Monday, October 8

Discipline Specific OER Collections (NUS)

The Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL) seeks to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at National University of Singapore (NUS), and aspires to establish itself as a leading centre in higher education. At the heart of their mission is the ongoing endeavour to trigger reflection on different conceptions of teaching and learning, their rationale, and the modes, strategies, and practices of teaching that are consistent with these conceptions.

In my previous post about NUS and CDTL I focused on their great T&L publications. In addition to creating great T&L resources, they are also very actively learning from other learning institutions and educators (or anywhere!), and are collectively searching, finding and indexing useful T&L resources, including courseware (or OER) around the world. Interestingly, they invite the readers to participate (on every page!) in the growth of their website by contributing resources via e-mail. Currently, the publicly available T&L resources (or links) are divided into eight (8) major categories: Discipline Specific Links, Centres of Teaching & Learning, Good Teaching, Teaching Tips, Perspectives of Teaching in HE , Topics of Special Interest, Teaching Resources Guides and Miscellaneous Useful Links.

However, for this post I want to turn my attention to the Discipline Specific Links category, which is especially juicy for anyone looking for resources within a specific discipline. Currently, you can find collections to the following disciplines (new ones surely to be added as they collectively learn!):
Each discipline specific collection is further divided into six sections: Courseware & Tutorials, Databases & Data Banks, Online Journals & Publications, Societies & Associations, Newsgroups & Mailing Lists and Miscellaneous Resources. The Courseware & Tutorials (or OER) section for each discipline are simply delicious. If you find time to explore these discipline specific courseware collections (links), you might discover some excellent world-class free resources (or OER) to beef up your course materials (Extra spice!).

Alright, NUS are not using any sophisticated resource repository engine, and there is no search feature (specifically for resources). But then again, they have managed to index an amazing amount of quality T&L resources and courseware, which are reasonably easy to find due to their simple-to-understand indexing approach. Though, it would be great if there was a search feature and... Hmm, I got an idea!

Joseph Hart reflected in his super blog that Berkeley's YouTube lectures (If you explore the right column of this blog, you can find more Berkeley juice!) is a useful place for instructors who want to compare their course coverage to complete courses. In addition, I am pretty sure we would also love to compare our courses to courses from MIT, Harvard, London School of Economics, Oxford, Beijing University, Ecole Normale Supérieure, University of Melbourne, University of Tokyo, University of Hong Kong, University of Auckland, Seoul National University, and many more.

To be able to do this efficiently and effectively we would probably need a simple, easy-to-use, intuitive and community-based Online Course Comparison Tool (OCCT), which is continuously and dynamically updated (ideally using some form of automated clustering feature like the one found in Vivismo). Believe it or not, I believe with a bit of creative thinking (and expertise!) we can actually transform (or fuse) and adapt EduTools's two excellent online comparison tools (Course Management System & Online Course Evaluation Project) to construct OCCT. If not, it would not need a miracle to create an OCCT, which will enable us to collectively compare (course-selection-of-choice!), discuss, reflect, review, evaluate, and rate/rank courses (e.g. resources, tools, coverage) from Universities and Colleges all over the world. Personally, I find all these world university ranking activities useful on the macro-level, but kind of misleading on the micro-level (course-level!). In other words, a world-class course could actually come from a pretty unknown University, which might be ignored due to our obsession with the macro-level stuff.

Finally, to get this OCCT project moving, we would probably need to set up a DREAM TEAM, which is funded by Google (Yeah, it would be great fun to work with some of their super-geek programmers to transform our ideas into reality!) Who should be in the team? Well, certainly you would want to include Stephen Downes and Joseph Hart to facilitate the system specs and architecture. In addition, the Dream Team would require expertise in many areas, and if you ask me I would include the following: Clayton Wright (Course Quality), Jane Knight (e-Learning Technology), Clive Shepherd (Instructional Design), Elliott Masie (Corporate Learning), Marc Prensky (Interactivity and Games), Robin Good (Collaborative Technology), Tom Kuhlmann (Graphic Design) and Rozhan M. Idrus (Technogogy). Should I be included? Probably, for facilitating this idea (unless someone else is already doing it!). Also, any DREAM TEAM would at least need one person to ask the so called 'stupid' questions and annoy members when they get sleepy (Devils advocate!). I suppose I would be a good candidate here. Our first meeting would take place in Dubai sometime early 2008.

Hmm, well it is nice to dream and think-out-loud in this blog, but I do really hope to have my hands and mind on an OCCT sometime in the near future :)

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