CDE, Alternative Academia, and me.

I have benefitted greatly, in my thinking and knowledge, through attending the lunchtime seminars organised by CDE (the Centre for Distance Education) at London University. This week it was a workshop: Finding and Evaluating Open Educational Resources. If the topic of OERs interests you then the link is well worth clicking. It includes a useful slide share of the presentation that happened before we did our practical.

Definition

If you want a good definintion of OERs see slide 3. I was glad to see it includes the wonderfully wide ranging "resourcss contained  in digital media collections from around the world". That safely includes two of my personal favourite repositories  - TED talks and RSAnimiates.

Presenters

The presenters were Dr Jane Secker (Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor, London School of Economics) and Dr Stylianos Hatzipanagos (Lecturer in Higher Education/Head of eLearning, King’s Learning Institute)

Emphasis

The emphasis was on HE and teacher training, with a focus on digital and information literacy resources. This is something dear to my heart, and if it is inservice teacher training, then it relates to Dadamac's work in rural Nigeria and Kenya.

I was particulalry pleased to hear reference to the value of OERs in:

  • Breaking down barriers to learning
  • Networking between teaching practitioners
  • Cross fetilisation of ideas between disciplies.

Cross-discipinary communication

One of the things that I hear academics talk about is the problems of cross-discipinary communication. I first started to get some undersanding of this problem at ICTD2010 - (see final paragraphs of Lessons: 1 for Kwanzaa from Pyramid of Peace. 2 for practitioners about researchers from #ICTD2010 headed "Separate disciplines" and "Quoting and answering Andrius").  I was glad to hear that OERs are having a positive influence. on breaking out of silos.

I can understand that where silos and barriers exist ithey must limit effective collaboration and reduce the creation of new knowledge and insights. It makes me appreciate the freedoms of being  outside formal Higer Education - in what I call "Alternative Academia" (part of the "Invisible Revolution"). I may write about it in more details in a later post.

Discussion points

At the CDE workshop I liked the points that people like Philip Butler were making, regarding the role of Facebook and other sodial media for the dissemination of ideas between practitioners, rather than searching data bases. I think it can be useful to gather resources up in an organised way - but when it cames to finding useful things, I appreciate it when sometone I know points me something they have recognised as relevant to my needs - and I do the same or others. When it comes to finding "just the right thing" on the Internet I find it intersteing to see the belance between the role played by technology and the role played by people for each other.

I was glad to hear people at the workshop talking about the need to understand the context in which the OERs were to be used.  I think it will be some time before the OERs of formal HE match the context of the teachers whose ongoing professional development Dadamac supports in various non-formal ways, but I see some aspects fo the divide narrowing.

"The client group" of formal HE

In many ways the teachers Dadmac cares about are not "the client group" of formal HE - not even formal HE at a distance. It is therefore not surprising that their particualr needs are not yet being addressed in the kind of research we were looking at during the HE workshop. However the children that they teach could benefit if there were more professional development opportunities for the teachers - and so the teachers' needs are relevant to OER develoment and deserve to be addressed somewhere.

I appreciated being included at the workshop, with the opportuniy to be the eyes and ears of the teachers I represent In Nigeira, to see how far away we still are, in Dadamac, from finding that our needs match the resources provided in formal HE and also where we may be coming closer together.

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