Monday, February 27, 2012

Does the Online Education Revolution mean the death of the Diploma?

As the options for self-education explode, what does a college education mean? And how can we measure what a good education is?

Education is changing, and it’s changing fast. Anyone can put together a personalized educational experience via digital textbooks accessible by iPad, video learning from top university faculty, or peer-led discussion. People of all demographics are gathering their own seeds of education and cultivating lush sets of hybrid tools to deal with the rapid knowledge replenishment that’s essential in an economy where massive career specialization and constant innovation reign.

What we’re witnessing is a bottom-up revolution in education: Learners, not institutions, are leading innovation. This is an era of plenty. I like to call it the Education Harvest.

 But there is a huge issue that’s preventing lifelong learners from blossoming into our next generation of highly skilled--and employed--workers: There’s no accreditation process for self-taught learners.

Where is education headed? How are learners driving the movement? And how can we fix this lack of accreditation? Here are the five parts of the Education Harvest:

Read more

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Characteristics of the Digital Open Scholar

The traditional scholar, like the scholarship he or she produces, isn't open (open-minded), hopefully, but not "open" in a public way. No, a typical scholar is very exclusive, available only to students in specific academic programs or through toll-access scholarly publications that are essentially unavailable to all but the most privileged. In the digital age, the traditional barriers to accessing scholars or scholarship are unnecessary, but persist for institutional reasons.
 Anderson (2009) suggests a number of activities that characterize the open scholars, including that they
  • create,
  • use and contribute open educational resources,
  • self-archive,
  • apply their research,
  • do open research,
  • filter and share with others,
  • support emerging open learning alternatives,
  • publish in open access journals,
  • comment openly on the works of others, and
  • build networks.
Other characteristics that open scholars are likely to adopt:
  • Have a distributed online identity – using a variety of services an identity is distributed depending on the means by which the individual is encountered.
  • Have a central place for their identity – although their identity is distributed, there is usually one central hub, such as a blog, wiki or aggregation service page (e.g.
  • Have cultivated an online network of peers – the open scholar usually engages in social networks through a preferred service (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed) and regularly contributes to that network.
  • Have developed a personal learning environment from a range of tools – the open scholar develops a suite of preferred tools not through a deliberate policy of constructing a PLE but through personal trial and error.
  • Engage with open publishing – when formal publications are produced open scholars will seek an open publishing route for their dissemination.
  • Create a range of informal output – as well as producing traditional outputs, the open scholar produces and explores different forms of output such as video, podcast, slidecast and so on.
  • Try new technologies – there is an acceptance that technology is not fixed and that new technologies are explored on an individual, ad hoc basis to ascertain where they fit into the individual's overall portfolio of tools.
  • Mix personal and professional outputs – the social network space is characterised by the personal elements its participants reveal, which can be seen as the hooks through which connections are established. The open scholar deliberately mixes personal and professional observations in order to be an effective communicator within these networks and does not seek to keep them distinct.
  • Use new technologies to support teaching and research – when assessing or adopting new technologies they will be appraised not only for their use on a personal basis but also how they can be used to support professional practice, such as using social bookmarking for a research group or creating student portfolios in Friendfeed.
  • Automatically create and share outputs – the default position of an open scholar is to share outputs, be they presentations, ideas, suggestions or publications, using whatever route is appropriate.
While not every open scholar will adopt every one of these practices, they provide an archetypal set of characteristics which allow comparison with traditional scholarly practice and also move away from some of the limitations of a straightforward classification of  "digital".

Source: The Digital Open Scholar

Monday, February 13, 2012

Openness in Education

The following elements characterize openness in Education:
  1. Open source – much of the open source software movement had its foundations in higher education, and universities both develop and deploy open source solutions.
  2. Open educational resources – the term OER was coined in 2002 to describe the application of open source principles to the release of educational content, initiated by MIT's OCW project. 
  3. Open courses – as well as releasing content as OERs a number of educators have begun exploring the concept of open courses, which are delivered online, with various models for payment (or entirely free).
  4. Open research – researchers are using a number of approaches to perform research practices in the open, including crowdsourcing, open online conferences, open proposals and so on.
  5. Open data – as well as sharing data openly (e.g., there has also been a move to develop standards such as Linked Data, to connect and expose the vast quantities of data that are now available.
  6. Open APIs – the recent Web 2.0 approach saw an increase in the use of open APIs. These allow other software developers to build tools and code that interrogate the data in one application. For example, both Facebook and Twitter have open APIs that facilitate the development of services which build on top of these existing tools.
  7. Open access publishing – the ability to publish cheaply and quickly online has led to a movement around open access publishing, which is freely available and may use open peer review models. 
Openness has almost become a cliché in education now; after all, few people will argue in favour of a ‘closed’ education. It is a term which is loosely applied, and having gained currency, much like the ‘Web 2.0’, the term is now one that is being appropriated in many different sectors.

Digital and Networked

Open education can be realised in many ways like holding a public lecture, devising a mobile schools program and so on all could be deemed to be open education. While such approaches are important, and in many contexts appropriate, the concern in the current debates about open education is the changes in practices that are afforded and influenced by two technological aspects:
  1. It is based on digital content, where content can include debates, video, text, audio, forums and so on.
  2. Resources are shared via a global network, both technical and social.