An Open Educational Resource environment: exploring the potential benefits of OpenLearn for seniors.
In: Web4Seniors conference: Learning in Later Life, 04 - 05 October 2007, Ulm, Germany.
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Open Educational Resources (OERs) are freely available and have been accessible globally, in a variety of forms, since September 2002 (Smith, and Casserly, 2006). The initial thrust of The MIT OpenCourseWare initiative in 2002 appeared to be aimed at those interested in a university level education. In the last five years a number of different Open Content schemes have followed the lead of MIT (John Hopkins School of Public Health, Connexions, Utah State, Wikiversity and others). The OER movement has encouraged the idea of shareable assets between individuals and organisations (Atkins, Seely Brown, and Hammond, 2007). The Open University in the United Kingdom (UK) has joined this field of enquiry with a new enterprise called OpenLearn (Open Content Initiative, 2006). This initiative is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and was launched on 25th October 2006. ...
The paper starts with an overview of OpenLearn within the OER context and the ethos behind OpenLearn. This is followed be a brief discussion of the interactive facilities, which are available on the twin websites: the LearningSpace and the LabSpace. The LearningSpace is aimed at learners and currently holds 3,406 study hours of material. The LabSpace is aimed mainly at educators and presently houses 5,194 study hours of material. The main part of the paper focuses on the potential benefits of OpenLearn for seniors. The discussion is based on research undertaken with a later-life learning organisation for older people. The organisation has almost 200,000 members and has a global reach.
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