Openness in Eduction: A Curated Topic

In this module of EDTECH 543 (Social Network Learning) we are learning about content curation. I don’t think I had heard of content curation as it relates to education. Curation is not just about collecting information. It’s about collecting the best information, arranging it in an organized fashion, contextualizing it, and sharing it. It’s the adding of our expert perspective that provides value. You want to tell a story with your content so the ordering of the content you present it and what content you present is critical to your message. Because of this, you need to be somewhat expert in your curated topic area. You need to be able to know what content is most useful and be able to add your perspective.

I have been interested in openness since taking Fred Baker’s Introduction to Openness course (EDTECH 597) this summer. I curated a broad overview of what openness is. It was a more of a challenge to decide which tool to use to curate than to choose the curated content. Ultimately I used ScoopIt. I liked the way it presented the material and is fairly easy to use (though I wish it were easier to put things in the order I want). LiveBinders looked interesting too but I couldn’t figure out how to add my perspective to the content I curated. I also couldn’t get PearlTrees to do what I wanted.


In this module we also developed criteria to evaluate the quality of a curated topic. Below is my self-assessment of my curated topic.


  1. Is the content out of date?  While some of the content is several years old it is still current.
  2. Has the content been regularly updated? NA- this is a newly curated topic
  3. Is the date of last revision documented? I dont see a way to put a date field other than in the topic title but each content entry has the date it was curated so a user would be able to tell when it was last revised.
  4. Does the content contain stable and reliable background material that will not go out of date soon? Yes. The content from David Wiley and Martin Weller are classic descriptions of openness.
  5. Do all of the links work? Yes


  1. Is the content from credible sources? I know they are but not sure how a user would know that.
  2. Is the content free of bias? I think so. I tried to post content that offered alternative perspectives and that was free of commercial bias. I found it could be difficulty to find quality counterperspectives. Most were just opinions of some blogger whom I didnt recognize and who didnt offer references to support their opinions.


  1. Is the content is well organized? I put the content in the order that it was presented in the course I took. It goes from more general information to more specific.
  2. Is the content consistent with other content? It all ties together as I curate various components of openness.
  3. Is there a contextualized organization beyond the general theme? I add my perspective to the content. I organized it from general material about openness to more specific about components of openness.


  1. Is the content from a variety of sources? Yes
  2. Is the content format varied? (text, video, pictures,etc) Yes


  1. Does the content provide new knowledge? Yes to someone unfamiliar with this content.
  2. Does the curator add value through summaries and descriptions? I do add my perspective to each piece of content.
  3. Is the content relevant to the learner’s needs? It would be to someone wanting to get a good overview of openness.
  4. Is the content appropriate for the level of the learner? This is geared toward an adult learner.

I think the challenge of using these criteria are several fold. One, they are probably more useful for the curator than someone who is consuming the curated content. Several of them require some content expertise and the curator would likely have more content expertise than the consumer. Next, some of the criteria require content expertise to know if the material is current, reliable and properly contextualized. This might be difficult for a novice in a curated topic area. While I dont know how I would alter the criteria we developed I think it just needs to be realized that some (if not many) learners might not be able to utilize these criteria themselves.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think my curated topic is useful? Why or why not? What could I improve?


EDTECH 597 Was Transformative


© via Flickr

EDTECH 597: Introduction to Openness was a new course added to the Master of Educational Technology program this summer. Dr. Fred Baker did an amazing job teaching this course.

This is a studio model course examining major areas of openness, the impact on education, and instructional design. Students will create and revise several project artifacts, and will interact heavily throughout the development cycle. Key elements include examining the centeredness of education, questioning what human-centered education might look like, and exploring openness in education through a human-centered design lens.

It’s always a bittersweet time when a course ends but this one is especially so as this was a transformative course for me. I came into this course with a very naive view of openness. My only exposure to openness was via open access medical journals which are looked down upon by the elitist academic establishment. I emerged from this course changed in how I will approach my teaching and publishing in the future.

What are the most important things that I learned?

  1. Open does not just mean free. Lots of stuff is free but not open.
  2. Open resources are all around us and we use them constantly in all aspects of life.
  3. Openness is variably defined but its 2 primary components are transparency (visibility and accessibility to all parts of something) and freedom (ability to do what you want to with something free of legal or technical barriers).
  4. Wiley’s 5 Rs are a useful way to explain open use (freedom) activities: reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, retain.
  5. We need to create more open educational resources (OER) and not just consume them.
  6. Open access journal articles are used & cited more than traditional journal articles. They are also cheaper to produce.
  7. Open scholarship: making courses open to the public, making course materials OER, publish in open access journals, use open tools like blogs, make research data open.
  8. There are 2 types of MOOCs: cMOOCs and xMOOCs. They vary greatly in their openness.
  9. Open access journal models: green (authors self-archive), gold (authors pay article processing fee).
  10. Design thinking and human-centered design principles.

How has my thinking changed? Why was it transformative?

Dr. Patricia Cranton defines transformative learning as. . . “an individual becomes aware of holding a limiting or distorted view. If the individual critically examines this view, opens herself to alternatives, and consequently changes the way she sees things, she has transformed some part of how she makes meaning out of the world.”

There are many aspects that have changed and it’s hard to express them all but I think I have fomented a greater sense of the implications of my view of learning as a social event. We maximize learning with and from each other. For knowledge to be socially constructed there must be sharing of ideas and resources. To share fully, things must be open.

Learning is a societal good. As such, everyone should be able to learn what they want, when they want, and how they want. We currently have too many barriers to learning. Open education ideas, open scholarship, and OERs can reduce these barriers.

What will I do differently in the future? How was I transformed?

If someone is transformed they change their beliefs and behaviors. My beliefs about the quality and benefits of open have changed. My beliefs about open scholarship have changed. Without realizing it I was already doing some open behaviors prior to this course. I regularly published my PowerPoint slides to SlideShare for anyone to use and made my teaching videos public on YouTube. What I didn’t do (and I will in the future) is to make sure I put a Creative Commons license on them that clearly allows for open use with attribution. I will also strive to make publications open access (when I can’t publish in an open access journal) and to publish in open access journals when possible. I will also encourage learners to publish materials they create in an open way.

So as I close out another chapter in my MET program I will always fondly look back on this course as one of the most important and enjoyable of my degree program. I learned a lot about the benefits and limitations of openness. I discovered a university that is open. I learned to use some new tools in creating course projects. I used witty comics to develop a comic about the differences between MOOCs and I created a HyperDoc to present a workshop on creating OERs.  I learned about several open source tools to create and edit video, create and edit audio, and create and edit graphics. I learned about open access clip art and photo sources. I learned about sources of open access textbooks (and even used one for this course). I learned about human-centered design.

I am forever changed.  Thank you Dr. Baker.