OER for disseminating ICT knowledge in the local context

The learning materials available on the web had a high impact mainly on informal and nonformal education in a decade ago. However, with the rapid movement of OER could change the OEP from informal/nonformal learning to formal education. Significant achievements of OE during the last decade are free to access to the excellent quality e-books, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) from renowned universities like MIT  and Open University in the UK, embedment of pedagogy and technology.  The considerable increment of OER related research publications exemplifies the popularity of OER due to its cost-effectiveness, learning efficiency, availability, equal access and personalisation. The learning analytics of course which followed a learning design “OER enable pedagogy” has shown the majority of students tend to access different types of OE materials and shows high likeliness of reusing and recommending for others  [1].

Non-profit local educational organisations or authorities like the Ministry of Education, National Institute of Education in Sri Lanka need to harness the OERs which apply to the school curriculum and local educational culture in Sri Lanka since in house development of e-learning material requires a high budget and skilled personnel. The challenge is how to find suitable OERs relevant to the learning design of the course to achieve the learning outcomes. Open pedagogy, a new term was defined to refer the online education practices which incorporate the OERs for teaching designs. It mainly explains creation, use and reuse of OER. Therefore, Open pedagogy and OEP can be considered as similar terms in the educational context [2]. OERs can also be considered as any other online learning materials use for online course development. Most of the present OERs suit with any teaching method and learning design. Teachers will get access to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the OER in general case. The teachers should possess a clear understanding of the copyright level of all the OERs that are going to embed in the lesson plan (OEConsortium).

OER enabled technology, becoming the future trend of OER which combines constructivism and openness, letting the students learn by practice creating their artefacts which can be shared with the 5R concept of OER. Teacher evaluated good quality creation can be used for the future development of the courses [3].

In the field of ICT, there are plenty of OERs (Michigen College)  (Valley College) in a different format as MOOC courses, e-books, reading materials, videos, lectures, puzzle game etc. Universities or educational institutes create the OER’s under various funded projects. The challenging task in this project is selecting the most appropriate OER licenced with Created Common Licence based on the learning design of the course. Teachers can be integrated OERs corresponding to the learning requirements (Yee, 2015).  Even the materials contents are matching with the learning outcomes, all of the selected OERs have to be reviewed by a panel of experts to evaluate the quality and correctness of the contents. This project is only intended for using OERs in the format of e-books, online materials, videos, pictures, animations, presentations and quizzes.

Several research studies have proposed the requirement of having a method to rate the OER’s based on different characteristics. Since there’s no centralised system to locate the OER’s educationists find difficulties choosing the most appropriate OERs for their courses.  If there’s a centralised system is available for OERs, enabling the feedback and rating options, OERs might be able to cover the entire education system in the near future (Berger, 2018).


  1. Weller, M. et al., 2017. What Can OER Do for Me? Evaluating the Claims for OER.. In: R. S. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener, eds. The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science. London: Open book, p. 67–77.
  2. Cronin, C., 2017. Openness and praxis: exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3).
  3. Wiley, D. & Hilton, J., 2018. Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4).


(Extracted from a submitted assessment of H817: Openness & Innovation in eLearning)

Open Education Resources: bestie for nonformal and informal learning

Education mainly refers to sharing or dissemination of knowledge with others in contrast; most educational materials are costly with having persuasive copyright issues for accessing, reproducing or reusing. Doesn’t it violate the central concept of “sharing” in the definition of education?

Online materials are gifted with the capability of easy sharing, and in the earlier stage of WWW (Web 2.0), most of the static web pages had free and easy access. But with the evolution of the web from 1.0 to 2.0 transferring static web feature to dynamic the free access of web materials were restricted with the authenticated access.

Online learning sites have been vastly created using sophisticated Virtual Learning (VLE)/ Learning Management Systems with high access security. All the educational materials were inside the box. Institutions always tried to prevent exposing their educational materials for unauthorised people. Documents were with high restriction of copying or printing.

The theme of “Education for all” got simplified during the 21st Century lessening the high restriction of online materials. Therefore open education concept has been introduced by introducing free access for specific course materials without any access restrictions, including a price also. Open education has been established through Open Educational Resources (OER). Open Education Practice (OEP) is referred of following the open course materials and developing the OER. Initially, there were different issues such as accuracy, trustworthy, fidelity issues in the OER which prevent access the OER. Therefore those materials were mostly used for nonformal and informal education. But now some of the universities are using those materials of formal education also.

Mainly you can reuse OER materials for your teaching and research purposes. But you have to identify whether the e-material you are accessing with open access privileges. The copyright symbol of the content tells us what can we do with that e-material. There are 5’Rs you can do with OER materials.

  1. Retain – the right to make, archive, and own copies of the content.
  2. Reuse –  can reuse in its original form.
  3. Revise – can modify, alter or adapt
  4. Remix – content can be extracted to combine with other content to form a new material.
  5. Redistribute – can share the copies with others in original, altered or combined format.
OER 5R Permission-original picture

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), I rate those as one of the most significant formations of open education, and I could cover most of my informal learning through the MOOC courses which are freely available in different websites.   Especially most of the MOOC courses are developed by prominent universities with veteran academics in various fields. The MOOC courses cover vast subject areas. Most of the courses are very user-friendly, professional and high-quality materials. The following list shows some of the MOOC courses which I followed in different areas.



(Click the relevant subject to access the course)



Teaching with web 2.0 tools


Blended Learning Essentials


Inferential Statistics

Machine Learning

Further to the about sites you can search for very good MOOC courses in the following sites also.

MIT Open Courseware

Open Learn from Open University UK



However, there may be some issues and challenges in open education when applying for formal education

Open Education; issues and challenges

Open Education, the emerging trend of online learning which became a reality through Open Educational Resources (OER).  The development of OER is a long process which requires a high cost and long-term planning even they are available to access through the Internet free of charges.

There are a lot of challenges and issues which the OER development team has to concern in the teachers’, developers’ and learners’ perspectives. However, I have categorised the issues and barriers according to the responsible party to address them as follows.

  1. Implementation issues in the design and development stages
  2. Adaptation and maintaining issues in the delivery stage

The following 3 issues which I concern as very important since they are required to consider at the initial stage of the design and development of OERs.  I believe these three issues are the foundation for the whole project and scaffold to address for the next stage issues like; sustainability and learner support. These issues have to be addressed within the organisation.


Initially, with the development of learning objects, there was no consideration of pedagogical aspects in online teaching and learning. Most developers only considered the technology and the content for online teaching materials. But leaners find such learning is not motivational.


Everybody expects the quality of the content, delivery method and novel information in all the online resources. Therefore we need to maintain the quality in all the aspects of OERs.


Present generation mostly refers as the “Google generation” is very confident and familiar with the latest technologies. If the OERs are not embraced with the latest technology, the learner will not tend to adopt it.

Became a motivated self-learner through MOOCs

I can’t remember when I started to learn through the web, maybe during my final year at the university. But I use Google search to find the answers for all my questions in my day-to-day life. It can be searching for a recipe or solution for some advanced technical problem.
But mostly I started using the web for my learning when I was doing my research degree. I had to learn a lot of new subject knowledge. It was very tedious and boring to read books from the library and from the internet which never matched with my learning style. As an alternative, I tend to access the learning videos and spent a lot of time to search the videos which are appropriate for me.
Accidently I happen to view a video uploaded from Waikato University on Data mining. Data mining was one of the key areas of my research. That’s how I first got to know about the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
I learnt Data mining from MOOC courses launched by the Waikato University from scratch to expert level. Further to that, I started learning Statistics from Udacity. That MOOC courses are splendid, the teaching style, exercises, the course layout is exceptional. I very much enjoyed the courses. With such motivation, I became a MOOC course hunter. None of the MOOC sites could escape from me; edx, Udacity, OpenLearn. FutureLearn, Coursera etc.
I used some of MOOC courses to teach fundamentals for my students. I have used Hour of Code courses in Khan Academy to teach web development, Computer Program development and computer drawing to the first year undergraduate students.
They enjoyed the courses, and you also can learn the computer drawing and try to develop the following picture using the codes available in this Khan Academy course.

Learning theory behind the Personal Learning Environment

Source: pixabay.com

Personal Learning Environment (PLE) has already blurred the distinction between formal and informal learning. With the advancement of technology, we have become a node of an interconnected network. Learning is embedded not only in our professional life but also in our personal life since technology is changing rapidly. What is the learning theory which reflects the characteristics of learning in the digital age? I doubted whether the traditional learning theories, Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism could explain the learning behaviour in a PLE.

Connectivism, a concept which I recently learnt by reading an article by George Siemens (Siemens, 2015) is found to be the most suitable learning theory to explain a PLE. Connectivism is an alternative approach for traditional learning theories Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. I suppose this theory has been evolved based on the associationism (Wikipedia, n.d.) in a networked environment.

“Connectivism is a theory of learning in a digital age that emphasises the role of social and cultural context in how and where learning occurs. Learning does not simply happen within an individual, but within and across the networks” (Wikipedia, n.d.).

The Connectivism has first introduced in 2005 by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. They have changed the definition of learning as “Learning is the process of creating connections and developing the network” (Downes, 2009).

How can we apply this concept in e-learning? Siemens, Downes and Cormier have developed a MOOC course to model and explain the connectivism, but unfortunately, it is not available now. As per other researches argument, the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is not adequately defined since it’s mostly focused on the learners (Bates, 2015).

However, as per Dowen’s interpretation (Downes, 2009), the role of the teacher in a connectivistic environment is similar to the constructivistic environment. It is just a facilitative and observable role in a more open manner.

There are some criticisms of the connectivism (Machness, 2011) approach in teaching and learning. The main criticism is its novelty.  The critiques stated that the connectivism had been obtained some features from other known theories such as “connectivism is connectionism, in computer science, associationism in philosophy and psychology, graph theory in mathematics and social network theory”. I also think it is related to some features describe in the Social constructivism, Engstrom activity theory and Authentic Learning concept.

Some teaching and learning models were proposed to implement connectivism theory through a personal learning environment (Gillet, 2014).


Bates, A. T., 2015. Teaching in a Digital Age. Vancouver: Tony Bates Associated Ltd.

Downes, S., 2009. Connectivist Learning and the Personal Learning Environment, s.l.: LinkedIn Learning.

Gillet, D., 2014. Personal Learning Environments as Enablers for Connectivist MOOCs, s.l.: HAL.

Machness, J., 2011. Attacks on connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://jennymackness.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/attacks-on-connectivism/
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].

Siemens, G., 2015. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Technology and Digital Learning, 2(1).

Wikipedia, n.d. Associationism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associationism
[Accessed 23 Feb 2019].

Wikipedia, n.d. Connectivism. [Online]
Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism
[Accessed 23 02 2019].

Does PLE actually reflect Personal Learning Environment or Personal Living Environment?

Personal Learning Environment

As a teacher in the modern world, I never hesitate to embrace the technology for my teaching and it helps me to strengthen the teacher-student relationship every time.  Virtual Learning Environment or Learning Management System as we refer, always increase my curiosity and wanted to explore it for incorporating that system with all the educational functionalities in my teaching environment. Initially, it was not an easy task to accomplish. But gradually I could expand its importance to other faculty members. I initially thought the Technology Enabled Learning (teaching) (TEL) is something totally depend on an LMS.

New conceptualized thinking gained from the MOOC Course I followed in FutureLearn on Blended Learning Essentials challenged to my initial idea.  The LMS is only one part of the TEL, not the whole. My digital world got expanded and started using various tools for various purposes.

The term Personal Learning Environment got touched first time from Weller’s blog post but later I learned it is a vast empirical area and becoming the future of VLE.  Graham Attwell defines “A PLE is comprised of all the different tools we use in our everyday life for learning” when introducing it as the future of e-learning.

Can we demarcate the learning from our day-to-day activities? When it comes to the PLE, we have to include all our day-to-day use of technologies since all are inter-connected. In such case can we stop our Personal Learning Environment is becoming our Personal Living Environment?

I actually feel that we are becoming slaves of the technology.  The Internet is becoming a basic need rather than a desire making our life so complex and sophisticated.