|Poster by Andrew Flaus, NUIG|
What was good about the event?
It seems that we are finally reaching a critical mass in terms of creating a culture of sharing and collaboration. This is wonderful to see, though I suspect it still exists in pockets of good practice, rather than being widespread.
We are building up experience and data in the OER movement in Ireland, so that our practice can be evidence based. It was suggested that Ireland is currently "punching above its weight". I am not sure about this, but I think we are holding our own.
The OER movement is now visible to those in government, though it may have come as a bit of a surprise. Sean Sherlock, in his opening address, said he found the OER movement "refreshing" while admitting that sharing of knowledge is the foundation of higher education, and open sharing is a logical step.
What about the learning?
|Panel with Paul Gormley and Catherine Cronin of NUIG|
There was a lot of talk about quality of the learning resources developed and what role there is for peer review. I think we are in danger of reinforcing the academic as gatekeeper of knowledge (as promoted by Mr Sherlock) instead of recognising that students will go to wherever they find the most useful information. We need to be thinking more about how we can teach our students to be digitally literate, to be able to evaluate critically whatever information they come across and how to gather it into useful collections. See this recent presentation from Dr Nick Pearce on Students (and Staff) as Content Scavengers.
Natalie Lafferty wrote a lovely piece recently Why can't learning repositories be more like Slideshare? We need to make it easier for academics to contribute and share their resources, and easier to find and access useful resources for their own context. This relates to Brian Mulligan's observation about a "rate my resource" tool, and his question which was given so little consideration during the panel session.
Why are we still talking about eLearning?
During the event, the word "eLearning" was used by many to mean a package of content. But content does not imply learning!
Should we drop the 'e'? Or can we debate about what it stands for? Steve Wheeler wrote a provocative piece on this issue last year: Dropping the 'e'.
For me, it's all just learning. Some of it is face to face, some of it is online, some of it is formal, some informal. We don't need to differentiate, it's just a continuum of blending.