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Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-learning Settings

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Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global
E-learning Settings
Henri Pirkkalainen, Jan Pawlowski
University of Jyväskylä, Global Information Systems,
PO Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
{henri.pirkkalainen | jan.pawlowski}@jyu.fi
1. Introduction
Just like in the Open Source initiative in software development, Open Educational Resources
(OER) have become a widely discussed and promising concept for educators. So how can they
be used for teachers, trainers and educators to improve their work? This is the key question for
this paper.
Open Educational Resources (OER) have become popular in the past decade, in particular
when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that it would provide all its
teaching materials for free to the community. A variety of organizations and individuals have
made their learning and teaching materials freely available joining different initiatives such as
the Open Courseware Initiative (OCW). Currently, there are millions of learning materials on the
web, some structured in repositories and databases, some just hidden on the web as part of
personal homepages.
This seems very promising for educators – in principle, it is possible to re-use existing materials
for free, it just costs a citation or an email to the original author. But – in contrast to open source
software or open knowledge on Wikipedia – the OER initiatives have not yet taken off. Some
barriers seem to remain, especially in the educational area.
In the following, we show different initiatives and access points as well as different opportunities
– however, we also identify barriers and possible guidelines to overcome those. One possible
support mechanism for the stakeholders in E-learning communities is social software. Within
this paper, we will elaborate how it can facilitate easier access, adaptation, and sharing of the
open resources.
2. Open Educational Resources
2.1 OER: What does the concept mean?
The UNESCO defines OER as "technology-enabled, open provision of educational resources
for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes".
(UNESCO, 2002). However, OER are not always altruistic or non-commercial. In principle, OER
just mean that they are freely accessible and re-usable in different licensing conditions. We
define OER as
“Any digital object which can be freely accessed and used for educational purposes”
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
This broad definition includes a lot of different objects, such as digital learning objects, software
tools like wikis or authoring systems, simulations or animations, electronic textbooks, but also
lesson plans or experiences shared. The main aspect is that the object is usable to improve
education. The following classification shows parallels to other initiatives:
Resources: Currently, the main research field is how to make learning objects (specific
digital objects created for learning purposes) available and re-usable. This includes
multimedia documents, simulations but also simple html web resources.
Articles, textbooks and digital equivalents: This class of resources contains typical
objects provided by libraries, such as articles, papers, books or journals. When
becoming freely available, this class of objects is connect to the concept of Open Access
(Björk, 2004, Bailey, 2005).
Software tools are used for different purposes, such as producing / authoring learning
resources but also for communication and collaboration. Objects of this class are usually
referenced as Open Source or Free Software (Raymond, 1999).
Instructional / didactical designs and experiences: Educators are highly dependent
on successfully planning and designing their learning experiences – this class of
resources includes access to instructional designs, didactical plannings such as lesson
plans, case studies or curricula. It also includes one of the most valuable resource:
sharing experiences about materials and lessons between colleagues. This class of
objects is also called Open Educational Practices.
Web assets: This class of objects regards simple resources (assets) like pictures, links,
or short texts which are not usable on their own in a learning context but can be used to
support or illustrate a certain topic. In many ways, these are objects found by google or
similar search engines.
This list is not intended to be complete, it just tries to distinguish the main concepts and to
explain how other “open” concepts are related.
So, how to find those materials, how to include them in the teaching process and how to adapt
them to the own context? In the following, we focus on searching and re-using resources and
how to use them with different tools.
2.2 Initiatives: Where to find the resources?
The most intuitive way to find resources nowadays seems to be access through a search engine
like google which allows access to web assets, pictures, videos and some scientific articles.
However, searching this way might be a long and painful process as most of the results are not
usable for educational purposes. There is currently no “google learn”.
Most initiatives provide their materials in so called “Learning Object Repositories (LOR)” which
provide access to educational resources. Most of them have stored a variety of information
about the materials (“metadata”: data about data). Users can search for specific materials by
categories such as subject category, age group or context. This more specific search might lead
to more specific results. But: Where to find good resources?
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
Several communities provide OER for different purposes. The MIT OCW Open Courseware
project 1 in the USA and several US universities make their content freely available. In Europe,
a variety of universities have formed communities sharing and distributing content. One major
initiative is the Open Content initiative OpenLearn by the Open University UK 2. The ARIADNE
intiative provides also access to a variety of resources 3. Originally designed for Higher
Education, the repository contains a variety of resources and tools for developers, teachers and
learners.
Other initiatives which mainly provide learning object repositories (LORs) to share OER are
Gateway to Educational Material 4, MERLOT 5, the JISC Collections 6 or the OER Commons 7.
There are also more specific communities based on the purpose or topic:
Open Training Platform 8 by the UNESCO provides a variety of materials in different
topic categories, mainly for developing countries but also on development related topics
(such as science education)
Mace
9 provides contents for architecture and a large community of interested users and
contributors.
OpenScout
10 provides content for management and in particular access to tools to re-
use, adapt and improve OER. This initiative is discussed further below.
The main repository for schools in Europe is currently the Learning Resource Exchange (LRE)
11 by European Schoolnet. This initiative supported by European ministries of education
provides access to a variety of materials in different forms.
Last but not least, some initiatives connect existing repositories, so more than one repository
can be searched to have access to more potentially useful materials – the main initiative here is
the GLOBE initiative12 which includes most of the above mentioned repositories.
As shown in the last section, the amount and variety of educational materials is huge. But still
some barriers to successful re-use remain: the not-invented here syndrome, lack of awareness,
insecurities about legal aspects and questionable quality of the resources.
So how to successfully search, find, re-use, and share resources?
1 http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
2 http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/
3 http://www.ariadne-eu.org/
4 http://www.learningcommons.org/educators/library/gem.php
5 http://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm
6 http://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/>.
7 http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Creative_Commons_and_Open_Educational_Resources
8 http://opentraining.unesco-ci.org/
9 http://portal.mace-project.eu/
10 http://www.openscout.net
11 http://lreforschools.eun.org/
12 http://globe-info.org
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
2.3 Steps to successful OER re-use
In the following, we show the steps of re-use. The guideline does not mean to be complete and
cannot guarantee success – but it can help to identify key aspects of the re-use process.
How to find fitting resources and how to evaluate them? This is the main question of the initial
search phase.
1. Choose the starting point for your search – in this step, find a good starting repository for
your search. We recommend to either use a specific repository for a certain topic (e.g.
OpenScout for Management, LRE for school contents) or a federated repository which
searches more than one source.
2. Clearly state your requirements and needs: What are the main characteristics of your
content besides the topic area – which is the age group, context (school, Higher Education,
SME training, etc), instructional context. All these aspects can usually be specified in the
search engines and make it more likely to find good results
3. Check the quality of a resource: Has the resource been reviewed by colleagues? Has it
been certified or has it achieved good ranking from previous re-users?
4. Ask colleagues and networks: It is promising also to ask experienced colleagues or search
forums by fellow teachers as an example. In most cases, you easily find a colleague sharing
good ideas and hints.
5. Familiarize yourself with some basic licenses: Most OER use a creative commons license
which aims at providing a simple transparent scheme. In most cases, re-use is allowed
when informing the author in non-commercial settings. However, the Creative Commons
website13 for OER helps to clarify what your legal situation is and also provides a tool14 to
build licenses for your needs.
6. Search and try: Most repositories provide direct access to resources, so it might be useful
just to try out a few resources and see how it fits your context.
7. Make your decision: You cannot use all resources but soon you will find resources and
colleagues which are fitting your context.
Having found some good initial resources, there are more steps. In most cases, small
adaptations are needed (adaptation phase).
1. Small involvement or more? As a first step, a strategic decision is needed – will you only re-
use materials or do you see this as a potential for strategic collaboration. Simple re-use just
requires downloading the resource and adapting some graphics (just like changing a
powerpoint slide design). In some cases, you might find the materials as a good starting
point, but you would add concepts and enrich / enhance the contents and share it again with
the original author and a community – this can lead to dynamic content enhancements and
– even more important – trusted communities.
13 http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Creative_Commons_and_Open_Educational_Resources
14 http://creativecommons.org/choose/?lang=en_GB
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
2. Tools: Some materials are simpler to modify (web pages, wiki pages), some need more
effort. The selection of good (and free) tools to make changes is essential for a good
process. This issue is discussed in the next section.
3. Collaborate: It is always advisable to let the original author and potential colleagues know
about your plans. By this, you can clarify the authors’ intentions but also initiate a longer
cooperation. People who share their materials are in most cases more than willing to
discuss and listen to your suggestions.
4. Adapt and try: Making your adaptations, bringing in new ideas, discussing improvements
with colleagues. This is the main challenge of this phase. However, you should always try
the result before publishing it again.
The last phase is important for a community which depends on the users and the contributions
(share and exchange phase)
1. Re-publish your results: If you have made changes, you should send your results back to
the original author. However, consider whether your work could be interesting to other
people in the community. It will generate a dynamic process which might give you even
more ideas.
2. Discuss and share: What were the steps when you adapted the materials? Share your open
educational practice and your experiences, it will help other colleagues who later help you
with their experiences as well.
3. Build your network: It is an illusion that all educators around the world will cooperate and
work together. However, it is quite important to build a successful network of colleagues who
work in similar areas, who share your ideas and principles for education and who you would
simply trust. In those networks, you easily get good recommendations and new ideas.
This is just a very short guideline – more advice on OER usage and good practices can be
found in different communities, such as OER Commons 15, UNESCO Open Training Platform
16, PBWorks OER infokit 17 or eduwiki 18.
As a summary, we can recommend to try out OER and other openly accessible resources,
objects and assets. It might take some steps to overcome initial fears (Am I doing this good
enough? Will I ever be able to use a tool to adapt a resource? Am I doing something wrong in
terms of IPR?). But once started and involved a bit in the community, it is much easier to
organize innovative, creative, technology-supported learning opportunities.
3. Social software and OER
In this part of our paper it will be described what we mean by the term social software and how it
is applied in E-learning and in particular in settings that deal with Open Educational Resources
(OER). First we clarify what social software consists of and how it has evolved. We will continue
15 http://www.oercommons.org/community
16 http://opentraining.unesco-ci.org/cgi-bin/page.cgi?p=adaptlocalize&d=1
17 https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/
18 http://fi.eduwiki.eu/wiki/Etusivu
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
the discussion about OER and describe the life cycle and processes in global E-learning
settings where social software can be applied to support critical challenges related to global
collaboration of stakeholders involved. We will give out examples how these aspects are dealt
with in the project OpenScout.
3.1 What is social software
Anyone using the internet and World Wide Web (WWW) in the 21st century has certainly
stumbled across the term “social software”. Even as the term is very frequently used, there is
still no one-and-only definition for it. One possible way of defining social software is that it
enables an interactive way of collaboration, managing content and connecting to online
networks with other people. It supports the desire of users to be pulled into groups in order to
achieve their personal goals (Wever, Mechant, Veevaete & Hauttekeete 2007). Interpreting this
definition we can find that social software is something that is shared, involves many
collaborators that are involved in the social interaction where new meanings, contents or
discussions are created.
Social software is often referred to web 2.0, social media, groupware, semantic web and of
course to single applications – we will give examples of those within this chapter. We would still
like to clarify that even though a quite new term, what we understand now as social software
has partly been a part of the definition of groupware that has been connected to internet
technologies many years before (Koch 2008).
Typical social software technologies include the following types of tools under the umbrella of
social software:
Social networking (Facebook for personal networking 19, LinkedIn for professional
networking 20, Myspace 21 etc.)
Blogging (blogger
22 etc.)
Forums
Wiki (Wikipedia
23etc.)
Collaborative writing (GoogleDocs 24 etc.)
media sharing (Youtube 25, Photobucket 26 etc.)
social bookmarking (delicious 27 etc.)
etc.
19 http://www.facebook.com
20 http://www.linkedin.com
21 http://www.myspace.com
22 http://www.blogger.com
23 http://www.wikipedia.org/
24 https://docs.google.com/
25 http://www.youtube.com/
26 http://photobucket.com/
27 http://www.delicious.com/
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
A big part of the classifications include also instant messaging (Windows live messenger 28,
Skype 29 etc.) but there are constant discussions whether tools that provide conversation
possibilities that are limited to two persons should be counted as social software.
It is important to understand that social software describes very versatile tools that offer
functionalities to perform very different types of actions. For example social networking mainly
offers websites for community building, finding interest groups and to link with friends or
colleagues. Depending on the website and target audience, social networking sites might offer
many other functionalities and tools that are understood as social software, such as blogging
opportunity in your own profile, instant messaging, ways for media sharing etc. This gives quite
good explanation why sometimes it is hard to classify certain types of social software. But it is
also very common that one tool offers just one purpose which could Youtube for video sharing
for example. If we take a look at the most commonly classified social software, we can see that
it not just offers ways to community building or communication between two or more persons
but social software tools offer ways to share media (any types of documents, videos, music,
photos or learning materials in general) or your bookmarks, to write documents in a
collaborative way (where many people can edit a page simultaneously) or create large
databases of shareable knowledge that can be enlarged or edited by anyone (like Wikipedia
does).
Figure 1: Examples of social software
In chapters 2.3 and 2.4, we will show some examples how these tools can support the users
dealing with OER.
28 http://explore.live.com/windows-live-messenger?os=other
29 http://www.skype.com
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
3.2 The lifecycle of OER
As we discussed earlier, it is very important to find out where Open Educational Resources can
be found, how they should be adapted and shared with the community. The following image
describes the basic lifecycle of OER (Pawlowski & Zimmermann, 2007).
Figure 2: OER lifecycle
This Figure presents the phases of OER described in chapter 2 in more detail and will be used
to describe how social software can support these steps.
The OER lifecycle starts with the search of materials and ends with the republishing of the
content. As we have indicated before, for different stakeholders from various domains,
searching of materials could take place in different places. The same is valid for other
processes in the OER lifecycle. The process always differs depending on the context but it is
important to identify which are the main steps in the lifecycle. After searching and locating the
materials, the second step includes the validation of the re-usability of the identified contents in
the new context. In this phase, it is elaborated if the material fits the requirement you have (for
your course or training session etc). The third step is the actual adaptation phase where the
materials are modified by the user with various tools (some include social software for
collaborative modifying and also other kinds of technologies for authoring). In the fourth step,
the validation of the adapted materials is achieved in a specific environment with possible
learners, in a training session etc. The final stage is re-publishing and sharing of experience if
the expectations are met with the adapted materials.
Even if these main stages sound very clear, it must be clarified that more support is needed for
the teachers and educators to guide them through the steps. Many E-learning related initiatives
and European projects are trying to study these practices (and different stages of the model),
giving best practices how they should be approached. When these best practices are created
and communicated to E-learning communities in a way that they are actually used in practice,
we cannot specify a clear timeline for it. It could be foreseen that educators, teachers and
students in technologically advanced domains (IT sector, IT departments etc.) apply the best
practices for technology recommendations and solutions fastest since they might have lower
threshold towards being introduced to new technologies.
In our research we analyze how each of these stages can be supported by using social
software. In the next sections we will deal with these issues.
3.3 Social software support for the life cycle
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
As we discussed earlier, social software provides tools and ways to communicate / collaborate
to very different types of situations. What makes social software easy to approach is the fact
that most of the social software technologies are very easy to access and use. Most of the
available services for social networking for example are tailored as easy as possible to use
which makes it easy to perceive, also for people that are inexperienced with the internet.
We strongly feel that social software could greatly benefit the stakeholders that are dealing with
Open Educational Resources and interested to use or modify open materials for their purposes.
The selection of technologies, meaning which tools to use when and how should one
collaborate in which phase has to be well reasoned and supported as good as possible. The
different stages of the OER lifecycle can be used to structure how OER is applied so that it is
easier to explain where social software can be best applied.
In the following section, we show how to apply exemplary best practices to the use of social
software supporting all stages. The solutions are being developed in the European project
OpenScout (see more information www.openscout.net) which develops access to learning
materials for management and provides tools and services around OER for different
stakeholders.
3.3.1 OpenScout perspective
The goal of OpenScout is to support finding, applying and adapting, re-publishing and sharing of
the materials in an open way. The materials are targeted for management education and can be
easily applied in the following settings:
Training settings in management related processes
As self study materials
Updating your management related course material with interesting documents found
through OpenScout
Using the contents as they are to be applied within a course
etc.
The settings where these materials are used can differ based on the needs of the person.
OpenScout offers tools for the user to enable modification and combination of the materials
straight in the portal. What also makes OpenScout unique in the field of E-learning is the
possibility to search and browse through materials that are connected to specific competences.
This means that a user is able to find materials not just based on keywords but to find material
that fits his/her own skill level and expected learning outcomes.
OpenScout is currently offering the first prototype for E-learning communities and will continue
the development of the planned services until 2012 when the portal should be complete.
Interested external partners are warmly welcomed to collaborate in the design and
dissemination of the results as well as to try out the services. The figure below shows some first
impression how OpenScout services are provided.
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
Figure 3: OpenScout first prototype
Current development plans in OpenScout consider how to support the users of OpenScout to
adapt their obtained learning materials for their own context by using social software as well as
authoring tools available. Something that is currently not supported properly by other OER
initiatives is the possibility for the user to be guided through all of these previously mentioned
OER life cycle steps within one portal. As many initiatives provide means for searching for
materials, guided processes how to modify the materials for your own requirements is currently
not available. We feel that in an evolving landscape of E-learning where new innovations are
created and best practice emerges, the efforts to communicate and sum up all the most
promising aspects to the end users – teachers and students - have to be very clearly structured
and presented. The adaptation process of OER is one of the most critical one’s since the actual
re-use and re-publishing of modified materials, and the sharing of these experiences make it
easier for more people to try out open materials and open services around them. This creates
awareness and trust and builds communities.
OpenScout’s vision is to build a single access point to all the services created within and
brought to the project by partner organizations. This means that the OpenScout portal30 offers
all the tools and communication possibilities through this one portal. With a large content base
of connected open repositories and with the previously mentioned search facilities (with
competence based search/browsing), the basis for the portal is set. OpenScout will make use of
social software by community building (social networking functionality) and experience sharing
possibilities (messaging facilities offering forums, instant messaging and commenting etc.). In
addition we will offer ways to collaboratively edit materials and being tightly connected to the
interest groups within the portal.
30 www.openscout.net
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
As we have indicated within the last chapters, finding ways to support the whole life cycle of
OER and especially “how to apply and adapt the contents for the requirements of the user” is
crucial. OpenScout aims to identify common or most typical usage patterns how open contents
are modified and applied to new settings. This will be done by studying literature related to OER
and questionnaires and interviews with teachers and educators that have vast experience in
course creation and teaching. After identifying similarities in the adaptation practices, this could
be for example that materials were translated and the contents of the material were double-
checked and cultural and context specific parts were changed to fit the curricula or country
specific examples. See below an example how materials for students from different country
might look like (Blanchard et al. 2005).
Figure 4: Material prepared for different learners
When we have identified these aspects, we will cut the common practices to small pieces, study
emerging best practices from OER initiatives and literature how each part should be prepared in
a “good way”, study how social software can offer support for each of the phase in terms of
communication, finding suitable persons to discuss / collaborate and of course by offering tools
that can be applied to actually modify these contents. This is planned to be achieved within one
portal. Example could be:
“University teacher from Finland is recommended within LinkedIn to try OpenScout for finding
management material. This fits perfectly since he has a course starting in three months about
HR management. As OpenScout is promoting and offering services through LinkedIn (user can
also decide to add an OpenScout tool for LinkedIn to search materials straight in his own profile
there) and other popular social networking sites, the teacher found more information of the
project easily in LinkedIn already. He enters OpenScout portal and runs a search on HR
management finding interesting materials. He sees that as registered user he could be
connected to interest groups within OpenScout’s social network, could rate and comment
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
material and be suggested for personalized recommendations about possible users with same
interests, contents that fit his interests and also personalized adaptation recommendations for
materials. He registers and fills his profile information with his interests and preferences.
Within the interest group page, other users have already written their experience with OER,
suggested some materials that they have found interesting and shared links to re-used
materials they have just uploaded to OpenScout (messages appear in a dedicated forum and on
the front page of the group with Facebook-type of status updates). As the experiences from
colleagues around the world (with ratings and comments) raise awareness of these open
resources, the threshold to try these materials gets lower. This was one example how
OpenScout uses social software to attract people and make it easier to search and access OER
(phase one of the OER lifecycle).
As the teacher is now browsing through some possible materials that he could see using for his
course, he is provided with comments, ratings and also cultural information for each material he
finds. The comments (experiences) are again provided by other users and shown in a simple
discussion board. Each material has a culture-link where users have marked how the material
has been applied and describe if this specific material is targeted for a specific domain or
culture. This will support the teacher to validate the suitability of the material for his context
(phase two of the OER lifecycle).
Now, as he knows that the material would be suitable with small changes, he clicks to be
supported through the material adaptation process. The user can see illustrations of most
common adaptation processes – these are very simple like “translation to other language” or
“translation and changing cultural and context specific examples”. The recommendations
include also more comprehensive processes if the user requires that contents are packaged
and cut down to small modules to be delivered to the students with a specific learning
management system (Moodle etc.). The user can tailor the flexible process to fit he’s own
requirements and is suggested with best practices for each stage. The teacher selects
“translation and cultural adaptation” since the materials he found were in English and he needs
Finnish material for the course. First he is asked which types of documents he wants to modify
(if it is a word document, pdf or a course package etc.), he also clicks the output format (this is
important if it is required that he transforms the material to a specific format used in his
department). He doesn’t have to change formats since he wants just to keep the files as word
documents as the originals. Now he is suggested with suitable tools to modify the documents.
He wants to work on the documents with his colleague who is also teaching the same course
and chooses to try collaborative writing (GoogleDocs) with automatic translation support. The
two tools open as small windows in the portal and a next step is shown with best practices how
to adapt material. In GoogleDocs window the teacher can upload the original document as a
template and invite his colleague to work on it. The other tool with automatic translation support
can be used to copy/paste the English text to it and translate it automatically to Finnish. As the
quality of the translation isn’t good enough, the teacher can manually in GoogleDocs write the
Finnish translations (that weren’t suitable) and copy/paste the sentences that were good enough
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
with automatic translation. The two teachers can also use chatting tools or the discussion
boards offered by OpenScout to discuss the adaptation process.
Now as they have translated the contents, OpenScout gives best practices how the cultural and
context specific information should be dealt with. This includes changing examples to consider
Finnish traditions, changing symbols, icons, pictures, time and other culturally sensitive factors
to fit the course and the students. This included examples how the complex and differing
process of adaptation can be supported by collaboration possibilities of social software (phase
three in the OER lifecycle).
For the fourth step of the OER lifecycle, the guided adaptation process suggests how the
user can validate if the modified contents are fitting for his purpose. This is a checklist type of
suggestion where we give hints from available best practices, which are the aspects the teacher
should take in to account to make sure the material is suitable. For example “is the material
written in a style understandable for the students, is the material in a format that it is easily
accessible by the students etc. In the final phase of re-publishing, OpenScout would suggest
to upload the modified materials for other users to find. This is done is a simple form where the
connection to the original document(s), licensing issues and adding of metadata (title, author,
language etc.) about the material are clearly guided by OpenScout. Finally recommendation is
made to share experience of the process and of the material in OpenScout or external social
networks. This enables widespread of best practices and easier access to suitable learning
materials for all who are interested in open materials.”
These examples show possibilities and new support mechanisms for OER initiatives as well as
ways providing individual guidance for individuals with unique needs.
4. Conclusions and future trends
In this paper, state of the art and opportunities related to OER are identified and some of the
upcoming tasks within OpenScout project were shared.
OER offer a number of possibilities such ass easily adjusting and using materials that are
already used in real life practices and are shared with open licenses that allow easy re-use and
modification. As a new field, many challenges still remain. Some of them include lack of trust
and awareness towards the materials, and distribution of open materials and services within the
web which makes it hard for individuals to understand “where to find what”. Within the OER
initiatives, these problems have been identified and ways to fill the gap between a single user
and open resources are approached constantly. One possible solution that we have identified
and studied is support from social software. These tools with various functionalities can support
all stages of OER from search and identification of materials, through re-use and adaptation to
re-publishing and sharing of experiences.
As a conclusion for the paper, it is important to take a look in the future and predict where OER
initiatives are heading and what challenges occur. As we have indicated, OER initiatives are
struggling with similar challenges regarding awareness of their results and towards OER in
Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J.M. (2010): Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning
Settings. In: Yli-Luoma, P. (ed.), Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen, pp. 23-40, IMDL, Naantali, 2010.
general. We could say that these initiatives have started to build a unified front by sharing
results and also many of their services created. This means that the fruits of creation work are
not staying within one project or initiative but they are shared with similar ones. This has started
to happen on a large scale which makes it easier for a single user interested in OER.
Additionally we can see that the services and tools created in the OER initiatives are building
more sophisticated and mature. The benefits for using them are reasoned from end users points
of view (which are teachers and students).
Still, even bigger efforts are needed to disseminate these results to E-learning communities that
the open resources would be brought to daily use in education. It is important to study how trust
of these resources can be more effectively facilitated for all stakeholders in education.
References
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Information Research, 9(2).
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methodology. Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government,
Healthcare, and Higher Education, Chesapeake, Virginia.
Koch M. 2008. CSCW and Enterprise 2.0 - towards an Integrated Perspective. Proceedings of
the 21th Bled eConference eCollaboration: Overcoming Boundaries through Multi-
Channel Interaction Bled, Slovenia, June 15-18, Bled eCommerce Conference.
Pawlowski, J.M. & Zimmermann, V. 2007. Open Content: A Concept for the Future of ELearning
and Knowledge Management? Knowtech, Frankfurt, Nov. 2007.
Raymond, E.S. 1999. The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source.
Accidental Revolutionary, O'Reilly & Associates.
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Internet. Retrieved 29/06/2010 from:
http://www.unesco.org/education/news_en/080702_free _edu_ress.shtml.
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for educational use. Published: P. Kellenberger (editors) Proceedings of the Ninth IEEE
International Symposium on Multimedia Workshops Honolulu, Hawaii, December 10 – 12.
Los Alamitos: IEEE Computer Society, 511 – 516.
... One important barrier is the difficulty to produce OER by using Authoring tools (AT) collaboratively in global settings. It is a key challenge to solve in order to improve the quality and the success of OER [22]. However, this key aspect is rarely studied and there are no clear requirements for AT to create Learning Objects (LO). ...
... Many definitions of OER have emerged with different focuses since UNESCO had coined this term. A broad definition by [22] defines OER as "...any digital resource for educational purposes that can be used, distributed and redistributed freely". Three components -learning contents, tools/software, and attached licenses [10] -need to be considered as they significantly influence the adoption of OER. ...
... The system should provide easy to use direct manipulation interface [7] * 12. The system should have active community [22] 13. LO should be free from technical problems The symbols, colors, language, and layouts of the interface are an essential element of the application. ...
Chapter
Open Educational Resources (OER) intend to support access to education for everyone. However, this potential is not fully exploited due to various barriers in the production, distribution and the use of OER. In this paper, we present requirements and recommendations for systems for global OER authoring. These requirements as well as the system itself aim at helping creators of OER to overcome typical obstacles such as lack of technical skills, different types of devices and systems as well as the cultural differences in cross-border-collaboration. The system can be used collaboratively to create OER and supports multi-languages for localization. Our paper contributes to facilitate global, collaborative e-Learning and design of authoring platforms by identifying key requirements for OER authoring in a global context.
... Open Educational Resources (OER) comes as a solution that allows refugee children to learn German. OER is an openly accessible, arbitrary digital form of learning material [1] also for language learning and thus enables refugee children to improve their communication skills. Such resources can be used directly or through a modification to adapt learning objectives and meet the needs of refugee children. ...
... Since 2012, UNESCO officially introduced OER aim to tackle educational gaps around the world [11]. Although barriers exist in the multi-dimensional aspect, including, social, organizational, cultural, technological [6], The benefits of OER are clearly experienced by organizations and individuals [1,10,12]. ...
... Furthermore, studies on OER, including the development of tools and models, are explored [1,13]. The use of OER tools aims to improve language-learning effectiveness by providing an efficient and open way of accessing and sharing resources [14]. ...
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... The skills that can be obtained in OERs can include content/subject matter, instructional methods or techniques, and teaching online approaches. Also, it offers a number of possibilities such as easy adjusting and using materials that are already used in real life practices and are shared with open licenses that allow easy re-use and modification [16]. Like any field, OERs also face some challenges such as lack of trust and awareness towards the materials, and distribution of open materials and services within the web which makes it hard for individuals to understand where to find what [16]. ...
... Also, it offers a number of possibilities such as easy adjusting and using materials that are already used in real life practices and are shared with open licenses that allow easy re-use and modification [16]. Like any field, OERs also face some challenges such as lack of trust and awareness towards the materials, and distribution of open materials and services within the web which makes it hard for individuals to understand where to find what [16]. ...
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Full-text available
Open Educational Resources (OERs) has entered the world of academia and has inspired innovation in education since 1990s, yet OERs awareness in higher education (HE) remains very low in Tanzania. Educators in Higher learning institutions (HLIs) in Sub-Saharan Africa are striving to provide effective learning experiences to address the needs of university students in crowded classes with limited printed resources. OERs currently hold great promise for instructing university students because unlike traditional curriculum materials, OERs content can be copied, used, adapted, adopted and re-shared for free. This paper presents findings obtained from the baseline study conducted at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) to explore the students’ OERs awareness. In the academic year 2014/2015, 352 out of 713 first year undergraduate students (randomly sampled) from three campuses participated in the study. Online questionnaire survey was employed and the data were analyzed. We first show that there is a serious gap in OER knowledge followed by a number of structural and contextual barriers. We further revealed that more than 40% of students are not exposed to OERs offerings. Overall the data revealed that the use of OER at university is low, however, there is potential for growth of OERs as many students have mobile and are using ICT for education. Most participants cited limited access, limited connectivity, and affordability to be significant barriers to wider adoption of OERs. There were also concerns about the limited ICT infrastructure at SUZA and the need to build the capacity of academics on OER integration.
... In this paper, we discuss barriers towards co-creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the international context. OER contains various digital materials for educational purposes [1]. The idea of promoting OER as a global movement came from UNESCO [2] in 2002 and UNESCO defines OER as teaching, learning or research material in the public domain or with an open license allowing free use, adaptation, and distribution [2]. ...
... Next, the group of barriers that are associated with the functionality of the system, this can be basic functionality, expected functionality or the desired change to the digital The different structure of OER metadata [43], [48], *** Lack of shared storage for digital resources [43], [20], [25] Lack of integration to social media communication [1], [41], [42], [20], * ...
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The adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) can support collaboration and knowledge sharing. One of the main areas of the usage OER is the internationalization, ie, the use in a global context. However, the globally distributed co-creation of digital materials is still low. Therefore, we identify essential barriers, in particular for co-authoring of OER in global environments. We use a design science research method to introduce a barrier framework for co-authoring OER in global settings and propose a wellbeing-based system design constructed from the barrier framework for OER co-authoring tool. We describe how positive computing concepts can be used to overcome barriers, emphasizing design that promotes the author's sense of competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
... Use of generic search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing for searching OER has been the most common practice. According to Pirkkalainen and Pawlowski (2010), searching this way might be a long and painful process as most of the results are not useable for educational purposes. This was evident in this project when the selected OER were vetted by the Student Learning Support (SLS) staff. ...
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Full-text available
Open educational resources (OER) are increasingly being considered as a means through which the learning and teaching experience is enhanced, thus ensuring successful outcomes for both learners and teachers. According to Butcher (2011), OER is continuously being added on a weekly basis, which presents a major challenge for potential OER users in selecting suitable ones within a reasonable timeframe. The University of the South Pacific (USP) is owned by 12 member countries in the Oceania region which serves more than 20,000 students. According to Mugler (1996), English is the official language of instruction at the USP, but students who attend the institution are mostly second or third language speakers of the English language. Thus, providing appropriate and just-in-time support presents a grave challenge. The Centre for Flexible Learning (CFL) at the USP resorted to OER as a a possible solution to this issue. This paper focuses on the criteria utilized for selecting appropriate OER based on feedback solicited from the English Language Skills support personnel and CFL staff at the USP. In addition, it highlights other factors, such as licensing types and design viability; and these were further substantiated through tests conducted in six of the 12 member countries of the USP where students were expected to use these OER. It also discusses issues that arose related to the criteria being used. In conclusion, the paper outlines recommendations for improving OER selection endeavours which could be of value to education providers globally for choosing OER in general or specifically for English language skills proficiency.
... The first can be exemplified with an online university course at one end of the line and with a lesson plan on the other end (Blythe, 2014). Similarly, Pawlowski and Bick (2012) referring to Pirkkalainen and Pawlowski (2010), also define OER as sharing "instructional/ didactic designs and experiences" of lessons, besides more physical artefacts such as textbooks (p. 209). ...
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... The first can be exemplified with an online university course at one end of the line and with a lesson plan on the other end (Blythe, 2014). Similarly, Pawlowski and Bick (2012) referring to Pirkkalainen and Pawlowski (2010), also define OER as sharing "instructional/ didactic designs and experiences" of lessons, besides more physical artefacts such as textbooks (p. 209). ...
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This study investigates what characterises teachers' pedagogical design of OER, and potential affordances and constraints in pedagogical design in an open education practice, when contributing to a Swedish repository Lektion.se. The teachers' framing of the OER shared on the repository included the analyses of a delimited number of OER for learning Swedish. The analytical work with analysing what characterised the OER, was followed up with teacher interviews to explore teachers' incentives for sharing. The OER selected for analysis were investigated linked to the features given in the repository, to identify what distinguished different categories of OER when framed by the teachers. The OER displayed a continuum of ways of framing an activity, though the majority was represented by low levels of description, which afforded less guidance. The teachers expressed a positive attitude towards sharing. The findings suggest that OER need to be defined and supported by web features to enable going beyond reuse.
... (Bitter-Rijpkema and de Langen, 2011) In principle, OER refers to the fact that digital materials (texts, html, multimedia files etc.) are freely accessible and re-usable for educational purposes under different licensing conditions. (Pirkkalainen and Pawlowski, 2010) The OER movement experienced a swift development, fuelled by highly visible initiatives, such as the decision of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to allow free online access to its course materials. Other initiatives have followed and users can now access more than 350 million OER, ranging from short articles to full courses; including videos, course slides and case studies. ...
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General awareness and availability of Open educational resources (OER) have increased
Article
This article presents a comparative study of the barriers to open e-learning in public administrations in Luxembourg, Germany, Montenegro and Ireland. It discusses the current state of open e-learning of public administration employees at the local government level and derives the barriers to such learning. This paper's main contribution is its presentation of an empirical set of barriers in the four European countries. The results allow informed assumptions about which barriers will arise in the forthcoming use of open-source e-learning technology, particularly open educational resources as means of learning. Furthermore, this study offers a contextualised barrier framework that allows the systematic capture and comparison of challenges for future studies in the field. Other practical contributions include providing advice about open e-learning programmes, systematising lessons learned and addressing managerial implications.
Thesis
Full-text available
The open educational resources (OER) movement has gained considerable momentum in the past few years. According to the Paris OER Declaration, OER can be defined as “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work”. With this drive towards making knowledge open and accessible, a large number of OER repositories have been established and made available online throughout the world. However, the limitation of existing search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to effectively search for useful OER that are useful or fit for teaching purposes is a major factor contributing to the slow uptake of the movement. As a major step to solve this issue, the researcher has designed, developed and tested OERScout, a technology framework based on text mining solutions. Utilizing the concept of faceted search, the system allows academics to search heterogeneous OER repositories for useful resources from a central location. Furthermore, the desirability framework has been conceptualized to parametrically measure the usefulness of an OER with respect to openness, accessibility and relevance attributes. The objectives of the project are: (i) to identify user difficulties in searching OER for academic purposes; (ii) to identify the limitations of existing OER search methodologies with respect to locating fit-for-purpose resources from heterogeneous repositories; (iii) to conceptualize a framework for parametrically measuring the suitability of OER for academic use; and (iv) to design a technology framework to facilitate the accurate centralized search of OER from heterogeneous repositories. The major contributions of this research work are twofold: The first contribution is a conceptual framework which can be used by search engines to parametrically measure the usefulness of an OER, taking into consideration the openness, accessibility and relevance attributes. The advantage of this framework is that, using the well-established four R’s and ALMS frameworks, it can restructure search results to prioritize the resources which are the easiest to reuse, redistribute, revise and remix. As a result, academics practicing the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode of delivery can locate resources which can be readily used in their teaching and learning. The second contribution is a search mechanism which uses text mining techniques and a faceted search interface to provide a centralized OER search tool to locate useful resources from the heterogeneous repositories for academic purposes. One of the key advantages of this search mechanism is its ability to autonomously identify and annotate OER with domain specific keywords. As a result, this search mechanism provides a central search tool which can effectively search for OER from any repository regardless of the technology platforms or metadata standards used. Another major advantage is the utilization of the conceptual framework which can parametrically measure the usefulness of an OER in terms of fit-for-purpose. As a result, academics are able to easily locate high quality OER from around the world which best fit their academic needs.
Book
Full-text available
(Published by the Association of Research Libraries and Digital Scholarship): This selective bibliography provides an overview of open access concepts, and it presents over 1,300 books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources. It covers the following open access topics: general works, research studies, open access statements, copyright arrangements for self-archiving and use, copyright ownership and rights, economic issues, e-prints, disciplinary archives, institutional archives and repositories, the open archives initiative and OAI-PMH, conventional publisher perspectives, government inquires and legislation, and open access arrangements for developing countries. Most sources were published between 1999 and August 2004. Open access website: http://digital-scholarship.org//oab/oab.htm. "This title is a major contribution to the study of the open access movement in general, as well as its emergence in the early twenty-first century." - Library Resources and Technical Services. Citation: Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries and Houston: Digital Scholarship, 2005), http://digital-scholarship.org//oab/oab2.htm. Bailey, Charles W., Jr. Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries and Houston: Digital Scholarship, 2005. http://digital-scholarship.org//oab/oab2.htm.
Article
Full-text available
Open Content is a promising concept for E-Learning and Knowledge Management. It can improve sharing and re-using educational resources and create new business opportunities. However, in contrast to open source software, these opportunities have not yet been adopted by a wide community. This article discusses barriers and opportunities. The Content Explosion Model shows how content can be re-used and adapted to increase sharing and distributing Open Content.
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This paper focuses on the degree of penetration of web2.0 or social software in the educational field. First, the concepts web2.0, social software and e-learning 2.0 are discussed, the term 'social software' is defined, and the strengths of social software are presented. Secondly, a survey was conducted with 355 students and 163 instructors in order to examine to what extent social software is used and which purposes it serves. Our first results show that 'searching information' and 'communicating' seem to be the two main activities the internet is used for, both for instructors and students.
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One of the effects of the Internet is that the dissemination of scientific publications in a few years has migrated to electronic formats. The basic business practices between libraries and publishers for selling and buying the content, however, have not changed much. In protest against the high subscription prices of mainstream publishers, scientists have started Open Access (OA) journals and e-print repositories, which distribute scientific information freely. Despite widespread agreement among academics that OA would be the optimal distribution mode for publicly financed research results, such channels still constitute only a marginal phenomenon in the global scholarly communication system. This paper discusses, in view of the experiences of the last ten years, the many barriers hindering a rapid proliferation of Open Access. The discussion is structured according to the main OA channels; peer-reviewed journals for primary publishing, subject-specific and institutional repositories for secondary parallel publishing. It also discusses the types of barriers, which can be classified as consisting of the legal framework, the information technology infrastructure, business models, indexing services and standards, the academic reward system, marketing, and critical mass.
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One of the effects of the Internet is that the dissemination of scientific publications in a few years has migrated to electronic formats. The basic business practices between libraries and publishers for selling and buying the content, however, have not changed much. In protest against the high subscription prices of mainstream publishers, scientists have started Open Access (OA) journals and e-print repositories, which distribute scientific information freely. Despite widespread agreement among academics that OA would be the optimal distribution mode for publicly financed research results, such channels still constitute only a marginal phenomenon in the global scholarly communication system. This paper discusses, in view of the experiences of the last ten years, the many barriers hindering a rapid proliferation of Open Access. The discussion is structured according to the main OA channels; peer-reviewed journals for primary publishing, subject- specific and institutional repositories for secondary parallel publishing. It also discusses the types of barriers, which can be classified as consisting of the legal framework, the information technology infrastructure, business models, indexing services and standards, the academic reward system, marketing, and critical mass.
Article
The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals provides an overview of open access concepts, and it presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the open access movement's efforts to provide free access to and unfettered use of scholarly literature. Most sources have been published between 1999 and August 31, 2004; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1999 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet (approximately 78 percent of the bibliography's references have such links). The 129-page bibliography has been published in print and PDF formats by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The print version is available from ARL. The book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
CSCW and Enterprise 2.0 -towards an Integrated Perspective. Proceedings of the 21th Bled eConference eCollaboration: Overcoming Boundaries through Multi-Channel Interaction Bled
  • M Koch
Koch M. 2008. CSCW and Enterprise 2.0 -towards an Integrated Perspective. Proceedings of the 21th Bled eConference eCollaboration: Overcoming Boundaries through Multi-Channel Interaction Bled, Slovenia, June 15-18, Bled eCommerce Conference.
UNESCO Promotes New Initiative for Free Educational Resources on the Internet
UNESCO. 2002. UNESCO Promotes New Initiative for Free Educational Resources on the Internet. Retrieved 29/06/2010 from: http://www.unesco.org/education/news_en/080702_free _edu_ress.shtml.