As the fourth Special Edition of eLearning Papers will be published in a few days. We invited Tapio Koskinen, the board’s Director of eLearning Papers, to tell us about this first issue of the year, and to share his ideas on Open Education.
The fourth special edition of eLearning Papers is fresh off the press. What will we be able to read in it?
This is the third time I help prepare the special edition, which involves choosing the most interesting and popular articles published during the past 12 months, and then selecting a representative set of topics.
One of our most widely read issues in 2012 focused on Cyber Security, for example. For the special edition, we picked a Finnish article on “Children’s Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse on the Internet”, a problem that is more widespread than what we, adults, might think.
We also published an issue in the context of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 from which we took a very interesting “From the field” article on mobility, international students and challenges of Lifelong Learning.
In the creative classrooms’ issue – probably this last year’s most important one – we had a wonderful article outlining the concept of creative classrooms (how they are developing and their future trends) from our frequent contributor Yves Punie and also from Panagiotis Kampylis and Stefania Bocconi.
So, would you highlight this particular article?
Indeed! It might just be the best one amongst last year’s articles. It is not only really important but also nicely linked with the European Commission’s policy priorities at the moment.
Also, from our issue on learning and work–which had many good articles–we choose a “From the field” article (although it could also be considered an in-depth article) about using serious games and apps for learning.
You mentioned the terms “From the field” and “In-depth” articles? What is the difference between the two?
It was never our intention to be strictly an academic journal. Since the very beginning we have been addressing practitioners and trying to bring them together with researchers, academia and policy makers.
We look at eLearning from a broad perspective, which is why we decided to include these two categories. With “From the field” articles people can share their experiences from projects and practical work without having to “compete” with very extensive research papers. In my opinion this model has been quite well received.
You have been director the board of the eLearning Papers for a long time, how do you see the portal’s evolution?
My predecessor and the first director of the board, Roberto Carneiro from Portugal, did a lot to get this initiative started. During my time in the position, we have managed to develop a dynamic and effective way of working remotely by using digital tools.
The portal itself also met a few changes to reflect the division between “From the field” and “In-depth” articles, and the improvements in the review and selection process, but the greatest change was definitely the publishing format. We decided a few years ago that since we are eLearning Papers, we should publish the material not just on the portal or paper-based formats but also as an online magazine. Since then, we have had three issues published as a downloadable PDFs.
Which topics will eLearning Papers address in 2013?
The first issue will address learning analytics, a very hot topic in all areas of ICT applied in education and learning. The following issues will be just as interesting, with topics ranging from learning spaces design, creative classrooms and personal learning environments, to an even hotter topic such as MOOCs, which will be the third issue. By the end of the year we will also have an issue focusing on digital literacy and e-competencies.
We keep hearing about "open education" and MOOCs lately. How do you think this will transform the educational world?
A couple of decades ago, when elearning first appeared, many people were saying that digitalisation was going to revolutionise the learning processes. In reality things have not changed that much and the same people became disappointed to see universities using the digital tools for administration rather than bringing them into the classroom and beyond.
I believe that open education as a concept, opening access to knowledge, content and learning is the main driving force of today. It’s actually the first time we see big changes coming to education and learning that are being enabled by digitalisation, for example, social and participatory media tools have made MOOCs and open learning resources possible and are opening a path to change as we speak.
Thank you for your time, Tapio.
Before we finish, I would like to emphasize the fact that we are the only journal in this field being published in Europe in 6 different languages. We are most thankful to our readers, contributors and guest editors, who inspire us and make it possible for us to keep on working and to continuously improve eLearning Papers.
Thanks to funds from UK-based Jisc, about 6,500 newly digitised museum objects from University College London and the University of Reading are now available to students, teachers, and the public at large.
Rare Ancient Egyptian artefacts (enhanced by 21st C. 3D imaging), digital images of zoological specimens, strange and beautiful anatomical prints, sixteenth-century portraits, and intriguing nineteenth-century scientific gadgets are just some examples of the digital artefacts recently added.
“Teaching using museum objects is increasingly popular in universities. However, hands-on time is always limited and providing access to our collections digitally overcomes barriers to independent student learning," says Leonie Hannan, teaching fellow in object-based learning at University College London.
This online compendium of objects, which will add to a bank of 150,000 already existing digital resources from the two museums, can be freely viewed, downloaded, and used on a Creative Commons licence. It is available through Culture Grid, the UK gateway to heritage resources.
Also available is a broad range of interdisciplinary Open Educational Resources (OER) that are both apt for online learning, and suitable for burgeoning initiatives like Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These OER's can be accessed through JORUM (the online educational resource sharing site), using the search term OBL4HE.
"We’re proud at Jisc to see how university museum staff has joined forces with academic colleagues and students to ensured the resources created respond to the needs of the teachers and learners," asserts Paola Marchionni, programme manager at Jisc.
Management of the Vital subject and special interest portals, an invaluable resource for schools, will switch over from The Open University to Jisc as of 1 April 2013. The portals direct teachers to some of the best subject resources available, helping to bring about innovation in the classroom to inspire learners.
Jisc (Joint Information Systems Committee) has finalised an agreement to preserve and host the Vital subject portals, which will be free to access, complementing Jisc Advance’s new subscription offer to schools.
“We are delighted that the DfE and The Open University selected us to provide a legacy for the Vital programme," says Guy Lambert, CEO of Jisc Advance. "We’re looking forward to taking over the reins of these established resource portals, accessed by up to 6,000 users every year."
This service will provide practical support to:
• Optimise the use of schools’ and academies’ existing technologies
• Link the use of technology to improvements in learning outcomes and progression
• Provide opportunities to share with and learn from peers
• Provide open access to resources and professional development opportunities.
Current Vital users will be contacted in Spring 2013 informing them of the changes and increased benefits. They will be offered the opportunity for their registrations to be transferred to Jisc to ensure continuity of service.
“Enhanced Publications: Linking Publications and Research Data in Digital Repositories” provides a contemporary overview of the structural elements of an enhanced publication.
Published in 2009 by Amsterdam University Press and Surf Foundation, one of the main conclusions of the report is that Long Term Preservation (LTP) archives should have a policy in which they describe which preservation actions they will undertake in case risks are identified that might affect their archived digital objects.
As for Enhanced Publications (EPs), tuning the preservation policies of the different LTP archives that take care of parts of the EP and have a shared responsibility is even more important, as different approaches might lead to inaccessible EPs and loss of authenticity.
The UK Survey of Academics 2012 examines the attitudes and behaviours of academics at higher education institutions across the United Kingdom. Published in May 2013, the objective of the study is to provide the entire sector with timely findings and analysis that help them plan for the future.
The survey, funded and guided by Jisc and Research Libraries UK and conducted by Ithaka S+R, covers a range of areas: from how academics discover and stay abreast of research, to their teaching of undergraduates; how they choose research topics and publication channels, to their views on learned societies and university libraries, and their collections.
The Survey of Academics 2012 confirms that the open web is the first port of call for academics starting research. It also confirms that libraries have an important role to play in both surfacing open content on the web and ensuring open content is accessible through library systems.
Key findings include:
Access limitations – While 86% of respondents report relying on their college or university library collections and subscriptions, 49% indicated that they would often like to use journal articles that are not in those collections.
Use of open resources - If researchers can’t find the resources or information they need through their university library, 90% of respondents often or occasionally look online for a freely available version.
The Internet as starting point – 40% of researchers surveyed said that when beginning a project they start by searching the Internet for relevant materials, with only 2% visiting the physical library as a first port of call.
Following one’s peers – The findings suggest that the majority of researchers track the work of colleagues and leading researchers as a way of keeping up to date with developments in their field.
Emergence of e-publications – The findings show that e-journals have largely replaced physical usage for research, but that contrasting views exist on replacement of print by e-publications, where print still holds importance within the Humanities and Social Sciences and for in-depth reading in general.
The 2012 Paris OER Declaration was formally adopted at the 2012 World Open Educational Resources Congress held at the UNESCO Headquarters in June 2012.
The Declaration marks a historic moment in the growing movement for Open Educational Resources (OER) and calls on governments worldwide to openly license publicly funded educational materials for public use.
The Declaration recommends UNESCO member States to:
- Foster awareness and use of OER.
- Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).
- Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER.
- Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.
- Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.
- Foster strategic alliances for OER.
- Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
- Encourage research on OER.
- Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
- Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.
UNESCO proposed with all relevant stakeholders to design and implement a series of global activities based on all the 10 points of the Declaration. This project aims to assist Member States in developing national-level OER policies and implementing the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT CFT) by harnessing Open Educational Resources (OER).
The Inception Meeting of the "Implementing the Paris OER Declaration" project took place on 26 and 27 March, 2013 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an ambitious project launched in April 2013 with the aim to bring together and make freely available to the world the resources from libraries, archives and museums across the United States.
The DPLA offers a single point of access to millions of items, from photographs to manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images and more. Users can browse and search the collections by timeline, map, format, and topic; save items to customized lists and share their lists with others. Users can also explore digital exhibitions curated by the DPLA’s content partners and staff.
The DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used, through its three main elements:
- First, an easy-to-use portal where anyone can access collections and search through them using novel and powerful techniques, including by place and time.
- Second, a sophisticated technical platform that will make those millions of items available in ways so that others can build creative and transformative applications upon them, such as smartphone apps.
- Third, along with like-minded institutions and individuals the DPLA will seek innovative means to make more cultural and scientific content openly available, and it will advocate for a strong public option for reading and research in the twenty-first century.
Wiki for Higher Education (wiki4HE) is a research project being carried out by Spanish researchers aiming to analyse the use of Internet open content for university teaching and explore and propose new ways for using these resources in learning processes.
wiki4HE will specifically examine the educational uses of one of the most important open repositories of knowledge nowadays, Wikipedia, and explore the attitudes and perceptions of university teachers towards this virtual collaborative encyclopaedia (and open resources in general).
The expected outcomes of the project are a clear understanding of the perception, attitudes and uses of Wikipedia by university faculty and the identification of factors influencing these perceptions and practices. Moreover, taking into account this information, wiki4HE will produce a catalogue of educational practices and tutorials involving the use of Wikipedia, which teachers and university staff will be able to adapt to suit their needs and their pedagogical orientations.
Finally a set of recommendations will be drafted in order to help any university teacher to design, plan and implement new teaching practices using open resources in the Internet.