"Colearning" - Collaborative networks for creating, sharing and reusing OER through social media
Alexandra Okada, Alexander Mikroyannidis, Izabel Meister & Suzanne Little, The Open University, UK
Conference Theme: Collaboration
Summary: This study focuses on the use of social media tools and personal network environments for OER production
Abstract: Social media have been changing the ways individuals and collectives communicate with each other, how they acquire and use information as well as how they produce knowledge. Web 2.0 technologies have created a sense of “always being in touch or reachable”, enabling at the same time the sharing, remixing and reusing of content online. Users, both organizations and people, can now self-manage and self-maintain their own communities, develop, adapt and share their learning materials together and enable formal or informal learning collaboratively. Social media play an important role in the production of Open Educational Resources (OER) due to several key factors. These factors include global audience dissemination, instantaneous responses and editing, availability for any web user without specialized skills and training, as well as little or no cost. Understanding the creation of interactive and collaborative experiences using social media will be essential for producing meaningful and useful OER. This study focuses on the use of social media tools and personal network environments for engaging learning communities in producing, adapting, sharing and disseminating OER collaboratively. The aim of this investigation is to identify new forms of collaboration, as well as strategies that can be used to make the production and adaptation processes of OER more explicit for anyone in the community to contribute. This study has been conducted within the European project OpenScout (Skill based scouting of open user-generated and community improved content for management education and training), whose objective is to provide online education services that enable users to easily find, access, use and exchange OER. OpenScout has developed a tool library (http://openscout.kmi.open.ac.uk/tool-library), which is a social network environment for sharing OER tools, practices and experiences. The OpenScout tool library represents an ecosystem of people, stories, and resources. The purpose of this ecosystem is to bring together people, groups, networks and collectives who are developing or using learning resources and provide them with the ability to share their stories and resources from different countries. This work analyses the interactions of the research group “COLEARN” in the OpenScout tool library (http://openscout.kmi.open.ac.uk/tool-library/pg/groups/839/colearn/). COLEARN is an open community of research in collaborative learning and educational technologies in the Portuguese language. This group comprises of learners, educators and researchers from diverse academic institutions in Brazil, Portugal and Spain. Their interests focus on collaborative participation through social media, colearning (collaborative open learning) using OER, Social Media and research through Web 2.0 tools. Their current activities are hosted by the OpenScout tool library. There are 26 research groups from Brazilian, Portuguese and Spanish universities currently registered, which includes more than 150 people. One of the main collaborative activities of this community in the tool library has been the production of a book project called “Web 2.0: Open Educational Resources in Learning and Professional Development”. The Colearn community has also developed some webshops to organize and engage people into this project. The outcomes of this study summarise some innovative forms of collaboration in the social network environment provided by the OpenScout tool library for facilitating technical support and best practices sharing, as well as strategies for helping users contribute to the OER production by using social media.