Mozilla Open Education Course

I’m excited to be participating in an open education course that’s been organised by Mozilla, ccLearn and the Peer to peer university (P2PU).  The course aims to provide educators with some foundational awareness of Creative Commons licensing, the educational aspect of the Mozilla foundation and the P2PU.  There are three broad areas that will be covered; open licensing, open technology and open pedagogy.

There’ll be a series of online seminars, as well as a practical component in the form of an individual (or small group) project that participants can use to implement and test their ideas related to the course.  Here’s a list of all the participants and the projects everyone is interested in running.

I’m going to post my notes / thoughts during the course of the project, on both this blog and on Twitter.

The Tower and the Cloud

Just a quick pointer to what I think is going to be a great read.  “The Tower and the Cloud” is a new publication by EDUCAUSE, which looks at the impact of cloud computing on higher education.  The book is divided into broad sections, each containing several chapters, with each chapter written by a different author who is a prominent figure in the field of e-learning.

I’m particularly keen on the section, Open Information, Open Content, Open Source, containing the following chapters (I’ve linked to the downloadable chapters):

The book is available as a free download, as well as a paid-for hardcopy that can be shipped internationally, and is published under a Creative Commons license.  I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Note: EDUCAUSE is a “…nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology”.

Other books available from EDUCAUSE include:

OpenPhysio launched

OpenPhysio is an attempt to create a free, online, learning resource for physiotherapy students, physiotherapists and physiotherapy educators that anyone can edit (think, Wikipedia for physio’s).  While I’m sure the idea of students creating content in a (*gasp*) non-accredited, non-peer-reviewed, unstructured and unsupervised environment is horrifying to some, I believe that this is partly where the future of education lies.

Rather than creating walled gardens and restricting students in what they can read, write and learn, why not give them the opportunity to find their own voices and to describe the world as they see it?  Of course, we’ll need to make sure they have the tools to navigate this brave new world and maybe that’s the problem.  Not that they’re doing it their way, but that we don’t always understand what their way is.  Oh, and also that they’re not doing it our way.

Bear in mind that OpenPhysio is a new project and as such is very limited in the scope of it’s content and the reliability of using it as a resource at this point is questionable.  However, rather than condemn it for it’s limitations, students and educators should look to it as a tool that can be improved by anyone.  I’m excited by the prospect of seeing what physiotherapy students come up with when we set them free, and how educators make use of new technologies to better facilitate the teaching and learning process.

Textbooks and other resources

I’d like to begin a system of publishing reviews of academic textbooks for physiotherapists and physiotherapy students. This could eventually be expanded to include journal articles, websites and other useful sources of information. Ultimately, I’d like to get the students themselves to take part in this process, informing their own learning through a deeper interaction with the content, rather than merely through the passive reception of information.

I’ve come to realise that very few of the students in my department actually make use of textbooks. The principle reason is that they’ve come to think that the course readers provided by the department are sufficient for their academic requirements. However, I believe that course readers should be seen as providing only an introduction to the subject, a basic foundation upon which further knowledge can be built.

Another reason students are reluctant to buy textbooks is that they are prohibitively expensive for the average student, especially at this particular university. By providing not only lists but reviews and summaries of the most recent and relevant textbooks, I hope that students can be guided to making informed choices regarding the textbooks they purchase. Reviews of individual chapters can also guide students as to where they should direct their focus for a particular module.

On a side note, the high cost of access to information is one of the reasons I have such high regard for the concept of open content i.e. the idea that knowledge (or at least, information) should be free or placed under reasonable constraint e.g. by using Creative Commons licenses. I’ll be returning to this subject in more detail during the course of this blog.