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Anna C Page

H817 Week 12 Activity 23 Mapping visitors and residents

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Read the introduction to Visitors and Residents.

The Visitors and Residents approach has been used to map individual’s own engagement with different technologies using a grid. The horizontal axis represents a continuum from visitor use to resident use. The vertical axis can vary, but one commonly used labeling is personal to institutional. 

Create a Visitors and Residents map for yourself, considering the technologies you use (e.g. email, VLE, blog, Facebook, Skype, Google, etc.), using the personal/institutional axis as well as the visitors/resident one. There is not a definitive list of technologies, you should include any technologies you use regularly (for example, if you are a keen user of Flickr, add that). You can use a tool such as Word, or Powerpoint to create the grid, or a drawing package if you have one.

Blog your map and share it with other students.

Did you find this a useful way of considering technologies and how you engage with them? Were your maps similar to other people's? Were there difficulties in mapping some technologies?

White and Le Cornu’s (2011) ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ response to the controversial ‘Digital native’ and ‘Digital Immigrant’ terms coined by Marc Prensky is much more compelling way to describe online behaviours than his rather simplistic theory. I found Dave White’s 3 October 2016 comment on his ‘Visitors and residents’ page in response to a question from Chrissie Nerantzi particularly helpful when he explained about the differences between visitors and residents behaviour on the web – motivation for engagement rather than technical competence is a key factor (White, 2016).

I recalled that in Block 1 Week 5 of H880 I did a similar mapping exercise as part of the MOOC we had to study in parallel to the module. So I revisited the mapping diagram I did (in PowerPoint) and revised it to show my current practice.

This was my practice in early 2019:

Anna Page 2019 Visitor to Resident map for both Personal and Institutional uses

This is my current visitor/resident practice in April 2021 (having done H880 Technology Enhanced Learning: foundations and futures, H818 The Networked Practitioner and H819 The Critical Researcher: educational technology in practice):

Anna Page 2021 Visitor to Resident map for both Personal and Institutional uses

I added the new activities in purple text. I didn’t shift any of the other elements as they all still seemed to be in about the right place on the Visitor to Resident continuum. I noted what I added was largely in response to the pandemic forcing OU staff (and many others) to work from home.

On the personal side, I hadn’t really thought to include my use of the MAODE VLE sites on the diagram in 2019 because I was only about 4 weeks into the first module. Another personal new addition is two instances of operating YouTube accounts – one for our little street organ (we made a video during Lockdown 1 plus some videos around Christmas 2020) and the other for the Music for All @ SMSG group, as we’ve had to take our events online (our 2020 organ festival plus a series of piano solo videos in 2021, which I have been editing).

Zoom has now appeared in the revised diagram more than once; mainly for Personal purposes (the OU doesn’t officially approve its use on OU computers because of security concerns, though some meetings with external clients are via Zoom). Adobe Connect is also something I use, though only for OU tutorials and I’m not very comfortable with it (especially the revised version). I’ve used other online conferencing tools a bit such as Blackboard collaborate at the OER20 conference (which was only a few weeks into working from home).

On the Institutional side, the new additions are directly pandemic related too. On the first day of OU staff working at home, our work team set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch and encourage each other informally (our earliest exchanges were showing off pictures of our new ‘temporary’ office spaces, plus plenty of baking, with one colleague who went to live by the sea with his mother sharing his sea front walks with us). We had only just started using Microsoft Teams when the pandemic hit, and suddenly we found ourselves using it much more than we had ever used our Skype/Lync profiles (it is slightly more reliable though still throws us out of meetings randomly).

I’m also in several personal WhatsApp groups (family, friends, MAODE groups).

For both personal and Institutional purposes I’ve also watched YouTube live streams and sometimes commented in live chat.

See how crowded the map has become (my tired eyes can testify to the increased screen time in the past 18 months!), so if nothing else, this serves once again as a useful reminder to give myself regular screen breaks, even though an increased proportion of my life is now digital resident online.


White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) ‘Visitors and residents: a new typology for online engagement’, First Monday, vol. 16, no. 9, 5 September 2011 [Online]. Available at http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/3049

White, D. (2016) Visitors and residents, on ‘Dave White – digital – learning – culture’ [online]. Available at http://daveowhite.com/vandr/ (accessed 18 April 2021)

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Anna C Page

H817 Week 12 Activity 22 An Open Educational Technology

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  • Write a short blog post suggesting one additional technology that is important for open education, either from the role of a learner or a provider. The technology can be one that has been significant, or one that you feel is going to become increasingly relevant.
  • What you include as a technology can be quite broad: for instance, it can be a general category (such as social networks), a specific service or a particular standard.
  • In your post briefly explain what the technology is, and then why you think it is important for open education. The emphasis should be on open education in particular, and not just education in general.

Open source software and standards are important for open education and have been for some time. Open source underpins the online technologies which make open education accessible to more people while at the same time IT developer users model open practices in action (for example use of GitHub (GitHub, n.d.) for reviewing and hosting open source code for reuse by others, working with the open source community to make better code). This community review of open code and contribution of open code to the code base is an example of Wenger’s Community of Practice (Wenger, 1998) as different projects request community involvement in new code features they propose which helps to ensure that shared code is checked and thoroughly discussed by a wider range of people with varied perspectives. This open scrutiny usually results in better, more robust and well thought out software code, a benefit to open education and education generally.

Open source code underpins Open Access journals, such as the Open Journal System code base, which make academic research more widely accessible and transparent (Public Knowledge Project, n.d.). The open source community uses and contributes to open standards for software development, such as the Web Accessibility Initiative standards guidelines (W3C, n.d) and the educational technology learning tools interoperability (LTI) standards recommended by the Instructional Management System project which became IMS Global (IMS Global, n.d.), a membership organisation offering IMS certification of innovative code and systems for educational technology generally. Although IMS certification is for educational technology generally, the benefit for open source software in particular in a world which often equates ‘free’ with cheap and unreliable is the trustworthiness recognition such certification can bring. This helps to show that while Open source software is free to use, this does not mean it is unsafe or unreliable when developed using open standards and practices.


GitHub (n.d.) Code review, GitHub features [online]. Available at https://github.com/features/code-review/ (accessed 18 April 2021)

IMS Global (n.d.) https://www.imsglobal.org/ (accessed 18 April 2021)

Public Knowledge Project (n.d) ‘Open Journal Systems’, Public Knowledge Project [online]. Available at https://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/ (accessed 18 April 2021)

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (New York, Cambridge University Press)

Wilson, S. (2014) 5 lessons open education resources can learn from FOSS, OpenSource [blog], 28 April. Available at https://opensource.com/education/14/4/5-lessons-open-education-resources-can-learn-foss (accessed 18 April 2021)

W3C (n.d.) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guidelines, Web Accessibility Initiative [online]. Available at https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/ (accessed 18 April 2021)

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Anna C Page

H817 Week 11 Activity 19 Implementing Connectivism

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Take the description of the short course on digital skills that you developed in Week 8 and recast it, so that it adopts a highly connectivist approach. Or, if you prefer, you could take this ‘Open education’ block as an example and recast it in a more connectivist model, or another course you have familiarity with. You should take each of the principles set out above and state how they are realised in your course, either as a general principle or by giving an example activity.

Blog your course outline, along with how the principles are realised.

Read and comment on some of the courses suggested by other learners. You might like to consider:

1.   whether you found connectivism useful

2.   whether connectivism was in conflict with the traditional concept of a course

3.   what it would be like to study or teach a course based around connectivism.

In Week 8, my proposed course was about “basic digital skills course for learners unfamiliar with using online technologies” (Page, 2021). Adding a strong element of connectivism to this course from the beginning could potentially be quite a leap for some of these learners, especially those whose previous experience of learning was more behaviourist or cognitivist in approach. Such learners may be seeking reassurance about their need to develop digital skills (some may be very keen while others might be skeptical) and may fear being overwhelmed by many conflicting opinions and approaches which could come from a connectivist network and prefer step by step guidance as “not all people are autonomous learners” (Kop & Hill, 2008) able to investigate without structured guidance.

A conundrum for connectivism is the issue that learners don’t know what they don’t know; learning to appraise and filter out what is not important for them to learn from the wealth of sources suggested via their connections takes time and experience, as does building the network connections.

I proposed the following topics for the basic digital skills course:

  • Week 1 Your digital hardware
  • Week 2 Navigating the internet
  • Week 3 Online communication skills
  • Week 4 Safety and privacy online
  • Week 5 Digital transactions

Recasting this into a predominantly connectivist approach is tricky though not impossible. I originally envisaged it as an online course with content guiding learners through a series of steps towards building their understanding and familiarity with the topics. Some activities might involve constructing knowledge on their own or with other learners. This would have made it a combination of behaviourist, cognitivist and constructivist approaches.

In connectivist mode, for learners who are beginners in the online world, the course might start with a small local group formed previously for other interests and meeting face-to-face (for example a local club). Some of the group identify the desire to learn more about online technologies to improve their digital skills, possibly to enhance a club activity. They may recently have acquired mobile devices and be tentatively finding their way around them, supporting each other as they go. Depending upon previous experience, some of the group may have more confidence and experience of digital technologies than others, know people who could demonstrate how to do particular processes and activities with the available hardware or have found suitable resources online which explain what to do.

As they become more confident with their digital skills, the group could form a social media group (e.g. using WhatsApp or Signal) to communicate with each other both about their newly found digital skills knowledge and their original face-to-face group interest. Some group members might join other online groups as they discover them and share some of their findings with the original group. Group members might do online searches to find courses and resources which are designed for building their digital skills and share the links with the group. Members may discuss and agree to use one or more of such online courses as a regular group activity (perhaps focusing on a different course topic each week or month, depending on their groups regular meeting pattern), with each person doing a course element at their own pace and using the group for support and encouragement. The learners would gradually build up their digital skills confidence as well as enhancing their search and connection building capabilities which could be applied to their group’s original interest too.

The above approach would meet the key principles of Connectivism set out by Siemans as follows:

Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.

The local group is likely to contain a diversity of opinions among its original members, gradually drawing upon wider connections will expose them to yet more diversity.

Learning is a process of connecting specialised nodes or information sources.

The description of how this group might approach learning digital skills is an iterative process of gradually encountering, demonstrating, and sharing new skills from different information sources, including other groups.

Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

Online guides and videos they discover may demonstrate specific topics of interest.

Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known.

Members of the group will need to have a willingness and capacity to learn and support each other as they discover new information.

Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

Finding new information via searches and connections with other groups and sharing back with the group in a continuous cycle of selecting a topic, seeking information, new connections and sharing will nurture and maintain connections and learning.

Ability to see connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill.

The approach will work for the group if members are willing to acknowledge that improving their digital skills will increase the variety of knowledge they can gain about their original group interest as well as build their digital skills and confidence.

Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.

In online searches for ‘how to do’ demonstrations, learners would look out for information about the currency of the online resource.

Decision making is itself a learning process.

The learners would be constantly evaluating and filtering information they discover in light of their previous understanding. They would use their connections to help choose what to learn and interpret meaning and relevance of incoming information.

Connectivism could be useful for this course of discovery because it would enhance and complement the learner group’s construction of knowledge about digital skills, they would be practicing both knowledge acquisition and participation (Sfard, 1998) while building their online communication skills. It may be daunting and overwhelming for the group to gradually discover and apply relevant digital skills without any single person with previous knowledge guiding them, it would depend upon the existing abilities and personalities in the group which direction their digital skills development might take. If everyone in the original group lacks digital skills and confidence it will be harder for them to get started, so they may need a teacher to provide guidance at the beginning (cognitivism) or they could use an existing online course as their scaffold for topics to cover. So a purely connectivist approach might not work for them. A blend of cognitivist, constructivist, behaviourist and connectivist might be a better approach.



Page, A. (2021) ‘H817 Week 8 Activity 8 An OER course’, Anna Page’s blog [blog] 27 March. Available at https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=236848

Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008) ‘Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?’ The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(3). Available at https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v9i3.523 (accessed 12 April 2021)

Sfard, A. (1998) ‘On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One’, Educational Researcher, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 4–13.

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Anna C Page

H817 Week 10 Activity 16 Examining a definition

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Edited by Anna Page, Friday, 9 Apr 2021, 15:14

Now you have a definition of PLN, the question you need to answer is ‘Does this offer anything new?’

In terms of innovation, can we say a PLN is truly innovative, or merely a rebadging of existing practice? As with many new terms in educational technology, some people find a PLN usefully captures a new development, while others say it is simply a new term for an old practice.

In considering this, take into account the scale and possibilities offered by new technologies, past networking practice and any of the references you found when constructing your definition.

Now do the following: Create a visual representation of the tools, resources and people in your PLN. Post this on your blog.

My definition of a personal learning network:

A Personal Learning Network is the people a learner connects and interacts with online and face-to-face to discover and explore new perspectives, ideas, questions, reflections and references for a specific learning intention.

This is probably incomplete regarding the tools/resources I use for the various PLNs I’ve slowly grown over the years. For example I’ve not included all the tools I use for my craft interests which also involve informal learning and sharing.

I’ve highlighted the people as central ie the heart of to it all (hence the vaguely heart coloured background for People).

My personal learning network - people, tools/hardware, resources/activities

This visual representation has grown and grown as I’ve thought of more elements to add and reflected on how the adoption of a technology to facilitate the strengthening of a PLN has often resulted in me using the same technology tool, resource or practice for another PLN, depending upon my learning needs, interests and activities. So it is quite intersectional and more complex than captured in this representation. In other words, if I was to list out all the PLNs and the tools or resources I use to engage with each of them, there would be a lot of repeats and several overlaps!

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Anna C Page

H817 Week 10 Activity 14 Comparing MOOCs

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Edited by Anna Page, Thursday, 8 Apr 2021, 17:51

Compare either DS106 or Rhizomatic 15 with offerings from FutureLearn or Coursera. Write a blog post comparing the courses with regards to:

  • technology
  • pedagogy
  • general approach and philosophy.

During Activity 12 I came across blog posts by Jenny Mackness (Mackness, 2013) about her experiences of the OLDSMOOC (which I project managed back in 2013), in Activity 13 I read the 2014 paper Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell wrote about the 2014 version of Rhizomatic MOOC (Mackness & Bell, 2014) so it made sense to select Rhizomatic 15 as the course to compare with offerings from an xMOOC platform for Activity 15. As I had already done H880 in its first year (2019) on FutureLearn, which included studying The Online Educator MOOC on FutureLearn in the first few weeks of the module, I decided to go with reviewing that experience rather than sign up for Coursera.



The Online Educator (FutureLearn)


Various blog platforms, Twitter, RSS feeds

Online VLE platform (Ruby on Rails software), comment function on every content page, follow others feature built in on the platform


Networked learning, social learning, Constructivism and Connectivism,

Networked learning, social learning, Behaviourism and Cognitivism.

General approach and philosophy

Very little course content as the ‘community is the curriculum’ and ‘content is people’ (Cormier, 2015). Each week the course organiser posed a different challenge question with participants connecting via social media to discuss their perspectives of rhizomatic learning.

MOOC authors wrote course content in scaffolded ‘steps’ and various activities and some multiple choice quiz questions. Some activities were designed to encourage interaction with other learners via the forum spaces on each content page.


The link to Rhizomatic 15 (Cormier, 2015a) was one blog post on Dave Cormier’s blog, it had so many tags (but not one specifically for Rhizomatic 15 which would have been helpful) so I had to find subsequent posts of Dave’s about the course by using the blog archive months. Active participants in the course wrote blog posts and tweets in response to Dave’s weekly challenges about Rhizomatic learning and commented on each other’s blog posts; one participant curated these on his blog to make them easier to find (Singh, 2015), his list showed that in the first week there are 60 blog posts. It would be quite time consuming to read every single blog post for the 6 week MOOC, so each learner experience of the MOOC would be different, depending upon how much time they had for exploring the posts and their own perspectives. The blog posts are public, on blog platforms chosen by the authors, unless they have been unpublished, they would still be available to read now.

Interestingly, the Twitter hashtag #rhizo15 still gets used by the participants 6 years on as a reminder of their earlier connections and conversations, clearly the MOOC had a profound impact on some participants and their teaching practice, even if many of the tweets might not be immediately accessible (meaningful) to non-participants who would have to explore the hashtag further to understand the context. Tweets are public and searchable, though to write a tweet it is necessary to have a Twitter account.

Rhizomatic 15 was quite experimental in approach, it was interesting to note in his introduction blog post that Dave Cormier acknowledged some participants from 2014 had joined again for 2015; it would not be a repeat of the previous MOOC because that was also fluid and experimental. He referred to it as a camp which was learner-led rather than teacher-led and each learner was researching Rhizomatic learning alongside him in a collaborative learning research exercise. There did not appear to be any completion criteria for the course or if this was even an aim, it would be hard to define and measure completion for something which is a “deeply personal, individual process” (Cormier, 2015b) especially considering the nature of the topic as a “discussion about learning” (Cormier, 2015b) which had the potential to go in multiple directions.

By contrast, The Online Educator MOOC has teacher written content in a number of ‘steps’ for each week (each step is on a separate online page in the MOOC). It is necessary to login to the platform and enrol on the MOOC to see the content and participate in the forum at the bottom of each ‘step’ where learners could ask questions of peers or write their response to the activities. Some activities prompt learners to read, reflect then write about what they have read and understood; sometimes they are invited to share their perspectives in the forum. The platform also has basic multiple choice question quiz functionality for assessment activities. Completion of a course is noted by the learner checking their progress as they go and possibly (depending on the course) doing a quiz. Participation in the forums is not a requirement for completing FutureLearn MOOCs.

FutureLearn has functionality for following other FutureLearn users and seeing participation in conversations. The settings in the user profile settings have the following two options:

  • Tick this box to stop your profile appearing in search results. Only signed-in learners will be able to see it.
  • Tick this box to stop others from seeing your course list, comments, followers and followings on your profile. Only you will be able to see them.

However, even if the learner ticks both boxes, depending upon how many people sign up for a course, the comments could be seen by hundreds of people also doing the MOOC, so they are semi-public.

With potentially hundreds of comments on each ‘step’ page, it could be overwhelming to read everything or to establish good working relationships and connections with other learners. Indeed, for those of us doing H880 in its first presentation, when we were asked to compare forum use in the MOOC and the module, the difference in use of the forum function revealed that engagement in the social element of the MOOC was different from social behaviour in the module, even though both the module and the MOOC were using the same platform and functionality. In the MOOC people commented because they had been instructed to in the step, and the comments from H880 students in those steps tended to be longer, more reflective and conversational (because we were already getting to know each other in the module and would be connecting with each other for several months) than those of the MOOC learners who were not doing H880 as well. Both the MOOC and the module had forum moderators.

The FutureLearn MOOC functionality is much less distributed than the Rhizome 15 MOOC which has content (people’s blog posts) all over the web and requires some level of familiarity with social media technologies and practices to navigate successfully. Although FutureLearn has functionality for supporting social learning, it depends upon the design of specific activities whether learner connections made initially in the MOOC forum spaces might extend beyond the platform to other online spaces and tools (for example if learners are encouraged to use Twitter hashtags or write blog posts) to enlarge learner networks and introduce them to useful online communities.

FutureLearn utilises behaviourist and cognivist learning practices more than it does connectivist or constructivist practices, whereas the Rhizome 15 MOOC depends more upon constructivism and connectivism in its approach and philosophy.


Cormier, Dave (2015a) ‘A practical guide to Rhizo15’, Dave’s Education blog [blog], 10 April. Available at http://davecormier.com/edblog/2015/04/10/a-practical-guide-to-rhizo15/ (accessed 8 April 2021)

Cormier, Dave (2015b) ‘Content is people – exploring the myth of content’, Dave’s Education blog [blog], 3 May. Available at http://davecormier.com/edblog/2015/05/03/content-is-people-exploring-the-myth-of-content/ (accessed 8 April 2021)

Mackness, Jenny (2013) ‘OLDS-MOOC’ category, Jenny Connected [blog] Available at https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/category/olds-mooc/ (accessed 8 April 2021)

Mackness, J. and Bell, F. (2015) ‘Rhizo14: a rhizomatic learning cMOOC in sunlight and in shade’, Open Praxis, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 25–38 [Online]. Available at http://www.openpraxis.org/~openprax/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/viewFile/173/140 (accessed 8 April 2021)

Singh, Lenandlar (2015) ‘Rhizo 15 blogs’, Things Education [blog], Available at https://idleclicks.wordpress.com/rhizo15-blog-posts/ (accessed 8 April 2021)

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Anna C Page

H817 Week 9 Activity 11 The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER

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Edited by Anna Page, Saturday, 3 Apr 2021, 09:49

Write a blog post on the benefits and drawbacks of big and little OER approaches.

Big OER approaches can result in high quality OER. A large collection of good quality OER from an institution can help show that free to use does not mean low quality, therefore the OER is worth a learner’s time investment and also serves the institution’s purpose of sharing large OER as a taste of its educational offering to encourage formal enrolments. However, as McAndrew et al (2009) research revealed, use of big OER that is high quality can result in less repurposing or adaption of OER for local context than might be expected because it isn’t always apparent how to repurpose the OER or users lack motivation to do so.

Big OER often requires significant academic and production time investment to create, similar to preparing formal course materials, so is not a by-product of preparing formal learning resources.

To maximise the potential for repurposing, Big OER needs to be accompanied by OER which suggest ways the big OER could be adapted for local use.

Little OER approaches do not always result in high quality OER; however this is not necessarily a disadvantage. Weller suggests little OER apparent low quality can encourage engagement and repurposing by other academics because compared with Big OER they don’t require so much time investment to create or respond to, but they do rely upon building and maintaining a variety of informal networks (via social media) to increase their visibility and reuse.

Building networks is a necessary part of academic practice, though the way it is done has changed over time. Weller argues that little OER approaches such as blogging, which can help develop ideas and explore theories in practice, or preparing and sharing presentations for teaching and conferences are by-products of modern academic practice. Such little OER don’t require advanced technical skills to create and share, though they do require familiarity and confidence to do so. If an academic knows how, then creating and sharing their ideas via video, audio or photo images can also be part of their academic practice and strengthen ties with their networks as well as raise recognition of their academic profile.

Little OER can become dynamic and essential elements driving discussions about ideas and practices, this can lead towards creation of new perspectives, connections and projects, creating a continuous “creativity-openness feedback cycle” (Weller, 2011) of innovation. Although audiences for little OER might be small and unpredictable, this factor can make the outcomes from adopting such open approaches fruitful as they can provide new avenues to research and new methods of distributing and sharing ideas, so little OER have the potential for high reuse.

Little OER approaches might not be valued by existing institutional reward and recognition systems, so although academics might use some little OER approaches in their work, they may need to harness their networks to build a case for updating institutional reward and recognition policies to include little OER digital scholarship as valid academic practice.


McAndrew, P., Santos, A. Lane, A., Godwin, S., Okada, A., Wilson, T., Connolly, T.; Ferreira, G., Buckingham Shum, S., Bretts, J. & Webb, R. (2009), OpenLearn Research Report 2006-2008, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England. Available at http://oro.open.ac.uk/17513/1/Researchfinal_low.pdf (Accessed 3 April 2021).

Weller, M. (2011a) Academic Output as Collateral Damage, slidecast [Online]. Available at http://www.slideshare.net/mweller/academic-output-as-collateral-damage (Accessed 1 April 2021).

Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [Online]. Available at http://jime.open.ac.uk/article/view/2012-02 (Accessed 1 April 2021).

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H817 Week 8 Activity 8 An OER course

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Edited by Anna Page, Saturday, 27 Mar 2021, 08:51

Imagine you are constructing a course in digital skills for an identified group of learners (e.g. undergraduates, new employees, teachers, mature learners, military personnel, etc.). It is a short, online course aimed at providing these learners with a set of resources for developing ‘digital skills’. It runs for five weeks, with a different subject each week, accounting for about six hours study per week.

  • Devise a broad outline of the topics to be covered every week. Don’t deliberate too much on this; it should be a coherent set of topics but you don’t actually have to deliver it.
  • Now see how much of your desired content could be accommodated by using OER repositories. Search the following repositories and make a quick evaluation for each week of your course of the type of content that is available. 
  • Judge whether the resources are good, medium or bad in terms of suiting your needs.

Course topics for a basic digital skills course for learners unfamiliar with using online technologies might include the following topics:

  • Week 1 Your digital hardware
  • Week 2 Navigating the internet
  • Week 3 Online communication skills
  • Week 4 Safety and privacy online
  • Week 5 Digital transactions

The interface of Solvonauts is very simple but the results display is not user friendly as it doesn’t help the user quickly identify potential resources – everything is all one colour and one size, it is hard to distinguish one result from another!

The Merlot interface for results is reasonably good, with a comprehensive filter system (discipline, material type, audience, mobile platform, other filters which even included reviews, ratings, licence, cost). But I didn’t find anything obviously useful in an initial search.

The MIT interface was reasonably clear, though there were no helpful filters and my search for ‘online communication skills’ produced a course which might yield some suitable material (Communicating with mobile technology). Once investigating further, MIT provide the following information about a course: course home, syllabus, readings, lecture notes, assignments and a ‘download course materials’ section. So it was possible to get a sense of what topics might be covered in the course before attempting to download the package. There is a helpful FAQ screen about how to use the download https://ocw.mit.edu/help/faq-technology/.

The OpenSTAX interface includes some filters (publication date, author, type, keyword, subject) but my search for “online communication skills” (it had to be in double quotes to search the phrase rather than the search engine treat it as 3 separate words) didn’t reveal any quickly identifiable potentially useful results.

The Saylor interface didn’t have the search function easily visible on the home page; I had to click through to courses before a search function appeared. I got no results for “online communication skills” and one result for “online communication” (preparing and delivering presentations) which wasn’t close enough to what I was seeking. On the courses page below the search bar, the courses are categorised by subject area, I scrolled down and spotted Learning in a digital age under the “Learning skills” category. The course covers “digital literacies for online learning”, “digital citizenship”, “open education, copyright and open licensing” and “critical media literacies and associated digital skills”. However I could not find a ‘download this course’ function, it would be necessary to view and download individual elements of the course for remixing into a new OER. Interestingly, review comments revealed one user pointing out that the course was too advanced for beginners.

OpenLearn is very familiar(!) to me. It uses a Google custom search and has a filters system within each subject area page (select a topic, types of course, levels, resource length). It has dedicated sections for Skills (at work, for life). I found the following potential OER via the Education subject area:

Via the Skills page I also found Preparing for your digital life in the 21st century plus several other possibilities.

Although OpenLearn offers a variety of downloadable formats of its courses for studying offline, it is not necessarily easy to edit the downloaded versions, with some formats requiring knowledge of digital editing software to extract the elements desired for a remix. The Word and PDF versions obviously cannot include the video and audio elements of a course, which would have to be downloaded separately and the Moodle quizzes are never included in the downloadable versions. The SCORM downloads are SCORM 1.2 though sometimes don’t work when loaded up to another virtual learning environment depending upon how long ago the SCORM file was generated from the OU structured content (XML) rendering process. The system has been fixed in the past year so the more recently rendered SCORM files have a working manifest telling the VLE how to load and run the SCORM package. OpenLearn’s sister platform OpenLearn Create has the same issue with the download versions.

However, there is a course on OpenLearn Create on the topic of basic digital literacy skills called Everyday computer skills: a beginner’s guide to computers, tablets, mobile phones and accessibility. It was written by the OU in Scotland, partly based on some OpenLearn OER, because they could not find a suitable course in the various OER repositories, which often seem to include much more advanced information for students already familiar with using digital technologies to support their learning (my searches for ‘online communication skills’ mostly revealed courses about computer network technologies).

Although OER is available openly online and is often downloadable, the variety of formats of OER materials and how they were created can make it hard to edit downloaded OER. This is because different systems may not be interoperable, which often means resorting to copy and paste to rebuild an OER rather than having the ability to edit an entire OER easily in your chosen software. This is an ongoing challenge for the OER movement.

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H817 Week 8 Activity 7 Exploring OER Issues

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There are significant individual and institutional barriers to knowledge and adoption of OER for establishing sustainable open educational practice (OEP) of various forms. I believe the following three issues in OER are fundamentally important to successfully increasing OEP in education.

Educator community awareness and knowledge of how to use of OER

As both McGill et al (2013) and de los Arcos et al (2014) reveal, awareness of OER and open educational practices is patchy though increasing across higher education, with feedback indicating educator’s interest in sustaining OEP once they have tried OER and OEP in their context. Raising awareness of benefits and limitations of OER and OEP takes effort (it is not a magic bullet solution) and to gain traction is best done in ways sensitive to the local situation. OER Communities of Practice nurturing reflection on existing and evolving practice can contribute by raising awareness and sharing experience of how to use OER (re-versioning, understanding licensing, how to attribute sources and building technical skills).

Using OER for Informal learning Accreditation

Establishing recognition of the value of informal learning via OER can increase use and knowledge of openness in education.

It is possible to use OER to support learner progression towards and within higher education. OER research (Perryman et al, 2013), (Law, 2015) indicates that OER becomes more attractive to students if some kind of accreditation is attached to informal learning via OER, such as digital badges or certificates, even though these are not formal qualifications, because they demonstrate interest in self-development and motivation to learn. For example, research from 2013 onwards into use of OU OER hosted on OpenLearn has informed strategies for utilising OER to support informal to formal learning, improve student retention and increase learner confidence (Law, 2019). A 2017 survey of 10,000 OU students revealed that although not directed to use OpenLearn, many OU students use it to support formal OU studies. Research recommendations implementation has resulted in an increase in student induction OER on the site, IT development of the OpenLearn profile to display both formal and informal achievements (with students maintaining control over what is visible on their public profile), and an increase in the number of OpenLearn resources being specially designed during formal module production.

Educational institution support for OER and OEP

Both McGill et al (2013) and de los Arcos et al (2014) indicate barriers to OER and OEP adoption include constraints on staff time for continuing professional development, financial support for OER creation (they may be free to use but are not free to produce) and educator digital literacy skill levels.

If OEP is to become sustainable within an educational institution, it is crucial to gain senior management support. This includes piloting then establishing continuing professional development policies and practices to enable recognition of engagement with OER and OEP as legitimate staff development activity, therefore changing higher education reward and recognition policies to encompass more than traditional research and teaching. Such policy changes involve including open practice activities such as collaborative creation of OER and digital scholarship via blogging (Weller, 2012) in evidence staff can use to demonstrate professional growth and impact on student learning.


de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Perryman, L.-A., Pitt, R. and Weller, M. (2014), OER Evidence Report 2013–2014, OER Research Hub [Online]. Available at https://oerresearchhub.files.wordpress.com/ 2014/ 11/ oerrh-evidence-report-2014.pdf (accessed 22 March 2021)

Law, Patrina (2019). How Directing Formal Students to Institutionally-Delivered OER Supports their Success. Journal of Learning for Development, 6(3) pp. 262–272. Available at https://jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/365 and http://oro.open.ac.uk/70435/1/Final%20-%20365-Article%20Text-1930-8-10-20191118.pdf (accessed 25 March 2021)

Law, P. (2015). Recognising informal elearning with digital badging: Evidence for a sustainable business model. Open Praxis, 7(4). Available at https://www.openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/247 and http://oro.open.ac.uk/44890/1/247-1109-2-PB_final%20proof.pdf (accessed 26 March 2021)

McGill, L., Falconer, I., Dempster, J.A., Littlejohn, A. and Beetham, H. (2013) Journeys to Open Educational Practice: UKOER/SCORE Review Final Report, London, JISC [Online]. Available at https://oersynth.pbworks.com/ w/ page/ 60338879/ HEFCE-OER-Review-Final-Report (accessed 22 March 2021)

Perryman, L.A., Law, P., & Law, A. (2013). Developing sustainable business models for institutions’ provision of open educational resources: Learning from OpenLearn users’ motivations and experiences. In Open and Flexible Higher Education Conference 2013, 23-25 October 2013, Paris, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU). 270–286. Available at www.eadtu.nl/images/stories/Docs/Conference_2013/eadtu%20annual%20conference%202013%20-%20proceedings.pdf and http://oro.open.ac.uk/39101/1/eadtu%20annual%20conference%202013%20-%20proceedings.pdf (accessed 26 March 2021)

Weller, M. (2012) Digital scholarship, tenure & barometers, The Ed Techie [blog] 6 September. Available at http://blog.edtechie.net/digital-scholarship/digital-scholarship-tenure-barometers/ (accessed 25 March 2021)

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H817 Week 7 Activity 3 Representing open education

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Edited by Anna Page, Saturday, 20 Mar 2021, 09:39

I read Gourlay (2015), Open education as a ‘heterotopia of desire and Tait (2018), Open Universities: the next phase for activity 2, though I also dipped into CNN-1333 Open Course (2012), The extended argument for openness in education. I was fortunate to attend Martin Weller’s inaugural. I also looked online for diagrammatic representations of Open Education and found several, including a drawing I did on an ipad with a drawing tool for the OEPS project in 2016.

Openness in Education encompassing open access, open educational practices, open educational resources, sharing, quality

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H817 Week 7 Activity 1 Set up technology

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Publish a blog post that describes your experience with open education. Is it just with the OU, or have you studied a MOOC, used open resources, or engaged with open access publications?

As explained in my previous blog post about OpenLearn and innovation H817 Week 2 Activity 5 Are OER both open and innovative? I’ve been involved in open education for a long time at the OU in various ways, encompassing different forms of ‘open’. The OU’s mission has always been ‘to be open to people, places, methods and ideas’ and this still holds true in its 52nd year.

My OU undergraduate degree was open in the sense that there was and is no requirement from the OU for previous school level qualifications (GCSEs or A levels) to study an undergraduate degree at the OU and at the time no limit on the length of time it took to complete the degree (I did 7 modules over 11 years, with breaks when my children were born). From the start, the OU charged fees for its formal learning but has always, as enshrined in its charter, shared some of its content for free with the wider population: via radio and TV broadcasts, free posters associated with those broadcasts and since 2006 free short courses via OpenLearn even before ‘MOOCs’ were a named thing.

OU staff members were encouraged to study with the OU, to help them understand what it meant to be a distance learner. The insights I gained about distance education from my time as an OU undergraduate has helped me numerous times in my various OU roles. Many staff members of all grades have studied with the OU over the years, with some like me starting in secretarial & clerical grades and moving on to academic-related or academic roles as a result.

In 2013 while in IET, I was project manager for the OLDS MOOC (Open Learning Design) before FutureLearn existed. The MOOC was run by IET using an open platform it had developed called Cloudworks plus Google hangouts and Twitter, so was a very different beast from any FutureLearn MOOC. It was open to anyone, though in practice, mostly educators at universities around the world were interested in it.

In 2014 I moved from IET to the home of Open Learn: Open Media and Informal Learning (then called Open Media Unit) to work on the 3 year Open Educational Practices in Scotland project (OEPS) which was co-ordinated by the OU in Scotland. Although my role as Senior Producer (Open Education Project) was to coordinate the online platform development work to support open educational practices, I was also involved in co-authoring badged open courses, guiding third party organisations through the creation of their first elearning courses (Parkinson’s UK, Dyslexia Scotland and Education Scotland being 3 of the organisations OEPS worked with to create open courses, which are still used today), research into OER and what it means to do OEP, writing articles, setting up and helping run the OEPS Twitter account sharing OEPS activities openly and presenting at OER conferences.

In OMIL I went from a Moodle (open source VLE software) novice who had a smattering of experience of working with IT developers when in IET, to a platform manager who confidently writes IT development requirements (acceptance criteria) for the OER platform OpenLearn Create (OLC). Some Moodle code developed for OLC and language pack translations OMIL commissions is shared back with the Moodle community.

I learned so much from OEPS and what it means to be an open education practitioner (I’m still learning). Ultimately OEPS became one impetus for embarking upon the MA ODE: presenting at OE Global in March 2017 in Cape Town finally helped me start to acknowledge that I’m an educator. The other impetus was a resolution I made on a flight back from Cape Town in November 2018 after sadly saying goodbye to my brother who was dying of cancer, he was the only one of my siblings to have a Masters degree (Geology), his long illness and positivity in his final weeks inspired me to go for mine at last.

I often use ORO (OU Open Research Online) to find open versions of OU staff research publications. It isn’t behind a paywall and many of the papers are available as a PDF download.

I’ve been a Flickr user for some time, sometimes sharing photos I’ve taken but more frequently and recently when searching for openly licenced images to use in a series of piano solo videos 'A Little Night Music' playlist I’m compiling for sharing openly on YouTube by Music for All @ SMSG (a local music event organisation team I’ve been involved in for years).

When reusing OER resources found online in this way in a new OER, I’m very conscious of the need for attribution (TASL): title, author, source and licence (something I learned from OEPS). However, I know that this is something many people struggle to practice because they don’t understand how the open licence system works, the TASL information isn’t easy to find or they don’t know they ought to reference what they are reusing.

This is a challenge for open education practitioners: to share such practice in accessible, meaningful ways so more people grasp the principles of open and begin to adopt open education practices appropriate for their context too.

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H818 Unit 2 Activity 2.3 Researching openness in education

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Edited by Anna Page, Sunday, 27 Oct 2019, 08:19

In response to the Jordan & Weller's 2017 ‘beginners guide’ summarising topics in openness and education, I chose Open Education in Schools and Open Access publishing to investigate as I was less familiar with the Open Education in Schools research and although I know a bit about Open Access publishing (especially as I helped with JIME for a while), I didn't know much about the origins of the movement or its impact.

Open Education in Schools

who is/are the main spokesperson(s) for this initiative

The first spokesperson appears to be Ronald Barth (1969) who called for a “more formalised definition of Open Education” in schools, in light of the Plowden report about primary school education in the 1960s. The nine assumptions mentioned in the summary of the beginner’s guide by Jordan & Weller weren’t specifically listed in this abstract, only the practices upon which assumptions were built. (I wanted to read more but was only able to access the abstract from his 1969 paper as the OU Athens login wasn’t allowing me access to the whole digitised version of the paper on the publisher’s website, very frustrating, but links rather neatly to the issues which prompted OA publishing). Barth wanted to strengthen open education practice by underpinning it with well researched theory; his call informed the “tone of research” (Jordan & Weller, 2017) in the following years.

where the research and activity around it is occurring

Self-directed learning and social interactions in learning were explored by Illich in a 1971 book called ‘Deschooling Society’ – a critique of formal, institutional learning. It has apparently been influential for the other themes of open learning.

Walberg & Thomas carried out research via a survey (UK and US) in 1972 to characterise the differences between open and traditional classrooms (following on from Barth), they found five differences in their eight criteria: provisioning, humaneness, diagnosis, instruction and evaluation.

In the same year Traub et al also developed a survey which explored the difficulties of researching open education effectively. Their criteria included setting objectives, materials and activities, physical environment, personalisation of learning, teacher role and student control. Open education in schools related to both classroom space layout and learning design.

Resnick’s paper of 1972 explored the perceived tensions between educational technology and the “humanistic values of Open Education” (Jordan & Weller, 2017), noting that educational technology could support open education in 6 ways: “choosing educational objectives, organization and sequencing materials, displaying alternatives, providing learner control, enhancing motivation, and evaluating competence.” (Jordan & Weller, 2017).

why it appears to have happened when it has, and in this form (which are the apparent drivers and motivators)

This was happening nearly 50 years ago, mainly in the UK and USA, in what appears to be a response to the 1967 Plowden report as well as various publications by the National Froebel Foundation and the growing interest in classroom and learning design and need for research in those areas.

what product(s) or progress is/are apparent

Those earlier papers have been cited more recently (Hyland 1979, Horwitz 1979, Giaconia & Hedges 1982, Baker 2017) in relation to open education in classrooms but this cluster is quite distinct from the others, especially as it was pre-internet, and focussed on classroom layout and learning design in face-to-face settings.

how these might connect now, or in the future, with learning and teaching activity

In the light of new technology tools and approaches being used in school education now (mobile learning, citizen science) while teachers who have a heavy administrative load have little time to participate in research around the use of such technologies in school settings, it is worth investigating what ‘open’ practices now happen in school settings and how the definition has shifted since the 1970s. The purpose would be to evaluate the extent to which is it possible and prudent to integrate such practices in schools and compare this to the definitions and assumptions about open education in schools 50 years ago.


Open Access publishing

who is/are the main spokesperson(s) for this initiative

The article by S Lawrence in Nature (2001) drew attention to an early study on the citations of OA papers, showing much higher citations for OA articles than closed access journals. This was built upon by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 which outlined two main principles for OA: self-archiving and OA journals. Further work in citation impact was done by Hajjim et al (2005) who conducted a 10 year analysis of scholarly impact of OA journals.

The OA movement appears to have emerged in the 1990s as research libraries and other organisations sought to find ways to make scholarly research more accessible, with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) being formed by the Association of Research Libraries in 1997.

More recently Martin Weller has blogged about OA publishing several times from 2014-2017 https://blog.edtechie.net/category/open-access/.

where the research and activity around it is occurring

Laakso et al’s study of 15 years of OA growth systematically compared earlier research of scholarly journal growth (3.5% annually for 300 years) and pace of growth in total number of articles published in that period of 3% annually to the growth of OA journals from 1993-2009 (18%) and OA article publication (30%) in that period, a quite startling contrast.

why it appears to have happened when it has, and in this form (which are the apparent drivers and motivators)

The apparent drivers and motivators for the growth of the OA movement were identified in Harnad et al (2004) article two main barriers to OA: the huge expense of journals to HE (whose academic staff largely provide the content to the publishers and educational libraries buy subscriptions) and how this limits access to potentially ground-breaking research to the select few who can afford to pay or who have access through an educational organisation which has paid, even though the research may have been publicly funded.

what product(s) or progress is/are apparent

The analysis by Laakso et al charts the rapid growth of OA journals from 1993-2009, drawing upon the Directory of Open Access Journals for its source material, the abstract of the study divides the period into 3 distinct periods: “the Pioneering years (1993–1999), the Innovation years (2000–2004), and the Consolidation years (2005–2009)” (Laakso et al 2011).

how these might connect now, or in the future, with learning and teaching activity

OA publishing has influence on open practices around digital scholarship, making the conduct and results of some HE research activities and outputs freely available, including to those involved in teaching. There is the potential for OA to assist with informing and underpinning teaching practice with research theory more equitably. It can also be used to teach “students, trainees and faculty” how to “edit, manage and publish” (Halevi 2018) if educational organisations run OA publications as a means to provide hands-on experience of scholarly publishing practices. This could be done using Open Textbooks.

Academics need to develop an understanding of the different publishing models for Open Access (Green and Gold) and the various permutations within Gold which make it viable yet equitable. This is outlined in Open Access Publishing at https://core.ac.uk/reader/45443539 (Dawson & Cosson, 2016).


Barth, R.S. (1969) Open education - Assumptions about learning. Educational
Philosophy & Theory, 1(2), 29-39

Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) (2002) Read the Budapest Open
Access Initiative. BOAI website.

Dawson, R. & Cosson, M. (2016) Open Access Publishing, Lincoln University Research Archive (online). Available at https://core.ac.uk/reader/45443539 (accessed 27 October 2019)

Hajjem, C., Harnad, S. & Gingras, Y. (2005) Ten-year cross- disciplinary
comparison of the growth of Open Access and how it increases research
citation impact. IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28(4), 39-47.

Halevi, G. (2018) ‘Institutional Open Access Publishing as an Educational Vehicle’, Publishing Research Quarterly. New York: Springer US, 34(4), pp. 510–514. doi: 10.1007/s12109-018-9608-x.

Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y.,
Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H. & Hilf, E. (2004) The access/impact
problem and the green and gold roads to Open Access. Serials Review, 30,

Illich, I. (1971) Deschooling society. New York: Harper & Row

Jordan, K. & Weller, M. (2017) Openness and Education: A beginner’s guide. Global OER Graduate Network.

Laakso, M., Welling, P., Bukvova, H. & Nyman, L. (2011) The development of
open access journal publishing from 1993 to 2009.PLoSONE, doi:

Lawrence, S. (2001) Free online availability substantially increases a paper's
impact. Nature, 411(521).

Resnick, L. (1972) Open education: Some tasks for technology. Educational
Technology, 12(1), 70-76

Traub, R.E., Weiss, J., Fisher, C.W. & Musella, D. (1972) Closure on
openness: Describing and quantifying open education. Interchange, 3(2-3), 69-

Walberg, H.J. & Thomas, S.C. (1972) Open education: an operational
definition and validation in Great Britain and the U.S.A. American Educational
Research Journal, 9(2), 197-208

Weller, M. (n.d). Edtechie blog posts on Open Access (online). Available at https://blog.edtechie.net/category/open-access/ (accessed 27 October 2019)

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