Student Access to and Skills in Using Technology…

Student Access to and Skills in Using Technology in an Open and Distance Learning Context :

“Amidst the different challenges facing higher education, and particularly distance education (DE) and open distance learning (ODL), access to information and communication technology (ICT) and students’ abilities to use ICTs are highly contested issues in the South African higher education landscape. While there are various opinions about the scope and definition of the digital divide, increasing empirical evidence questions the uncritical use of the notion of the digital divide in South African and international higher education discourses.

In the context of the University of South Africa (Unisa) as a mega ODL institution, students’ access to technology and their functional competence are some of the critical issues to consider as Unisa prepares our graduates for an increasingly digital and networked world.

This paper discusses a descriptive study that investigated students’ access to technology and their capabilities in using technology, within the broader discourse of the “digital divide.” Results support literature that challenges a simplistic understanding of the notion of the “digital divide” and reveal that the nature of access is varied.”


A Preliminary Examination of the Cost Savings and Learning Impacts of Using Open Textbooks in Middle and High School Science Classes

Proponents of open educational resources claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the classroom. Over a period of two years, we worked with 20 middle and high school science teachers (collectively teaching approximately 3,900 students) who adopted open textbooks to understand the process and determine the overall cost of such an adoption.

The teachers deployed open textbooks in multiple ways. Some of these methods cost more than traditional textbooks; however, we did identify and implement a successful model of open textbook adoption that reduces costs by over 50% compared to the cost of adopting traditional textbooks.

In addition, we examined the standardized test scores of students using the open textbooks and found no apparent differences in the results of students who used open textbooks compared with previous years when the same teachers’ students used traditional textbooks. However, given the limited sample of participating teachers, further investigation is needed.”


Case Studies on Institutional Open Approaches The Open…

Case Studies on Institutional Open Approaches: The Open University :

“Interpreting openness has been part of The Open University’s mission since its foundation in 1969. As a distance teaching university it has always developed extensive educational resources for its students and occasionally for a wider audience but the emergence of open educational resources (OER) has challenged the ways in which it both develops and uses such teaching materials, in particular an over-reliance on in-house authoring and embedded third party materials and income from sales and licensing of such content. As educational resources are integral to the university’s teaching and business model a large scale, institution-wide, action research project aligned to University strategic objectives was established to examine the potential impact of OER in those models (with funding support from a US Foundation). Extensive research and evaluation activities plus widespread staff acceptance and experience in the use of OER in various parts of their work has enabled a gradual bottom-up adoption and planned top-down embedding of OER and other aspects of openness into most facets of University work after five years, including a defined open media policy.”


Positioning the OER Business Model for Open Education…

Positioning the OER Business Model for Open Education :

“The enabling power of technology, especially information technology and social software, prompts a radical shift in economic and social interactions in societies around the globe. Existing traditional school based, formalized learning formats are unable to accommodate specific new learning needs. Hence, customized to the respective purposes of personal wellbeing, inclusion or requirements for professional performance, lifelong continuous learning is no longer a choice but a necessity. At the 2011 Davos World Economic Forum it was already stated that the lack of adequately educated people not only limits personal fulfilment but will also hinder prosperity and economic growth in the near future. Since the learning needs and learning possibilities today differ fundamentally from the 20th century the question is how to unlock the learning potential of people in a situation where mainstream education still heavily relies on traditional institutionalized closed formats.

Since more than a decade the Open Educational Resources (abbreviated as OER) movement provides new ideas on how to generate and share educational resources for educational use (within and outside formal institutional, open education) by large audiences for a variety of learning purposes. The vision of developing and sharing OER resources for Open Education (OpenED/OE) is interesting in this context for its great potential to substantially help solving existing educational problems. Open education based on sharing (OER) open resources for education enables people across continents and organizations to transform their talents into professional competences and grow by removing existing (economic) barriers and invent new strategies to open up education. To date though the OER/OpenED vision materializes primarily in activities organized as dedicated sponsored projects.

Crucial for a sustainable future of this appealing approach and the capability to bridge existing “education gaps” is our capacity to translate the OER/OpenED vision and existing commitment into appropriate, sustainable business models for OER/OpenED.

Sustainability is a key requirement for the OER business model. Education in the 21st century has the character of life long education, so the question is not so much whether a specific OER project can be funded adequately but whether we can create an underlying business model foundation able to serve as a flight deck from which necessary OER based learning activities can be launched, as part of completely open educational offerings or embedded in hybrid educational constellations, across organizations and countries.

After sketching the scene in the introduction we move to paragraph 2 where we describe how the application of the OER paradigm radically changes not only learning itself but from a business perspective also the interactions and relationships between learners, “teachers”, creators and users of educational resources as well as relations between educational institutions, designers and service providers of both formal and non-formal learning offerings. In paragraph 3 we draw conclusions from these changing relationships, which leads to a new perspective on sustainable business models for, OER based, (open) education. Next in paragraph 4 we describe our ideas on the essential components of the proposed business model to become a viable sustainable living reality. Based on heuristics from research on learning networks, open innovation and collaboration we describe methods to frame OER/OpenED activities to lay the groundwork for sustainable learning ecologies. We end with concluding remarks and suggestions for future work.”


A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources OER…

A Basic Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) :

“This Guide comprises three sections. The first – a summary of the key issues – is presented in the form of a set of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’. Its purpose is to provide readers with a quick and user-friendly introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and some of the key issues to think about when exploring how to use OER most effectively.

The second section is a more comprehensive analysis of these issues, presented in the form of a traditional research paper. For those who have a deeper interest in OER, this section will assist with making the case for OER more substantively.

The third section is a set of appendices, containing more detailed information about specific areas of relevance to OER. These are aimed at people who are looking for substantive information regarding a specific area of interest.”


Free Technology Academy : a Joint Ventur…

Free Technology Academy : a Joint Venture of Free Software and OER :

“The decision to publish educational materials openly and under free licenses brings up the challenge of doing it in a sustainable way. Some lessons can be learned from the business models for production, maintenance and distribution of Free and Open Source Software. The
Free Technology Academy (FTA) has taken on these challenges and has implemented some of these models. We briefly review the FTA educational programme, methodologies and organisation, and see to which extent these models are proving successful in the case of the FTA.”


Faculty and Student Perspectives Toward …

Faculty and Student Perspectives Toward Open Courseware, and Open Access Publishing: Some Comparisons Between European and North American Populations :

“Instructor and student beliefs, attitudes and intentions toward contributing to local open courseware (OCW) sites have been investigated through campus-wide surveys at Universidad Politecnica de Valencia and the University of Michigan. In addition, at the University of Michigan, faculty have been queried about their participation in open access (OA) publishing. We compare the instructor and student data concerning OCW between the two institutions, and introduce the investigation of open access publishing in relation to open courseware publishing”