/pdf/0008/0008017v1.pdf (4)

None of the results above mentioned any online learning activities. The best was at reference 2 where some answers to questions in the text could be retrieved. The open courseware sites all offered on site classes, but not online.

Pairing the sources to the learning goals results in:
Learning goal a is covered by 1 and 3
Learning goal b is covered by 4
Learning goal c is covered by 4
Source 2 is meant to serve as a short introduction to refresh my preknowledge in quantum physics from 35 years ago.

Step 3. Identify who you'd like to have as your OER credentialing agent.
The most obvious institution for me would be my alma mater, the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

In reply to Robert Schuwer

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Nicholas Bowskill -

I'm new OER but I feel it has a great deal of deja vu in the sense that there were a host of initiatives in the early 90s to develop piles of CBT (computer-based training materials) as a resource for everyone. Amongst the reasons it largely failed (not altogether a failure and some ready-made resources did and do have value) was that tutors found it didn't fit into their courses and were resistant to the notion of a McDonalds Curriculum with everyone learning the same thing worldwide. Students also found it difficult because they they wanted to discuss and argue with some of the points made in their own language and their own context. Technicians and support staff argued with it because it had to be customised or it had resource implications that could not be met locally. Some educationalists also resisted the notion of instructional design in which you started at a known place and ended at a known place (a techno-rationalist view of learning).

Years later the ideas re-surfaced when the internet was more established as a learning tool. We then got online CBT!

Anyway in order to try and learn about OER I set myself the goal of how do you develop OER and I thought I would use OER to develop my knowledge.

I ended up on the OpenLearn site with the Open University and they had a tutorial on how to develop OER materials. I looked at the learning theory section here http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=397777&section=1.5.3

And there it discussed different the usual culprits of Behaviorism, Constructivism etc. It then gave the following much quoted quote:

Remember the proverb often ascribed to the Chinese:

I hear, and I forget;

I see, and I remember;

I do, and I understand.

I immediately began to think this is deeply suspect. It assumes activity is learning and listening is not. I recall Charles Crook's book on collaborative learning (1994) de-bunking this quote as implicitly indicating very particular views of learning in classrooms and outside. You start to realise when you read this kind of thing that we're really back to instructional design, networked CBT and all that. I think such a view is supported by the lack of success reported by the previous respondents in this forum.

So, that's my complaint about the pedagogical implications. However, I think there may be other possibilities in the ideas put forward. At the moment though, it looks like web 1.0 with all this courseware being broadcast towards generic/passive ideas of learners as empty vessels.

This is negative. I admit that. I need to express my experience and frustration at the start of a journey towards discovering a more positive view. I believe that such a positive view may exist and I need to develop my understanding(s). Hence I value this opportunity and I found the real-time session interesting as a stimulus for thinking. I look forward to more.



In reply to Paul Stacey

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Edward Mokurai Cherlin -
1. I find that I need to go from reading Spanish to speaking, because I work with One Laptop Per Child, which has millions of computers in Spanish-speaking countries.

2. Searching at http://www.librarianchick.com/ I found the Foreign Service Institute Spanish Programmatic course.


3. ?? Who tests for Spanish fluency? Well, my co-workers will doubtless render their opinions at various points.
In reply to Edward Mokurai Cherlin

Re: Take the OER Challenge!

by Vinod Kumar Kanvaria -

Hi all,

I think we should have A Prominent Language Building Capacity Course as a must in OERU.