Sunday, December 9, 2007

OpenEd Week 15: Wrap up

Thanks to Dr. Wiley for providing such a new learning environment for us and fully considering our comments of course content and processing. As a beginner in this field and an international student, it is very hard at the beginning to read through all the articles in each week’s reading; because firstly, there are so many new vocabularies need to be checked in the dictionary; secondly, open education is a very new subject in developing countries like China, some newer vocabularies or terms haven’t translated into Chinese yet. I need to fully understand the concepts in English to know what their meanings are in my language. I would donate my own translation on Wikipedia for those new terms haven’t got any translation yet.

Before this class, I have heard of the terms such as open education, open courseware, license, compulsory education, etc. I didn’t have much clue on most of them or even I got the wrong definitions. At the end of this class, my definitions for those terms are totally refreshed, and more, I learn some other terms such as learning object, Creative Commons, public domain, GFDL licenses, ShareAlike, sustainability of OER, Economic Models of Open Education, etc. Also, I got a chance to study a little bit on some open education projects and made some comparison. A few topics of open education in developing countries like China are mentioned in the class content which are very interesting for me. I don’t have to list all the details of each one now since we already had good discussions earlier.

The understanding of the new terms is very useful for the translation work I am having now. And some of my future courses will definitely have some relationship with this class. Open education is a hot topic all over the world now; open education movement just started in China. There are many problems and obstacles will be faced during the process, and I would like to contribute to my own country in this field as much as I can in the future.

I would hardly think something does not covered in this class, but seems like the last part of class about the localization needs more discussion. And also I think maybe some topics about open education models in other countries besides only in the U.S. if there are any because as a class with so many international students, we may want to know more about what happened in other parts of the world. On the process side, there were too many readings at the beginning, so maybe change the process like the later part on the syllabus is more helpful to the students. It is good to remove the audio recording which some students are not very comfortable with. A small project is a good idea to be put into this class about open education, but two weeks for both design and feedback might be considered, three weeks sounds more appropriate.

At last, I would again thanks to Dr. Wiley and all my classmates who participate in the class discussion and giving comments. This class is for sure a good experience for me; useful content is not the only thing I’ve learned in this class, more than that, I feel a lot involved and being supported by the instructor and classmates than any other class. Let’s keep up supporting each other in our later study or work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

OpenEd Week 14: Reflecting on Week 13

I would like to start this week’s post earlier because it will be a crazy week before the semester is over. I have read a few blogs from our classmates and I found that the students from the countries other than the U.S. more likely to write their thoughts related to their own country. I think that might be one of the purposes of the article that lead the reader’s thoughts of how they predict open education movement develops in their own country.

This time I would like to start with
Elisa from Italy. She points out three important mainstreams to be considered:
1. the cultural aspect
2. the legal aspect
3. sustainability
It seems to me open education movement hasn’t started yet in Italy or maybe just the area she is at. She mentions “It would be nice to organize competitions among schools for the production of the best course in any subject.” I am wondering how this would happen because competitions among schools are already existing in any field. The best course competition might be only between the teachers who create those courses. And another issue can be raise by organizing this kind of competition: how to judge the quality of those courses and those courses have to be the same course in the same field. I think it is very limited or restricted.

In Yu-Chun’s blog, she indicates a few things that need to be dealed with to make OER sustainable: licenses of OER, the mechanism to make sure the quality of OER, peer production, localization, Languages, cultures, the availability of technology, and so on. Those are all the issues we talked about in our earlier discussion. She thinks OER can make learning easier especially for math and science subjects. I am thinking just the opposite. It really depends on how the teacher expects the students understand the math and science content. I do hear some people say that the math or statistic teachers just ask them to memorize the formulas and key words from the application problems and get can get the answers of the questions. This way can just solve the math problem in a short term; they will forget the formula easily. What my favorite math teacher taught me was understand how the formulas derive from then I solve the math problem with my own understanding, I can even create the formula myself. This is a long-term learning method than memorize by rote.

I agree with Yu-Chun’s opinions on developing countries about open education movement. She is right that if the students even cannot afford to buy computers or cannot access to the internet, open educational resources will not be convenient learning materials for them. I think they may more likely to get the textbooks even they are expensive but more convenient to get. You can’t imagine that in some poor areas in China, the students have to share the textbook, maybe a whole class contains 20 students only have 4 textbooks or less. How can they afford a computer?

I also read Catia’s post for last week, and it reminds me Wiley’s word that the grass outside the fence is always green. She mentions many times in her post that “there is a long way to go before there is fair awareness of the potentials of openness in education” and she also made an example to express how hard it is for open education movement to move on from her own experience. She feels like it is almost impossible to see open education movement develop in Brazil. I feel open education movement will be hard to develop in China, but still possible, and I had a few suggestion on this issue last week. Her last part states that “Instead of having a cold Learner Support, learners will help each other and develop responsibility towards their own learning process.” I can’t agree this idea much because open education does not mean none support provided, like this class we are taking now--not 100 percent open education course; but we can see we get lots of support from the people around the world no matter they are registered for this class or not. We feel the supports are warm and cheerful, not colder than the support from the peers around us.

Tell Me Why?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

OpenEdu Week 13: The Future of Open Education

QUESTIONS: What will the future of higher education look like? What impact will the open education movement have? How will we get there from here? What will be the effects of open education movement upon K-12 education? (alessandro giorni) What will be the effects of open education movement upon high school education? (emanuela z.) What role can OERs play in developing countries? (Stian Haklev)

Dr. Wiley has taught us a good way to write a hypothesis paper that write the whole paper as the predictions had already come true. I do like this form of writing. Maybe after ten years, twenty years, fifty years, we look over the narration; those predictions do come true like in one of my other classes, some scientists foretold a few things would happen later without any evidence that time; those things did come true after a hundred years. No one can guaranty what will happen to higher education in the future; we can only predict with the evidence we have for now, our personal perspective, and our imagination. Dr. Wiley had pointed out some of the problems open education movement will face in higher education from a US-centric point of view; I guess one point of him is willing to hear more people’s voice from different countries predicting what similar things would happen in their own country. Before directing the questions, I want to ask if anyone can help understand this sentence in the article, “Apparently there are also those who claim that the Chinese MetaU was the final brick in the basket that tipped things in the direction of democracy in that country…"

I believe that the higher education in the U.S. will become more open in the future; but as a Chinese viewpoint, I feel like it is too difficult to change the traditional system of higher education. We talked about words like democracy and open for years, but hard to move on. There are many reasons of difficulties such as our government, politics, economics, and especially the population. So I am thinking if we want the higher education become more open in China, maybe we should start with the bigger universities in educational-centric cities, then move on to local universities. When the time the open education movement has been well developed in China, many people not only school students but more lifelong learners will be benefit from it; informal learning will be all over; certificate from open universities will be accepted by public; the students will never worry about not being able to afford higher education. But before this moment happens, many things need to be taken care of such as those complicated license problems, government, politics, and so on. And another very important thing we can’t ignore is that the conditions for the learners to access to open education resources.

I am not very interested in discussing about the effect of open education movement upon K-12 or high school education; they are the same thing almost. It won’t be my field for later study or job; I know it is also important and I would like to hear other people’s opinions about it, especially those who are professional in those fields. For the last question from Stian, I would like to say some about it. We can not just answer what a single role OERs play in developing countries, because it really depends on which country we are talking about and what their cultures are. In China, before we take open education into account, we do need to convince the parents to accept the advanced open education more than the traditional education because as so far, the parents are the ones pay for the education for their children and they have lots of power to determine if their children will have higher education or not and even what field their children will choose. If open education can finally take over the place of traditional education, the children can choose their own study field, have lots information available from the open education resource, and benefit from it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

OpenEdu Week 12: Comments for Week 11

I feel it is a very good progress for this class now. I could concentrate on my own thoughts on the reading and not waiting for quoting others’ ideas last week; and I can take my time this week read people’s postings they’ve already finished by last week. Not in a rush, better comments to classmates’ postings.

The first posting I had read last week was from
Greg’s blog, and I already had a long thought in my last week posting. After his reflecting this week, I come up with a few more ideas, “we haven't found an effective piece of instruction could fit for all cultures in the world for now. But I think this is a good trend that many people like us are working on the innovation now and ideally one day everyone in the world is able to share some instructions. Maybe it is just what I hope to happen in the future.”

In Karen’s posting last week, she thoughts it was a time-waste thing on discussing what the term learning objects means, spending more time on developing some useful open educational resources is more meaningful. She also came up with a good idea that increasing the awareness for the OER movement and its potential to help fill the content in K-12 education. I do agree with her opinions, and I think struggling on new terms which may have the same meaning as the old terms in the innovation is useless. We need pay our attentions more on the content, learners, and outcomes. As I mentioned last week, in my country, lots of people have heard of the term of open education, but many of them misunderstand the content of it. Then we need to find out how to correct their concepts of open education, and help the teachers participate on the innovation.

Thanks to Houshuang for introducing the new software Moodle and ATutor. I checked those links and I think those software are similar to the WebCT or Blackboard which we are using now for other classes, the difference is whether need login with password or not, of course, you have to pay for the courses first. I would rather use blog or wiki which are very popular now instead of struggling on some new software which not so many people are using for now. Maybe I am not right because I still don’t know that much about the software he mentioned. I also would like to know why he thinks learning objects is always open, how does he define learning objects?

Another post I have read is from Elisa. She indicated that, “Openness, localization and technological improvements are the paths to follow for the future to solve the problems of the state of the art of learning objects.” And she details on each improvement. I do like when she said “Localization also implies refocusing on the learners' needs”, I haven’t thought about this when I talked about localization earlier. I also agree with her on your last paragraph. Learning objects have not died and it takes time to even figure out what the exact meaning of it. But I don't know if it is useful and worth the time to do it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OpenEduWeek 11: Open Education and Learning Objects

QUESTIONS: Some people believe that open educational resources "fix" many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

I found in this week’s reading there are lots of new vocabularies for me; so I need to look up the dictionary all the time. I even can’t find the exact translation for the term learning objects, the English definition help me understand this term. I am still not 100 percent sure about the exact definition since there are a few similar but different definitions for it. It hasn’t been found the definition what learning objects are. From the reading, I think the open educational resources and learning objects are very similar, leaning objects seems just a newer name of open educational resources in most cases as the time passed. When some people say that open educational resources “fix” many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects, they may have their own definitions for learning objects. I cannot agree what they say unless there is a generally acknowledged definition for learning objects.

In Wiley’s definition of learning objects, “A digital resource that can be reused to mediate learning”, for my understanding, that means learning objects are still alive and all over. However, what are the problems experienced by those people who work with learning objects? I have to know first what definition they have for learning objects. In Wiley’s presentation, he indicates that the best way to make learning objects easy and simple is to make them open. Open educational resources are good example for new learning objects which make people’s life easier and simpler. To make learning objects open can also help people express themselves, Wiley also mentions that after Youtube, Wikis, and some other new learning objects appeared in the world, many thoughts and videos no matter good or not at first have been posted on the web. People are able to share their opinions with the people all over that world. And Wiley’s class we are taking now is a good example of open learning object, but it is not 100 percent open yet; because we are still getting the same learning materials, we have to pay the tuition to the school, and we are consuming instead of create our own.

In Greg’s post this week, he mentions that, “First principles methods of instruction may not work in cultures that have rich traditions of pedagogies that differ greatly from first principles. However, it may well be that introducing such a culture to first principles would result in more effective instruction.” I partly agree with his opinion. Also compare to Wiley’s opinion that “it is not possible to make a piece of instruction more effective for everyone in every culture and this is why localization is so important.” I do agree that localization is very important, but I think it is possible to make a piece of instruction effective in every culture because the world is getting flatter. We all know there are some obstructers for any nations to innovate like rooting open education in people’s mind; no doubt, it is harder for some cultures have rich traditions of pedagogies. But traditions can change from time to time, if it is an effective way to make education easier and simple, traditions can be changed. It just takes time for people to fully accept the new ideas. I can see in China, even it has thousands of years traditional pedagogy since Confucius, the educational system still changes as the technology, society change. The term of open education is well-known by Chinese nowadays, but I found that the definitions in China are somehow different from what I am learning now. It just takes time for the people in other nations to figure out the principle first and work more with it in the future. Open education will be a very effective way for other nations and especially I think China because of the large population requiring education; and it will be a way to save time, money, teachers, and so on.