OERu Learning in a digital age course


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I have just started doing some consultancy with the OERu foundation and in particular Wayne Mackintosh. The focus is to design a course on ‘Learning in a Digital Age’ (LiDA). The target audience is first-year undergraduates and the aim is to help them develop their academic digital literacies so that they can use digital technologies more effectively for their learning. Today’s learners have grown up in a world of computers and the Internet, however they do not necessarily have the digital literacy skills to use technologies for their learning. The course will enable them to develop these skills; such as how to evaluate whether resource they find are relevant for their learning and how to manage their online presence. Most importantly the course will help learners to manage their self-learning. 

I had a good online meeting with Wayne last week via zoom, where he outlined the nature of the course and walked me through the various tools we will be using. I think there will be a lot of interest in the course and that it will have international appeal.

We are currently in the process of defining the curriculum. We are drawing on two existing courses: one from Thomas Edison State University (TESU) and one from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) The course will be designed for maximum re-use by OERu partners and others.

The course will consist of four ‘micro courses’, which will be structured as ‘learning pathways’. Learning pathways are routes learners can take through the content. Each micro course consists of 40 hours of learning; 20 hours of learner participation over two weeks and then 20 hours of focusing on the summative assessment. The pedagogical approach for the courses is one of discovery, self-directed learning and peer-to-peer learning. Learners will be encouraged to interact with others on the course using social media. As much as possible learners will be directed to free existing resources. The structure of each learning pathway consists of: an overview and aims, a signposting video, content, and e-activities/learning challenges (start, tasks and outputs – which learners are encourage to share on their personal blog).

Wayne directed me to an existing course ‘Digital skills for collaborative OER development’.  The course had four tabs: Start up, Course Guide, Interactions and Learning Pathways. The start up tab describes the focus of the course and lists the things the learners need to do to get started. It also provides study tips, including using the course hashtag and the course feed. It indicates the suggested study time (40 – 50 hours), namely 9 sessions over three weeks, with a suggestion of two hours study a day. The assessment element is 10 hours and it is possible for the learners to get formal credit for the course. The course guide consists of the following: 

  • Overview
  • Course aims and learning outcomes
  • Syllabus
  • Learning challenges
  • Course assignment
  • Recommended resources

The interactions tab consists of:

  • Course announcements - which are emailed to participants and also posted on the site
  • Course feed - which harvests all #ds4oer posts from registered course blogs, Twitter, Google+, and WEnotes on Wikieducator.
  • Webinar – the course is asynchronous, but each week there is an online webinar. These are scheduled twice to accommodate different time zones, and sessions are recorded. 

The learning pathways tab describes the content of the course as follows:

  • Orientation
  • Developing wiki skills
  • Designing a blueprint
  • Developing a storyboard
  • Outline a course
  • Improving digital skills for OER
  • Completing the digital skills challenges
  • Creating a learning pathway
  • Publishing a course site.

One of the tools for designing the course that we are using is a variant on Kanban, a planning tool. As the website states:

The kanban board is a visual representation of the work stream, where each work item is represented by a card. Each stage of your workflow is represented by a column, determined by the team. As work progresses, the project member assigned to the item in question can simply drag and drop his/her card between the columns.

Kanban is a methodology developed from (Japanese) lean manufacturing. The OERf has started using Wekan which is a particular Open Source implementation of the technique. It looks really good and simple to use and seems a good way to manage a multi-team project. We currently have two boards: ‘Learning in a digital age’ and ‘LiDA curriculum storyboard’. These are hosted on https://plan.oeru.org/. Here is a screenshot of one of the boards.


The first provides an overview of activities and the second is a mapping of the curriculum drawing on existing courses and identifying areas for development. Each board has four columns: To Do, Doing, Almost Done and Done. Any team member can add cards to the columns, these can be tagged to enable filtering once the boards get more complex, and others can add comments to the cards. The cards can be moved about as the project progresses. The ‘LiDA curriculum storyboard’ has four columns: Possible learning pathways from existing courses, suggested pathways (what’s missing), and then columns from each of the four micro courses. In the first column cards indicated existing content from courses that might be included, each card is tagged to indicate which course the content comes from, namely: TESU, USQ or OERu.

We also have a WikiEducator page, which indicates that the aim of the page is to facilitate discussion on the configuration of the four micro-courses. It gives an overview of the proposed course. It summarises the content from TESU’s ‘Using open resources for self-directed learning’ (PLA-300) course and USQ’s e-literacy for contemporary society course, along with an initial indication of the focus of the four micro-courses.

Courses also have an associated forum, as a space for learners to reflect on the course and ask and answer questions. The forums are designed to be learner focus, encouraging peer interaction. The concept is similar to stackoverflow, based on mutual trust and recognition, learners can earn badges and as an individual’s trust level increased they can gain access to more functionality. Each micro-course will have an associated general forum.

For general communication within the team we will be using https://chat.oeru.org/ and we are using #OERu on Twitter. I am really looking forward to being involved in this work and it’s great that the whole process is so open and using open source tools, liberating!

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