Open Educational Practices and Resources: The Key Role of Social Software.

Guntram Geser (2006): Open Educational Practices and Resources: The Key Role of Social Software. Full Paper In: Proceedings of the EDEN Annual Conference 2007, "New Learning 2.0?", 13-16 June 2007, Naples, Italy (Print & CD-ROM)

This paper presents some results of a road mapping study on Open Educational Resources that has been carried out in the framework of the Open e-Learning Content Observatory Services (OLCOS) project. (Geser 2007) The OLCOS project runs from January 2006 to December 2007 and is cofunded by the European Commission under the eLearning Programme. The project aims at promoting Open Educational Resources through its road mapping activity, Web-based services (OER tutorials and examples of best practice) and co-operation with other projects and communities of practice. The project consortium comprises the European Centre for Media Competence (Germany), the European Distance and E-Learning Network (Hungary), the FernUniversität in Hagen (Germany), the Mediamaisteri Group (Finland), the Open University of Catalonia (Spain) and the project co-ordinator Salzburg Research, EduMedia Group (Austria).
Open Educational Resources (OER) are understood to comprise content for teaching and learning, software-based tools and services, and licenses that allow for open development and re-use of content, tools and services. The importance of OER has been acknowledged by recent initiatives of the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI 2005-2007), UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP 2005-2007), and other international and national organisations that are stakeholders in the creation and sharing of such resources.
The OLCOS project considers OER to be an important element of policies that want to leverage education and lifelong learning for the knowledge society and economy. However, the project also emphasises that for achieving this goal it is crucial to promote innovation and change in educational practices. In particular, OLCOS warns that delivering OER to the still dominant model of teachercentred knowledge transfer will have little effect on equipping teachers, students and workers with the competences, knowledge and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge economy and society. Therefore the OLCOS project emphasises open educational practices that are based on a competencyfocused, constructivist paradigm of learning and promote a creative and collaborative engagement of learners with digital content, tools and services in the learning process. This paper addresses the key role of Social Software based tools and services for open educational practices and resources.

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