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Open Educational Resources (OER)

As Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change
the world”. A few decades ago a multitude of countries which nowadays might seem unrecognizable
had very few or no access to education. Even in this century we live today there still are a few
unprivileged countries which struggle to give their young generation an education. Although our
countries in Europe are very developed and have solid educational systems it could not be enough
sometimes because the materials provided and the knowledge taught in might be outdated. Besides,
all books and printed material are liable for costs and might not even present a reliable and whole
source of knowledge.

Open Educational Resources are digitalized learning, teaching and research materials which can be
used, revised and redistributed free of charge. These present an enormous advantage especially for
those living in poorly developed or unprivileged countries. Compared to books and other printed
materials, these resources can be updated whenever they become outdated, with least or no costs
and very little effort. Through OER the latest research results, discoveries, methodologies and ideas
are continually made available to more the half of the world. The only states that have no access to
these resources are the so-called “Enemies of the Internet”, which have either restricted the usage
of internet by banning the majority of it including these resources or have forbidden any usage of
internet at all.

On the other hand, more population might prefer to take on-line courses instead of enroll in a
university or higher educational collage or school. More youths might fancy the idea of home-
schooling more and more and refuse to attend real-life study programs. This aspect could decrease
the number of motivated and ambitious population or could increase it – these are 50 to 50 percent
chances. In addition, there are authors who might not updated their resources and thus allow them
to become outdated. Users could also encounter restrictions on some of the desired resources.

Technologies-Enhanced learning (TEL)


“Learning and adaption are very closely linked” (Technology-Enhanced Learning: Design Patterns and
Pattern Languages by Peter Goodyear from University of Sydney, Australia and Symeon Retalis from
University of Piraeus, Greece). Technology and learning seem to evolve and develop at the same
pace allowing the educational systems or individual experts to discover new ways to express
knowledge, new educational practices and new global communities or learners. Learning is an
essential tool in shaping the education of each individual and when it is accompanied by the suited
technology it creates a new self-discipline which possesses a more flexible nature.

TEL enables the user to quickly “create and communicate new policies, training, ideas, and
concepts”. It allows educators to present their students the desired information as detailed as they
please without putting any effort in any kind of printing or writing and without the concern of having
to pay to much or having to shorten their descriptions or explanations because of that. This way the
learners are provided with the exact amount of information and examples which they most likely
need to understand, correctly interpret and remember the subject or the essence of the subject
presented. In comparison with the conventional way of learning, e-learning has the advantage of
pleasing the user in a way shorter period of time and with the least of costs.

Even though the list of disadvantages is considerably shorter there are some important ones that
need to be mentioned. The main disadvantage is that the knowledge presented can only be
theoretical. Although some practical examples might be described and explained the learner might
not be satisfied or understand the exact practical part or use of the specific knowledge. Another
aspect which can be negative for some people is the lack of face-to-face teaching and learning. Some
students or learners might find the gestures and hearing the voice of the teacher/professor
extremely efficient in perceiving what is presented and explained. More often than not, the material
given contains only the answers to objective questions by nature. This excludes receiving additional
information to answer personal questions and help the user understand and acknowledge.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)


The term refers to “a large online class open to an unlimited number of people” (Dave Cormier from
the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, Canada and Bryan Alexander from the
National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education in Georgetown, Texas). The knowledge is
usually at university level and is presented trough traditional materials such as short videos, reading
materials and exchange of questions and answers on forums. A new study conducted by the
researchers at the University of Pennsylvania showed that a big percentage of the MOOC users
already have a degree and take these courses to deepen their knowledge and to advance in their
job.

This approach encourages and gives the opportunity to exchange ideas and knowledge whilst
participating and influencing the improvement of lifelong learning skills by providing easy access to
the overall resources. Local and International collaborations between educators and learners are
also supported through the cross-cultural relationships which are improved with the help and whilst
taking part in MOOCs. On his article for http://www.igniteengineers.com, Sidhartha focused his
attention mostly on the advantages and disadvantages of the MOOCs. Other advantages he listed,
which I also found important are: enhancement of active learning, knowledge sharing in discussion
forums and no stressing because of exams.

MOOC might sometimes provide its users with materials for more than one class simultaneously.
This way the learner could be tempted to go through all the materials in one day or in a shorter
period of time than he or she should. Such actions will lead to difficulty to concentrate and
remember everything that has been read. There are also no proper evaluation methods as the
machine assessments are not as effective. Likewise, real time question answering, surprise quizzes
and project or homework presentations are not possible.

Learning Analytics
Learning Analytics is a practice field that only emerged in 2011. It is generally defined as “the
measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for
purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs”. This
offers the ability of making specific predictions of the users’ moves or actions, interventions to
prevent the users loss and feedback all of which will retrospectively help optimize the system. As
stated in The Guardian, a remark which accompanies the article of Rebecca Ferguson affirms that
“Learning Analytics don’t just measure students’ progress – they can shape it”.

The main advantage of this practice has already been briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph –
optimization of the system. However, it has a multitude of advantages and I have selected those I
have considered to be the worthiest of mentioning to try and briefly explain in my relatively short
report. Firstly, it can provide insight into the learners’ performance on a specific day, but also about
their future actions throughout the duration of a certain course. The result will determine if the user
will need any supplementary material or aid to improve their understanding and success. Depending
on each individual’s preferences which are made clear during or after the analytics are done experts
or responsibles can customize a unique and personalized experience for every particular learner.
Nevertheless, this practice helps to improve future courses and boost in cost efficiency.

Though learning analytics are most of the time beneficial there still are some negative aspects to it.
One of the worst disadvantages are the so-called False Positives. These are a result of decisions
made based on a small set of data giving a result which is not always so accurate. Another major
negative aspect are the failed analytics which lead to mistaken interventions and predictions. Other
negatives worth mentioning are the possibility of breaches of confidential information, revealing of
personal information such as emails, names and addresses and the unfair decision making which is
hidden by the secret processes.

Conclusion
Technology and learning make a good team in shaping the individual. Anyhow, this team should not
be used to replace the traditional teaching and learning methods but to assist and improve them.

References

 https://www.slideshare.net/jiannone/oer-26348899
 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_and_surveillance_by_country
 https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/What_is_OER%3F

 Technology-Enhanced Learning: Design Patterns and Pattern Languages by Peter Goodyear


and Symeon Retalis - https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/1037-technology-enhanced-
learning.pdf

 https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/student-success/toolkits/TEL

 Flexible Pedagogies: technology-enhanced learning by Neil Gordon from University of Hull -


https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/tel_report_0.pdf

 https://www.learndash.com/7-awesome-advantages-of-elearning/
 https://elearningindustry.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-elearning
 http://www.laceproject.eu/faqs/learning-analytics/
 https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/26/learning-analytics-student-progress
 https://elearningindustry.com/5-reasons-why-learning-analytics-are-important-for-elearning

 ENGAGING LEARNING ANALYTICS IN MOOCS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY by
Mohammad Khalil, Behnam Taraghi and Martin Ebner from Graz University of Technology
(Austria) - https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1606/1606.03776.pdf

 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_Open_Online_Course
 http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20131121_Study__Reach_of_online_college_cours
es_falls_short.html
 http://ideas.ted.com/whats-next-for-moocs/
 http://www.igniteengineers.com/mooc-advantages-and-disadvantages/#comment-60