The purpose of this blog is to report the different learning experiences in studies about an Open PhD focused on open learning. The different topics featured are: Educational Research, Educational Technology and Media, Educational Startup, Instructional Design, Open Education and learning
Many people refer to the web as a location to look for information and not an effective educational tool. Even though the internet becomes an essential tool for educators and students it is not considered as an authentic tool for learning. It is criticized by many as holding many non-reliable sources of information for learning. Others emphasize the need to be very cautious when using the internet because it can be dangerous for kids and adults alike. In fact it is true that the internet is used for many bad purposes. It is even used to violate the civil rights of citizens. Besides its bad side the internet has spaces that are educational. One has to know the tools that one can use for formal and informal learning. Surrocki describes the internet as being chaotic:
- No principles or rules describing quality: individual preferences only
-No rubric or metric
- No "peers or committee of experts"
- It is chaos!
In spite of its chaotic structure the web is embedded of tools that can facilitate formal and informal learning. As the internet is made of different networks open learning uses some of its networks for learning. One uses a set of networked tools called "personal learning networks" to facilitate learning. Personal learning networks considered as personal environments (PLE) include blogs, wikis, social bookmarks sites like Delicious and Diigo and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is the web 2.0
The web 2.0
the web was read only, called web 1.0 and began in 1994. It consisted in
publishing content only. It was about the visitor’s web only contrasting with
the author’s web that requires a lot of technical expertise. In other words it
means at that time the web wasn't equipped of technical tools that allow the
visitor to publish content. Later it evolves to become the read/write web
called web 2.0. This began in 2004 and allowed the web visitor to publish
content because of the authoring tools implemented in the web. The web visitor
is also able to publish content interactively thanks to the social network
technologies tools. The term web 2.0 was challenged by an early web pioneer Sir Tim
Berners-Lee who argues that most of the social tools attributed to the internet
existed since the beginning of the internet. In fact the first decade of the
second millennium witnessed an accelerated development of the web 2.0.
As early as
2003 a Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than 53 million
American adults or 44 percent of adult internet users had used the internet to
publish their thoughts, respond to others, post pictures, share available
content online and otherwise contribute to the explosion of content available
online (Lenhart, Follows, & Horrigan, 2004). In 2005 another Pew study showed
that 57% of all teens using the internet
are potential content creators.
2008 Technorati,com, a blog tracking service listed 110 million blogs. This
site was considered the first easy publishing tool used massively by people to
publish journals of their lives , build collaborative resource web sites and
publish daily news without the knowledge of code and file transfer.
2008 over 100,000 videos were uploaded to YouTube each day. A vast amount of
photos, audio files and other content is being uploaded daily to the web
becoming a vast repository of information. The Read/Write web has created
millions of amateur reporters and editors reporting news on the web.
The web 2.0 doesn't refer only to the reading and writing of the web but also to its
listening, speaking and doing part. With a variety of tools at their disposal people are using
the web in different ways.
From the web 2.0 derives learning 2.0 which is
a set of pedagogical approaches based on participative, democratic and
collaborative methods. Learning 2.0 uses web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis
and other hosted services to enable users to generate and broadcast content,
share resources and connect into communities of interest. Teachers are using
worldwide the potentialities of this architecture of participation for the
promotion of deeper and more engaging learning within social and collaborative
Open Content can be defined as content produced by using the web tools to facilitate learning. Open Content
promotes the student-centered learning approaches in different ways. Learners
generate their own content and become managers of their own learning. Teachers
become facilitators. Open Content pedagogical approaches are based on the
student-centered learning philosophies of Dewey (1916) or Rogers and Friberg
(1994). The central theory of these philosophies is that students can take
ownership of their learning. Different open content software tools allow
learners to create their own content, manage, reflect and share their learning.
Podcasting and audio broadcasting tools allow small self-organized communities
to unite themselves. Blogs allow learners to create their content and share it
with others. Photo sharing sites allow learners to be more creative in their
photo making and presentational skills. Wikis allow collaborative work on
Learning 2.0. Self-organized learning
In self-organized learning students take
responsibility of their learning. Teachers provide the environment and
resources to learn and assess learning. Teachers play the role of mentor for
learners. They are not responsible for providing content to the students.
Another characteristic of Learning 2.0 is connectionism which is a new learning
theory for the digital age. This learning theory is based on the ability of
forming connections between sources of information. According to Siemens (2005)
the connectionist approach allows new forms of knowledge to be created. He
continued by stating that many traditional learning approaches can be supported
by new technologies. Technology can play the role of mind tool to enhance the capabilities of the
promotes the use of informal kinds of learning. Activities of informal kind of
learning involve casual internet surfing, visual media viewing, etc. Informal
learning leads to the adoption of digital learning environments commonly
referred as personal learning environments (PLE).
take any form imaginable using the digital technologies and tools. Personal
learning environments or spaces are essential for the application of
student-centered learning approaches. Personal learning environments commonly
refer to a number of online social networking tools, blogs and communication
tools. Social bookmarking and tagging is important for those who want to save
information and discover similar one. Personalizable and multi-functional
social networking tools such as Facebook, Ning, Twitter are used by people
according o their needs.
Social Connections for learning
From the early days of the Socratic discourse to the
contemporary time online social network learning happens as a result of
discussion, collaboration, etc. People share their thoughts and reflections
based on resources and artifacts created by others. Dialog takes place through
audio, text and object based conversation. The social connections enable the
learner to tap into a vast amount of knowledge, skill and opinion that go
beyond what a single individual can produce. The benefits surpass those offered
by the most highly resources institution. The integration of web 2.0 tools into
a PLE facilitates connections that are immediate, rich in dialog and archived
for later retrieval. Tools such
as blogs, micro-blogs, image sharing tools and podcasting facilities integrated
in the space that allows reflective and collaborative learning enable learners
to generate their own content and share it with others. These artifacts allow
reflection, dialog and collaboration to take place. Students in one study
reported that exchanging artifacts strengthened social ties and facilitated
more effective, collaborative learning later in the course (Minocha and
For profit organizations invest money in the beginning of their venture to allow them to sell their products or services. Non-profits don't draw revenues from offering their services. They depend on fundraising to operate. Both types of organizations need to know the costs necessary for the operation of their venture. In this case it is necessary to define the functions necessary to deliver the services. These functions define the core unit of the organization and allow to set the costs involved in providing the services. It is necessary to define each unit of services if the organization provides different types of services. Once one or several units are defined it is necessary to calculate the costs and revenues associated with the operation of this unit or these units. For non-profits there are no calculations of revenues involved. That is the case for Open Popular University that doesn't draw any revenues from offering its services. In this post I will focus on costs only.
Definition of the unit
I have defined two units in Open Popular University: providing access to open courses from the site and teaching courses. I hold off teaching courses and concentrate on designing the model for providing access to open courses from the site and improving this model. I have spent some time thinking and reading about the functions related to this unit. There are certainly different types of models of functions applicable to each type of organization. But an organization needs to focus on a model based on the nature of services provided. Based on this concept I have created a set of administrative functions based on open courseware.
Calculation of the costs and fund raising
Based on the functions of the unit I have set a budget for the operation of the unit. The costs are certainly related to the personnel salaries, physical location and materials necessary to operate this unit. A certain amount of money is needed to finance these costs. This is where it is getting tough. You have to identify the different sources of funding and this takes a lot of time and research. Receiving the amount of funds necessary for operating is another tough thing. I advise anyone reading this post to go to the site of Open Popular University and click on the donations link on the right side bar. Your contributions and advice will be appreciated. In spite of the great amount of effort I made in order to find the support for this endevour but no one and no organization haven't provided their support. I am the only one fulfilling the administrative, research and technological functions of Open Popular University.
The costs of operations are known but funds are needed to cover them. The fundraising depends on the good will of people and organizations willing to support a noble cause. I appeal to these people and organizations to provide their support. My focus now is finding a fundraiser who can raise funds. I will appreciate a good referral. I am certainly interested in other type of support such as volunteering, partnership, etc necessary for the operation of Open Popular University.