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27 March 2007 / erikduval

Perfect Storm

I like the notion of “perfect storm” that is being discussed here. The storm is the result from transformative initiatives like OER and the cyberinfrastructure for science and the humanities, as well as web2.0 and new models for rural connectivity, according to Daniel Atkins. He presented the idea of an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure and believes that the next phase is building the infrastructure, which requires interoperability between systems. Also because of some early discussion on the OERderves blog, Daniel clarified that the emphasis is not on a universal services by a single monopoly provider, but on consolidation. In other words: the OPLI is about an ecosystem and search, rather than top-down planning.

John Seely Brown emphasized the importance of creating feedback loops – something I strongly agree with (and the driver behind our work on attention metadata). Passion-Based informal learning makes for instance amateur astronomers do some of the more exciting work in the field, or gives students access to high-end professional instruments. John talked about the Long Tail in learning that an OPLI can enable for niche groups.

Allen Hammond focused on what OER could mean for the developing world. It seems that cell phones will be a more relevant platform than computers in that context. The business model could be based on the interest of the telecom companies to carry the open content, as it would generate business for them.

In the discussion, the first question mentioned accessibility and rightly mentioned that, if we miss this concern now, it will be very difficult to add it later. The international dimension is still being underplayed, according to someone from the Open University UK – I could add that the non-English-speaking dimension is underplayed, also sometimes by our UK colleagues :-). The issues of sustainability and business model were emphasized. The director of openlearn wanted more emphasis on learning and less technology push, as well as less formal contexts for learning. Someone challenged the idea that the cell phone would be the “magic bullet” and the irony of proposing that in a room with three large projection screens and dozens of laptops.

As an aside, it kind of strikes me that the focus still seems to be – also in the report – on content-to-be-reused-as-such and that the importance of being able to repurpose and modify the content is not always taken into account. Maybe the focus on cell phones will help to address this issue – which will pay off hugely for everybody. (Did I mention that we try to work on this in ALOCOM?)

Anyway – this was a good session – looking forward to 2 days of Serious Fun!


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