Monday, 3 December 2007

Online Educa Berlin 2007: Day 1, More paralell sessions

Learning Object Repositories
Next was the session on Learning Object Repositories that I was presenting at. Others presenting within this session were: Richard Windle from the UK RLO CETL, Leo Højsholt-Poulsen, UNI-C/EdReNe Network, Denmark; Giovanni Fulantelli of the Italian National Research Council; and Ruth Rominger of Monterey Institute for Technology and Education,

My presentation was the first one in the session. I discussed some cultural, pedagogic and organisational issues involved in the implementation of learning object repositories. My presentation was based on findings from our recently completed Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories (CDLOR) project.

Richard Windle spoke about the findings from "Sharing the LOAD- Learning Objectives, Activities and Designs" project. He highlighted the tension between contextualised pedagogy and decontextualised nature of LOs. His talk focused on learning design templates and ways of capturing real-world reusable designs. Richard discussed pedagogic attributes for the designs, and emphasised that the repository and pedagogic needs of practitioners must be analysed and creation of designs in real-world context must be studied.

Leo Højsholt-Poulsen of Danish thematic Educational Repositories Network (EdReNe) spoke about some issues in sharing resources via reposoitories, focusing on management and organisation, quality framework and criteria, functionalities and features, metadata, IPR, and repositories’ role in the new web environment. He focused mostly on the information management issues rather than pedagogic or cultural aspects.

Giovanni Fulantelli, Italian National Research Council, Institute of Learning Technology, gave a very interesting talk on an alternative model to Learning Object Repositories - Open Learning Objects. He described the SLOOP project funded by the EU Leonardo Da Vinci programme. The project was focused on creating a community of teachers who collaboratively developed open educational resources. The platform they used is Freeloms. Others have argued for this kinds of open self-organising virtual communities developing educational resource - for example, David Wiley and Erin Edwards and Jennifer Maddrell - and I tend to think that this approach will work better than learning object repositories have done so far.

Ruth Rominger of MITE (Monterey Institute for Technology and Education) talked about the National Repository of Online Courses, which are developed collaboratively by subject matter experts, instructional designers, and multimedia and software development experts and made available to teachers etc. This seems to be a sort of middle ground between LORs and OERs, but I am not very keen on initiatves that focus on content development, for many reasons, so I was not impressed although I realise this approach might work in some contexts, for some people.

The question and answer session that followed mostly focused on discussions of tensions between use and reuse; and on tensions between OERs vs LORs. Sebastian GK suggested that we stop building these containers of content and concentrate on actually using these resources to support learning - and I can all but agree with him.

Supporting Lifelong Learning
This session focused on supporting lifelong learning, and seemed to include mainly EU-funded projects.

Firstly, David Griffiths of University of Bolton talked about conflicting definitions of the term competence in formal learning and lifelong learning context. Main message – lifelong learning support systems have to be open.

A woman from University of Graz (unfortunately didn't catch her name) presented findings from an EU FP6 funded project APOSDLE . The project aims to develop a framework/approach to integrating work and learning processes with knowledge management. The presenter outlined the following four dimensions of openness of systems for lifelong learning: content, user profiles and portfolios, collaborative maturing of models, and end-user devices (e.g. mobile devices). This project might be relevant to our potential FP7 proposal, so I am going to look up the details.

Volker Zimmerman from PROLIX project (also funded under EU FP6) discussed learning service to support formal, informal, and social learning processes. He focused on process oriented life cycle – integration of various tools used by training and HR processes in organisations. He argued that the glue between these different tools is business processes. I didn’t quite understand what he meant by business processes in this context - examples he gave seemed to point to educational processes, or rather perhaps steps individuals take when they have a learning need that they want to address. He suggested that business processes are based on trigger tasks – e.g. someone wants to learn a language - they go to content- sign up for a course-contact others-and so on. This sounded like it could be relevant to our work on charting learning paths, so another project to look up.

Next, Marcus Specht of OUNL spoke about metadata bridges for open lifelong learning, focusing on the Metadata for Architecture Contents in Europe (MACE) project .

Overall, the discussion in this session was very much focused on information management aspects of this systems and approaches (content, CVs, portfolios, competence profiles, etc) and hardly at all on learning from individuals’ point of view or on pedagogic issues.

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