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Open_Ed assignments for week 14: Reflecting on Week 13

2 Dicembre 2007


As regards this week’s cross-blogging, the impression I’ve got is that we have been a bit in trouble with the course assignments. Some participants are late in their blogging, others have not posted anything on the topic yet. Probably, none of us has the same degree of imagination as Dr Wiley, or maybe we are a little tired, this is the second-last week of the course. It is also difficult to synthesize the other participants’ interventions because I have read predictions about the future of Open Education that are very different the one from the other, the only common aspect is that we are definitely sure that the OER movement will have a significant development in the future, but nobody is quite sure about its positive or negative effects. Here is a list of the posts that have impressed me most.

Andreas Formiconi describes his positive experience with the tools of web 2.0, his students have been encouraged to use ICT and Web tools with incentives on their examinations. Their motivation starts from a concrete benefit which has allowed to take them to satisfactory goals. In his comment on his post, Antonio appreciates it and calls it an example of "open" course, "in the sense that you shared every step of your work, by publishing in your blog, instead of keeping all closed in an LMS. It is a valuable and important point, since I find that "openness" is very rare in the current academic community…"

Antonio Fini has written a rich and interesting post about the future of OER centered essentially on Italian higher education, where he focuses on various points, namely the role of the government, licensing, sustainability, sharing and localization. The point I like most of all in his post is the one about the assessment and the idea of "diploma factories", a risk that some universities can take with time.  We very well know what happens in higher education in Italy, with overcrowded universities and shortage of funds. "Humanizing" the relationship among the members of a community is essential for its sustainability. The model of the university campus is an example of what Antonio calls a "university-as-a-community model".

In an optimistic attitude, Rob Barton points out the short amount of time (7 years) in which Wiley’s story takes place, it is a little time if you consider the time taken by most court cases to develop.  He thinks there will be compatible versions of the GFDL and CC licenses by 2010. Then he predicts a "collaborative age" also thanks to the low cost of the Internet connection. His third prediction is the almost total disappearance of printed textbooks in favour of free digital copies. He thinks that students will be given more time to do their researches and hopes … to give his children the opportunity to make long distance phone calls for free, it is another important facet of openness. 

In a completely different attitude than Rob, Bobbe Allen believes the future will not be a good one unless we include "all the players that make up the teaching professions", even the forgotten ones.
"Including educators from all grades, and from diverse populations, should be our goal immediately", he writes. In his long and detailed post, he also claims that OER can work for every school grade and level, and he stresses the importance of separating education from profit.

Bryan Ollendyke  figures out 4 different phases of growth of OER, a process that starts inside the universities and expands until the creation of a university network. He is optimistic about the impact of the open education, but warns about the importance of solving the problems of copyright and metadata, information sharing and creation. He thinks that having open access to all kinds of materials will also lower their costs and teachers could improve the quality of their own teaching. Bryan makes an interesting point about the relationship between cost and quality of educational products with the opportunities offered by file-sharing. He thinks that if people are allowed to use friendly-user tools the general quality of the material increases.

Chenyong Zhu makes a good point about education in China, where she believes that OER can develop with some difficulty at the moment because of a question of decisional power deriving from the economical power given to the families in their choice of their children’s future careers. "In China, before we take open education into account, we do need to convince the parents to accept the advanced open education more than the traditional education because as so far, the parents are the ones pay for the education for their children and they have lots of power to determine if their children will have higher education or not and even what field their children will choose. If open education can finally take over the place of traditional education, the children can choose their own study field, have lots information available from the open education resource, and benefit from it."

Emanuela Zibordi depicts a catastrophic situation in the Italian school system. She is pitiless in her analysis, but she is right when she complains that in Italy governments tend to invest in hardware and software instead of thinking about investing in human resources first and foremost. The business in buying computers, selling textbooks, afternoon private lessons can be successfully contrasted by a new mentality where OER is a driving trend and more emphasis is put on cooperation and sharing for non-profit aims.

Karen Fasimpaur confesses a certain degree of uncertainty about the future of OER in K-12 education, but she makes a distinction between formal and informal education and wonders if, at a certain point in time, informal education will represent a better opportunity than traditional, outdated formal education thanks the tools of web 2.0. Instead, she seems more optimistic in the future of developing countries thanks to the advent of mass mobile connectivity. Informal education and connectivity are the turning points for a positive development of the OER movement.

Megan Haggerty discusses the value of the current degrees in higher education and wonders how much it is the assessment of competency and how much it is the measure of mere notionism, an issue that has been mentioned several times in last week’s posts. She also highlights that fostering participation is sometimes a difficult target to attain, even in OER . "How do we ensure that some students aren’t silenced by the domineering of others? Can we?"


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