Category Archives: learning resources

The Journey to Information

Road to nowhere...

One of the benefits of the internet revolution is that is has widened access to information and knowledge, whilst at the same time reduced the time it takes, the journey to get that information.

Illustrated London News

The newspaper pictured above is available to any learner (or member of staff) across Activate Learning anytime, and anywhere they have an internet connection.

Forty years ago, if you wanted to access a newspaper archive you would probably needed to have been a PhD student or more likely an academic, as the only place you could go was to the newspaper offices and access their archives.

Twenty years ago, newspaper archives were available on microfilm, I remember when I was at university ploughing through the microfilm archives trying to find a series of articles. There was no integrated search with microfilm.

Ten years ago we were all accessing newspaper archives on CD-ROMs. These opened up access to the said archives to schools and colleges. They were searchable by keyword, but could only be accessed inside the institution. It was also restricted, as we only had one CD-ROM to one person at a time. Not all newspapers were on CD-ROM and generally the collections only went back a few years.

Today we have newspapers, digitised, searchable and accessible from any device with an internet connection. We have archives that go back hundreds of years or as recent as yesterday.

This has made it much easier to access newspaper archives, but brings with it the challenge of managing information overload. Learners need different skills to manage the amount and ease by which information can be accessed. The information skills needed today are very different to those of a few years ago.

It also means that we need to rethink assessment, ensuring that it is doing what we need it to do. In many ways the journey to information was in the past a way of assessing learning. However now that the journey is so much shorter, we need to ensure that assessment is based on understanding and not just discovery of information. Using something like Bloom’s Taxonomy ensures that when designing assessment it is more than just discovering knowledge.

The internet and web have ensured that the journey to information and knowledge has got shorter and shorter over time, this is a real opportunity to add depth and breadth to learning.

Open Yale Courses

Yale University (in the US) are going to allow anyone in the world to access their most popular undergraduate courses for free.

Yale University is making some of its most popular undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.

The project, called “Open Yale Courses,” presents unique access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.

The production of the courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The seven courses in the sciences, arts and humanities—which were recorded live as they were presented in the classroom to Yale students—will be augmented with approximately 30 additional Yale courses over the next several years.

This means that institutions across the world will be able to see and view how Yale deliver their undergraduate programme, and unlike much of the others who have been doing this already, they are using a lot more video and audio content.

Obviously you need to attend Yale to get accreditation, but this kind of move from someone like Yale demonstrates again the importance of the institution and the teacher over the content in education.

Some lecturers are very protective about the content they use in their teaching and are unwilling to share, this kind of programme that Yale are undertaking, shows once more that it is the teaching and the support an institution provides is so much more important than the content.

And the more we share content, the more we can save time and ensure that our students (online or offline) achieve on their courses.

So here in the UK we have the Open University sharing some of their content, I wonder when we will see more Universities and more FE Colleges sharing their content? It’s not as though we don’t have a way of doing this, we do have JORUM.

Old Book

So here’s hoping Yale and others will continue to release more content for learning and e-learning online.

Photo source.

Sharing

On a mailing list I frequent, the question was asked what was hindering or helping the sharing of digital learning resources. 

IPR issues aside…

One issue that I wonder about, is are practitioners (and/or colleges) actually creating a wealth of digital learning resources, or are they generally repurposing (third party) resources which exist already.

Second issue, sharing learning resources is only part of the story, the context in which those resources are used and how they are used is equally if not more important and certainly then makes the resources (or even just the ideas) much more transferable, not just between colleges but also internally between courses.

Third issue, storing and finding resources. A folder or hierarchal structure makes filing simpler, but searching more complex.

Fourth issue, compatibility. Here we could be talking about Office 2007 or 2003, Publisher on a Mac, or other resources which require specific software.

Fifth issue, branding, not just from a college perspective but also from a qualificational perspective. One of the things I didn’t like about the NLN materials, was they were branded by subject and level. But as anyone who teaches the subject knows, Level 2 Business materials can be used with Level 3 Tourism students, but sometimes the branding, or qualificational specific nature of materials can put off or confuse learners.

Sharing is good, it saves time, enables practitioners (and learners) to access a wider range of resources.

Despite the issues, these are not reasons to not share, more issues to be aware of.

Free past papers now available online

Not only can you download the OCR past papers, you can also now upload them to your institutional intranet or VLE.

OCR has begun the first stage of a planned release of free past papers onto the website.

In response to your feedback, we have published 1,000 free-to-download 2006 past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports. There are a few exceptions where we cannot secure copyright, but the majority of qualifications are now covered.

We have also published more than 100 of our papers from 2007, with more due online soon.

OCR’s revised policy means that, in future, many more question papers will be published on the website after each exam series.

Once published online, the papers will remain available for at least two years. Again, you can download all these papers free of charge.

Please view the past papers page for details of the documents available to download.

Engaging Interactions

If you are developing e-learning materials or learning objects it can be nice to add an interaction.

B J Schone has written a very nice ebook on twenty five different engaging interactions.

I hate boring eLearning courses. I get frustrated when I’m not intellectually engaged in a course and when I feel like I’m wasting my time. I know many learners feel this way, too. As an eLearning developer, I’ve had good luck using engaging learning interactions in my courses. These interactions break up the monotony and improve the learning experience for the end-user. After covering new material in a course, a learning interaction (or from here on, simply an interaction) gives the learner a chance to actually do something and (gasp!) apply their knowledge!

This covers a lot of different ways in which learners can interact with a subject (through e-learning) and therefore enhance the learning process.