Open Participatory Learning Environments

Lena Hofman, Maastricht University & FUNDP, Namur May 2010

Content
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Thesis objectives Key concepts 1.) Internet and learning

examples, open source culture, open source communities in educational settings

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2.) Open Participatory Learning Environments 3.) Analysis of an OPLE: The case of Peer-2-Peer University platform
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3.1) Science and technology studies background 3.2) Research in progress

4.) The future

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Thesis objectives
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to analyze online environments for learning and critically assess them to use approaches from science and technology studies (STS) in order to discover the relationship between technology and society, when it comes to these environments

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Key concepts

Open Participatory Learning Environments (OPLE):

environments (platforms and communities) on the web for learning in which individuals interact and collaborate with their peers describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials philosophy that promotes openness and freedom of sharing communities of open source software programmers (formed around Linux, Mozilla, OpenOffice...)

Open Source:
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Open Source Software communities (OSS communities):

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Key concepts

Open Educational Resources (OER):
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learning materials that are freely available for use, remixing and redistribution include:
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Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals. Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content Implementation resources: Intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials

Science and Technology Studies (STS):

examine the influence of society on science and technology, and the influence of science and technology on society.

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

1.) Internet and Learning

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Internet and learning
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focus on the issue: demands for learning are bigger than supply  Why do we need new sources for learning?
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the amount of information is enormous, how to organize this information era of fast innovation and development – universities can not always offer upto-date knowledge, obsolete knowledge we have to acquire new knowledge and skills on continuous basis the need for life-long learning as an approach to sustainability classical education is not accessible to everyone (cost) need for complementary source to classical education higher education is changing, there is room for innovation

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Internet and learning

What is new in learning online?

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from the classical hierarchical “transfer of knowledge” model  to learning through a bazaar of interactions with others and with the world (social learning) open learning: in terms of the value of openness: for everybody learning through participatory architectures: study groups, social networks, virtual worlds... easier distribution of tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal or explicit knowledge) through social interaction: knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another
person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it.

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Examples of open learning
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M.I.T. OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm Open University http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/ Open Learning Initiative http://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/ Peoples-uni http://www.peoples-uni.org/ UNU OpenCourseWare http://www.ocw.unu.edu/ Wikipedia Second Life

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Open source based culture
Are we living in a new culture of co-creation and participation?

Key concepts:  Open Source:
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describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials philosophy that promotes openness and freedom of sharing communities of open source software programmers (formed around Linux, Mozilla, OpenOffice...)

Open Source Software communities (OSS communities):

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Open Source based culture
Are we living in a new culture of co-creation and participation?

broad socio-economic phenomenon:  “We are seeing an emergence of a new, third mode of production in the digitally networked environment... commons-based peer production” (Benkler, 2002, p. 2) new paradigm:  the change from hierarchical distribution of knowledge model to peer production  open source not only in software development, but also in economy, business, higher education, policies, licenses...  strong impact on economies – OSS share of the economy 4% of EU GDP
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Open source communities in educational settings

OSS communities & communities for learning (values and functioning are similar)  principles of learning in the OSS communities can be implemented in educational settings the model of open source software communities is a model for creation of self-learning and selforganizing communities Meiszner et al., 2007:  learning environments and principles of OSS emphasize peer-to-peer production and dissemination of knowledge, with changing roles of knowledge providers and learners, within disperse environments
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Open source communities in educational settings

characteristics of OSS that educational settings wish to apply are:  open and inclusive ethos: everyone can participate  up-to-date and dynamic content: everyone can add, edit and update content  re-use and reflection process: feedbacks for a continuous development cycle  a large support network  new ICT solutions

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Open source communities in educational settings

benefits:
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learning new skills and sharing knowledge a rich and largely untapped resource for education blurring the boundaries between teachers and learners collaborative creation of learning resources richness of diversity - participants dispersed around the globe

criticism:
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not applicable to all domains: the case of open source dentist question of quality control (peer review system) the classical form of knowledge trasfer regarded as superior to other forms of learning
Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

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The OER problem

Open Educational Resources (OER):
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learning materials that are freely available for use, remixing and redistribution (under Commons license) include:

Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objects, collections, and journals.

How to make content more useful:

“Many open educational resources that have been developed and that are used today still rather resemble traditional learning environments than tapping the full potential” (Meiszner et al., 2007). content is static, knowledge is not created/distributed effectively, new technologies are adopted slowly

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

2.) OPLE: Open Participatory Learning Environments

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Definition

Open Participatory Learning Environments (OPLE):

environments (platforms and communities) on the web for learning in which individuals interact and collaborate with their peers

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

OPLE: Open Participatory Learning Environments

online educational resources: articles, websites, readings, power-point presentations, audio/video lectures...

social component: users of resources, connected in a social network

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

OPLE: Open Participatory Learning Environments
Image 1: Open Participatory Learning Ecosystems consist of Open Educational Resources and a social “wrapping”

The Web

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

OPLE: Open Participatory Learning Environments

The importance of social component:

Social capital: connections amongst individuals – their social networks, norms of reciprocity, and the trust that arises from them (Putnam, 2000)

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“High social capital is crucial for creating successful virtual learning environments” (Daniel et al., 2003, p.114) “Communities with high social capital have frequent interaction, which in turn cultivates norms of reciprocity through which learners become more willing to help one another, and which improve coordination and dissemination of information and knowledge sharing.” (Daniel et al., 2003, p.114)

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

OPLE: Open Participatory Learning Environments

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Why study OPLE?
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early adoption phase, a technology in development their creation involves different social groups (teachers, learners, users, administrators, programmers, etc.) socio-technical feature embedded in the network of different actors a complex technological feature

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

3.) Analysis of an OPLE: The case of Peer-2-Peer University platform

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Peer-2-Peer University (www.p2pu.org)
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an online community of open study groups for short universitylevel courses helps navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses philosophy:

P2PU - learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything it best represents an open participatory learning environment it follows the ideology of open source software communities it uses a lot of two-way communication tools constructed by a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds

why this specific platform:
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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

How it works?
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development in progress courses
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contain the syllabus, study materials, schedule 6 week long courses study groups of 8-14 students tools: google groups, skype conference calls, talk box – group video chat, IRC channel, forum experts in the field, input and advice from others who have expert knowledge, what interests YOU the participants in a learning group provide feedback to each other, review, improve and assess each others' work students, teachers, researchers, journalists, activists, creative commons people...
Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

organized by volunteers (anyone)

assessment

team

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Features and challenges

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study groups  peer-to-peer learning and support; we learn the most by teaching others openness of the entire project recognition of learning outcomes  working on certificates for web-developpers  working on a portfolio or certificate for employers building on:  community - a fun way to build something that brings together like-minded people and increase access to education  courses  partnerships  website
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Features and challenges
Goals:  providing supply
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universities want to relate to p2pu, lack of capacities important for transition economies (India, China, SA...), where possibilities for innovation are the biggest grant funding (not a long term investment) possibilities: donations from participants, services for universities or companies, premium services

sustainability
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grow big

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Values of open source software How they are used in P2PU communities learning community

freedom

freedom to create a course on any topic (*problematic: need for some ethical standards) open to everyone, everyone can contribute, learn, share ideas accessible to everyone with internet connection everyone can use courses and their content and modify them in their own way all the materials can be widely distributed on the web or otherwise

openness

accessibility modification

distribution

peer-to-peer learning
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we can be teachers and learners at the same time, we learn through interaction with Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht peers University

3.1) Science and technology studies background

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

STS – science and technology studies

Studies which:

examine the web of relationships between science, technology and society see technological development as a social process, shaped by economic, political, historical, social factors

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Looking into the black-box of techology

3 key questions:
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Why so much emphasis on open and who constructs this openness? What are the politics/ethics hidden behind the construction of the platform? How is knowledge transferred in this community?

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

STS theories used for research

Social Construction of Technology theory (Pinch and Bijker 1987)
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focus on the socio-cultural meaning of technological artifacts for the actors involved artifacts are open to sociological analysis, both in usage and design the development of technological innovation is seen as one of variation and selection technologies help maintain social power relations by excluding or including certain elements political processes behind the design of a technology

Politics of artefacts (Winner 2000, Introna 2005)
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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

STS theories used for research

Actor Network Theory (Akrich 1992, Law 1987)
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the network: an infrastructure surrounding technological artefacts this network doesn’t consist only of people and social groups, but also artefacts, devices and entities explains social construction of technologies by focusing on networks/systems

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

3.2)

Research in progress

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Methodology
Theory SCOT Method Focus Objective Socio-cultural meaning of the artefact Online interview, Relevant Social online focus Groups group, blog content analysis  Virtual ethnography Participant observation , Social Network Analysis Structure and design of the environment Heterogeneous network surrounding the artefact

Politics of artefacts ANT

Disclosive analysis Knowledge transfer and production

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

a) Social construction of P2PU platform

identify relevant social groups that construct learning environment
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operational team advisory group ordinary users

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how their opinions construct the technology/platform follow their interpretations of openness, views on open source in relation to education

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

b) Politics/Ethics of P2PU platform
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disclosive analysis: the composition of the technological device; focus on the architecture, design of the platform what is the main technical choice, what did they include and what exclude, is it neutral? (politically, culturally)

custom-made built on Drupal (open source content management platform)

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

c) Transfer of knowledge in P2PU community

social network analysis

mapping of interaction

recognize the infrastructure surrounding the artefact

network of hyperlinks, people, institutions (universities, government)...

recognize where and how the transfer of knowledge occurs

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

And the future?

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

The future of online open learning environments?

Potentials – early adoption phase
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building something that will really make a difference in the world, especially for developing countries “offer some kind of "comprehensive curriculum" where people in developing countries can get a free education in important areas” (Interview 1) (curriculum is the set of courses, and
their content, offered at a school or university)

“p2pu is a first step, and will also allow me to feel more comfortable in later initiatives, or when p2pu develops into a world dominating online community” needs to become sustainable without help

Issues

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

Literature, resources
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all the materials on p2pu site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported http://blogs.p2pu.org/blog/2010/04/29/p2pu-the-speakeasy-of-open-education/ Benkler, Y. (2002).

Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm, in Ghosh, R. (ed.) CODE: Collaborative ownership and the digital economy, 2005, MIT Press, Massachusetts. Social capital in learning communities and virtual communities of practice. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 29(3), 113-139. Preparing the Ne(x)t Generation: Lessons learnt from Free/Libre Open Source Software and their Communities. Retrieved March 2, 2010 from the World Wide Web: http://flosscom.net/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=15&Itemid=116.

Daniel, B., Schwier, R., McCalla, G. (2003).

Meiszner, A., Glot, R., Sowe, S.K. (2007).

Akrich, M. (1992).

The de-scription of technical objects. In Bijker, W. and Law, J. (Eds.) Shaping Technology. Cambridge: MIT Press. pp. 205-224.
Of Bicycles, Bakelites and Bulbs, Towards a Theory of Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Disclosive ethics and information technology: disclosing facial recognition systems. Ethics and Information Technology 7, 7586.

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Bijker, W.E. (1995).

Introna, L. (2005).

Winner, L. (2000, 2nd ed.).

Do Artifacts have Politics? In A. Teich (Ed.), Technology and the Future (pp. 150-168). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

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Lena Hofman, MA ESST, Maastricht University

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