Activity 4: Learner-centred open education

The three main priorities that I have chosen to list below revolve very much around a learner-centred approach. In my job, I guide teachers with regards to the design and delivery of e-learning activities, and I focus very much on educational design, how to scaffold learning processes, motivating and engaging learners. I find that many students are quite new to the idea of learning online, and it takes time for them to see the point and fully engage.

I use Gilly Salmon’s five-stage model and her e-tivities concept ( which help teachers design focused e-learning activities that more or less “script” the actions and interactions of students with other students and with text books, online resources etc. This helps set the scene and make learning objectives, demands and expectations transparent to students. However, not all students cope equally well or are equally motivated to engage in the e-learning activities. The fixed framework might be demotivating and students might lack the necessary digital skills to participate online.

In formal education, some choices have been made by the teacher which can help simplify the (virtual) learning environment, but:

How do we best support the learner in open education and how do we create truly open access to all?

My three main priorities:

  1. Digital literacy and technology: Opportunities and barriers with respects to engaging in learning activities online. How do we make it simple, yet enriching to participate in open education?
  2. Types of open education: Models of delivery, educational design, learning theory and pedagogy. What seems to engage learners and best facilitate learning processes?
  3.  Types of learners: Any particular type of learners that benefits the most from open education? What about the other types of learners? How do we cater to their needs?

8 thoughts on “Activity 4: Learner-centred open education

  1. I see what you mean. Luckily online learning is not only written communication, although it still dominates. I think it’s great that some learning activities directly call for visual representations or oral. This should appeal to more learners. I find it quite challenging myself to be forced to think and create visual representations having always been very verbal 🙂

  2. Inger my ‘day job’ is involvement in teaching at HE level and especially in the use of forums of different ‘flavours’ and training in creating interaction. I am particularly interested in your Q3 and have been wondering for some time how best to explore this (without resorting to MBTI). There is another participant – @NicolaJMorris – who is also interested in this area. Might be good to chat once the MOOC pace slows?

    • Yes, let’s do that. MBTI, I think, would not be able to catch what’s going on and what’s on stake in a virtual learning environment. There’s something very fascinating about how people change and might behave very differently online compared to face-to-face. Would be helpful to discuss and explore this further.
      By the way, do you also manage some time off in between your day job and facilitating these online courses? It must be a mouthful and your are doing a fantastic job 🙂

  3. The problem I repeatedly have with the proposed learning groups for activity 8 is whether a person in the group is a digital resident or a digital visitor – definitions defined by research and evidence that negate any division by age. And one more group, the one the British Government cannot reach with its current drive for Universal Credit administered entirely online – are the digitally excluded. Those who for a number of reasons have never used a computer before let alone been online – who are definable by socio-economics – they are poor, and in some cases illiterate – so how can their ability to become digitally literate be presumed? Even those, 4% in the UK stats according to 2012 Oxford Internet Institute Survey, who are not denied access for socio-economic reasons, but for life-style reasons don’t have Internet access – or, I hazzard a guess, a TV. And not meaning to be disparaging about the wonderful town where I live, Lewes, in East Sussex, also refuse to use High Street Chains and only spend ‘their own’ transition town money.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree that it’s important to revive the public discussion on digital literacy. In Denmark, there was a debate some years ago about the A team, who were the digital literate and the B team who did not have digital skills. But then there was a great effort to improve access to the internet. That was sort of seen as the solution. However, being able to connect to the internet will not help you if you don’t have a device to connect. And net connection alone is not enough to help you learn. Also I find that there’s a marked difference between being online chatting to friends and then engaging in online education. Learning online seems to be challenging to some.

  4. I am watching the questions in your first 3 priorities being debated in the US and it is interesting, the language of open education s relatively new in the US though many schools use Chromebooks for school work. In the the 12 months since MOOCs caught on in the US, MOOCs are a done deal, with the majority of the major US universities signed up.Since standards are set by individual communities, one sees them arguing about requiring UNIs to give credit for MOOCs. All of this is at the post-secondary level. But little time is being spent on answering the questions you stated in your priorities. Pre-secondary will have to be dealt with differently. It seems that the US is taking a rapid prototyping approach.

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