The open course environment
During this course we will look at open courses in some detail, as well as the technology used to support open learning. For now, we will set out the technologies used in this course which, since the course needs to be open to all, are open technologies. You can familiarise yourself with these and do any setup required before the course starts.
We have opted for The Open University’s OpenLearn website to host the main part of the course. This is a version of the VLE software Moodle, so will be familiar to many. It was created as part of theproject. It houses open educational content, which users are free to use and to form communities around.
Many of the activities will require you to post your answer or reflections on your own blog. If you do not have one already, then you need to set up a blog, using a free service such as wordpress.com, blogger.com, tumblr, and so on. There are often options to buy extensions or upgrades to these services, but for the purposes of this course, the free options are fine. If you have an existing blog, you are free to carry on using that (although you may wish to set up a distinct blog to keep the course material separate).
Open University students who are using the OU-provided blogs will need to ensure that their blogs are visible to everyone, otherwise the posts will not be aggregated into the course blog (see below). If you prefer to keep this blog private, then, for the purposes of this course, set up a separate one using one of the free services mentioned above.
A blog aggregator will collect your individual blog posts into a course blog. This can be found at.
To have your blog posts aggregated here, you need to register your blog and tag your posts with the tag #h817open. Only posts tagged as #h817open will be incorporated, so you are at liberty to post about other topics on your blog without them being aggregated into the overall course blog.
Specific activities during the course will direct you to post items on your blog, so you should use this as your main record of activity for this course.
As well as blogs and the forums in the OpenLearn environment, there will be discussion on Twitter for the course. This is not compulsory, but you will find it a useful way to find and connect with other learners. If you post anything on Twitter that is relevant to the course, end it with the hashtag #h817open, so others can find it and we can gather together the conversation around the course. For example, a tweet about the course may go something like: ‘Just enrolled for the open course at the OU, looking forward to discussing with others. #h817open’.
During the Open Education course everyone (both Open University students and open learners) has the opportunity to earn ‘badges’. These are a means of digitally recognising certain achievements. You can read more about badges at the.
In order to receive badges for the Open Education course you will need to register with the. The of their website explains how to acquire the badges.
In the Open Education course you can gain three badges:
- OER understanding: to get this badge you need to complete Activity 7: Exploring OER issues in Week 2 of the Open Education course. You will need to blog your solution to this activity, and then go to Cloudworks and the . (You will need to be registered and logged-in to Cloudworks for the Apply for Badge button to appear.) A member of the course team will then check the evidence, and issue the badge.
- MOOC understanding: to get this badge you need to complete Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs in Week 4 of the Open Education course. You will need to blog your solution to this activity, and then go to Cloudworks and the . (You will need to be registered and logged-in to Cloudworks for the Apply for Badge button to appear.) A member of the course team will then check the evidence, and issue the badge.
- Open Education course completed: to get this badge you need to have acquired both the previous badges and completed Activity 25: Reflecting on openness in Week 7 of the Open Education course. You will need to blog your solution to this activity before going to Cloudworks and the . (You will need to be registered and logged-in to Cloudworks for the Apply for Badge button to appear.) A member of the course team will then check the evidence, and issue the badge.
Acquiring badges is entirely optional; they are not necessary to engage in the Open Education course. Badges can be displayed on your blog or web page, using Mozilla’s backpack (you will be prompted to register for this when you gain a badge). They do not carry any formal credit in terms of The Open University, nor are they proof you have studied the Open University Masters-level courseand the badges are not subject to the same rigour as formal assessment, but they can be a useful means of demonstrating participation. They are also of interest in the subject area of the course, open education, as they are seen as a means of recognising informal learning, so you may wish to try them out from a learning perspective.