First week back

First week back

So for the first blog post here, I’m just going to look back over some things that stood out for me at the end of week 1 of this semester. Other than the overwhelming amount of work that lies ahead, obviously – but I’m sure that will all be worth it.

One of the first things we covered in a module entitled E-Learning Theories and Practices was an overview of the main terms currently being used in distance education and e-learning. The fact that a whole lecture could be based just on explaining terms alone initially struck me as quite an odd thing, particularly coming from an education system where most terminologies have been cemented for decades if not hundreds of years. But e-learning and indeed technical communication are both relatively young industries, and are still changing and developing. And as technology improves and evolves with each passing year, so do our definitions of the tools and systems that we are using.

This, of course, can lead to confusion, especially when people have multiple definitions for the same term. One of the first things we were asked to do this week was to give our own definition of Open Educational Resources. Looking at how people have responded to this is really interesting: everyone broadly explained the same thing, but there were subtle differences in each person’s explanation, particularly in what people decided to include or omit.

Then I came across this article from David Wiley which discusses the debate around the term “open” in the education context. Not Open Educational Resources. Just “Open”. Most people agree that “open” refers to having free access to educational content, as well as the open licencing of that content. However, for people outside the e-learning community (much as I was before I began this course), this term can easily be misunderstood. This misapprehension can be also seen in people’s perceptions of Massive Open Online Courses, which have been subject to growing criticism, although they too have their defenders. I fear that this lack of understanding by the general public will hamper the success of future innovations in education, unless firm standards can soon be set in place – such as the recognition of digital badges for having completed a MOOC.

These are just some of my thoughts as I compose my first blog here. I hope to learn more about all these issues as the semester progress, and hopefully improve my blog writing as well.

Image: @copyright 2015

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