Elearning in open source education
E-learning in 'open source' education: exploratory study
The report is available on request from thebrentc...[at]...gmail.com
This is a report of work in progress (as part of a formal course). Please refer to the linked documents and references for more information.
A review of a range of education initiatives, analyzing pedagogies and teaching/learning roles to test the concept of 'open source education' i.e. open source ideas from computing applied to education. A further focus is on uses of e-learning.
The open source approach is very successful in computing where there is collaborative production of 'open source' software, free to use, modify, adapt and distribute. It is argued that there is great potential in applying the open source principles and methods to education (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Staring, Titlestad & Gailis 2005). A significant implication is how teacher and learner roles may be reconceptualised to enhance collaboration (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Staring, Titlestad & Gailis 2005). There are some commonalities with ‘alternative’ education ideologies for example radical pedagogy, and educational concepts like constructivist and learner-centered learning (Dillon & Bacon 2006; Smith 1996; Wright 1989). This research aims to explore this concept of 'open source education'.
The study performs a qualitative literature and internet review of example education initiatives analyzing their pedagogies, open source elements and uses of e-learning, followed by a focus group to begin identifying pedagogical and e-learning ideas or methods from such approaches that can be valuable for teaching and learning.
The investigation successfully identified strong evidence of open source influences and elements in a variety of projects, sometimes explicit, but also reflected in open democratic organisation, collaboration and calls for participation. “Facilitation” is a strong theme with initiatives providing structures and processes to help learning. The distinction between teachers and learners is de-emphasised, but the teacher concept is often similarly manifested as a "facilitator" role that participants fulfill.
Specific pedagogical emphases include collaborative learning, lifelong and informal learning, learner-directedness, critical thinking and practical learning.
Wiki technology is popular and other common e-learning uses include discussion boards, community blogs, mailing lists and document repositories, often taking submissions. Some publish journals or newsletters and there are also many face-to-face events.
The study concludes that there is value in developing ways of organising, teaching and learning informed by both the open source movement and education approaches embodying these principles, and that social technologies like wiki can significantly enable this.
Dillon, T., Bacon, S. 2006. Opening education. The potential of open source approaches for education [online]. Available: http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/opening_education/Open_Source_report.pdf [accessed 02-06-2008].
McGettigan , T. 1999. What is Radical Pedagogy? Radical Pedagogy 1 (1).
Smith, M. K. 1996. Ideas. Key concepts and theories in informal education, lifelong learning and social action.
Staring, K., Titlestad, O. & Gailis, J. 2005. Educational transformation through open source approaches.
Wright, N., 1989. Assessing radical education. Milton Keynes/Philadelphia: Open University Press.
These are the projects I've looked at in some detail so far:
Autonomous University of Lancaster http://www.knowledgelab.org.uk/AUL
Copenhagen Free University http://www.copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk
Free Floating Faculty http://www.kristinask.net/Freefloatingfaculty.html
Free University of Los Angeles http://www.freeuniversityla.org
Highlander Research and Education Center http://www.highlandercenter.org
The Independent Art School http://www.independent-art-school.org.uk
manoa free university http://www.manoafreeuniversity.org
Minciu Sodas http://www.ms.lt
mobilised investigation http://manifestor.org/mi
New University Coop http://www.newuniversity.ca
Olympia Community Free School http://oly-wa.us/freeschool
Pirate University http://www.pirate-university.org
School of Everything http://www.schoolofeverything.com/
Seattle free school http://seattlefreeschool.googlepages.com
Toronto Anarchist Free University http://anarchistu.org
The Travelling School of Life http://www.tsolife.org
University of the Third Age http://www.u3a.org.uk
University of Openess http://uo.twenteenthcentury.com
Vidya Ashram http://www.vidyaashram.org
These have been discovered post review