OpenFiction [Blog]

How done is done?

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on June 29, 2006

Sometimes I feel like I should just quote all of Wealth of Networks, beginning to end (which, thanks to the open license, I could), but here’s one bit in particular that resonates:

The emerging businesses of the networked information economy are focusing on serving the demand of active users for platforms and tools that are much more loosely deigned, late-binding–that is optimized only at the moment of use and not in advance–variable in their uses, and oriented toward providing users with new and flexible platforms for relationships.

I suppose you could find support for any view on OER in this, but let me give you my take: Educators adept in operating within the emerging information environment on the web are not likely to want to turn existing OER into finished products, in part because teaching doesn’t lend itself well to rigid advanced preparation (a humanities view I’m sure, by more on this in a minute) and because students in the new information environment aren’t going to want a finished, polished, circumscribed product either.

From the educator perspective, teaching is often a process that is “loosely deigned” and “late-binding.” Within many domains, there are gross predictions about student needs that will hold up–what language they’ll learn best in, whether (especially in formal circumstances) they have taken prerequisites. But even at that level, fluency and level of retention from prerequisites are highly variable, and educators need late-binding materials to account for these variabilities. This suggests that advanced localization beyond the highest levels may miss the mark. This is probably less true in domains such as math, physics and music, which largely employ universal notation and are less ambiguous in their meaning structures.

Even in those domains, though, students used to accessing just-in-time information on the web are likely to feel too constrained by overly-produced materials. Rather than receiving the completed picture, educators may find more success in connecting the dots as best they can, but still pointing to the source of the dots used in original context. This allows learners to follow those connections to the other situations in which the content was used, and seek out the approaches that make the most sense to them.

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