Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Introduction to Open Online Learning

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Introduction to Open Online Learning

Introduction to Open Online Learning

Stephen Downes


I like to begin my discussion of open online learning with an example of open online learning. It's not just about doing learning openly, but it's about capturing their resources and getting them out there so that people later on can see what happened here.

The presentation page is  you can obtain the slides and later on the audio and video recording and an AI generated transcript.


So here's what I have in mind for today. We're talking a bit about what open online learning is, what we mean by the concept, talking a bit about the motivations for developing open online learning as a concept, a look at the history from various perspectives, a bit about some open online tools and resources and I'll have a few remarks about the future of open online learning at the end.

The format of this - and I'm sorry for that but I don't know how else to do that for something like this - will mostly be me talking. I do encourage you to interrupt and jump in, make chat comments, ask questions, anything you want to stop the flow of my voice. But mostly it's me presenting.

Don't expect you to remember all the stuff that I say. That would be silly. I don't even remember all the stuff that I say, which is why I have notes. That's why I make these resources available so that you have, you know, this presentation that you're attending gives you an idea of what the content is and then you can go back to the slide presentation, which is very detailed for all the details.

I hope that sounds good. If it doesn't sound good at any point tell me and I can change course. Because after all this presentation isn't for me. It's for you. So if you need changes, tell me.


Open online learning as a concept is really a combination of open learning, free software, and distance education tools and methodologies.

Open learning is the idea promoted by agencies such as the Open University such that people can take a course online, offline, whatever, without having to qualify for admission. If you think you can handle the course, you just take it. Open online learning takes that concept Open Access learning and puts it online. So the idea is if you think you can do the open online course, you just do the open online course.


Where this is combined with free software is in the idea of the not just the course, but the resources, materials, etcetera for that course being freely available, just like the model of free software. Except in this case it's free content.


Sometimes also called open content. Now we'll talk a lot more about that.


Open online learning refers to the you know as a subject. Area refers to the resources, tools and programs that are available online, and also the idea that anybody can access them. Anybody can use them and modify them and share them again in their own way. So it's not just about you.


Being able to access something online is about you being able to take what you've accessed and use it in your own way.


So the intent.


Overall here is to reduce the barriers to learning. That's certainly my intent when I participate in this.


And to make high quality educational experiences available as widely as possible to as many people as possible and as many circumstances as possible.


Now there are different.


What I'll call dimensions of open online learning.


Briefly, open enrollment is the type of open learning I've already talked about, where if you think you can manage the course or program, you just start, you know, you just take the courser program, there's no admission requirements.


Open educational resources as a widely used term, it's abbreviated O ER and refers to the teaching, learning and research materials supporting open learning that can be freely used and repurposed by other people.


More recently, there's a concept of open pedagogy.


Or open educational practices, which is the methods and mechanisms around open learning and open educational resources. So we'll talk a bit more about that later on.


Also, there's this idea of open credentials and for that matter open assessment.


Which are systems of badges or credentials or even open online testing and accreditation.


So that people are able to get recognition for the work that they've done online.


We'll talk a bit about that later on as well.


Some of the features of open online learning and this is in contrast to traditional in person learning obviously is access as the first open online learning is more accessible or it's intended to be more accessible than in personally.


Because you don't have to be in a place sitting down in a room at a given time in order to take the the class.


Or the course.


It also refers to the design making online learning making learning generally accessible in the sense that it's easily available and usable for people with different abilities and different backgrounds.


Open online learning is also intended to be more flexible, not just in terms of place and time, although that's a big part of it, but also in terms of learning objectives where people are able to choose what they learn.


Also, how they learn what sort of approach to learning works best for them, and even with whom they learn?


Open online learning, therefore, is more diverse. It has more, different, more pathways to learning, more ways you can go about learning, and also allows people greater choice of subject area learning in their own language learning that reflects them in their own community.


It's the objective and doesn't always work out that way.


And then with open learning, the learning takes place openly, publicly and in my opinion at least, that has implications on quality because everybody can make the determination for themselves, whether certain learning opportunity is high quality or not.


This presentation, for example, is being recorded. There's a presentation page. All of that people can come along later and they don't need to depend on hearsay about whether Stephen Downs gave a good session on open learning. They can look for themselves and see.


Yep. Is this somebody that I want to take a course from?


Open online learning also has advantages of scale and I think this is really important and we're we're going to talk about this a fair bit in this presentation, but.


One of the things it does is it allows for greater community and collaboration. There often is a community based component where the community can be not just the 30 people in the classroom, but hundreds of people around the world.


As well, the digital nature of open educational resources allows a course or a learning opportunity to scale in that way as well. And in particularly when you add cloud technologies and Internet technologies, as we have seen and as we'll talk about.


A class that typically could only be taken maybe at a maximum a hundred 150 people in a university auditorium can now be taken by thousands, 10s of thousands of people at the same time.


And also, arguably there's more room for innovation in open online learning, partly because we haven't had a lot of whole lot of experience with it yet, but also because new tools offer new affordances, that is they give us new ways of doing things.


Which means often we can do new things.


So why open online learning? Well, to me, the case is pretty clear, but I'll summarize it anyways. Access. I'm all about access to learning.


It's part of my own personal history. I had to work very hard to get into college, into university. I was lucky I hit the Alberta University system right at the point when the funding was the greatest and the tuition was the lowest, a little earlier. Little later wouldn't have made it in.


So access is a big deal to me.


Access is what gave me all the opportunities that I was able to have later in life. Without access, you just don't get those benefits that you get when you have a university education. It's not just about that, of course. Flexibility, the, the capacity.


Learn even if, say, you're a working mom at home with a child, even if you can only attend classes evenings and weekends, even if you live in a remote or rural area and you know can't drive 2 hours.


Into the nearest school.


In theory.


Open online learning also offers opportunities for cost reduction and this is both cost reduction for providers of learning, like governments and institutions, but also especially for people attending learning. Ideally, it should be free. That's the objective I'm working toward personally.


And that's what I'm trying to see. That's what I would like to see as an outcome of the work that I've done through my life. You know, open online learning. And then finally, again, innovation and education.


Trying new ways to do new things.


And we'll talk about some of that.


Now some people ask, just not just of open online learning, but online learning in general. Does it work well depends on what you mean by work. First of all, you know if you put a child.


In a room and drill them some content over and over and over and over. They'll learn that content. That's just the way the human brain works. And doing that in person probably is more likely to make them learn.


That piece of.


Content, but nobody wants to learn that way, and it's a really inflexible way of learning. All you learn is that piece of content, you know, learn anything else. Does it work as well as a traditional university course? Well, when it first started up, there were all kinds of studies about that.


And there was something called I sort of put it in the slide, something called the no significant difference phenomenon. And basically what was discovered is the medium of instruction.


Does not change the outcome of instruction.


If I was talking in person, if I'm talking here online, makes no difference, you're you're getting the same impact. You're learning the same amount now.


Some things you can do in person that you can't do online, like dissect the frog.


Although you know, yeah.


Broad dissection simulation, so there's going to be some differences, right? There are differences can be absurd to say that there are not.


But they balance out. You can do stuff online, but you can't do offline like talk to somebody in China, for example. You know, if you're just sitting in the classroom, you're not really going to be talking to people in China. I mean, Frank is just put in the chat area, the no link.


The no significant difference database. Thank you very much Arlene.


How to meaningfully engage students online is a.


Big part of it.


I've tried dozens of current things over the years. It's a challenge. It continues to be a challenge, particularly when the people you're working with, all they've ever known.


Is interaction and engagement offline and I find that especially I'm doing a project in Europe at the moment involving people from Eastern Europe who don't have a history of being on the Internet for for learning or just, you know, for general interaction and they prefer to do things in person.


This changes overtime and people have learned to engage in different ways overtime younger people.


Attend and I don't want to make this a generational thing, because there's arguments about that, but they tend to have more experience with things like chats and discussion boards and social media and tick tock and all of that. Just as an aside, I love TikTok, so.


How to evaluate open educational resources, especially video open educational resources?


That's a really tough one, and there's there's two sides to that. First of all, it doesn't matter.


Now I I know that's a terrible thing to say, because of course it does matter, but if a person is highly motivated to learn something, they will learn something, even if the resources aren't very good, they'll make.


So that's why I say it doesn't matter, right? You know, good enough is a whole lot better than nothing.


On the other hand, yeah, we can evaluate resources, all kinds of resources online. There are mechanisms to do that to a whole separate discussion.


There are rubrics, there are community community based evaluations. There was a project called Merlot, which was an effort to collaboratively review online resources. There's pure reviews, a whole bunch of stuff.


What is a good design framework for open learning again depends on what you're trying to do right this session. I'm just trying to give you an overview, an introduction to open online learning.


This is probably a good instructional design way to go.


Maybe not the best, but we only have an hour, right? So you know, I could either do something a lot more interactive, but focus on something more specific, or I can cover a broad range of topics and be a lot less interactive when making sure that the resources are there so that you can consult them after.


Again, big, huge long discussion to have, but people have looked into it, so it's. It's not like nobody's thinking about this, that there's a lot of thought about this and the ultimately the answer is there's no one answer.


So this thing called open online learning has been going on for a while now.


It goes back my first experience with anything like this was actually watching a documentary one day on something called the Australian School of the Air. And that's why I always put it first. Yeah, there's stuff that happened before that, like, you know, learning by mail, but this was the the first real tech.


Approach to providing open online learning. It wasn't online learning school of the year, it was learning by.


Radio and the Australian set up a network of radio broadcasting stations that would provide access to learning to sheep stations, so there was two way radios. It was interactive, so it wasn't just, you know, you're you're listening to CKUA or something like that.


A radio station off the top of my head. It was actually, you know, back and forth kind of radio, incredibly innovative for its time. School of the Year still exists. I visited it in Alice Springs in 2004. Really cool.


Also, different TAC 1960 system was developed at the University of Illinois called Plato. Plato was a computer based instruction or sometimes called computer based training CBT and the idea played on was this.


You know, like the first effort to do learning with artificial intelligence, although wasn't even close to artificially intelligent, but basically the idea is it was learning with feedback or a book with feedback.


So he would take you through some content and ask you some questions and try to to get you to think about what you were reading. Plato went on for a long time. Plato existed as a very valuable learning tool right up to the development of the Internet.


I remember meeting with the Plato people back in Ohh what was that 2000?


19 No even earlier 1995.


1969 Britain's Open University is launched and of course that still runs to this day. The idea was to provide distance learning courses through mail through television, radio, just basically to get learning.


Look to people whatever way they could. They continue to do.


Open universities open in in the form of open admissions and and typically you'll still have to pay for courses through Open University 1985. I want to mention this because the world's largest Open University, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Open in India.


And they've done a lot of interesting work over the years. And as I mentioned that I don't have anything from China listed, but there's a a series of innovations in China as well around very, very large open universities.


On a different tack, 1989 guy called Richard Stolman creates his own version of an operating system called GNUGNU. Stands for news, not units, and he created something called the the new public license, or GPL, to make sure.


That the software that he created could be freely used, freely adapted, freely, redistributed in the future. So instead of a software system that's closed to proprietary, nobody can see it. Nobody can understand how it works.


Nobody can share it or make derivative versions of it. The idea of GPL is all of these freedoms, often called the four freedoms, were enabled.


Not coincidentally, MIT in 2001, who had a lot of interactions with Richard Stallman, Salman had an office at MIT.


They launched something called Open courseware and what this was was all of the course outlines the readings, the summaries, the question sets, etcetera. Anything that they gave to students during the.


First they made this they put this into an online format and made that available for free online, and it's kind of interesting because what MIT was trying to show people was that and MIT education isn't just the stuff you get, and they sort of prove that sort of didn't prove that.


Because all kinds of people basically educated themselves using MIT open courseware, and arguably I would argue the Indian software industry, which is huge today, wouldn't exist, wouldn't have existed without MIT Open courseware.


Creative Commons launched at the same time. It's an application of the open source software licensing to content, and we'll talk a little bit more about that in in a slide or two.


Massive open online courses very.


Something that I was very involved in first one launched in 2008.


It was called Connectivism and connective knowledge and taught by myself and George Siemens. After that a bunch of initiatives started up. Several in the United States. Coursera, for example, and X, Udacity and also in Britain, the Open University launched.


Something called future learn.


And these now were full courses. They weren't just the course materials, they were full courses.


And they did some interesting things. These scale to hundreds, literally hundreds of thousands of people.


Around this time, though, there was broader recognition that open education wasn't just open online resources.


But also the pedagogies and the approach that we took to learning in general. So Cape Town declaration was signed in 2008 beginning to reflect that. I'll talk more about open educational pedagogies as we go along.


I I want to mention 2020 because we got this new thing in 2020 called remote learning.


Which was sort of like open online learning and sort of like a whole bunch of people who knew nothing but classroom teaching tried to do classroom teaching using zoom, kind of like what we're doing here, except maybe more interactive. You know, a lot of remote learning.


Took place for the kindergarten to grade 12 students as well as higher education.


So it was a mixed success. It saved us come from a complete collapse of the educational system during the pandemic and thereby proved the the usefulness of online learning.


But it also showed that you can't just do whatever it is that you're doing in a classroom and try to do it online. It doesn't translate that.


No. Different technology means different affordances, and in retrospect it would have helped if instructors in classrooms had had some of the experience and background that had been developed in 2025 years of innovation.


You know, online learning, but they didn't have that background. And so they made it up on the fly as they went.


I think they did altogether a pretty good job, if you ask me. All things considered, it's like it's not like people are saying. Well, yeah, well, pandemics coming in a couple of months. Let's get ready for it. It was like, well, for me, it happened in the parking lot. I was in the parking lot of this building here.


And I got an e-mail saying we're shut down pandemic and and that's how the pandemic started for me.


Open Online learning Canada. Canada has a huge rich history of open online learning. 1970 Athabasca University was founded. I actually worked for Athabasca for seven years in the late 80s and early 90s Caribou College.


Opened up in British Columbia.


And later became Thompson Rivers University, which is still very much a going concern. And right now one of the leading lights of open online learning in Canada, in Q72 Telec, which is Tele University Quebec and Canal savoir, the Learning channel started up in Quebec.


And and.


They played a major role in a lot, especially a lot of the early work around open content, open learning resources. In Canada, the Open Learning Agency started up in 1978. That was in British Columbia, Ola.


And they were mostly focused at K12 education. Contact N Here in Ontario opened up in 1986, and as the name suggests, they provide learning resources and opportunities for remote and rural communities in Ontario.


BC Campus major initiative offering online programs, resources shared services really adopted the newer models of open online learning and then 2015 E Campus Ontario was founded here in Ontario by many of the same people who were involved in BC campus.




So probably right now the the leading agencies were open online learning in Canada, I'd say or BC Campus E, Campus, Ontario, Athabasca, and Thompson Rivers. If I had to name 4, if I was forced to with my back against the wall, but this is.


Missing this list is missing more than it contains a ton of work that's been done in Canada and open online learning internationally. Commonwealth of Learning has done a lot of work.


If you download these slides, by the way, later on you'll find links to these resources in the notes.


University of the People, basically providing online tuition free credited courses.


OER university.


Largely out of New Zealand, although with, you know, worldwide support, including many people in Canada, very good program, very good people working with them. They've done a lot of interesting work.


Especially with in terms of open educational software, the Khan Academy, which everybody's heard of, founded by a guy called Salman Khan who created something called the.


Hole in the.


Wall Project, where he basically he put a computer.


In a wall behind the screen, you could type on it and then you'd see what happened. Just put it in a wall and.


And not so wealthy area and India. And people learned how to.


You know, learned computing using this computer and so conditon mined.


Through this experiment that people could learn from themselves if they had the computer support to do so, you know, the question was asked earlier. Do people learn effectively through open online learning? You know, it depends so much on on what you're provided, but.


The you know.


Leaving aside the no significant difference phenomenon, tons of people have learned tons of stuff.


Throughout the last 20 years, that hasn't been documented anywhere. They've learned informally outside the traditional education system, you know, watching videos on YouTube. Instructions like con Academy, someone.


And and this is the thing that Khan tapped into later became a Microsoft Microsoft funded project and big and with lots of management and.


And not nearly as interesting now as it used to be. The UNESCO United Nations Educational, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has been involved.


With online learning for a long time open online learning, they made a declaration about open educational resources in 2002, which is very famous.


They have a lot of online courses. They've done a lot of work in the research World Bank as well, has been involved. Their involvement hasn't always been beneficial. For the longest time they liked big, expensive video conferencing facilities in the center of major cities and they never really got away from that.


So I've always thought that their audience was kind of different from the audience for all of the others.


Open educational resources.


Are often defined by the licensing that allows them to be reused. This is a chart describing the different types of licensing available using a licensing system called Creative Commons. Basically, the idea is that.


The licenses allow you to reserve some rights the.


Most, as they say, the most open kind of license you can get isn't even a license. It's when something is public domain after a certain period of time, everything becomes public domain and copyright isn't something that lasts forever. It's something that lasts for the lifetime of the author. Plus usually these days.


95 years, which is why this year.


Here, you know, there was a lot of fanfare about Mickey Mouse coming into the public domain. The first images and video of Mickey Mouse is finally public domain and people have had a lot of fun with that because Disney has been so protective. Now anybody can do whatever they want with Mickey Mouse and it's great.


And I've seen a lot of stuff that maybe I shouldn't have seen.


But even even before something comes into public domain, you can license it so people could treat it as if it were public to me.


Or you can put conditions on it and that's what the different licenses are. For example, the buy CC buy is the requirement of attribution. It says basically anybody can use this for whatever they want. Just give me credit for it.


There's also the no derivatives or ND condition, which is. Anybody can use this for whatever they want, but don't change it. That's really important for artwork for works of literature, things like that where you know if you change it, you're really.


Altering the character of the.


Some people and I include myself among them, are really happy with people reusing the stuff, but they don't want people turning around and selling it to other people.


So they attach an NC or non commercial condition and all of my content is licensed with the NC condition. Anybody can use it for whatever they want, but you can't turn around and sell it to people. You have to give it away because the my purpose in working in this domain is to provide.


Access to everyone.


And if you're selling it, you're preventing some people, specifically those without money, from accessing it. So I insist on an old, non commercial kind of license.


But all licensing aside, there are still ways to use content, even commercial content, even fully copyrighted content copyrighted itself.


Is a limited domain and what that means is.


We're giving special privileges to the person who created the work.


And no special privileges are and they get to have exclusive use of the work under certain conditions for a certain period of time.


But outside of those conditions, the work can be used.


So you know, it's not like copyright is absolute.


And the exceptions to copyright in Canada, they're called fair dealing in the United States are called fair use and basically they are ways that people can use content that is copyright.


And this is an excerpt from a guy at Dalhousie. It's a very good guy.


It says it's quite accurate. Teachers, instructors, professors and staff members in nonprofit universities may communicate and reproduce in paper or electronic form. Short excerpts from a copyright protected work for the purposes of research, private study criticism.


News reporting, education, satire and parody.


That's how Weird Al Yankovic is able to create all those sumps and in practice, weird Al actually asks permission, but he doesn't have to, right? He's doing a parody.


And so technically, he could just do it.


And you know, you saw a picture of a bulldog. I took that picture of a bulldog in Quebec City.


And I'm using that in an educational way today to illustrate fair use.


Or fair dealing in Canada, it's a copyright work.


But I'm using it in an educational non commercial minimal sort of way.


That's an important thing to keep in mind. Now, there are some exceptions even to these exceptions, and in this particular context I want to point to cultural and indigenous content, artifacts and knowledge and the normal principles of Fair use or fair dealing.


You're not going to apply to those, and indeed the normal principles of.


Public domain are not going to apply to those either, so even if, say, a piece of indigenous art is more than 100 years old, it doesn't suddenly become something that anybody can use because it's part of the culture, culturally significant.


Heritage. And so it has an ownership and a right of use by that community. So there's a whole domain there of, you know, access and use and ownership and management.


Of indigenous cultural artifacts, knowledge, etcetera, and I don't.


Want to overlook that?


Massive open online courses.


Began as a way of using open educational resources, but George Siemens and I added a bunch of stuff to that. We created what is called the connectionist connectionist, the CONNECTIVIST, or C, loop, and we focused on community and.


Connections and basically what we did is this.


We came up with a skeleton of an idea.


For a course.


We populated it with a few open educational resources.


We linked flew all together and then we invited members of the Community to join us as we went through these resources and asked them to contribute their own resources as well.


Thus making our network of resources that much more.


Rich and also to contribute not just by creating resources but by joining us in online discussions, much like this forum that we're doing now.


And interacting with each other.


So we set up our MOOC so that it wasn't just a teacher teaching a class openly online, but very much the group of people, including the instructors, teaching each other and interacting with each other as a major difference in in learning paradigm.


We go from the idea of the transmission of knowledge from someone to a group of people to the creation of knowledge by a group of people, and that's what made it a connectivist move.


Now, in the years that followed, people focused much more on the the massive than on the open part of it, and they focus much more on the coarse part of it traditionally conceived.


So they created what were called X Moocs and the X Moocs are the Moocs that were created by Coursera, edx. The the introduction to AI MOOC, for example, by Stanford.


And sprung, or Norvig and sprung. Sorry that attracted 100 and 5200 thousand students.


Was a course with content with AI, managed assignments and and and open educational resources presented in a very traditional way, but there was no interaction, there was no community. Nobody else contributed to the course. It was just professors.


Recording tons of videos and and their stories about and staying up all night, recording these videos for this car.


And they're putting them into a cloud system so that they could be accessed by hundreds of thousands of people. So two very different pictures of moops. And to me, course, I would say this, the connectivist MOOC is more in the spirit of open online learning because we don't just.


Take open resources and apply it to a traditional pedagogy. We open up the pedagogy as well, so here you can see the history of the MOOC the, the.


Origination in the idea of open educational resources, our connectivist moves that started up in 2008 and we ran a bunch of them over the next decade or so.


And then ex university, Coursera and open universities future, learn, among others. Interestingly, all of these big experiments, not one of them, survives in in that form. They all became like corporate training or competency based education or some such thing.


And aren't really.


Mooks at all, but around the world.


There are several hundred other MOOC providers that are actually providing Moocs.


But like I said, we focused on the open educational pedagogy or open educational practices.


There's a I think it was casting Cronin. I'd have to verify the link is there. The IRODL link that is to a paper that pretty much defines open educational practices looking at open.


Open practices in all aspects of providing learning so production management and reuse of open educational resources of course, but also open and public pedagogies you know, communicate of cooperative, collaborative pedagogy, pedagogy of the oppressed.


As defined by power frieri open learning and granting access to open learning opportunities, including open classrooms, community learning, open scholarship, open research and included in that would be open data.


Yeah, Sylvia says I'm interested in open educational pedagogy. Will be a follow up to learn about this topic. We don't have one planned, but I could certainly do that. I'll talk with.


Manisha about that.


Open sharing of teaching ideas and know how and this goes into the idea of communities of practice and using open technologies. And again, that's a whole subject in itself. That would be great, she says. OK.


Different ways of supporting online learning.


Technology there, there's a range of different technologies that can be used.


And I'll I'll mention some of them briefly.


Different tools for different applications, right? Server based either in house or in the cloud. So that's basically something like YouTube you can access on your website.


Free online tools like you know those interactive tools where that you can use to put text on an image and then download the image. Or there are tools you can download and install. Audacity for example, is a tool that you can use to record and edit your own audio that's an application.


You download and save for yourself.


Or mobile apps and I'm not really big on mobile apps, but also there's the non technological support for open online learning that's really really important.


I've talked a lot over the years about community based learning centers currently used to have.


And network of what were called Community access centers provided into Internet access in small communities across the country and and that's kind of gone away, although a lot of libraries and public offices still support open Internet.


Access. That's really important. And I found in my own experience doing distance and online learning that it really helps a lot if there's a community based resource that can help somebody.


Somebody's trying to phone me, and then I had all.


Of my presentation.


OK. All right. We're still good policy frameworks. This is policy, government policy or institutional policy supporting and funding the creation of open educational resources and other similar sorts of things.


Policy around the use you know on here, for example around fair dealing. Again, there's a large area here, but basically it helps to have a friendly policy environment supporting open online learning.


And then just the the training and the community.


That practitioners need in order to provide open online learning. You know, it's not the sort of thing as we saw in remote learning you.


Can't just.


You know, suddenly know how to do it. It really helps to have a community that helps you figure out what to do and how to go forward. And that's why I really love this micro learning.


Kind of program. This is exactly the sort of thing it's really really needed to support people who are interested in working in things like open online learning or other topics.


So what are the tools? Well, there's the platforms, and then I won't even get into them. OER repositories, there are repositories around the world. Here's here's a hack. If you do a Google search for something, use the phrase Libra text Lib.




With your search and you'll find open educational resources.


For that resource, not for everything, obviously, but for some things, and if you have an open educational resource, make sure that you put the phrase libre tax for the word libre tax somewhere prominently in that so that it shows up in someone else's search learning management systems. There are some open learning management systems.


Which are useful and helpful. Moodle and canvas. I would also include WordPress here. A lot of open educational institutions and initiatives use WordPress Alan Levine.


Has created a whole series of plugins for WordPress supporting open online learning.


What does he call them? Smallest possible spots? Smallest possible online learning tool? Yeah, yeah, he he'd be great for one of these presentations.


Specialized learning tools. Again, I won't get into them, but they're there. Duolingo is actually pretty good. Codecademy is very good and I don't know a lot about loud exchange, but I know it exists.


I have a quick tools guide that I made during the pandemic and it's still useful today. The link is there in the slides. I focused on free or nearly free resources to help you get a free open online learning opportunity up without spending a whole lot of money yourself.


How do we fund this stuff? Well, that's a hard one. Public funding, internal funding, endowments or donations. All of these help. But really, I think the network based and community based.


Resources are the most important. I'm being asked can I put the link in the chat? I probably could.


Let's see now, what would it take me to do that? I will. But I can't do it right while I'm trying to do the talk. So I'll do it once I finish talking. So what do we have for the future?


Well, the underlying technology is the stuff that's really interesting to me. The underlying technology I've outlined all in a the links in the slide presentation.


Cloud and data technologies, hugely important. Not getting enough. Not not getting enough air, not getting enough publicity, but hugely important. I've done some research recently on the whole topic of data literacy and data literacy is another one of these.


Presentation that would be really good for this.


These graphs and networks, this whole idea of linking things to other things that really wasn't possible in the pre Internet age. It is possible now and people are only beginning to see the potential of that. That's what made our connectivist MOOC possible, and it's going to make a ton of other things.


The idea of learning experience.


In the classroom, you can only have a limited number of types of learning experience online. You can greatly augment that and out there in the world with Internet technologies, you could augment it even more. Identity and recognition, huge debate coming around that.


You know what a pain it is to log into? Everything? I know what a pain it is to log in to everything. Something called distributed ID is coming down the.


Like but what it will look like when it gets here while we don't know that who will run it, who will own it? We don't know that. And these are big questions. And then the idea that we've talked about a bunch of times already, the whole idea of community and agency, these are growing, shifting phenomena that are becoming really important.


Not just in open online learning, but online democracy, online, community, social justice, etcetera.


The big three, you know all about them already, but I'll mention them. Artificial intelligence is huge already for open online learning. Going to be even more huge.


The Metaverse people make fun of the metaverse because nobody wants to wear the big mask over their face. I don't blame them, but the metaverse is also something called object persistence and what that means is objects in the online world and objects in the offline world persist and are the same.


Object so.


It's it's kind of like, you know how right now when you create things on the Internet, they go away in the.


Future. That won't happen.


Blockchain and crypto again everybody makes fun of blockchain and they should because you know the financial services industry got a hold of it and.


Anything that they touch becomes corrupt, but there's a lot of really good and important technology. The distributed idea that I mentioned will depend on this, but also things like content addressing a way to uniquely identify a resource.


So that you can track where it is gone. You can show that this resource was used to create that resource and so that you can verify that when somebody sends you a resource, it's what you thought they were sending you.


I don't want.


To skip by ethics and social justice, these have become important and increasingly talked about aspects of open online learning, digital equity and inclusion. Obviously huge and hugely important, and again, the main reason for open online learning, right?


Pedagogies of care rather than pedagogies of the machine or practice or or, you know, positivism that poses a challenge because care actually requires a personal relationship. How do you do that in an online environment? Big huge question.


AI ethics. I've done a whole big thing on a ifx. You can find that at


And then finally and again relevant for our current environment, the whole issue of decolonization and social justice. It's one thing to do open online learning. It's another thing to do open online learning in a way that respects the culture, values and traditions.


From the people you're providing education for, because open and learning open online learning can't just be about me taking my knowledge and my values and my history and my culture and giving it to you, that can't work.


There has to be a way for the people providing open online learning and the people receiving open online learning to work together to form something new where everybody learns together. And again, that was a big part of what we were talking about when we were talking about Connectivist moves.


It wasn't about us imposing our values on others. We didn't want to do that. It was about us learning together with everybody else who was in our course.


That's everything.


Any comments, questions. I'd be happy to take them. I know we're at the end of the session, but I'll linger in case you.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 22, 2024 4:49 p.m.

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