Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘resources

I am constantly on the lookout for resources that are relevant to courses that I facilitate. 

One series of modules on ICT for Inclusion is a few months away, but I already have more new resources than I can share in the short time that I have with my students. So I embed just some of them here.

Video source

Video source

Video source

The first two videos highlight the ways that various technologies enable differently-abled folk to live their lives. I like that they are local examples and will connect with my learners.

The third video is of a well-known YouTuber. He is not a local lad, of course, but he represents a faction of people who do not consider their “disabilities” to be disabilities. It reinforces my message that we need to focus on what students with special needs can do or might do, instead of what they cannot.

I am also reminding myself that I have a reflection on the myth that is learning styles. I curated several resources and linked them one to another after I kept hearing more and more pre- and in-service teachers tout this falsehood.

Rising above, what I have done illustrates the difference between merely bookmarking or collecting resources, and actually curating them. It is easy to collect and just as easy to forget that these resources exist. It is more difficult but far more meaningful to see how they fit together to teach a lesson or two.

In a few months time, I have the privilege of resurrecting a short course on inclusive education with ICT.

As I always have my radar on, my feeds produced two resources I might be able to use.

The first is a news article that might reinforce a more progressive view on special needs and inclusive education. But it is locked behind a paywall and all my learners might not have this newspaper subscription.

Video source

The second is a YouTube video that might not have an obvious link to my course. What does a 16-year-old environmental activist and Nobel prize nominee have to do with inclusive education?

After watching the video I found out that Greta Thunberg has Asperger Syndrome. Hers is an example of how everyday technology (e.g., social media) enables identity and passion.

The availability of the video over the news article also illustrates the reach and accessibility of some learning resources over others. Some providers shoot themselves in the foot and disable themselves.

Yesterday I shared what I discovered about Dunno. I made a disclaimer that I have no ties with Dunno nor was I approached to highlight that app.

Over the last few months, I have been approached over email to highlight infographics, services, or other resources. I have not agreed and am not sure if I should.

The email requests end up in my Hotmail account. This is the same account I set up to catch spam and junk. This blog is linked to my Gmail address, so I do not know how those marketers got my Hotmail address.

I think the temptation is to feel flattered that someone wants me to help bring eyeballs to something. But I am not under the illusion that I am the only one they approached.

I do not think that my blog has such a wide viewership either. I did not set it up this way nor do I blog with that intent.

I blog to externalize at least one thing I learn or think about every day. Writing more publicly puts pressure on me to think more carefully and completely (but nowhere perfectly).

I say this in my About Me page: I do not blog for views. I blog my views. I do this to learn and to shape my thoughts on educational technologies and technology-mediated pedagogies.

In the WordPress settings, I describe my blog as such: I am an edu-explorer. I promise to walk on the edge of reason and let you know what I see. I use this blog to think out loud. If this promotes informal sharing and learning on technology integration issues, thank serendipity!

I wonder how many marketers actually read the blogs they “follow”.

If you have observed some major online players offering open educational resources, you might think that the era of free and open online learning resources has arrived.

What am I talking about? For something more recent, consider Apple’s iTunes U, YouTube Education, or the Prezi U announcement and site. Carnegie Mellon has its Open Learning Initiative. MIT might be considered a pioneer with Open Courseware which has been around for just over 10 years.

In our own small way, CeL has been trying to provide more open resources at NIeLearning as well as at a free help site and templates for the e-portfolio initiative here in NIE.

Why go open? Entities like Apple, YouTube, and Prezi benefit from brand recognition and platform adoption. Openness is an indirect but important way to make money. Educational institutions that put open educational resources in such platforms gain in a similar way.

But what of organizations whose primary goal is not to make money? If you believe that education is a socio-economic leveller, then being open and providing open educational resources are means of getting there. Doing this might solidify your reputation for good service in the educational ecosystem.

In an ideal world, all education would be free. In the real world, there is a need to provide infrastructure, utilities and transport, pay people to teach, advertise and recruit, etc. But these are not the real barriers to open education as people who take their education online bypass the brick-and-motar model and either reduce or remove cost in order to learn. People who have the information, knowledge, and the means to teach are the real barriers.

Ask most instructors why they would rather not share a resource openly and they will cite institutional policies (if any) and copyright. It is relatively easy to change policy; whether people take ownership of it is another. If an institute mandates that a certain percentage of courses goes open, how many instructors will buy in?

As for copyright, I see two main arguments: 1) The instructor wants to retain the copyright of the resource (not let others take credit or profit from it), or 2) the instructor is using someone else’s copyrighted material.

Providing a resource openly does not mean that you give up the rights or that it is totally free. If you make it available online, it is time-stamped and you might be better able to say who came up with an idea first. Offering some resources for free (a taster) and requiring payment for the rest is not a bad idea either.

The more serious problem is not sharing because you are using someone else’s copyrighted material. But we have phones and email to contact copyright owners, do we not? Alternatively, use the free and/open resources already available at the repositories above or search for CC-licensed resources.

Openness can be infectious, but only if we overcome mindsets.

Hardly a week goes by without us having to put out a fire of some proportion.

Like most organizations that promote e-learning, we offer a variety of online resources for our staff and student teachers. These resources include those that we prepare in-house and those that we source elsewhere. The latter include subscription-based access to repositories of images, clip art, music, sounds effects, videos, etc.

To make a long and stressful story short: One user conducted a massive download of artefacts, the service provider detected it, the service went down, the downloader owned up and we settled the case internally with the provider and downloader. Suffice to say that we documented the case, got the person to delete the downloaded files in the presence of one of my staff and all parties agreed to close the case.

Many would consider what the downloader did as illegal and I don’t condone illegal online behaviours. But what is legal or not legal any more is being challenged by new technologies and user expectations. I doubt that the downloader knew he was not allowed to download so many files. I doubt that he was hoping to make money directly from reselling the artefacts. I can understand where he was coming from.

Why? Consider the circumstances. These rich resources are available to our student teachers only for as long as they are here (so much for career-long learning). They are locked out from items within our learning management system after they are done with coursework because the system can only support only so many users and we have paid only so much for services.

So they strike while the iron is hot. Harvest when the fruit are in season. Carpe diem! Look at it this way: We have actually created the conditions for such behaviours.

Fortunately, there are alternative repositories. Lots of them and all of them legal. These artefacts are all shared under the free, open source and/or creative commons licences. So we will create an open area with links to these resources for all our staff and student teachers to access whether they are under our umbrella or not. That is one way to support long term learning.

And to service providers who lose our patronage because they do not move with the times, I say, “Sorry, we are open!”

I am writing a short (notice) paper for upper management to consider the future of learning with respect to technology-based social networks. I’ve opted to write something on social learning systems.

As usual, I went on a search for relevant source of information. And, as usual, pertinent and realtime information dropped in my lap thanks to Twitter, social bookmarks and RSS.

Here are some gems:

RSS feeds delivered these useful resources. I am putting them online as I also use my blog as idea cloud that I can revisit.

Online teaching tips

Do students cheat more in online classes? Maybe not.

Student “learning styles” theory is bunk

Thanks to Twitter, I’ve discovered another useful resource for teachers. I don’t agree that they are Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration, but they certainly are useful!

I’ve added this resource to the list of things that I ask my teacher trainees to teach one another.

With a tagline of six authors, six stories, six weeks, I wonder what language teachers think of We Tell Stories. That site offers different ways of telling stories digitally.

The Google Earth way is one of my favourites!


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