Minds on fire – Primer on OER

Minds on FireThese are my rough notes and thoughts on initial read of “Minds on Fire” Article by John Seely Brown and Richard P Adler which was required reading on Week 1 of my Open University course H817 Course page. The full activity asks students to review one of the linked resources.
World is flatter but also “spikier” in terms of innovation and productiveness. All eco-systems need well educated work force. Eco system must provide support for continuous learning (supporting new ideas / skill creation)
No fixed careers: We need to continuously acquire new skills and knowledge. Fixed campuses cannot be built quick enough.Digital platforms provide way of preparing students.
Most visible impact: Open Educational Resource (OER) movement began in 2001 with MIT OpeCourseWare (material from 17,000 courses). As well as content, access to “scarce” resources supported i.e. electron microscopes and telescopes and more becoming available.
Web 2.0 blurs the line between producers / consumers. Social learning (understanding of content is socially constructed – not what we learn, but how we learn). Richard J Light (Harvard) found determinant of success (NOTE: not sure how he defines success) was their ability to form or participate in smaller groups. Opposite of Cartesian learning i.e. knowledge is a substance and pedagogy transfers that substance from teachers to students. Rather than “I think, therefore I am”, it becomes “We participate, therefore we are”. “Learning to be” means a student is a full participant in a field rather than just “learning about”, which is the historic apprenticeship model.
Social learning provides paths to support new learners, often voluntarily. OPEN SOURCE is an example. Over 1 million people in open source movement. (Note: Connects to Daniel Pink’s Drive).
Example: Wikipedia. You can see the article AND edit it, as well as see and get involved in the background discussion. Beyond information, to defining what is reliable and/or important. This supports John Deway’s productive enquiry i.e. seeking out knowledge, when it is needed.
Example: Terra Incognito ( Uni Southern Queensland) based on Second Life – virtual area with break outs etc
Example “CyberOne” course from Harvard, also in second life. Layers of access (course students, Uni students AND pubic)
Example: Digital Study hall: Recording of lectures on DVD (in India), local “mediator” acts as teacher by pausing and creating conversation / discussion.
John King (Uni of Michigan) 40k students but impact is 250k students due to social networks for students/
Example: Faulks telescope project – access to telescopes on Hawaii and Australia. (Also developed Faulks Telescope Student academy) t teach astronomy / support projects.
Example: Hands on Universe (Berkeley) allows students to request observations from observatories and provides tools to understand outputs
Example: Bugs scope (Uni of Illinois) access to microscopes in real time.
David Wiley (Uni of Utah) required students to blog (Note: Yikes). Students engaged more by writing more and commenting. Provided peer discourse, support and pressure to share.
Chris Anderson “Long Tale”. Course online become ver growing and niches can be accommodated.
Modern Uni’s are practicums. Reflective practicums such as Teaching and Online Commons (shared repository of case studies and resources for creating case studies (Keep toolkit). Forums all people to mix, remix content and provide feedback / ideas. Therefore a Open Participatory Learning System. (learning 2.0)
Circle of knowledge: Create >> Use >> Re-mix
Learning is now demand pull, with focus on learning constructed around rich learning communities, built around practice. Resources are ever-growing and students / society is moving towards passion based learning: Learning 2.0

Initial reflections on article:

  • This is Seely Brown on his usual “social is learning rant.”This assumes A) Students want to be social B ) Social is culturally acceptable C) Educators believe social is way forward and D) They have resources / technology / time to be social.
  • Challenge with OER, is not the number of resources, but the quality and ability to search for appropriateness. Tried looking for “Basic cash flow building case study”. Impossible.
  •  How do low technological or people with poor connection get engaged? This is one of the key reasons for spikiness.
  • I wonder if technology is technology for technologies sake i.e. Second Life. If you have bandwidth and interest then it makes sense. Do platform choices by entities put students off (yet another set of apps / codes etc too download) – technological challenge to learn the system BEFORE enjoying, if ever, the content and the interaction.
  • As well as learning, many people want / need “qualifications” and OER does not provide this, neither do MOOOs.
  • Learning 2.0 is a good thing, but not the be all and end all, for learning in the 21st century.
  • Big movements are supporting the removal of spikiness, but they will remain for a while.
  • Overall an interesting read. Minds on Fire sees John Seely Brown cover the same ground, again.
  • I wonder how large universities engage with students and learners who use their resources. Are they listening AND are they doing anything with that listening?
Have you read this? What are your thoughts?
Cheers, Andi
Seely Brown, J. and Adler, R. (2008) ‘Minds on fire: open education, the long tail and learning 2.0’, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 16–32; also available online at http://net.educause.edu/ ir/ library/ pdf/ ERM0811.pdf (last accessed 17th January 2016).
Image from original article (illustrator: Dung Hoang )
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