David Wiley has announced the call for proposals for the Open Education 2007 conference at Utah State University. The conference will run from September 26-28, 2007 and the deadline for proposals in May 18th. See the proceedings from last year’s conference to get an idea for what it is about. This year’s theme is learning:
If our open education efforts aren’t supporting learning, we’re failing as a field. Period. And as we are beginning to understand how to produce and license content, we have to turn some of our attention to how this content is used by learners and teachers. How do they change, adapt, and localize it for their specific needs or the needs of their specific students? Do open educational resources support learning in ways different from non-open resources? In what concrete ways do open educational resources support learning?
If you are not that familiar with opencourseware (OCW) and open education, one place to start exploring is this OER content providers page which lists all the OCW and open digital library sites out there and provides a searchable and browseable list of all their open educational resources and courses.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be working at Utah State this fall, so I’m glad I’ll be able to attend the conference and perhaps meet some of the edubloggers that I’ve stumbled upon many times over the past years, such as Brian Lamb, who will be keynoting at the conference, and possibly Stephen Downes.
As to contributing to the conference myself, I don’t have a good topic for a session, just some initial thoughts on possible future directions related to OCW and open education.
- Including assessment/test/quiz tools on OCW sites, not just courses and notes. Open source interactive tools to support quiz authoring and delivery. Most such quiz authoring and delivery tools are expensive and proprietary. Even QuizStar, a web-based tool created by researchers at Kansas University, is no longer going to be free.
- Including and integrating more interactive resources such as simulations and games, and making it easier to actually develop such resources. This also involves linking to existing databases of free interactive resources, such as the National Library of Digital Manipulatives, Illuminations from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the PhET physics simulations at Colorado, Physlets, ESCOT, Math Forum, Virtual Courseware for Earth and Environmental Sciences, ExploreLearning (which is not free though), and the like.
- Extending the open education “movement” to educational research. Making research data available to other researchers when feasible, and publishing research in open access journals. There is already an open source PHP-based tool for supporting open access peer-reviewed journals called Open Journal Systems.
- Connecting open education to curriculum reform and evaluations. For example letting students and the public rate courses, and publicly sharing evaluation data on the learning effectiveness of the course.
- Marketing open education resources better. Writing about them in journals, magazines, blogs, and social software sites such as digg and reddit. Highlight good quality resources, as well as content on controversial issues or that are of interest to the general public.
- Extending content beyond what’s already in standard texts and courses. Take advantage of the fact that you can include more up-to-date, more in-depth, and more interesting content. This makes online, open education resources more valuable to professors, researchers, teachers, students, and the public.
- Letting teachers and students mix and match modules to create their own courses.
- Adding social cues to make OCW resources and sites feel more “alive,” such as showing where users are clicking, and linking to synchronous chat and asynchronous discussion resources. This includes working with LMS tools like Sakai or Moodle.
- Connecting courses and modules to some sort of learning standards and prerequisites system, and providing just-in-time remedial resources when students don’t have sufficient background knowledge to grok the content.