Open Conference on Open Education/Who's doing what

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Streaming the session live
Video recording Archive.org copy.

In this session people from within La Trobe and people outside La Trobe spoke about what they were already doing that they considered to be open education.

  • Claire Macken spoke about the Radical Learning project and asked the conference to make recommendations to the University's senior executive about open education.
  • Ruth Jelley spoke about the Open Tab mobile media project and suggested that universities have the resources to produce their own textbooks and make them more affordable and useful to students.
  • Anthony Col spoke about the efforts of the Wikipedia project Medicine to make all medical knowledge available through Wikipedia. He spoke about the barriers to experts engaging Wikipedia and cited one project looking to reward academic work in Wikipedia.
  • Jack Foks spoke about the University of the Third Age and his views of how formal education tends limit people's freedom to learn, and ultimately will not be able to adapt to open education.
  • Julien Leyre spoke about the Marco Polo project and his efforts to build an online community that works at translating contemporary Chinese writing into English.
  • Leigh Blackall spoke to several of the Faculty of Health Sciences projects including publishing instructional videos on Wikipedia, and developing subjects in Wikiversity.
  • Simon Huggard spoke about the Library's Research Online Repository and their wish to see open educational resources published through the repository.

Some open discussion was had in the final ten minutes, with Institutional approaches to intellectual property, and a general lack of awareness in the academic community on their rights, was raised as a problem space. Copyleft was offered as an alternative (original) way to consider the issues, and a challenge was offered that restricting access to academic work was unethical because that work is/was primarily funded by public funds. The notion was that a copyleft approach to intellectual property would be an effective way to slow any further privatisation of public intellectual and academic work.

Links[edit]

Radical Learning Project[edit]

PVC - Future Learning, Claire Macken spoke about the Radical Learning project and how a group of people from La Trobe went to the USA to meet with educational institutions that were considered 'radical' in their approach, as well as publishers and providers of open online courses. Clair asked the conference to try and develop a two page summary of open education - looking at it through the eyes of senior executive who may not know much about it. Claire asked that the document explain what open education is and why we should be involved in that space and how it aligns to the strategic objectives. It should mention the blockages to developing open education practices, and touch on issues such as copyright, moral rights and intellectual property. Claire went on to talk about the LTU iTunesU channel and asked if it was an open educational resource.

Open Tab[edit]

Ruth Jelley spoke about the OpenTab project - the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law's production of educational resources for mobile computers (phones, tablets, netbooks). Her questions are around what an educational resource was? Her challenge was making sure that production remained aligned to a curriculum design process. Ruth asked what an appropriate relationship was, between a university and a publisher, especially considering their marketing techniques. Ruth suggested that the university (and its wider community) is equipped to produce its own textbooks, and that those textbooks might be more accessible and affordable, having an impact on student retention?

Wikipedia Project Medicine[edit]

Anthony Col introduced the Wikiproject Med. He start with a story of his typical day editing and reviewing Wikipedia articles on medicine. He described a typical morning where he checks recent changes to articles and checks the quality of the contributions, the citations etc. This takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours per day, and is called 'recent changes trawling'. Anthony asserted that most medical content on Wikipedia is being added by enthusiasts and that the problem with Wikipedia is not what is there, but what is not there. Big medical ideas like 'Cancer' are well covered. But the next levels down are poorly covered. The goal of the Wikiproject Med is comprehensive coverage in a single convenient place.

Anthony spoke about the Wikimedia Foundation's project to make the editing interface easier, but wondered if this was a real barrier to expert participation. Anthony considers that it's more likely because experts aren't rewarded for contributions to Wikipedia. He described Docjames' work with The Journal of Internet Medical Research, to do peer review of Wikipedia articles. This may result in a process whereby academics can achieve peer review and publication in the journal, and so recognition and reward in their contexts.

Anthony raised concerns about the idea of asking students to edit Wikipedia articles, as this can often lead to burdensome workloads for volunteer reviewers. Using Wikipedia as an assignment space requires proper preparation and engagement with the community of volunteers working in the subject field.

University of the Third Age[edit]

Jack from the University of the Third Age questioned the use of the terms relating to "Open education", wanting it to instead be applied in terms of people's freedom. He challenged the institution's hold and authority on the practice of education, and asserted that the institutions can't readily adapt to openness. Many assessment practices can't accept open (free) learning, so asked if we were talking about open (emancipatory) education in theory and principle, but not practice. Jack explained that open learning, and open education threats formed power structures and systems, and gave the example of how TAFE used to have a process in the 1990s that excluded learning gained at other organisations or informally. It is less the situation today, as the Recognition of Prior Learning process was introduced, but still governed to a national competency standard, and still practically difficult for institutions to apply RPL in reasonable ways.

U3A is for people 50 yrs and over. Members pay $40 per year and this grants them access to open learning events. There are combinations of open syllabus and strict syllabus. Some online and blended activities are starting to be used. Jack teaches an online course called "Does Democracy Work". Jack suggested that using popular channels like Facebook raises concerns for senior learners. He cited statistics gathered by U3A, that only 70% of their membership have email addresses, and from those many don't own a computer and work at the local library. Computer literacy is a major concern.

Marco Polo Project[edit]

Julien Leyre is building a digital community in the Marco Polo project. The focus is on Chinese language skills, and bringing Chinese writing and contemporary culture to Western audiences. The Not for Profit has been operating since March 2012. Julien's Suggestion was for Chinese language students to join in the translation of Chinese web content, using the Marco Polo platform. See also notes about making use of student work at Open Education Week 2013/La Trobe University Open Conference/Lunch and open networking page

Others from the Faculty of Health Sciences (LTU)[edit]

Owing to a limit on remaining time in the session, Leigh Blackall spoke on behalf of the range of projects going on in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

  1. Suzane Vasello - Wikipedia article Vertometer now has instructional video produced by Suzane and La Trobe University
  2. Nick Stone - Indigenous and Intercultural Health being developed on Wikiversity
  3. Rick Hayes - Health Education and Development is being developed on Wikiversity
  4. Teresa Iacono - Health and Dissabilities videos being negotiated into Wikipedia
  5. Robyn Elliot - The Bouverie Centre developing all subjects on Wikiversity

The Wikiversity work is intended as background documentation and development in preparation for a designed and public facing website for the subjects

LTU Library[edit]

The LTU Library is keen to use the Research Online repositor to publish and distribute open educational resources. Simon Huggard explained that libraries have a strong history of supporting the dissemination of published articles, books and other works for institutions, and the Research Online repository grew out of the efforts of libraries to make the intellectual output of the Universities and other scholarly institutions available. The repository disseminates author versions, pre-prints, accepted manuscripts, post-prints and other versions available to everybody and not locked up in expensive, exclusive, online subscriptions to journals via dominant journal publishers. Open content initiatives such as SPARC and the efforts of academics such as Steven Hanard were strong advocates for providing published works online for free.

The provision of open educational resources via the Library's Research Online repository is seen as a natural extension to the publication of academic publication, and blends well with other efforts of the Library to promote our University's research projects, grants, publications and research data via the ANDS-funded Research Metadata Store (in which Research Metadata will be published also via the Research Online repository.

Today's forum is one of a number of ways the library is working to engage with academics to seek out learning content and provide this openly to the world via the Research Online repository

Closing remarks[edit]

IN the final 10 minutes of the session, open discussion was had - generally focusing on issues with intellectual property. Copyright in particular seems to be a large hurdle within the University sector, and the institution's claim of ownership over all intellectual property is problematic. It was thought that institutions do this mainly to manage risk rather than to position for control capitalisation. Copyleft was offered as an alternative way of thinking about and managing intellectual property. A position was shared that restricting public access to academic works is unethical, because the public primarily funded the work. This position was moved to the Critical ideas session instead. A question was raised on what does "open" mean in open education.