Friday, November 30, 2007

Wrap Up

Near the end of what will hopefully be the busiest semester of my PhD program (roughly comparable to the busiest semester during my MBA program, except then I was only working part time), I finish up one of my four classes with this post. Intro to Open Education has been an interesting class.

Professors teach. They have not all been trained in teaching, so you don't necessarily expect every professor to always be a masterful teacher. Being in a department of Instructional Technology, however, there is a higher standard. In their teaching, we expect them to practice what they preach. I think that has happened in this course.

Brittany G (from Flickr)In another class where new PhDs get to know the faculty and write about how their interests align, Wiley said that someone once wrote on their evaluation that they had no idea what he was interested in. Oh. Well, in every class I have had from him, there have been elements of collaboration, reusing open materials, utilizing the latest technology, and learner control in the structure of the course. Looking at the research and presentations on his CV, it is all about collaborating with Web 2.0 tools, creating and reusing open content, providing instruction via the Internet with various technology, and giving learners materials that are most effective for them. So it's nice to see he's using what he's been researching. Okay, enough about Wiley.

There was a lot of content packed in this course. I liked both the individual comments directly on my posts and the synthesis or highlight posts. When Wiley stopped the comments and went back to the synthesis posts and we were supposed to respond to others' postings for the last three readings, I chose to leave individual comments on others' blogs rather than do my own synthesis post. The comments just seem a little more direct and personal. That said, I liked being able to see everything in one place. Either way, hopefully we boosted each other's pageranks by all the interlinking. For the future, a little more coordination and training up front on how to set up a feed reader and properly tag everything so it is easier to see everything in one place would be very beneficial. That is the power of the tools we used, but I don't believe we really harnessed that power. Or maybe just I didn't.

During the semester, I found myself citing articles we read in this course in papers I wrote for other professors. I also cited papers from other classes in my postings here. I plan on going back through some of the papers I've written over the past year and posting several of them here. For some reason it's just a little easier to find and cite my own writing when it's out in one spot on the web for me to access anywhere, instead of scattered among the four USB drives I carry around, my laptop, home computer, work computer, several wikis, and Google Docs.

In my day job, I'm in charge of Computer and Information Literacy at USU. We're currently starting the process to hammer out a statewide agreement so we have at least a minimum level of competency across all the local higher ed institutions. I have included in my recommendations that students should be able to contribute content via a wiki. I am also suggesting that in addition to teaching about copyright, plagiarism, and piracy that we make sure we teach fair use and the CC and GFDL licensing of content. I put together a wiki page and invited the representative from each school to put their recommendations there. One tried and couldn't get it to save right. Another school emailed me to post it for them. I've seen nothing from the rest. I sincerely hope we can keep up with the new kids, both their needs as well as their strengths, so we can really provide them something useful, not just a lame, out of touch test.

Brittany G (from Flickr)As I've been reading and writing a bit about virtual communities lately and thinking about how something along those lines might work for a dissertation topic, I've been impressed by the community in this class. I've communicated more with many members of this online class than I have with the people in my face to face statistics class I'm in right now. Other than a few of us that do stats homework together, I never talk to anyone. For this class, it was a little bit of a slow start, but we had to give time for half the class to drop out to really get going. Conversations started up pretty quickly on what people thought about how the class was going, and changes were made because of that. The conversations about the content were fantastic. The added diversity by having so many countries represented added valuable depth to the course, with many more points of view to consider. Now that it's over, a few people set up a wiki to keep the community alive. That's great. There are some people in this class that will make a real difference in the lives of a lot of people.

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