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Developing open content

October 16th, 2006 by Graham Attwell

Sorry not to have posted much lately. Up to my eyes in work and travel seems never ending.

Anyway, just to get the travel-log up to date. Spent most of last week in Romania – first in the beautiful; mountains of Transylvania and then in traffic clogged (but still beautiful) Bucharest.

I was in Romania for a meeting of the Reflective Evaluation project. We rolled out for the first time our as yet unnamed tool which allows an easy way for teachers and trainers to themselves create learning activities. This was always going to be interesting – given that the majority of the parters are teachers and trainers themselves rather than ICT experts. They seemed to like it. We benefitted from the input from Kris who has programmed the tool and is himself a specialist IT trainer. It was particularly good for me to watch how he presented the workshop. It requires a lot of patience in making sure everyone is keeping up and in guiding people through installing plug-ins etc.

The tool – about which I shall write more in the next month – is definitely a Web 2.0 development in that the activities of the learners or users form a key part of the learning materials. Of course this raises issues – particularly the relationship between expert and user based knowledge. This is quite a challenge for university researchers, used to the paradigm of expert knowledge drawn from research rather than practitioner knowledge based on practice.

What was particularly encouraging was that as participants became used to the idea of installing and ‘playing’ with the application, they became enthusiastic about other social software tools. By the end of the workshop everyone was sitting in the room sending messages to each other using Skype. Sometimes, working in the e-learning field, we can forget that many people have no knowledge of these tools and what use they might be for researchers and project development. We also forget that installing software – even modern, easy to use, web software, lays outside the experience of many users,

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