The Open Student questions part 1

http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume45/QuestioningtheFutureoftheOpenS/209247

Questioning the Future of the Open Student, Vicki Davis

Interesting article – the questions at the beginning frustrated me initially but the more I thought through them the more they made sense. Also, the questions at the end are pretty critical.

The questions at the beginning:

How can sources of open content be vetted, rated, and evaluated?

Do they need to be? Can’t they be left as a disorganized mass – sites will pop up that will aggregate them and eventually these can be reviewed openly by individuals who use them. I think this is much more likely to happen when open content sources as used to meet specific outcomes like exams, assignments, projects, or other ‘validated’ educational ends. I know for myself there are lots of things that I would like to learn, and there are lots of other things that I actually need to do – when the educational content is between me and the goal, I use it. If it was part of a system that as soon as I used it it let me rate it, I’d probably do so, especially when it’s helpful. I found a source like this for repairing our washer – I repaired it myself based on instructions I found online. If I could rate that or give it props somehow, I would. So I guess I just turned around – it would be nice to have somewhere these places are organized, if nothing else to do some sifting. It would also need the bits of code or regulation that don’t let people who upload content overload their own content – but I suppose that’s inevitable at some point. There are people selling things in the Amazon reviews, too, but I still use those to make comparisons.

Do students have the skill sets to use these learning environments?

This needs to be a function of the environment. The environments they can use (the environments that have enough to offer and are easy enough to use) will be used, and the others won’t. There’s a natural evolution to many sites on the Internet, and generally the good (or useful, or popular, or profane) will out

Are the dominance of the English language and the lack of accessibility for those with disabilities creating additional hurdles?

Yes. But again, the impetus won’t be there to convert them to other languages until they’re on the path to something more beneficial and specific. If materials that help people learn to pass a driver’s license test are in English, the impetus to convert them will be created.

Can learning through open content be validated?

Depends on the structure of the content. If content is structured with ‘knowledge’, then assessments that let you test how you did, and the ability to review them and do it again, it would easier to validate them, especially as they approximated some outside assessment. But not all open content learning leads to a specific goal, some leads to general betterment of knowledge in a content area due to curiosity of the individual, which is great, but more wishy-washy to validate. Those types will be validated by use, ratings, etc from the type of aggregator I described earlier.

Can content area experts emerge from open content environments?

Sure, why not. I’m thinking of that guy who makes videos out of his apartment and uses those cool multicolored markers to draw science concepts. I thought I bookmarked it but can’t find the link.

Can colleges and universities continue to fund open content initiatives without receiving compensatory payback for their contribution to learning at large?

Probably not, but they can tie open learning initiatives to their own learning outcomes and help their own students, which is part of their mission, and would be a form of compensation.

Should future technological innovations that more closely connect humans with the rote knowledge of the Internet redefine the content that is being delivered?

I think the best innovations technologically on the internet connect people to content that is generated by other people, and make it easier for people to generate content, so that the web isn’t made up of a series of Experts, it’s made up of a bunch of small experts.

Overall I think for a leaner approach that allows multiple paths to the same destination, like open content, with little investment on the part of the learner, I think the next step is to make outcomes, objectives, and evaluations for skill sets more accessible. For example, if to be hired as an engineer you did not need to pass 8 courses, you just needed to pass the 8 assessments in those courses, and the assessments were affordable and available outside the university system, then you could find your own way to get there. If you want to do so in a university, that’s fine, if you want to do it through lectures, podcasts, and contacting tutors, or other people trying to pass the test as well. But you don’t have to pay anyone to get together with these people, you just go somewhere where people who are trying to take the test go. Like a carpool center for learning – they’re all heading the same place, they’re going to share the ride. I think that’s one of the chief values of open content – the sooner they’re means to an actual measurable end to which they can be and end themselves (and not a supplement to an existing system) they’ll be curated and rated against each other more quickly, because they’ll be used critically by more people.

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