Designing for innovation around OER.
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2010
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This paper argues that designing collections of 'closed' educational resources (content and technologies) for use by specific student cohorts and collections of open educational resources for use by any 'learner' require different design approaches. Learning design for formal courses has been a research topic for over 10 years as the ever growing range of digital content and technologies has potentially offered new opportunities for constructing effective learning experiences, primarily through greater sharing and re-use of such content and technologies. While progress in adopting learning design by teaching practitioners has appeared slow so far the advent of open educational resources (OER) has provided a substantive boost to such sharing activity and a subsequent need for employing learning design in practice. Nevertheless there appears to be a paradox in that learning design assumes a reasonably well known and well defined student audience with presumed learning needs and mediating technologies while OER are exposed to a multitude of potential learners, both formal and informal, with unknown learning needs and using diverse technologies. It can be argued that innovative designs for formal courses involve creating structured pathways through a mixture of existing and new content and activities using a mixture of media and technologies in the process. This type of 'configurational' design that blends together given items to meet a particular need, rather than designing something fully de novo is typical in many areas of work and not just teaching. Such designs work very well when there is a small set of users of the innovation or their use of the innovation is narrow. However many innovations in information, communication and computing technologies often have multiple types of users and many more layers of complexity. In these cases, rather than heavily pre-define an innovative solution just to meet certain user requirements, it is necessary to design for greater flexibility so as to allow the users to adapt their use of the innovative solution for their own requirements once it has been deployed. The use of such an 'innofusion' approach for OER is highlighted using the case study of OpenLearn (www.open.ac.uk/openlearn).
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