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Open for learning?

April 17th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

I am in Salzburg speaking at the 3rd Interdisciplinary EduMedia Conference ‘Open Education enhanced by Web 2.0!?! Open Educational Practices and Resources for Lifelong Learning’.

I have good friends working for salzburg Research who have organised the conference and salzburg is one of my favourite cities, so I readily agreed to speak at the confernce. then as sometimes happens, I didn’t get my act together to tell them the topic I wanted to talk on. So Diana Bischof, the very capable conference organiser, seems to have allocated me a title. Fair enough. So I am speaking on – wait for it – ‘Open content in the internet as link between learning, knowledge and development’. Or something like that.

Anyway what I am really speaking on is a subject that I have been thinking much on lately – the direction, momentum and impact of the Open Educational Resources movement.

My general conclusion is that whilst the OER movement has been successful in raising the conciousness of both institutions and teachers about sharing resources, the reality is that there is very limited use and still less reuse or repurposing of OERs. The major issue is that OERs are largely seen as teaching materials. Many of the projects funded by Hewlett – and the EU – have essentially funded large universities to support their staff in posting their teaching materials on the internet. That is very much to be welcomed but it does little for learning. If we want to support learning and that is the openness I am interested in – then we need to provide learners with tools to learn – regardless of whether they are registered with an educational institution. At the same time we need to recognise learning which takes place outside the institutions. Recognition means what it says – it is not a synonym for accreditation. So we are back to Personal Learning Environments – a theme any regular reader to thsi column will be quite familiar with. The problem is that institutions have no interest in supporting learning outside the walls – indeed if learning was to be so open why will anyone pay fees to attend universities.

Finally I am getting to think about the different ways in which we might use social software as a medium for accessing Open Educational Resources – more on this later in the week.

My presentation is available on slideshare – though I am not sure how much sense it makes without the words to go with it.

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