Open Educational Content/olcos/introduction old

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Tutorial.png OLCOS structure: Main Module 

Introduction: PLAN the use of OER - old Introduction: PLAN the use of OER - new Tutorial: SEARCH & FIND OER - old Tutorial: SEARCH & FIND OER - new Tutorial: PRODUCE & REMIX OER: author and modify - old Tutorial: PRODUCE & REMIX OER: author and modify - new Tutorial: SHARE OER: publish and re-use - old Tutorial: SHARE OER: publish and re-use - new Tutorial: CHOOSE a license - old Tutorial: CHOOSE a license - new Tutorial: USE open source tools - new (!)

About this information service

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The objective of this online-book is to support students and teachers in the creation, re-use and sharing of eLearning material. Management staff will find information about how to implement open learning policies and activitities in their institution.

This information service is based on the work of people within the project OLCOS, funded by the European Union. Until now, this is a work in progress! Please feel free to contact if you have helpful suggestions for, or questions about the tutorials.

PLAN the use of open learning practices by means of open educational resources

We want to introduce you in producing and publishing open educational content. For that, we introduce you in our definitions, and in important general plannings in general/macrodidactical, technical and legal aspects. We illustrate our introduction with some Show Cases.

What do we mean by open learning practices and open content?

In the 1990s, the role of the teacher is relativised and with the support the theory of the constructivism. Learning of the students and arrangements which enhance their learning are slid in the focus of theoretician. For them, open learning as self-determined, self-directed learning plays an important role. Nevertheless, the model of open learning practices (open education) and the importance of self directed learning is not new. As a teaching model, it is founded on the work of Célestin Freinet (1896-1966) and Maria Montessori (1870-1952).

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Open learning practice (open education) "is supposed to allow pupils self-determined, independent and interest-guided learning".

(Wikipedia "open learning", 2006-11-10)

Open learning in classrooms means, that the individual interests on a subject and general learning interests of the students decide on the learning events. Over and above, the learning and social interactions between the student are managed on their own. Obtaining information and materials is a part of the working process. Not surprisingly the role of the "teacher" changes, he is a "counsellor".

On the practical side, the Internet can be used as data base, to organize learning and to publish learning processes and results. For teacher and students media literacy and competence is needed. And it means, that learning outcomes are possible, that are not mentioned in the schoolbooks.

In in overall view, open learning with open content means to confound traditional ways of learning in schools and normally induce a change of the whole learning organization and workflows.

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Open content, "coined by analogy with "open source" describes any kind of creative work including articles, pictures, audio, and video that is published in a format that explicitly allows the copying of the information."

(Wikipedia "Open Content" 2006-11-05)

For us, there are close relationships between the concept of open learning and open educational content. On a general level, both are called "open". By looking nearer, you will find, that both base on the same principles: Publishing educational content for free and with little limitations about re-use fosters over-institutional collaboration and learning: between teachers and students. Learning with open content often means, that teachers and learnerns or just learners create, modify, mix-up, re-use open content - for us, it itself often means, that it is a process of "open learning".

What are the chances and benefits of authoring learning material as open content?

The authoring of learning material has changed with the development of collaborative tools, which connect people (teachers) over distances with same interests. Collaboration happens between learning unit authors, who can jointly develop a course or educational material. The second possibility refers to teacher and students exchanging and sharing documents. Collaboration between learners can also produce educational content. The last two possibilities are one of the "lifelong learning" scenarios and means really "open learning".

From a public view, producing open educations content means

  • to spare a part of the subvention of a proprietary educational content: publicationd and using (learning and teaching of) the material is free,
  • a support of freedom of information and knowledge for that, which cannot afford proprietary educational content (people, schools, countries),
  • so that is a possibility to reach learners which are not reachable otherwise
  • so for many pioneers of the open-content-movement a path towards a free society.

From the point of learning material itself, one benefit of Open Content is, that it can be actualised, corrected, modified, reused, rearranged. Better quality of the open content is one effect of these possibilities. The other is a more efficient which existing knowledge and learning content respectively.

From the point of the creator (faculty) producing open educational content means a better compensation for creators (credit to the right person) and could improve recognition, marketing, the leave and accessible academic legacy, connections/networking/collaboration, and easier content dissemination.

From an pedagogical view open educational content means the possibilities to increase class enrollment, showcase student content and a base for connections with life long learners.

From the point of learners it empowers individuals to not only have access to (or cannot afford) information and knowledge, but to build upon it creating new knowledge and opportunities.

And there are some institutional benefits: Producing educational content means a less expensive product (eliminate the intermediary), enhance faculty and student enrollment and offering alumni something more and, last not least honour for well produced open content.

Some of this arguments are based on Preston Parker (Utah State University), who summarizes the benefits of open content in education in the following talk about "The Instructor Benefits Of MIT OpenCourseWare" (one can find a ppt-Presentation and the talk as .mp3 on the conference webpage)

Show cases

Here you find use cases in which open content was used for the process of open learning in different educational settings:

  • schools (different subjects)
  • academic learning
  • professional learning ->>Show cases

Here you will find examples of learning materials that meet the criteria for open content:

  • produced in an open format
  • shared with other learners for enhancement
  • made accessible for other learners without costs for registration(?) ->> Type of open educational content

How to start?

There are some questions, you should answer before you design your open learning environment regarding the

  • target group (their needs and competence),
  • concrete topics and learning goals (curriculum!),
  • instructional design (e.g. are the students involved in the creation of the open content), and
  • technical requirements (some more informations below!).

Find and evaluate existing open content

After answering these questions, you should start to search for existing open content! For that, you have to look for open content materials.

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You will find more informations in our Tutorial: SEARCH & FIND OER

Are the results fitting to your requirements? Perhaps you find a course module or learning unit which exactly fits to your requirements. But most of the time, you want to create own materials by mixing up, re-use, adapt, actualise and re-arrangement your findings for your needs.

Create Open Content

It is not a must, but open content is very often a collaborative process, which means, that more teachers and learners which want to create learning materials work together.

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You will find more informations about the creating process in our Tutorial: PRODUCE & REMIX OER: author and modify

>> other tutorials

Publish and Share of the Content

There are lot of possibilities to publish and to share the open educational content. Please be aware, that your employer could have some own interests and rights on your work. Perhaps that means, that you have to ask him before publishing your work (if it is a product of your paid work).

You can use

  • your personal web space or
  • free hosting services for educational content or
  • repositories of your institute
  • or for the topic of your content

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You will find more informations in our Tutorial: SHARE OER: publish and re-use

Technical Considerations and Planning

To create open content, there are some technical requirements needed.

Per definition, open content means to be developed in an open standard format. For that, you should look for an open format, which fits to the type of learning material you want to create (e.g. an audio file) and to the possibilities of your exisiting software-tools.

Legal/License Considerations and Planning

When you publish your content or before you start to build up a collaborating community creating open content you should decide about the legal conditions for reusing that content.

This is needed, because in the E.U. everybody has to ask the owner of the copyright of learning materials before using, copying, modifying the learning content and so on, and to place a contract.

With an open content licensing, one could profit about

  • clear descriptions of the rights of the author(s) and the users
  • licensing formulations which are proven by legal practitioner
  • the awareness level of the license
  • the possibility (for others) to search for your content with most of the search-engines, when they support your license
  • and (if you choose such a license) you could be sure, that your name is noted and that all materials, that are basing on your work are published under the same conditions (share alike)

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You will find more information in our tutorial Tutorial: CHOOSE a license

What general challenges lie ahead?

->> The road to more usage and production of OER (OLCOS Roadmap)


Where and how to find the right resources? This tutorial offers you practical information, advice, and guidance on how to search, find and use open content. It will show you efficient ways of searching to meet your needs.

Tutorial: PRODUCE & REMIX OER: author and modify

This tutorial invites to produce and modify open educational content. Basics like "open formats" and principles of effective collaboration are presented. On the pracitical side, using a wiki is introduced.

Tutorial: SHARE OER: publish and re-use

This tutorial invites teachers to collect, publish and share educational resources, using the appropriate licenses, promoting open access and the own work. From a typical scenario, a set of questions and the process of making decisions about how and where to publish such resources are developed.

Tutorial: CHOOSE a license

The topic of this tutorial is choosing one of the Creative Common Licence fitting to his own needs and including it on to the material.

Tutorial: USE open source tools

(short description)

-->> [1]

Repository for education and training materials in the field of Free Software and Open Standards

ORGANIZE: Collections

Exemplary Collection of Open eLearning Content Repositories

For this exemplary collection the focus is on best practise examples:

  • First focus is on already existing "packaged" learning materials to learning sequences (course units)
  • Second focus is on stand alone material for eLearning content production (pictures, videos etc.)
  • Third focus is on internet encyclopedias/archives with open access
  • Fourth focus is on community developed material (eg. free textbook, wikieducator)

Exemplary Collection of institutions with OER policy

In this part readers find Best Practise Examples of institutions or communities that already follow an open content strategy. Here you can find some hints how you can initiate such a strategy and/or project in your own institution. You will find examples for each Educational Sector and comments about specific requirements there of.

Exemplary Collection of open content licensing approaches

There are various kinds of open content licenses, e.g. on the basis of the medium they address, on the nature of the license or on the validity of the license. We decide to give you an short overview about the general licenses and then present a list of licenses for special formats or contents.

Exemplary Collection of open formats, educational standard and tools for producing open educational content

To create open content, one should use open standards, furthermore applications and technologies that support the requirements of open standards. In this collection you find examples for all of them.

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