Author: James Kerr
Doctoral student in Adult and Online Learning; IT Director; Director of Distance Learning and Educational Technology.

This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

In reviewing the materials for session 1 of the Open Content Licensing for Educators (OCL4ED) mOOC (micro Open Online Course) I was immediately taken back to a brief exercise I put together for another MOOC, the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL) hosted by ALT.  I use two blog posts to demonstrate open and proprietary, or closed, resources.

See and

I thought, at the time, it was a simple way to show some fundamental differences between OER and proprietary systems.
The commitment to using OER requires checking and verification.  The commitment to creating OER is even greater, checking and verifying against known copyrighted works, and then re-creating or rewriting as necessary.  Consider the following from (Brown, Holding, Howell, Rodway-Dyer, 2010):

“Checking for potential copyright infringements hasproved to be a resource hungry activity. Contributing academics are asked to mark up their material, indicating what they know is their own authorship, what is third party (and whether they have permission to use it), and any content whose provenance they areuncertain about. The material is then forwarded toprofessional support colleagues who check more forensically, including passing text through plagiarism detector software. Disturbingly, their observations are that awareness of copyright issues by academics is low, interest probably lower but non-compliance at a worryingly high level! Much discussion then ensued with the academics in seeking e.g.infringement-free replacements or re-writing some portions of text. In such negotiations, inevitably the initial goodwill became strained and the academic’s enthusiasm considerably dimmed. There is an unanticipated call upon academic’s time and OER is unlikely to be anywhere near the top of their agenda.”

Creating OER is a massive commitment with (currently) little recognition. It is a labor of love, of belief in humanity, and in belief that a free and open body of knowledge can exist in our consumer society.

Browne, T., Holding, R., Howell, A., & Rodway-Dyer, S. (2010). The challenges of OER to Academic Practice. Journal Of Interactive Media In Education, 1-15. 

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Thoughts on completing ALT's ocTEL 2013 (v1.0)

For the last eleven weeks, I have been participating in the UK’s Association for Learning Technology’s (ALT) Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL) (  It was designed as a connectivist MOOC (cMOOC), utilizing …

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Live by the sword… (MOOCs)

Using technology in instruction, meetings, or presentations has always been a double-edged sword. The more it is depended on, the more spectacular are the failures when technology doesn’t cooperate.  When technology is so fully integrated into the…

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Induction Weeks

Induction week.  Week Zero.  Course Orientation.  Different names for similar activities.  Course orientations can be such a critical time for students, they may even drop a course during the induction week because of a poor experience. (Jones, Jones, & Packham, 2009; Schofield & Sackville, 2010)  Induction week can be the time that participants learn (or have a refresher) about the institution’s policies, resources, support areas, and study skills.  It is an opportune time to familiarize themselves with the LMS/VLE and other technical requirements of the course.  They can be introduced to their instructor, their tutors or teaching assistants, and their peers. (Motteram & Forrester, 2005; Schofield & Sackville, 2010)

Peer support during Induction Week activities can be extremely helpful for inexperienced online or TEL learners, to help them become more comfortable and acclimated to the environment.  The tricky part is getting the experienced learners to participate in the Week Zero activities, to assist and help with the inexperienced.  Not only can the experienced learners assist with technology issues, but also give tips and guidelines on how to manage the different aspects of the course, maybe previous experiences with the instructor, etc.  (Motteram & Forrester, 2005)  It takes the readiness evaluations we looked at earlier in ocTEL and applies them.  Participants can seek assistance based on the results of their self-assessment; or, if those results are shared with the course tutors, targeted tutorials can be offered.  (Jones, Jones, & Packham, 2009)  Here is the dry run, the dress rehearsal, for the learners to get used to the course mechanics and get their feet wet.  They don’t have to waste instructional time learning how to use the tools, they can do it during the Induction Week.


Jones, P., Jones, A., & Packham, G. (2009). E-learning induction design for an undergraduate entrepreneurship degree. International Journal Of Management Education (Oxford Brookes University), 8(1), 37-51. doi:10.3794/ijme.81.210

Motteram, G., & Forrester, G. (2005). Becoming an Online Distance Learner: What can be learned from students’ experiences of induction to distance programmes?. Distance Education, 26(3), 281-298. doi:10.1080/01587910500291330

Schofield, M., & Sackville, A. (2010). Student Induction/Orientation: From Event to Entitlement. International Journal Of Learning, 17(7), 113-124.

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This is a closed post.  This is all you get.  No further reasoning or rationale, no input or comments.        #adult_learning, #closed, #edtech, #learning, #MOOC, #ocTEL, #OER, #open, #tel

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This is an open post.  I’m including my train of thought.  If the Blogger system lets me, I will allow unmoderated posts in response to this post.  If it doesn’t, I’ll simply allow them all.  I’m going to write another post after th…

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Course Templates in Higher Education; Why Re-Invent the Wheel Every Time?

An interesting article for the Week 5 activity 5.1 in ocTEL ( Derivation of electronic course templates for use in higher education.  As an instructional technologist in higher education, I frequently hear from  facult…

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Kolb's Learning Styles and Social Media Tools

Review Kolb’s Learning Styles at or

In a (very simplistic) nutshell:  Kolb’s Learning Cycle is a process of experience, reflection, abstraction, and experimentation, which feeds back into experience.  Kolb also classified four different types of learners based on their preferences within the learning cycle: thinking, feeling, doing, watching.

Considering all the different social media tools available, they share a fundamental function; one can be a consumer or voyeur, or one can be an active participant.  It is the difference between “watching” and “doing”, from Kolb’s learning styles.  Consider the following social media applications:

  • YouTube – Can be viewed entirely at a “consumer” level, and not as an uploader or participant.  Or, one can contribute to the community and content base; 
  • Twitter – Can be view-only, or can contribute.  Great for starting dialogue, brainstorming, quick sharing; 
  • Instagram – Photo-sharing; 
  • Pinterest – Collecting images and links, organizing and categorizing;

I realize there are many, many more social media sites available that each have their own “angle”; this is not an exercise in listing all the social media sites available, but a simplistic example to illustrate SM to Kolb’s theory.

At the “watching” level, anyone can become a consumer of the content, browsing at will, or subscribing to specific feeds or channels.  Not until participation occurs, however, does it cross into the “doing” level.

Even as watchers though, consumers can use their experiences as “feeling” for further reflection and “thinking”.  Certainly as active participants who are “doing” and interacting with the social communities, “feeling” as concrete experiences can lead to further “thinking”.  In this manner, social media applications seem to fulfill all aspects of Kolb’s learning styles.


McLeod, S. A. (2010). Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle. Retrieved from 

#edtech, #experiential_learning, #learning, #ocTEL, #tel, #social_media, #kolb

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Alignment of Educational Resources

In the Quality Matters benchmark rubrics, alignment is a common thread that runs throughout the evaluation process.  It is critical for emphasizing that each piece of an online course is relevant to the topic, the setting, the audience, and the course.  Following is directly from QM:

“What is Alignment?Critical course components – Learning Objectives (2), Assessment and Measurement (3), Resources and Materials (4), Learner Engagement (5), and Course Technology (6) – work together to ensure that students achieve the desired learning outcomes. When aligned, each of these course components is directly tied to and supports the learning objectives. Specific standards included in Alignment are indicated in the rubric annotations.” (Quality Matters, 2013.

When considering resources, I keep these guidelines for alignment in mind.  As part of the instructional design process, alignment should be a major factor being considered at every stage of the design, not just when evaluating resources.

One aspect of alignment that I find particularly interesting is style; content, audience, and course alignment are straightforward, but alignment of style seems a bit more abstract, but important nonetheless.  Does the resource fit the style of the course, the instructor, and the institution?  If the resource is an activity, does the style of the activity match the instructional level of the course?  The audience?

Alignment is a broad category that affects the overall quality of a course, whether it is f2f, online, blended, or hybrid.

#edtech, #MOOC, #ocTEL, #tel, #OER, #alignment

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History of Educational Technology – An Interactive Timeline

An Interactive Timeline of Educational Technology(Thanks to Google Docs, TimelineJS, and Dr. Rick Voithofer, OSU College of Education & Human Ecology)This is an interactive activity project exploring active learning and technology-enhanced learning…

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