|Are you interested in open education and alternative learning routes? Are you concerned about the regimentation of schools and academic programs? I know that I am. I always have been. I never really liked traditional schools and schooling. Fortunately, emerging learning technologies often provide options for learning. Audiotapes, TV, satellite, radio, CDs, etc. As many people know by now, TV and correspondence courses saved my sanity back when I was a highly bored corporate controller and CPA back in the early to mid 1980s. And today the Web is saving countless lives.
However, it is getting harder and harder to keep up with the news in learning technology and open education. I am not sure how anyone can be an expert in online learning or open education. What is interesting is that today this is a hot topic and front page news. Back in 1984, it was not. And now with venture capital pouring in, this space will be expanding even more. More open access articles will be published about open access. And finance people (I used to be one) and marketing people will begin to take center stage. Is it, "exit stage right" for academics and researchers...? I think not. There is so much to research here. My team is asking many open educational resource (OER) questions.
But each day there is something pressing to read from Education Week, the NY Times, the Washington Post, the USA Today, Time, eSchool News or eCampus News, Chief Learning Officer, Wired, or the Chronicle of Higher Education. Well, now there is a special issue in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the Digital Campus. This issue came out online on April 29, 2012 and the paper edition was in my mailbox this afternoon. The articles within it are definitely emphasizing this wave of open education. The world is open for learning as we all know by now. Don't agree? Read on. And on and on and on. There are so many examples today of how one can learn online in extreme and not so extreme ways. As the previous link indicates, my research is now in extreme learning.
There is one article by Katherine Mangan in this special edition that immediately caught my attention. It gives anyone reading it a sense of wonder about where, when, and how learning can occur. The title is "Open Education's Wide World of Possibilities" (Note: you may need a password for this article now. Earlier today, you did not. If you cannot access it from the link above, try here (Note: this is an alternative link from the Chronicle of HE) or try here instead (for a blogger post of the article)). Three sources for this article? Well, actually, I found about 20. This is just another example of the open learning world.
When reading this intriguing article, you will "discover" that learning can now take place from Tibet while herding yaks, from the northern tip of Canada while collecting scientific data, from soup kitchens and orphanages in Mongolia, and so on. Dentists in rural parts of Afghanistan are upgrading their skills from shared online videos from the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan. College kids are passing classes in which they were initially "floundering" after finding open educational resources which helped them learn. Former accountants (like me) are teaching science and winning awards after "plowing through" online lectures and Khan Academy materials. MITx, Udacity, iTunes U, Peer 2 Peer University, Saylor.org, and many other resources are springing up to change the learning possibilities for the people of this planet.
These are exciting times indeed. How do the different open-access courses compare? What do you get? Videotaped lectures? Guest experts? Access to the instructor? Online study groups to learn with?Asynchronous discussions? Syllabi? Audio files? You can read more about what is offered in different free online courses in a chart comparing their content. That article is called: Open-Access Courses: How They Compare.
What exciting times these are! I wrote about some of this in a newsletter piece for the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Online Newsletter back in October 2009 (The Wide Open Learning World: Sea, Land, and Ice Views) as well as in my World is Open book. Today anyone can learn anything from anyone else at any time.
You can read about John Boyer's fascinating class at Virginia Tech with more than 2,600 students. The course is in geography and is called "World Regions." Read this one and you will hear about a professor who is truly loved by his students. He goes all out to help his students learn. And learn they do. Boyer brings in guest experts from around the world. And he uses many types of free and open access technologies like Ustream, Facebook, Twitter, shared online videos, and Skype to help them learn. In effect, Boyer is a role model for this open educational world that we are now in. The article is called "Supersizing the College Classroom: How One Instructor Teaches 2,670 Students."
Speaking of which, my MOOC for Blackboard that starts later today at 4 pm EST (and is every Wednesday in the month of May at that time) now has over 3,200 people in it. Wow. Hope you can join in. The course will remain open for registration during the month of May. No worries if you sign up late.
Here are a couple of other articles in the special issue (or from that day) that might be of interest:
1. The Imperfect Art of Designing Online Courses, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan Berrett, April 29, 2012.
2. Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, Despite Some Doubts, Chronicle of Higher Education, Katherine Mangan, April 29, 2012.
There are many more articles in this special issue. That is enough for now. You can find them from the first link in this blog post.
When you are done browsing and reading them, you might consider signing up for the MOOC. Hope to see some of you in the Blackboard/CourseSites MOOC or beyond. We will try to address all this confusion with a couple of simple frameworks or models for making sense of it. That is the hope anyway. And perhaps the ideas discussed or presented in it can help a life or 2 (or more). Fingers crossed
Labels: Blackboard, Blackboard MOOC, CourseSites, MOOC, open courseware, open education, Open educational resources, open-access articles, the Chronicle of Higher Education