The workshop seminar “Open Digital Resources in Education & School Innovation”, hosted by the Open Discovery Space (ODS) European initiative, will take place in Ellinogermaniki Agogi (Greece), on 20 June 2013.
Teachers of all subjects and levels, educational professionals, policy makers and repository contributors are invited to attend this ODS Opening Day event.
The use of online content and the relevant innovative teaching techniques are reshaping the modern school. Though extremely exciting, acquiring knowledge of such tools is not an easy task. The ODS workshop seminar aims at building the necessary structures and networks that will facilitate the introduction and embracing of e-learning by the teaching community.
Talks on a range of relevant issues, such as European e-learning policies, the role of e-learning in the Opening up Education agenda, the development of multilingual educational social media and what ODS can offer to a school, will be followed by presentations of innovative teaching practices, involving e-learning sources, as well as a two-hour workshop on how to use the available resources on ODS, how to create a school e-library on ODS and how to build an ODS community of teachers and schools.
“The Hungry Turkey” is the main outcome of the project Media and ICT Across Cultures. The project’s objective is to try to establish a Hungarian-Turkish school magazine which will be edited by 12 to 14 years old young journalists.
“The Hungry Turkey” magazine will not only be published in paper – it will also have an online vesion, constantly updated by the students. The project will also include radio and television events with the participation of the learners from the Tibor Jankay Bilingual Primary School (Hungary) and Taşköprü Primary School (Turkey).
The aim is to emphasize the intercultural dimension of modern education and the communication of students with children from different cultures.
During the duration of the project both schools will place the focus of IT classes in the practical aspects of technology, encouraging students to use their skills in productive, creative and intelligent activities.
The HoTEL (Holistic Approach to Technology Enhanced Learning) project has launched an open call for e-learning innovators, aiming to spot “innovations” dealing with the use of ICT for education at large.
The objective of the call is to transform bright new ideas and research results into mainstream practices and to disseminate them throughout Europe.
The selected participants will be able to test their “innovation” in real world settings within three virtual laboratories (Exploratoriums) in the fields of higher education, corporate learning and informal learning that the HoTEL project has set up with the support of the EC’s FP7 programme.
The call is open from the 1st of June to the end of July 2013, but the project activities will go until summer of 2014.
Launched in 2012, the HoTEL Support Action aims to contribute to more effective, holistic and faster innovation cycles in European TEL, by increasing quality at the level of the cycle itself and of the different phases foreseen, that can be replicated in the future.
As the world becomes more digitized, there will be an increasing need to make available learning resources in electronic format for access by information and communication technologies. The question education will face is whether these learning resources will be available for learners to access at no cost or affordable cost, so that there will be equity in access by anyone regardless of location, status, or background. ground.
Mohamed Ally (Athabasca University, Canada) and Mohammed Samaka (Qatar University, Qatar) analyse in the paper “Open Educational Resources and Mobile Technology to Narrow the Learning Divide”, published by the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, how the use of mobile technology to deliver OER will provide equal opportunity for everyone to learn, by allowing access to educational materials from anywhere and at any time.
eLearning Papers has just announced a call for papers for its next issue, which will be dedicated to the theme Design for Learning Spaces and Innovative Classrooms. The deadline for submissions is 28 July, 2013.
Issue number 34 of eLearning Papers will explore practices and experiences in designing learning spaces specifically for innovative and creative classrooms. The editorial board encourages authors to submit contributions addressing one or several of the following topics of interest:
- Experiences about the design and implementation of innovative learning spaces
- Creative learning spaces to inspire teachers and students
- Learning spaces for different purposes to motivate different types of learning
- Designing flexible learning spaces to accommodate innovative pedagogies
- Design and teamwork in developing the e-mature school environment
- Designing and refurbishing schools and classrooms for 21st century learning
- Redefining physical space and time (ubiquitous learning)
- Innovative experiences with learning spaces
The tentative publication date is around the end of August 2013. For further information and to submit your article you may visit this page or contact Laia Canals, current chief editor, at editorialteam[at]elearningeuropa.info
The European Award for Best Content for Kids highlights existing quality content for 4-12 year-old children and encourages the production of new content that will offer young people online opportunities to learn, play, discover and invent. The competition, organised by the Insafe network within the framework of the European Commission's Safer Internet Programme, was launched on 9 May and will run in most EU member states and also in Iceland, Norway and Russia during 2013.
Any form of online content may be submitted to the Best Content for Kids competition - from websites, blogs and videos to apps and games – but it must be designed for use by children or young people. Children can enter as individuals or in groups (i.e. school classes or youth groups). Adult submissions can come from online professionals and non-professionals alike.
National and European winners will be awarded in four different categories:
- Adult professionals
- Adult non-professionals
- Individual young people (up to 3 youngsters)
- School classes/groups of young people (at least 4 youngsters)
The national first prize winner in each category will go on to compete at the European level. The top-three European resources in each of the four categories will be recognised at an awards ceremony in Brussels on Safer Internet Day in February 2014.
The closing dates of the competition depend on each country. For further information about how to take part in the European Award for Best Content for Kids, visit www.bestcontentaward.eu
Agrega2 is an OER platform developed by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, the Autonomous Communities and Red.es.
The Agrega2 platform aggregates the pre-college educational digital repositories of all the Ministries of Education of the Spanish Autonomous Communities. The contents are organised according to the curriculum and are ready to be downloaded and used by teachers and students.
The platform has access nodes in all the Ministries of Education of the Autonomous Communities (CCAA) and the Institute of Educational Technology (ITE) and Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECD).
MDX (Learning Materials Online) is a cooperative repository offering open education resources produced by several universities from Catalonia and the Valencian Community (Spain).
The purpose of MDX is to make the participant institutions’ teaching production more visible and widespread, thus contributing to educational innovation, on the one hand, and free access to knowledge on the other.
The aims of MDX are:
- To facilitate the management of teaching materials and objects produced by the universities by arranging them and integrating them within a common server.
- To offer the academic staff of the participating universities a resource server that allows the materials produced to be filed and subsequently retrieved.
- To provide users with permanent, simple and fast access to the teaching production of member organisations.
- To add value to the materials collected through elements such as the permanent address, standardised citations or consultation data.
- To establish and apply preservation mechanisms in order to ensure the durability of the materials.
- To encourage the publishing and editing of teaching materials in electronic formats.
More than 18 million students, staff and researchers at institutions across the UK could start to benefit from a faster and more secure connection when using their institution’s cloud-based IT services, thanks to a new peering arrangement signed on 21 May 2013 between Microsoft and Janet, the UK’s research and education network..
Connecting the networks privately eliminates the need to traverse data over the public internet. This enables a high bandwidth connection for students and staff to use Windows Azure. Bandwidth is managed, ensuring high-speed delivery with no delay or latency.
The move to peer the Microsoft Windows Azure data centre to the Janet network comes as part of a new strategic alliance between the two organisations.
“Cloud computing has the potential to revolutionise research by offering vast compute resources on-demand. At Newcastle University, we already have over £20M of research projects that are supported by the cloud. However, one of the major barriers holding back further cloud adoption is the time it takes to transfer large datasets from the lab to the cloud for analysis. This new link between Janet and the Azure Cloud removes this barrier, and will allow a far greater range of research projects to fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing,” said Paul Watson, Professor of Computing Science at Newcastle University.
The alliance agreement also means any UK education institution can benefit from standard terms and conditions on Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity software suite Office 365, negotiated by Janet.
“We need to educate more people all their lives and we can’t do it using the elite model developed in the past”
Dr. Fred Mulder, UNESCO Chair holder in Open Educational Resources (OER) at the Open Universiteit in the Netherlands and former Rector of OUNL, and Dr. Rory McGreal, UNESCO Chair holder in OER and professor at Athabasca University, recently stopped by Rome to deliver keynote addresses at the LINQ2013 conference.
eLearning Papers has recently launched an issue on MOOCs. What is your opinion about this phenomenon?
FM: I think MOOCs are an interesting phenomenon that gained a lot of media attention recently. This attention can help make OER mainstream in education and get OER in the policies of governments. MOOCs are still in an infancy stage and they can further develop in various ways in the future, but I think they can anyway help reach this ultimate OER goal.
RM: I am very excited about MOOCs. We were involved with the first MOOCs that came out in Canada and George Siemens, one of the founders of the MOOC concept, is one of our faculty members. I have been supporting scalable education nearly all of my professional life and I think the major challenge for the 21st century is how we educate people around the world who are capable of a university education and just don’t have access, which is an issue not only in the developing world, but even in Canada and in Europe. We need to educate more people all their lives and we cannot do it using the elite model that we have developed in the past.
What are the challenges that MOOCs face at the moment?
RM: I think one that has not come yet is the revanche of the traditional universities, but MIT and their initiatives made OER respectable and they are making the same for MOOCs, a real possibility for mass-education.
FM: I think another challenge is to cherish diversity. We should think about how we can serve diversity in terms of language, cultural context, and educational models. There is not a single model that will work for every situation.
Do you think also access and cultural barriers can be other challenges?
RM: The benefit of having MIT or Harvard lead the way is the bigger impact it has on developing countries and it can be a stimulus for smaller universities to do their own. In many cases, in developing countries education is only for the elites, so this new trend breaks away the idea that in order to have an education you need to have an elite system.
FM: In my view it is a mistake to think that you can capture the whole world with US-styled courses in the English language, even if they come from reputed research universities. It’s better to have a collaborative model with universities at different continents to develop their own MOOCs. My concern is to have this at global scale indeed and to have it applied in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in different languages and adapted to their own cultural contexts.
Will MOOCs replace more traditional educational models?
FM: MOOCs can have different applications in different situations and some universities might decide to include MOOCs into their curriculum, but I don’t think they will replace a full curriculum. A curriculum is not just a set of courses but rather a coherent program in which courses are related and other components are included as well.
RM: I think it would be difficult, but not impossible. We have the possibility of getting a Bachelor of General Studies solely via prior-learning-assessment or challenge exams at Athabasca University. The possibility is there. As MOOCs develop, there will be numerous career paths: some of them will be MOOCs, some regular courses, some OER, and some with regular textbooks.
So, blended learning is the future. What are the keys for this to happen?
RM: One is the ability to divorce the assessment process from the delivery process. The other big issue is the transferability of your credits so that people’s acquired learning is accepted.
FM: MOOCs will be a challenge especially for open universities. That’s why we started OpenupEd: to offer a good alternative to the US-based MOOCs by putting the learner at the centre and by delivering quality learning materials in a wide variety of languages and with a decentralized model.
If you want to read some more information about OpenupEd, please read this other interview.
Dr. McGreal, in your talk yesterday at LINQ2013 you mentioned that OER should be applied and formatted on mobile devices for M-learning. Why do you think this is priority?
RM: Look around, the world is mobile. It’s not “going mobile” anymore, it is mobile! And yet we are continuing to design our OER as if people have a desktop rather than designing for a small screen, chunking your information. It’s a lot easier to take that and put it on a desktop than the other way around. This is the world we live in, and a lot of educators don’t seem to see it.
You also mentioned that there is a need for OER because we cannot effectively use commercial content. Do you think this can be solved by putting in place the right policy on property rights?
RM: I’m a bit cynical about policies because we have all kinds of policies that we don’t pay any attention to. Policies are often a diversion from doing anything. We can’t use commercial content in designing for mobile devices, and this hasn’t struck anyone yet, they think they have a choice. If you get a commercial e-text, it’ll be in one format, and you can’t switch it to another. There are a lot of people with all sorts of devices and we need to have that capability to adapt from one to the other.
What implications this could have with people with disabilities, for instance?
RM: Again, we have to have these capabilities: text to voice conversion for blind people in particular. These things we need to do and we cannot do them with commercial content. These kinds of restrictions are going to ruin it for educators: we have students in open universities from 60 countries and it’s impossible to negotiate intellectual property licenses with each of them. We cannot use proprietary content on these courses without breaking the law, so OER and Open Education are the key.
And now just a last question for both of you: what is your role as UNESCO Chair holders in OER?
FM: Using the UNESCO chair provides an interesting independent mechanism to promote OER but having the privilege to use the UNESCO label. There are four UNESCO chair holders in OER besides the two of us: Tel Amiel, from University of Campinas in Brazil, and Wayne Mackintosh, from Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand, and we of course would like to expand the number of chairs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2011 we began designing a common plan of action to add value to the OER world. I’m coordinating the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN), a network of PhD students and their supervisors from universities in different parts of the world. Currently we have about 15 partner universities and close to 20 PhD students who all will have additional supervision from experts in different countries. The network will meet in an annual seminar where the PhD students present their research plans and outcomes and get feedback.
RM: I am coordinating the OER knowledge cloud, a repository with over 600 referred papers and reports on OER that help students on the Global OER Graduate Network and other researchers working with OER issues to find the information which is full-text searchable. Another major action is the OER University, Wayne Mackintosh coordinates 23 universities members from 6 continents to create pathways for using OER to assessment and accreditation, and Tel Amiel in Brazil is working on K-12 issues.