I am now in Week 2 of OPEN 9400: Open Educational Technologies. This is one of three electives in KPU’s Professional Program in Open Education. I chose this course because this topic is not a strength of mine. My work in OER has been largely on end-user-friendly programs built for people who don’t code.
You can’t work in OPEN or even live in our current technology-saturated world without realizing how little we understand about the long-term implications of not understanding what goes on behind the applications (that we use daily) on our long-term viability as individuals or as a people. I mean, it is all doom and gloom, right? If you believe the hype, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over. I suspect it will change how we live, work, and educate. I mean, it already has. Don’t worry, I didn’t use ChatGpt to write this blog post, but I could have. So, with that in mind, I thought this was a good elective to take.
2.4 Assessment: The Bigger Picture
In this first assignment, we are asked to reflect on two weeks of personal reflections, course readings and a list of questions. We are to consider the bigger picture, including the social, community, and sustainability of open educational technologies.
The open software I primarily use to develop Open Educational Resources (OER) is Pressbooks and H5P, either with the Pressbooks plug-in or eCampus Ontario H5P studio. This blog post is written using the WordPress application on Domain of One’s Own. As the Reclaim Hosting site described, “Domain of One’s Own is a fully-featured Reclaim Package for your Team, Organization, or Institution.”
These applications are free open-source software (FOSS) which means that the code is available to be distributed, adapted, and fix bugs by anyone who wants and has the ability to do so (Wilson, n.d). Wilson (n.d) proposes that making code open source increases profiles, frees up resources for improvements, and is one way to expand quickly into the market. Aside from those benefits, companies make money by offering various support options for content developers like me or for institutions that would prefer to pay a subscription fee rather than in-house tech support (Thé, 2016).
What all of the FOSS (that I use) have in common is that I was introduced to them through eCampus Ontario initiatives. eCampus Ontario is the Ontario Online Learning Consortium, a non-profit funded by Ontario institutions to advance technology in education and digital learning environments (eCampus Ontario, 2023). They are supported at least in part by eCampus Ontario, my own institution, and I pay a small fee for the Domain each year.
What I like about Pressbooks, H5P, and WordPress is that they are easy to use for people with little to no experience with coding. Khale (2008) proposed five open technology design principles: access, agency, ownership, participation, and experience. Since the applications are easy to use, they meet the design principles of access, and I enjoy using them, so my experience as an end-user is pleasant. Since I am able to develop my own content and share it with others, I have agency in what I create and ownership as I choose the creative commons license that I apply to my OER creations. I am able to use the technologies with other faculty and learners, and so they also meet the design principle of participation.
eCampus Ontario regularly asks for participation and feedback on the new technologies they support. Engagement with the community occurs through conferences, webinars, and surveys. They offer pilot programs where institutions can have limited supported licenses for trial use. Then feedback is sought before a member institution decides on a purchase. Support is provided to educators and institutions in implementation, use, and feedback.
I am fortunate to live in Ontario and have a consortium such as eCampusOntario that supports individuals and institutions with FOSS applications. I think a level of sustainability is provided by introducing FOSS applications, supporting their implementation in institutions, and consulting with the community on what is needed.
eCampus Ontario (2023) About eCampusOntario: committed to the evolution of teaching and learning. eCampus Ontario. https://www.ecampusontario.ca/about/
Khale (2008). Designing Open Educational Technology, Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge pp. 27 – 75 Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge (oapen.org)
Thé, D (2016). What is Open Source? Your phone probably runs it! (with LEGO). [YouTube Video file].
Wilson, S. (n.d) Open Source in higher education: how far have we come? The Guardian Open source in higher education: how far have we come? | Universities | The Guardian
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