Monday, September 10, 2012

OpenEd Evangelist - The Formulation

With the course almost over, I decided to undertake the OpenEd Evangelism badge.

The requirements for the OpenEd Evangelist badge are:

OpenEd Evangelist (Journeyman level, complete for 1 topic to earn the badge)

  • Construct an argument by which you could persuade someone to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. Your argument should include at least five elements (kinds of evidence), with references.Write a blog post describing your argument in detail. 
  • Have a conversation with a faculty member in which you use your argument to try to persuade them to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. 
  • Without revealing his or her identity, write a blog post describing your conversation and the reactions, responses, counterarguments, and concerns of the faculty member and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

So for this blog post I will formulate my argument.  My main argument around Open Education is that it benefits the learners and as such departments that are learner-conscious (shouldn't we all be? if we are in academia at least) should adopt Open Education policies for how they do business. At a really basic level you've got OCW (open courseware). If an entire department had all of their courses on their school's OCW (like MIT has) learners in that not only preview what the courses are about, but they can also reference future course material now if they need access to some reference that they will get in the future, but that they need now.

A second way in which OCW benefits the learners is that it allows faculty to see what fellow faculty are doing in their courses (I think this was referenced in the OCW video in week 4) so that courses don't have redundancies in them, and faculty can make reference to other courses when designing and teaching their own - thus providing that connective tissue between courses and enabling the learner to make more connections.

A third way in which OpenEd benefits learners comes in the way of the use of OER.  If materials that they've used in their courses is available as OER, they can then not only use it in future occasions when a brushing up (of the material) is needed, but they can also share this material with friends and colleagues that need it, and if need be they can update or edit the OER materials to suit their needs. Thus the learner is able to learn from the OER material initially, and then adapt it to their own purposes in the future. This type of sharing was alluded to in the MIT OCW video with regard to OCW courses, but it is equally applicable to other types of OER. As a few of the resources in the OER week point out (incl. Blekner 2005) the power of OER is that it can tap into many diverse volunteers (instead of focusing on just a few points of view), and this can contribute to a better resource (or resources, if they are forked).

Finally, Open Access (as part of Open Education) is good for learners!  Journal subscriptions can cost an arm and a leg (that intro video for Open Access week really surprised me), something that some libraries can afford, and others cannot.  Students individually cannot.  When in school, learners have access to these resources through the tuition they pay - but what about when they graduate? By using Open Access sources, and by encouraging faculty to publish in OA journals you are setting up a system whereby alumni can go on to be life long learners, and continue to enjoy access to scholarly sources that they used as a student!
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