All posts by billchild

The question of  whether I would consider using a Mooc is an interesting one, as using the technology appeals to me and so does the planning. However, I am skeptical how many of my present students would be at all interested in contributing in designing the course as put forward by Cowen and  Tabarrok .

I have put together a small graphic to illustrate my thoughts on Moocs at the moment.

Shall I Mooc_ 2
Shall I Mooc?

Many thanks to Emma Blake for contributing to this post through her own posts and to Debbie Morrison for her post on Marginal Revolution University


Big and Small OER reviewed

Looking at the benefits and drawbacks of big Open Education Resources ( OER) such as those offered by Jorum and Open Learn and small Open Education Resources from such sources as Slideshare  I was struck at how difficult it is to define the differences between big OER and small OER, having said that I think it is still possible to draw some conclusions.

Big OER can reach large audiences in the hundreds of thousands through its branded platforms which in turn is seeded through large-scale investment from various sources, where as in contrast small OER will often only have a smaller audience numbering in the hundreds.

However this smaller audience will often stimulate more feedback from its audience and the resources are often more likely to be reused as access and copyright issues are less restrictive and the technology used is easier to reuse.

The content itself can also vary widely such that small OER may often lack sufficient educational underpinning and be misleading, whilst big OER will have a far stronger framework and clearer learner objectives often culminating in certification for participants.

However content can also be restricted through the organisational and editorial influences of big OER meaning that alternative views might be hindered whilst small OER will allow individual points of view to be aired especially through platforms such as YouTube and Slideshare.

Finally, as Weller (2012) points out, with small OER the focus is very much on the creativity of the content whilst with big OER the creativity is often on the context that facilitates the access to the resource; thus small OER can be very creative but lack an adequate platform allowing an appropriate audience that will reuse and redevelop resources.

In the end both big and small have their benefits and drawbacks and it could be argued that some big OER platforms are made up in parts from small OER providers.


Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at (last accessed 3 April 2014).

Weller, M. (2011b) ‘Public engagement as collateral damage’ in The Digital Scholar, London, Bloomsbury Academic. Also available online at (last accessed 4 April 2014).

Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at (last accessed 2 April 2014).



Thinking about Sustainability

Wiley (2007) identified three sustainability models, which I have attempted to use to categorise the platforms below. This wasn´t an easy task as the platforms didn´t seem to easily fit Wiley`s model.

Change MOOC

This resource source appears to fit into the Rice Model, with collaborator coming together to produce resources available to use.

Coursera also appears to fit best into the Rice model, especially when you consider the number of specialised courses run by Rice University.

Coursera offers two models of training, one open to everyone and free, whilst also offering the opportunity to take part in specialised courses that offer the chance to receive certificates and complete a project with fees of between 150 dollars and 250 dollars. These are offered by various universities from the USA


This platform seems to offer bite sized resources that have been designed by individuals as well as by Jisc. I also found that they are now offering universities (Leeds University is the first ) the chance to offer access to courses as part of the futurelearn courses.

I am not really sure which of Wiley´s models Jorum follows, since it seems to be well funded thus coming under the MIT model and it appears to offer quite an extensive range of resources and access to other platforms as well.

Open Learn

As part of the Open University, open learn offers many taster courses to give people an idea of what is on offer through the Open University. I would say that Open Learn is a mixture of MIT and USU, since it certainly seems to have sufficient resources on a par with MIT OCW from the look of the website, however it doesn´t set out as its goal to offer the whole of its catalogue .


Wiley, 2007, On the Sustainability of  Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education


Open Education Resources….. A Personal View on the Key Issues

Open Education Resources – Key Issues

A Personal View

There are many important and interesting points to draw from the two articles, such that to limit it to three key issues that resonate across institutions is a challenge in itself. One approach is however to consider the key issues that are at present foremost in the personal sphere.
So as a practitioner engaged in the first stages of introducing OER into the world of English language training for adults, where much of the work and cost will be borne by the practitioner and carried out ad hoc and on a low level. I am going to take this personal viewpoint as the views are based on real life experiences and issues with the belief that this will also be of interest to others in a similar position.

Why use OER in the first place?

Much of the literature focuses on a number of issues relating to potential benefits of OER, including efficiency savings, as a reputation enhancing tool and broadening the clientele base. These are all valid points with differing levels of evidence to support their claims; with for example little evidence of financial savings (JISC 2013). In my own experience OER is at the moment worthy of consideration when used as a tool that can be used to complement existing training methods by extending the classroom out into the cyber-world.

OER encourages new relationships to form

There is evidence that points to change in relationships between students and practitioners, as traditional hierarchy have flattened and there have been changes in the balance of power in learner/teacher relationships (JISC 2013) and more concretely there exists dialogue, through the development of student voice, over what should be included and how it best suits the needs of participants. In certain circumstances, Input is no longer the realm of the practitioner but can also be shared, which has pedagogical benefits (Biddulph, 2011, Cartwright, 2013). Furthermore, there is evidence that also indicates that engaging OER has also led to institutional change especially in processes and practice. As certain projects have taken on an institutional–wide approach they have influenced the structures and activities and looking at higher education institutions where departments are often self-contained units spread out from each other with little contact and sharing of ideas and practices. Hence OER as a tool used sensitively can aid in forging new relationships within and outside of the institution.

Senior management support key to success

Senior management support is one of the key issues when talking about introducing change, since they are often the gate keepers to many of the doors that will need to be opened and kept opened to ensure a successful introduction (Robinson et al, 2008) of OER. Senior managers will thus need to be brought on board with clear explanations of the two issues previously mentioned to enable them to understand the implications of OER and also to be able to steer projects forward to towards successful implantation.


  • Biddulph, M. (2011): ‘Articulating student voice and facilitating curriculum agency, Curriculum Journal, 22:3, 381-399
  • Cartwright, M (2013) ‘Myriad Professional Identities: The Challenge for Leading Professional Development in the Further Education Context?` published in Wise, Bradshaw & Cartwright Leading Professional Practice in Education ( 2013), pp 274-287, Open University, Sage Publishing
  • Robinson, V.M.J., Lloyd, C.A. and Rowe, K.J. ( 2008) ‘The Impact of Leadership on student outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types, published in Wise, Bradshaw & Cartwright Leading Professional Practice in Education ( 2013) pp 47-61, The Open University, Sage Publishing


My thoughts on openness in learning via voicethread

Thinking about openness in learning is a mind stretching exercise, especially if you’re  not sure where if at all you might fit in …

Anyway here is a link to my picture representing  my thoughts.

This is the first time that I have actively used voicethread, so I hope that people will have a look and add to my picture with their own thoughts and doodles…

What’s the “problem” with MOOCs?

Interesting post here, especially thought provoking on the future of degree courses compared to MOOCS …


In case the quotes didn’t clue you in, this post doesn’t argue against massive open online courses (MOOCs) such as the ones offered by Udacity, Coursera, and edX.  I think they are very worthy ventures and will serve to progress our system of higher education. I do however agree with some criticisms of these courses, and that there is room for much more progress.  I propose an alternative model for such massive open online learning experiences, or MOOLEs, that focuses on solving “problems,” but first, here’s a sampling of some of the criticisms of MOOCs.

Criticisms of MOOCs

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I don´t have much first-hand experience of MOOC`s or any other form of Open Education apart from that of the Open University. However, I have downloaded vodcasts from UTunes in the past, from MIT, but I have to say that I only watched them for a few minutes before switching off.

Back to Open Learning, I have thought about a Yahoo Site that I belong to which is part of an English Trainer organisations online presence. On this site, members occasionally share teaching ideas and answer questions about grammar etc. However I notice that many members are reluctant to share too much information as competition for work is fierce. Thus I think the idea of MOOCS etc. in the area of foreign language learning will be challenging to work with, as individuals and language schools rely solely on fees to exist with the present business model.

On the other hand, if new models came to the fore, whereby content was delivered freely, but with paid for end examinations for example (Waldrop and Mitchell, 2013)


Waldrop, M. Mitchell; Nature magazine (13 March 2013). “Massive Open Online Courses, aka MOOCs, Transform Higher Education and Science”. Scientific American.