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OKCon 2011 Open Education Workshop Summary

OKCon 2011 Open Education Workshop Summary

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Published by Andreas Meiszner
Can OpenEd bring formal education up to speed with the flatter, online world of the 21st century? Can it guarantee a new wave of culture and class-neutral education? How far is it penetrating beyond the English speaking world? Created with open source tools, this group podcast features four members of United Nations University speaking from Germany, Holland and Portugal, and follows a workshop held on the sidelines of the Open Knowledge Conference 2011. Podcast available at: http://unu-merit.podomatic.com/entry/2011-07-14T01_37_04-07_00
Can OpenEd bring formal education up to speed with the flatter, online world of the 21st century? Can it guarantee a new wave of culture and class-neutral education? How far is it penetrating beyond the English speaking world? Created with open source tools, this group podcast features four members of United Nations University speaking from Germany, Holland and Portugal, and follows a workshop held on the sidelines of the Open Knowledge Conference 2011. Podcast available at: http://unu-merit.podomatic.com/entry/2011-07-14T01_37_04-07_00

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Published by: Andreas Meiszner on Jul 14, 2011
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07/14/2011

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
 
BERLIN
,
30 JUNE 2011
Today UNU-MERIT
1
and UNU-ViE
2
 hosted a workshop on

of Open Education: Concepts and

on the sidelines of the AnnualOpen Knowledge Conference (OKCon) inBerlin, Germany.The workshop attracted 30 participants todebate the higher-level field of OpenEducation (OE), fed by interactivesessions to gather, review and define OEconcepts and practices.A brief  introduction to the Open Education field was followed by a post-it session to identify the core components of OE. These

 

Why not skip

repeating it over and over again

was more than a filler and that it mirrors an attitude, behaviour,concept or desirable state. Others warned against thefetishization of the word

, and of the risks of diluting itsmeaning with

 This introduction was then followed by the two core sessions:the first asked why to engage in OE and how to provide it, thesecond explored possible services and how to make OEsustainable.From the start there were numerous contributions from theattendees. Within minutes Elf Pavlik had set up an onlinecollaborative notepad,which was then used in parallel to the  physical session. In a Twitter-fuelled world physical workshopscan easily be augmented by virtual events, and after a fewtweets we even got some further virtual participants. Click hereto see how the online dialogue developed.
1
United Nations University
  
Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology
2
United Nations University Vice-Rectorate in Europe
 
 
SESSION 1: WHY ENGAGE IN OE AND HOW TO PROVIDE IT?

why engage in OE and how to provide it

brief   presentation  which listed a number of reasons to engage with OE, as well as examples on how OE might look like in practice. Our premise was that traditional formal education is not only exclusive but that itresembles a Blackbox
3
. More transparency and efficiency, with a view to improving education,were much discussed higher-level reasons for engaging with OE, though this is far from obviousin the word cloud below, drawn from the session one dialogue captured through the notepad.What the word cloud doescapture is the degree of debate surrounding OE as being a part of traditionalformal education, and not a parallel education universe.The discussions exploredhow the different meaningsof openness could help us toimprove contemporaryeducation systems.

there were two main tracks up for discussion. First, to consider what happens once education isopened up, what is desirable and what might be problematic. Second, to consider and discusssimilar things which are already out there, including the much-cited case of Open SourceSoftware. What was remarkable about this session was that a room full of people appeared toshare a common understanding of the OE field.
SESSION 2: SUSTAINABILITY OF OE AND THE SERVICE PERSPECTIVE
The second session on possible OE services and sustainability started with a brief introductory presentation.This very heterogeneous group not only looked at OE from a business angle, butalso discussed a range of perspectives, including education as a public good, ethicalconsiderations, alternatives to monetary compensations, and so forth.Our second word cloud does notentirely mirror all the many aspectsdiscussed, instead suggesting that

 One other major aspect was that of scarcity. It has been argued that solong as there is no scarcity there isno real problem in publicly fundingthe education system, independentlyof the cost involved. However, oncethere is scarcity, decisions have to be made on where to cut funding.
3
There is a common distinction between Blackbox and Whitebox systems in the software domain. Proprietary software is usually referred to asBlackbox, i.e. the internal structure of the software code is hidden, untransparent and closed. Open Source Software on the other hand iscommonly referred to as Whitebox, as the code is accessible, the processes are transparent, and all information is open.
 

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