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.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

OpenEd Week 10: Comments collection

I read some classmates’ post for week 9, and find it is not so easy to give comments on a different reading from me. I don’t know if I can make good suggestions to my classmates since I don’t know what the main ideas are in the other books. I tried to find the classmates who read the same book of me and make comments, and then I randomly choose some posts and give my limited opinions.

First, I read
Rob’s post on “The World is flat”. He talks about how his perspective changes from business to education. As a business major in my undergraduate, I feel the same way that my perspective changes a lot after I change my major for my graduate study especially during this new learning environment of this class. This open education class means a lot for us who changed our majors. He also indicates some applications of specific technologies which I also mentioned in my post. I like the example he makes about Chinese and Japanese, and I made some comments on that, “In China right now, many people avoid working for Japanese companies and Japanese companies are well-known as low-paid, high work strength, and high pressure. In fact, there are lots of unemployed people, if they have chances to work in Japanese company they will do even they don't like the work. You are right, ‘the economics override the hate’”.

Jennifer also has the same reading, and she shows a new point of view that, “This bottom-up and self-organized community development process parallels the open education movement. In addition, it helps to explain how an open educational model can be sustained.” She also shows good understanding of each part of the book; I have some comments to her, “You make very clear understanding on each section of the book. But it is hard for me to relate the first few paragraphs to the content of the book, would you indicate that? Or if they are just your opinions, then never mind. I agree with your last few paragraphs, even though I think there are a lot more technologies other than cellphone we are using now for education. It is not cell phone’s fault if the kids use it for cheating, they can also use small cheating sheets. Then do we need to get rid of paper? You are right on this point, but do you think only writing reflective paper will help understand all the content of classes? How can you test on some classes such as math, statistics, and physics?”

I also read Mela’s blog; she makes some brief opinions on three books, but I don’t know if I successfully gave my comments on her blog since I can’t understand the language, I will just paste my comments here, “It looks like you read a few books. I also read "The World is flat", and I share the same thoughts with you. But how can you relate your thoughts to open education movement? And in the thoughts of "Free Culture", do you agree with all what the author talks about? Do you have some ideas that might be against the author's ideas?”

I did have not much I can say about Stian’s post about the book he read. It looks all good to me if there is no prejudice on the field between business and education. And I think this class gives us a good opportunity that we can share our ideas of anything with anyone in this class, feel open! I gave him some comments more than his reading content, and also for his concern about our class; here is my thoughts, “It is good for you to read most of the books. When I have time later, I will try to read more. You seem not like the book that much is it because you are in the education field but not business? I may be interested in reading it since I started with a business background, and later I want to have my own business. To broader my knowledge in another field is also very important to me. I may understand your points better when I read the book later. I feel much better when I see the changes made on our syllabi. It is hard for someone who is not deeply involved in this field to try out a project like that, maybe just me. I was really worried before it changed that for me as an international student, how can I find a professional to agree with my open practice? Some of my classmates from other classes consider if they want to take this class later because of that project. I think I would like to definitely try the practice later when I have enough confidence with my knowledge in this field. Any one here can try it any time. David will be here and more and more classmates will join in, you can get comments any time.”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

OpenEd Week 9:Thoughts After reading "The World Is Flat (Updated and Expanded): A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century"

My big day in my life yesterday! We had a wonderful wedding and everyons was happy. My husband and I will start our new life together. Cherish each other all life long!

QUESTIONS: What can the open education movement learn from the book you chose to read? Elaborate on at least three points. Which of the ideas presented in the book did you find hardest to believe or agree with? Why?

In the book, the author indicates that, “While the dynamic force in Globalization 1.0 was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0-the thing that gives it its unique character-is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally.” The technology, society, and economy change enormously over centuries; while education makes very small progress in the past. Open education movement which advocates enhancing the capability of individual learning in an open environment than the traditional education of being corded in the classrooms just started not long ago. Education is something without borders between countries and does not need to be differentiated in companies, but it is different for each individual, so that open education movement should be considered very important and in urgent need for the whole society. The task of open education movement now is to make the education borderless among countries, companies, universities and help creativity and individuation of each learner. Ideally, we think education is borderless, but in practice, we face some big problems like different countries have different language. How can you teach a student who is from Span without any English background? Do we teach all the people in the world to use a common language, or we translate all the educational materials into many different languages? We can’t achieve the first goal, so we have to try the second one which is what we are working on right now― projects in MIT, USU, Rice, and some other universities are trying to expand as many as translations in their OCW. Of course, language is not the only obstacle; there are lots more for now and later.

The combination of PCs, software, and global fiber-optic network form a flat world. We all know that the open educational movement is also built on those technologies. All the people in the world can share their ideas no matter white or non-white-group of individuals. Open educational movement driven primarily by the western people same as Globalization 1.0 and 2.0; I think because it is flattening and shrinking the world, open educational movement is going to be more and more driven not only by individuals but also by a much more diverse - non-Western, non-white-group of individuals just like Globalization 3.0. Open educational movement is getting mature in developed countries, but it just started in some developing countries especially big country like China. It seems harder to make meaningful progress in Asian countries even developed country like Japan because of the cultural and government issues in those countries. It may take a while for the open educational movement innovators to solve those problems.

Another viewpoint, open educational movement will end the educational system of student-centered, teacher-serve. The students will have opportunities to choose what they are willing to learn and they can also become teachers to share their thoughts with the people all over the world. Teachers can turn to students, students can be teachers; but they do not have to be in the same classroom, information can be transferred fast and easily by networks. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, Rss Feeds and some other new things become very popular and start to be put in to practice in regular courses like the class we are in right now. When I heard this in another class, it is amazing that if you do some damages on some well-known topics on Wikipedia, they can be corrected as soon as five minutes or even less. It is hard for us to predict the future of open educational movement because we are the beginners and leaders, but after a few years, people from developing countries can see how it goes and just follow the steps.

Now, I would like to shift my focus on the development of my home country—China. If we say our develop path is to expand outsource, consolidate manufacture, and reinforce training specialists; then the education of developed countries turns to train service people with integration. In the future five to ten years, the economy of China will keep increasing fast, and no one will neglect the opportunities from Chinese market. Well then for our companies, our education, our individuals, what can we do to tackle this change? The problem of the Chinese students now is not only lack of real-world practice, and also low of Emotional Quotient. There is no doubt that if we don’t quite change our traditional examination-oriented education system, our future is not optimize. What here in the U.S. now, we can immediately make it happen in China. Open educational movement becomes popular in the developed countries; we should take it serious into our educational system. If we still reply too much on the government, not from the market, we ensure it is hard to be success.

I also checked the Chinese vision of this book; some parts have been taken out from the original vision because of some political issue. And on some Chinese forums about this book, most people cannot agree with the author because they think this book is misleading people to the wrong direction. I agree most parts of this book: I can feel when I was in China, many things are American brands; and when I am in the U.S., everything is made in China. But this can only means the fast-growing technology makes the world become flat; there are lots of issues rather than technology we have come across such as culture, politics, ethics, and so on. And those are the hardest problems in the real world we have to deal with in order to achieve our goals. Something seems impossible to change by individuals; then we need to find another way for reaching the same goal. I recommend reading Globalization, Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revised, and Beck's Theory of the Risk Society and Its Complications. You may have different view after reading those books.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

OpenEdu Week 8: Economic Models of Open Education

QUESTIONS: How can you build a sustainable business around giving away educational materials? How can you build a sustainable business model around giving away credentialed degrees? Should governments fund open education? (Do they already?)

My feeling out of this week’s topic: From large amount of weekly reading, my capability of reading and writing skills are improved a lot. Now I find that it is not that hard to understand some of the articles, it is because I joined this class with high expectation to learn interesting materials and adapt myself to a brand new learning environment. After the second week, I found some of the readings were not very interesting and not related very much to our major content, so I lost my confidence and motivation without enough feedback from the instruction and comments from our classmates. My mind was changing over time; I was thinking that I cannot fit into the new leaning environment because of my 14-year traditional educational experience in my country. Till this weekend, I know some students share the same feelings as me, and it is good to notice that we need find a way to improve the quality of this class. Personally, I think we need more time to digest the new knowledge or information after self-reading and more time to receive the feedback from instructor and classmates. Keep large amount of weekly reading without feedbacks is too pushing, plus all of us have other things to be taken care of. I really appreciate David provides this good opportunity for us and I understand how busy he is with work traveling and family fairs. To start an innovation like this class is hard, all of us instructor and students just need to keep on hard-working and encourage each other. I don’t mind to be the white mouse in the new course testing if it can be improved through this semester or next. I can also learn new things and enhance myself because I do feel I am learning in this class more than some of the other classes which are hold in the classrooms. Every thing will be worth!

Now come back to this week’s readings and answer the questions one by one. Firstly, “sustainable” is the key word this week. What does it actually mean? It means a maintained state or process at a certain level. In David’ article, sustainability might be defined as the ability of a project to continue its operations; he also indicated that the definition of sustainability should include the idea of accomplishing goals in addition to ideas related to longevity. So before we can build a sustainable business, we need to find out what the giving away educational materials’ goal is. From Oberholzer & Strumpf’s point in Downes’ article, I extend to the point that OER may actually increase the market of education. In common, people think money is the main issue to sustain a business; but I agree with Downes’ idea that "is only one part of a larger picture". Besides money, other key factors such as participation and ownership, government policies, social, gender and culture, technology, external political and economic factors and so on should also be put into count. OER’s target group is a wide range of people so a sustainable business can be build on something participated with wide range of people. Network such as Wiki, chatting software such as MSN messenger, ICQ, OCW such as eduCommons is also good example. Large group of people in variety of academic fields, different ages, different educational levels, and different cultures all over the world can all involve in and support one business. Most of the time, plain educational materials are thought not very interesting, if the business has something more interesting such as educational games, will that help sustain the business?

“Giving away credentialed degrees” in the second question does not mean too much to me because of my different traditional education background. I hardly find the way to judge the quality of OER. But later I end up with people can accept different levels of OER, so I think the quality of OER depends on different individual and it is hard to give a standard to say which has low quality of content. Nevertheless, what is the value of giving away credentialed degrees and how can we ensure the quality of giving away credentialed degrees? I don’t know here, but if I want to build a business model in China around giving away credentialed degrees, it won’t work out. Students and parents would like to spend more money on getting a quality degree in a better university other than get a credentialed degree for free. Most people put the quality degree in the most important place than any other factors. There are some economic models that creators of open educational resources currently use to fund their initiatives: MIT model, USU model, Sponsorship model, Governmental model, Replacement Model, and so on. But I think the only model that might be worked out for build a sustainable business is the government funding model because generally people have a hard time accept giving away credentialed degrees.

Finally, I think the governments should fund open education so that people have more opportunities to learn. In China and many other countries, students cannot learn the materials which are provided by other universities. With open educational resources, people can obtain variety of materials from in and out of their fields. Governments may also have the question that “Are open educational resources as effective as traditional resources?” “How much should we fund open education?” One answer from David’s article is “National or regional conversations regarding institutional policies that can promote faculty engagement, or at least lower barriers to faculty engagement.” I heard from a Japanese speaker in the conference, he indicated that the Japanese government has conflict with the traditional universities on funding open education because of the Japanese culture. In China, the government now is focusing more on funding new educational system in schools in order to enhance the capability of the students in school. In addition, Chinese government also funds some of the poor students who can’t afford to schools. They haven’t move to funding open education yet which is with larger group of people. And I think it will take a long time for them to think about the potential learners besides the younger students based on the current situation.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

OpenEdu Week 7: Licensing Open Educational Resources

QUESTIONS: Can you think of license options that CC is currently missing that would benefit the open education movement? As the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible, how can OCW content be legally remixed with Wikipedia content? Some people claim that the Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause. What do you think these people mean, are they right, and why? Is copyleft good for the open education movement? Why or why not?

As weekly reading moves on, I feel the content becomes harder and harder to incorporate and assimilate for me as a beginner of this field. Though I spent much more time than any other classes, the outcome every week is not what I am expected. Not an easy class for me! To understand the weekly questions is even a problem, how can I afford to give the right answer or related opinions to those questions? Class needs to move on, I keep encourage myself hang on and learn as much as I could.

Compare to last week’s reading, this week’s reading tells more details about the different licenses: GFDL, Creative Commons and Public Domain. I had a hard time to answer last week’s questions about those three licenses. I will still try to move onto this week’s questions. I couldn’t think of many options that CC is currently missing because I am so lack of the knowledge in this new field. After I read a few classmates’ postings, I strongly agree with Greg and Houshuang’s opinions that there should be a creative commons license that does not require attribution. The author put efforts on finding the recourses; attributions do not need to be required. This idea may help creativities of the derivative work. One option I could think is that Creative Commons can allow derivative work to reuse the entire original work as long as they can add new things into the original ones. Maybe this is the idea that derives from copyright.

After reading GNU Free Documentation License, I just notice that my understanding was totally wrong during last reading, what’s why it looked like I didn’t go through the readings at all. I should find out the CC and GFDL licenses are incompatible instead of mixing up those two concepts and thinking that they are even similar licenses. The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent". The Free Software Foundation’s GNU Free Documentation License is a copyleft license designed initially for software documentation, but used most prominently by the Wikipedia project. It requires derivatives be licensed under the GFDL only. If OCW content can be legally remixed with Wikipedia content, we need to find some parts that CC and GFDL are in common; unfortunately, we can’t find any results from this point. Solutions have to be explored in other ways. I am thinking of combining those licenses into one license because essentially they have the common goal to give creators the opportunity to offer others important freedoms. Can Wikimedia, Wikieducator, and some other Wikis be some solutions? This may solve this one problem, but cause more problems; so I don’t know if it will be a good solution.

The sentence “Creative Commons ShareAlike clause provides most of the protections people want to secure from the Creative Commons NonCommercial clause” can have the meaning that share-alike has broader content than non-commercial does. Share-alike covers non-commercial and also can be used for commercial purposes. In Dr. Wiley’s posting Noncommercial Isn’t the Problem, ShareAlike Is, he wrote that in both the Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons contexts, copyleft or share-alike means “if you’re creating a derivative work, you have to use our license - and only our license.” I think people are right because share-alike can be used for many purposes including commercials. If people want to use Creative Commons NonCommercial licensed item in their business even not for gaining money from people, but they are not allowed to use the item in their business. Then they have to find another item with a different license.

I think copyleft, or reciprocal license, is definitely good for open education movement. Copyleft is derived from the ideas of open source software. People receive a copy of a work permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work. Copyleft allows an author to impose some but not all copyright restrictions on those who want to engage in activities so that it can avoid copyright infringement. Copyleft has some kinds of restrictions to avoid the work falling into public domain so it’s not fully opened yet. Dr. Wiley’s posting ShareAlike, the public domain, and privileging also indicates that how good public domain is for open education movement. Although copyleft has some restrictions, it is still good for open education movement.

I also agree with the idea in the same posting that with copyleft we once again find the “developed world” mandating solutions for the “developing world”. Most of the time, “developed world” provides the content, some people translate them into the languages of “developing world”. It is rare for us to see any improvement or add-ins in the open educational resources in “developing world”. I think the open education movement conception still needs some changes in people’s mind in the “developing world”.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

OpenEdu Week 6: Copyright and the Public Domain

QUESTIONS: Understanding the importance and value of the public domain, how much (what percentage) of this value would you estimate is realized when works are licensed with a Creative Commons or GFDL license? To what degree would the open educational resources movement (and therefore the world) be additionally benefited if OERs were simply placed in the public domain? Please explain.

Public domain and copyright are always opposite from my understanding. If the work is within the public domain, there is no ownership rights associated with the work. It may be said that everyone and no one owns the work. Therefore, anyone may reproduce the work, distribute it, adapt it, etc. without the limitations of copyrights.

Without any copyrights, the value of public domain cannot be realized as high as 100 percent, about 70 percent at most. Instead of the full copyright, if the works are licensed with a Creative Commons, the value of the public domain might be raise up to 80 percent. With a more restriction license such as GFDL, the value of public domain goes even lower to about 75 percent. As the restriction goes more, the value of public domain goes down. Why I think the works, which have Creative Commons and GFDL owns higher value of public domain, because the resources from those works should have quality ensured.

In my opinion, public domain contains variety of knowledge; before open educational resources movement, the value of public domain knowledge was only shared by limit academic communities. But with the rise of open educational resources movement, this knowledge is shared in a more extensive domain and deeper extent. In other words, if all the knowledge in public domain can be shared and applied, open educational resources can be largely increased. Because the original intention of open educational resources movement is to provide more shared resources to more users; therefore, it can accelerate the sharing and application of the knowledge.

I always think the quality of the resource will be a hard part to judge. When web2.0 just started, people also think the high quality resource will be a problem, like you can write on wiki at will. But in fact, when the people who share the same interests are participating in writing on wiki, all of them are willing to contribute their best part to others. They hope to get others’ approval and embody their self-value. We always allow different voice, perhaps value of specific knowledge means significant to specific person. Place the OERs in the public domain, people have more rights to make choice; at the same time, people have more opportunities to choose.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

OpenEdu Week 5: Comparing Six Example Open Education Projects

QUESTIONS: What do these representative open education projects have in common? What differentiates them?

All of those six open education projects contain open educational resources in different fields so that the students will have lots of choices and all the resources are available for variety of audience. The differences between the six open education projects I found are the extent of the open educational resources collected, the overall arrangement of the open course content, and the quality of the courses. Next, I will talk about each of them separately.

Open University (UK) Open Content Initiative

The course subjects of Open University are list clearly at the centre of the main webpage. Their target audiences are students who want to be rolled in college and the courses are all college level. The Open University Open Content Initiative provides Undergraduate certificates, diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate qualifications; so that, the courses actually count into credit hours which is not following the tenet of Open courseware.

Rice Connexions

On the main webpage of Rice, it doesn’t list all the course subjects, but it shows the links of subject, language, popularity, and title, author, etc. It seems like there are more content than the first website. When I checked the links, the subjects are much less than the OUOCI. Rice’s target audience is not only limited in college students. There are no credit hours in any course; they are all open content under Creative Commons License. Connexions lists each content piece by piece instead of fully distinguish them into different specific academic field. I don’t know if it will be harder to find the needed information without such details. They have done nice jobs on the language part; at least the simplified Chinese part looks good to me.

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon offers courses from only ten different study fields and in each fields, the courses offered are very limited in numbers. The quality of the courses is high because the courses can be selected for credits by college students or anyone who are willing to take those courses. I didn’t find any courses have been translated into other languages; so even they are all open courseware, they still can’t be widely used all over the world. The whole project looks very simply to me, but I don’t know how much effort they still have to put into this project.

UNESCO Open Training Platform

UNESCO has similar layout of CMOLI except it contains a lot more courses and learning materials. All of the courses are provide online and links to another websites. Their target population is much wider than just college students. The courses comes from different organizations so I think the quality of the courses are still high than providing by individuals.


MIT contains the largest course content among all the projects. MIT OCW shares free lecture notes, exams, and other resources from more than 1700 courses spanning MIT’s entire curriculum. It already has lots of translations done into different languages, such as Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese listed on the right top corner of the main webpage. MIT are focus on the college level learners, and lots of students worldwide already enjoy their benefit.

National Repository of Online Courses

The National Repository of Online Courses offers a lot less open courses than any other projects. Their target groups are high school and college level students. They use media, photos in slideshow presentation and text as the main instructional material format. The slideshow presentation in each topic is the main characteristic distinguishes from other projects.

In the context of open education projects, what does "quality" mean?

I think “quality” can mean different to different open education projects. For some projects such as the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative and the National Repository of Online Courses asked for feedback from the users to improve their courses so that they can satisfy the learners and meet their needs. I am wondering if that can be counted as improving the course quality. Well organized large quantity of open courseware can mean quality such as MIT OCW. The accuracy of course content is always considered as quality at least in my mind. But who will be the judge and how it can be judged are still problems. Some of the projects are still in developing, so it is hard to see what quality means to them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

OpenEdu Week 4: Review on Open Educational Resources (OER)

QUESTIONS: What do these overviews of the field have in common? What do they emphasize differently? What are the aims of the authors of each report? Do you see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or approaches in any of the reports? Which report spoke the most clearly to you, and why do you think it did? Based on where the field is now, and these initial ideas about where it might go, what part of the open education movement is most interesting to you? Why?

Before focusing on the question this week, I would like to mention an interesting paper: Chinese students’ experiences in US graduate school from Stian HĂ„klev. It is fun to read! The participants are just a small group instead of most Chinese students in the U.S. I agree the educational systems are so much different between China and the U.S., but experiences are different by individuals. By reading other students’ blogs, I found that Chinese students like me are more like to focusing on answering weekly question or writing in events relevant to the reading. Instead of that, American students or other international students like talking freely whatever come to their mind on their blogs. I try to broader my mind not just being restricted by the reading content. I have been changed a lot after one month study in our IT master’s program, now I think learning as much as I can to enrich my personal capacity is more important than just pursuing high grade which is always highly emphasized in Chinese traditional educational concepts.

The second week reading
Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources gives us some entry ideas about Open Educational Resources.
Those are all new concepts to me since I am a beginner of this field. It talks about the copyright which are also mentioned in the later reports and we can see it is the prerequisite to make the Open Educational Resources available. Other purposes of this report are to investigate drivers and barriers, sustainability, and improvements in OER. Open Educational Resources Movement is also mentioned for more details in the following weeks’ reports.

The Third week reading
Open Educational Practices and Resources: OLCOS Roadmap 2012 emphasizes a lot more on the drivers and enablers than the first report. It has grouped the drivers/enablers and inhibitors according to their assumed short to medium (until around 2009) or longer-term influence. Web 2.0 becomes popular all over the world from 2006, the U.S. plays the leader role in e-learning, while it just started in China and we feel it is very hard to develop. I think Web 2.0 technologies are tools to enhance students’ learning and the high quality contents which are provided known as Open Educational Resources can make a big difference between e-learning and traditional classroom learning.

OLCOS, a European Union’s e-Learning Program organization, does not primarily emphasize on open educational resources but open educational practice. One viewpoint of them is that “If the prevailing practice of teacher-centered knowledge transfer remains intact, then OER will have little effect on making a difference in teaching and learning.” I believe it is true that if the traditional educational system is hard to be taken place by OER; or in other words, OER can’t immediately come into people’s mind; well then OER seems useless. Traditional Chinese education is a typical instance, and this is one of the major remaining challenges in the third report: Scale-up and Deepening Impact in Developing Countries. I couldn’t find more new content about Open Educational Resources in the second report; instead, there are more authors’ perspectives on pedagogy. I am thinking if it is a necessary material we have to use in our course or we can just change to another piece.

At last, this week reading A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities reported by Hewlett Foundation seems the most interesting and meaningful among the three reports to me. It gives an overview of Open Educational Resources movement. It lists very clear in each particular area focusing on the achievements, remaining challenges, and enablers. It does not only describe the abstract concepts, and also put them into the real world. This report mentions the great international movement on OER especially talks about the challenge in developing countries which have not been noticed in the other two reports. The Hewlett report fresh my mind and made me think through from the first week’s topic about education as a human right, mandate education to open education which I had already mentioned in the first week blog. It gives me some comparison among different developing countries, and I have a clearer sense about the situation of OER in both China and other developing countries.

What I had found the three reports in common is that seemingly focusing on Open Educational Resources movement. In fact, the second report moved more on the writers’ viewpoints on education instead of emphasizing on OER and the first report is more on describing the concept other than the real world practice. No matter how, each of the three reports at least has some parts related to Open Educational Resources movement. I didn’t see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or approaches in any of the reports in my personal perspective.

Based on where the field is now, and these initial ideas about where it might go, the most interesting part of open education movement is to create more international open educational opportunities. Because I am from China which is a developing country, I would like to search a useful and efficient way to help develop pedagogy in China. This is what I had written in a long paragraph in last week’s blog. When I read in this week reading, “Today, there are over thirty million people who are fully qualified to enter a university, but there is no place available. This number will grow to over 100 million during the next decade.” This is an impressive number to all educational technologists. It is an urgent problem we all need think about and try to find a way to get the problem solved.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

OpenEdu Week3: “Open Educational Practices and Resources”

Albert Einstein said,“If I give you a penny, you will be one penny richer and I’ll be one penny poorer. But if I give you an idea, you will have a new idea, but I shall still have it, too.” This is the first sentence coming to my mind from the article. Open education resource is like an idea, even you give to someone, and you will still have it. You won’t lose anything if you provide educational resource; you can always gain something from giving.

Making achievement on open education internationally should take many years to realize. Let’s compare the education in China with the education in the United States! During the past ten years in China, information-based educational technology made a big progress. The educational technologists are high on putting variety of modern facilities including hardware and software into the classrooms. Substitute handwriting paper with word processing software; use powerpoint to demonstrate instead of the chalk and blackboard; provide class content with digital materials. Schools are armed with informational facilities; but the teaching outcome has not been significantly improved. Teaching and learning are not yet essentially changed, it is just like a simple upgrade of the hardware. That is why you still see the teachers using chalks and blackboard most of the time, lots of ink printed handouts which will dirty your hands. If we call the blackboard and chalk age the Education 1.0, the schools full of modern multimedia facilities might be called Education 1.5, Education 2.0 becomes popular all over the world from 2006. Education 2.0 is divided into School 2.0, Classroom 2.0, E-learning 2.0 and so on by parlance in different research fields.

I do not want to preach down the educational system in China, but it is the reality we need to accept. While in the United States, educational technology grow much faster than in China; though it still can’t catch up with the fast growth of the technology, economics, and society. The U.S. plays the leader role in educational technology, especially on e-learning. When I visited an elementary school in a very small town in the U.S., I saw all the classrooms have multimedia facilities. The students can use computers conveniently, and the internet is spread out all over. This seems impracticable to have some multimedia facilities, computers, or internet for all the schools in China at least in the next five years. Open education is widely put in practice in the U.S., but it just started in China, and we do feel it is hard to move on. Do you notice the latest news about the Chinese students? Twenty percent of the college students can’t start their classes even they are admitted by the colleges because they don’t have enough money to afford the high expenses in college. We have to think about the problem----we even can’t assure that everyone in China can get higher education if the students are admitted, how we can promise to provide everyone a higher level of educational technology, such as computers and internet. That is why I want to come to the U.S. for the advanced educational technology, hopefully, I can bring it back to China and put into our Chinese education system.

We all know that new technology can’t firstly influence education, but changes people’s behavior and thinking manner, and also boost the changing of the society. In the internet age, the world is changing to be flat. With the widely used of OER in the near future, we don’t need to study in the closed classroom but a real world environment epitome; learning will not only consume knowledge or course content, more of practice, intercommunion, and creation; education will not just indoctrinate, but to help the students achieve the ability to adapt to the future life. I want to be an educational technologist to help Chinese education in the future.

Dr. Wiley’s class I am taking now is a typical e-learning class, not 100% percent open education because of restrict of class registration. Each week, we have amount of reading and write our thoughts after reading. We post all our assignments on personal blogs, and we can also make comments or changes on wiki. There is no pushing for this class, but you also have motivation to read and write. Because the articles are interesting to read and some ideas will just come out after. In this learning environment, I will totally get rid of the idea of “spoon-feed” education. Students are from all over the world, we can share their ideas cross-culturally. We learn more on dealing with the blog, wiki, podcast, Youtube which are the things we like to do in our daily life also. I think it is neat.

In the first week, we talked about the obstacle of how to choose the high quality OER. We find more obstacle this week that how to assort OER. Although the educational technologists or experts can solve the problems, how to find the right education content from those categories will be also a problem for teachers and students. Those are all questions in open educational practices.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

OpenEd Week2: Thoughts after “Giving Knowledge for Free--THE EMERGENCE OF OER”

The first thing that comes to my mind after reading “Giving Knowledge for Free” is OER projects and the fact that major parts of resources are located in English-speaking countries in the developed world. Bringing and spreading out OER in the developing or undeveloped countries is still worthwhile even it already made progress. Take my country China as a developing country example. Fast development of information technology impacts on traditional closed and unilateral teaching pattern----classroom as main learning environment, teacher as center, paper materials as tools. From several years of educational practice, we experienced using developing information technology to set up an open resource and investigative teaching pattern is a preferable integration of technology and teaching innovation. China Open Resource for Education in common believes with Charles M. Vest, MIT's ex-president who started MIT OCW that "education can be advanced---by constantly widening access to information and by inspiring others to participate" and agree with new president, Susan Hockfield, that faculty and "students everywhere can benefit from [joining] a global learning community in which knowledge and ideas are shared openly and freely for the benefit of all". In a developed country, extracurricular prize might be thought a lot of than a formal college graduation certificate.

There is one more advantage I would like to add to incentives for individual teachers and researchers to open sharing. Reputation is no doubt meaningful to individual contributor; feedback can be also gained from publicity. Usually feedback is given by a group of people in a closed environment; and it is restricted. In my opinion, no matter the teachers or researchers, any academician will enjoy gaining feedback of people from different fields and levels. Individual academic work might be significantly improved.

Copyright is a very important issue in OER. In the movement of information technology, everyone downloads or upload various materials on the internet. Copyright is often neglected by people. In fact, there are still large numbers of people who don’t even know anything about copyright on the internet. As long as there is useful information for them on the internet, they will think they can be legally obtained. To avoid infringing other people’s intellectual right, I strongly agree the idea of use open licenses to create a space in the Internet world.

With such rapid growth of OERs, the related software of teaching students how to find the high quality and useful information should be followed immediately. People often ask for help on how to get help. Therefore, lots of professionals on computer or software are needed. On this point, free teaching materials seem ideal to me; those professionals need to contribute extra time and effort which may not be very obvious as the OER. Government funding, public contribution, company or institute donations are suggested to be used on this group of professionals.

There is one more issue I would like to mention this week. People will be familiar with the OCW day by day as well as the students. Course content can be easily found through OCW; there might be a problem. Teachers open all the materials in the course to the public including the test materials; students can get the test exactly the same as given by on-campus courses. This might cause cheating reaction and slacken the study because they can get high grade without hard-study. My question is, should the test materials also be given into the open?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

OpenEd Week1: Right to Education;"Access" Sufficiency; Mandate Education

The “right to education” is a basic human right to a certain age or level in personal manner; and also I agree with Tomasevski that to obtain certain educational level is considered as a duty to the individual and the whole society. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to mandate education through that certain age or level. While on the contrary, the government can’t temerariously mandate education on people who may not be able to afford their time or money, or various rational reasons. I disagree with Tomasevski that government should mandate what education can be given to people. The chances to get open access to free, high-quality educational is determined by the area you are at; or you might get a lot more if you get the open access such as internet, mobile-phone unboundedly. It is hard to estimate if the open access is sufficient or not because of the unmeasured demanding from people of different fields.

According to Tomasevski’s mention of international treaties, the core components of the right to education are agreed universally. The problems about individuals of which age or level have the human right to obtain certain level of education are solved by different countries’ governments based on their characteristics. For instance, in China, legally mandated length of compulsory education is nine years; in other words, the compulsory education goes into effect until about end of middle school. Most of the elementary schools abolish both official and unofficial school fees which often result in the exclusion of girls from education. Students from poor families can apply some financial aid from schools to waive all the educational charges from higher levels. There are still some situations that students have to quit schooling. Recently, a large group of children called “left kids” which means those kids parents are both gone for drudgeries in another cities those is far from home; their kids have to stay at home to take care of themselves and their siblings. What the Chinese governments do for those “left kids”?
As far as I know, the governments usually send some educated people such as school teachers to those kids family; talk with their parents or relatives if parents not at home about the right of free and compulsory education; try to convince the kids back to school. If turn up with a financial problem, the persuader will report the situation to the local government; most of the time, they should find a way to get the kids back to schools; in addition, some students quit going to school because they can’t get good grades; and more, some students may attend the military when they are about 13 t0 14 years old. Those situations attest to Tomasevski’s idea that children should have the right to education; but they often can’t get educated.

I strongly agree with Tomasevski that Education should be compulsory until children reach the minimum age for employment. Countries’ list in Table 6 by the legally mandated length of compulsory education, ranging from 13 years to 4 years can hardly tell the development degree of those countries. In my opinion, how many years free and compulsory education provide by one country’s government is based on this country’s economic ability and also the degree on consideration of the education to this country. It seems an ideal goal for children to get compulsory education until the minimum age of beginning work; but it is still possible to achieve. I hope one day it can be realized in the whole society.

As in the real world, low-educated students can’t get good jobs; well-education is required for people who want to get dreamy jobs. Which education defined as high-quality and cost free to attain is still questionable. If the governments mandate education to people of certain age or level; they should first find a group of educational experts which are the instructional technologist to qualify which education can be suitable to this certain age or level. Therefore, governments have to allocate a part of money to hire the experts, support their researches, find good teachers, and gather teaching materials or information and so on. I believe that to prove high-quality is a long-term project and complex or complicated path to get to the qualified education. Instructional technology is necessity on this path.

Open education is a good embodiment of instructional technology. People of different age or level from all over the world can access to their internet instead of sitting in one classroom for gathering data or any other information. By contacting people from different fields, students can learn knowledge out of the textbooks or print outs. After information collection, students will have their own ideas can write on their own blogs or wikis for sharing information and idea exchange. When people have questions or comments, they can also teach others to solve the problems. Students can also become teachers but might not be instructors. Tomasevski indicates that often technical schools are seen as useless. By reading a classmate
Greg’s blog, he poins out that
"in places where it is seen as useless, let's improve it. Where there is didactic learning that is mind numbing, let's adjust what is taught and improve students’ outlook."
I really like his idea that keep improving and adjusting the instructional technology because the technology is not a changeless issue; it can always been meliorated.

In China, the education
we attain at school is called “spoon-feed” education. We sit with amount of students in the same classroom for years using the stated textbooks by the government, without contacting the people outside the classroom; we all get the same information or teaching materials provided by the teachers; we can’t even go out for a related job experience if we are not old enough because we are the consumers. Opposite opinions of the teachers might be looked upon disrespect the teachers. Comparing with the students from other countries; we are lack of the abilities of real practice. Recent years, open education has brought into our country by MIT; this almost brings in an educational revolution. The organization of China Open Resources for Education tries to transit the concept of traditional education to the new open education idea. I hope this transition can be achieved in the near future; and the children or even adults will be beneficial their whole lives. :-)