OERu/OERs for social media literacy

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Initiative Open Student Support, OER University
Status Draft concept completed
Funding Athabasca University has submitted a proposal for funding.

Project summary

Digital literacy skills for social media is an international priority for all adults. OER resources for developing social media skills are prerequisites for learning success under the open student support initiative of the OER University. Currently these needs are not being addressed in a scalable, affordable and universally accessible manner.

Brief problem statement

The majority of adults do not have the digital literacy skills needed to enter or succeed in the workplace. They will need to participate meaningfully in social media technologies in order to be able to adjust to the rapid changes in most workplaces. Social media encompasses a range of contemporary web-based technologies that facilitate scalable and interactive communication around the creation and exchange of user-generated content -- these skills are becoming essential not just in the workplace, but perhaps more importantly for participation in learning, the community and the family. It is estimated that social media accounts for 22 percent of all time spent online in the United States of America (Nielson 2010: Online) and the most visited websites of the world are social media websites (i.e. Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Wikipedia, Twitter)). However, existing learning resources for skills development in social media are sparse and inadequate because they are typically vendor specific, restrict reuse due to restrictive copyright arrangements and not designed for an adult audience.

The vast majority of adults are excluded from utilising the benefits of social media for work and learning due to a lack of skills in using these technologies. International data collected by the OER Foundation (OER Foundation, 2009,Online) confirms that 64% of new account holders in their wiki projects have not created a wiki account prior to signing up for an online wiki skills course.

Social media tools can be divided into three groups:

  • Communication including: Blogs (e.g WordPress, Blogger); Microblogging (e.g Twitter, Google Buzz and identi.ca); Social networking (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin)
  • Content collaboration including: Wikis (e.g. Wikimedia, WikiEducator, Wetpaint, Wikia); Social bookmarking (e.g Delicious, CiteULike and StumbleUpon), Collaborative document editing (e.g. Google Docs)
  • Multimedia including: Photosharing (e.g Flickr, Picasa); Video sharing (e.g Youtube, Vimeo, BlipTV), Livecasting (e.g. Livestream, Ustream); Audio sharing (e.g ccMixter and Last.fm); and Presentation sharing (scribd, Slideshare)

Project activities

The proposed project activities focus on two priority areas:

  1. Model development:
    • Integrating and refining existing pedagogical approaches from existing tools and digital literacy approaches for reuse in social media contexts.
    • Drawing on the research and experience of conducting Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) under the auspices of Athabasca University, which typically attract more than 1000 learners per course.
    • Building on the ground breaking work of the Commonwealth of Learning (Vancouver), the OER Foundation (New Zealand) in pioneering scalable and low cost online training models. Since adoption in 2008, the Learning4Content free training project has provided free training opportunities to more than 5200 educators in 135 different countries.
  2. Building expertise: The refinement of existing models will contribute to building expertise in successfully scaling literacy training internationally using open education approaches. Many literacy trainers, themselves lack the digital social networking skills that are so important. This project will include participation by literacy trainers and thus upgrade their skills and their capacity to create, design, and deliver effective literacy training using modern technologies.

Year 1: Design and development

  • Review learning activities, exercises and pedagogical approaches adopted in the digital literacy training initiatives.
  • Develop and implement an online communication strategy to maximise participation and engagement of all stakeholders in the open design and development process.
  • Collaborative and transparent development of the curriculum outline for sub-units and subsections of the social media literacy toolkits covering the dimensions of communication, content collaboration and multimedia. (All stakeholders will be free to participate in the development of the curriculum outlines.)
  • Develop 12 independent study tutorials / toolkits for online delivery using mass online workshop approaches totalling a minimum of 120 notional student learning hours. The toolkits will incorporate blogging, microblogging, social networking, wikis, social bookmarking, image sharing, video sharing, live casting and presentation sharing. (Using open development methodologies, all stakeholders will be free to participate in the development of the toolkits.)

Year 2: Piloting and evaluation.

  • Pilot and evaluate the delivery of 6 mass online workshops to refine the design approach and implementation models for institutions to scale and adopt these teaching and training approaches in their own organisations. (Note, the pilot offerings are designed to research and refine the resource toolkits and pedagogical models. They will be presented free of charge to all participants, and registration numbers will not be restricted in any way.)
  • Ongoing communication and stakeholder engagement
  • Evaluation report and sharing of guidelines for organisational implementation of the model.

Project outputs

  • Improved social media literacy skills for a minimum of 1,000 adult learners during the research phase measured by pre and post-training self-evaluations during the pilot implementation.
  • At least 12 independent study tutorials / toolkits completed and available for reuse, adaptation and modification by international institutions incorporating independent peer review of the quality of the learning resources.
  • Ongoing online communication utilising social media distribution networks and a minimum of six online newsletters published for the duration of the project.
  • A demonstrated model for delivery using open file formats and open content licensing, which can be adopted by all institutions without restriction.
  • The project will establish a steering group comprising national and international leaders in the field of adult literacy, social media and open education resources for overseeing the development and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation reporting plan based on a results-based management framework.