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December 22, 2011

Special Themed Issue on Creativity and Open Educational Resources (OER)
Various Authors, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, December 22, 2011.

A new edition of the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning is now available. I survey four papers in this newsletter.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, European Union, Newsletters]

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Cloud Computing and Creativity: Learning on a Massive Open Online Course
Rita Kop and Fiona Carroll, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, December 22, 2011.

This paper maps the concept of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to cloud computing. "In effect, millions of people from all around the world can gain access to data and services, including their own data and documents, without the need for large local data centres, from any device that connects to the internet." While there are clearly economic benefits, they write, what are the educational benefits? The answer (not surprising given the theme of this issue of the journal) is found in creativity: "Amabile (1996) ... sums up the environmental stimulants for creativity, these include: freedom, good project management, sufficient resources, encouragement, various organisational characteristics, recognition, sufficient time, challenge, and pressure." Consequently "open classrooms with more personalised instruction and less emphasis on teacher control, might possibly be more conducive to creativity than traditional classrooms." According to the authors, while "it takes time for people to build confidence and to experience the spark that drives people towards taking that creative production step," it was nonetheless the case that "the artifacts that others produced and the social interaction within the course network, by using micro-blogging tools and discussion forums, inspired and motivated people into creating."

One small note: the process of learning in a MOOC attributed to Siemens and myself in the paper is described as "Attribution - Remix - Creating - Feed Forward". This is not accurate. As I have stated in numerous places (for exmaple, How this Course Works) the process is actually "Aggregate - Remix - Repurpose - Feed Forward". I'm not sure why the terminology was changed, except (I suppose) to go along with the journal's theme. I would have preferred to have been represented by what I have actually written, as I said, in numerous places, rather than an artifice of that.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction, Personalization, Project Based Learning, Networks, Discussion Lists, Experience, Online Learning]

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YouTube as a Repository: The Creative Practice of Students as Producers of Open Educational Resources
Helen Keegan and Frances Bell, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, December 22, 2011.

I have discussed in the past the efficacy of student production of open educational resources (OERs), especially when contrasted against the high overhead required to sustain and support professionally or academically produced OERs. This paper looks at student-produced YouTube videos and "the practice of learners as active agents, producing open media resources using the devices in their pockets: their mobile phones." It would have been preferable to see the authors draw from a wider range of experiences than the 50 or students they were able to work with over two years, but as an exercise in solving practical problems in an educational context the paper does provide some useful insight. I would not have employed Kleiman's framework (constraint, process, product, transformation, fulfillment) to frame the discussion of creativity (and indeed its employment has all the appearances of being a requirement of the academic form of journal-writing, having little to nothing to do with the actual investigation being reported). As is common (to my observation) in this sort of work, the authors find that "tensions exist between the need for scaffolding and frameworks and the removal of constraints that temper creativity and authenticity." But as expected, "the production of open media resources that have a dual function as OERs has clear benefits in terms of knowledge sharing and community participation."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, YouTube, Video, Experience, Academia]

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Learner Generated Content: Quality Criteria in online Collaborative Learning
Maria Pérez-Mateo, Marcelo F. Maina, Montse Guitert and Marc Romero, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, December 22, 2011.

Also studying learner-generated content is this study "to identify and describe the criteria supporting the quality of the creation of content by those learners working together in an online environment." It's interesting work: "Contrasting a literature review and learners’ perception, we propose a quality criteria framework for LGC organized in three clusters: content, format and process." Again, though, the paper suffers through the reduction of a complex phenomenon into an education-simple four-variable matrix ("four essential skills that determine creativity: a) Fluency, b) Flexibility , c) Originality and d) Elaboration" ... really? Originality? Like we've anything here?). The paper gives us a decent rubric for evaluating the quality of learner-generated resources, and relates it to some learner comments, but I would say it's a far way away from having presented an empirically validated rubric.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Quality]

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Exploring OER: Internet Information Literacy, Problem Solving and Analogical Thinking
Cinzia Ferranti, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, December 22, 2011.

I studied Holland, Holyoak, Nisbett and Thagard's 1986 Induction: Processes of Inference, Learning, and Discovery in close detail not long after it came out, but I have not had occasion to return to Holyoak's work on analogy since. That's unfortunate (and in a different more philosophical life I would most definitely have kept current on this literature) because it renders even more disappointing this paper which seeks to explain the role of analogy in the teaching of internet (and) information literacy. Holyoak approaches analogy from a psychological perspective, which appeals to me, as a literal or logical understanding oversimplifies some of the nuances. The sort of explanation Ferranti is attempting here is much more successfully presented in the first few paragraphs of Holyoak here. Holyoak and Gick's use of schemas to support analogy, referenced by Ferranti, is found here. Just scanning his work suggests to me that Holyoak has come a long way from these roots - look at A Symbolic-Connectionist Theory of Relational Inference and Generalization, for example (definitely read the concluding section on 'The Power of Self-Supervised Learning'). It's a pity the Ferranti paper is so poor, given the rich tradition it is drawing from. Part of that is created by a difficulty of the language - the paper is very awkwardly written. But part of it is also created by a representation of a complex and interesting phenomenon such as anlogy with the simplistic sort of schema (in this case Gentner's4 levels of similarity) all too common in writings on education.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, Schemas, Similarity, Semantic Web, Information]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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