2013 Highlights

I'm still undecided about keeping this site. I had used it to collect open resources and events that interested me. Now that MOOCs have overwhelmed so much of the discussion and exploration of openness internationally, I'm uncertain whether to retire this and just use my ScoopIt, Wordpress site(s) and Diigo to collect the same information.
In the short term, I'll leave it so I can use it as a historical archive if nothing else.

Nuggets found...

posted Jan 3, 2014, 9:54 AM by Sylvia Riessner   [ updated Jan 3, 2014, 10:27 AM ]

I never miss an opportunity to browse a new online course or MOOC - I always find the most interesting nuggets of information or links to new tools to explore. This morning it was an online course build by researchers in the UK within the Openlearn Labspace site, under the auspices of a project called "ROLE" which stands for "Responsive Open Learning Environments."
The ROLE course is estimated to take 3 hours to complete (if I keep getting sidetracked as I find nuggets it is likely to take me longer). The intent is to help learners build their onw tech-enhanced personal learning environment. To that end they built a number of widgets that seem to be "open".
The first is a social search widget called "Binocs"  Binocs is set to cull resources from a list of repositories that includes big names like Youtube and NYTimes but also included two open resources I hadn't heard of before. These nuggets will be added to OER search sites and explored in the near future:
1.  OpenScout "skill-based scouting of open management content"
a project co-funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus Programme as a Targeted Project in the area of Educational Content (Grant ECP 2008 EDU 428016).
The site offers management education and training resources and is organized into three main streams of possible use/activity:
  1. Search - among multiple repositories, using filters, social or competence-based search
  2. Publish - the opportunity for individuals/institutions to publish and share to the OpenScout community
  3. Community - a social network where you can find people with similar interests and share content recommendations (more curation!)

The site provides a "demonstrator" that shows users how to "start a keyword based search, filter search results, include competence search criteria, or add social metadata like tags, comments or ratings. Additionally, the user is presented with recommended tools for working with a selected resource"

2.  ICOPER - Adopting Standards for European Educational Content

Another European project - ICOPER is coordinated by Wirtschaftuniversitat Wien (Vienna) and is co-funded by the European Community eContentplus Programme

Although it is grandly ambitious, several of the handful of resources I clicked on threw server errors; others that opened were varied in potential I think. I need to do some in-depth searching to see how potentially valuable this site could be. Some great ideas.

"The Open ICOPER Content Space (OICS)...has been conceived as a learning object repository capable of storing both learning resources and metadata records, with sophisticated services for publication, enrichment, search and retrieval. Additionally, the OICS provides services for the management of learning outcome profiles."

I'll keep an eye on this one. I like the idea of developing a place to store profiles - sort of the way Khan Academy has been doing.

Microsoft and British Library release old images...

posted Dec 15, 2013, 5:07 PM by Sylvia Riessner   [ updated Dec 15, 2013, 5:07 PM ]

Thanks to the efforts of Microsoft who digitised pages from old books and then generously donated the scanned images back to the British Library, we now have access to more than a million images of odd advertisements and illustrations from 17th, 18th and 19th century books. If you go the the Flickr Commons site for The British Library, you can dive right in and browse  line drawings, paintings, photographs in color or black and white.
You may want to start with the more digestible selection of 68 images curated by the Library's Digital Research Team at Highlights from the Mechanical Curator

I had fun trying to imagine what each illustration was supposed to achieve. Take a look at the Image of Tiger taken from "To the Snows of Tibet through China" The expression on the cat's face is worthy of a Max Sedmak illustration.
Some of the images led me on a bit of a treasure hunt.
image from Journal of a Voyage to Peru (1827)
My eye was caught by an intricate drawing of a young woman wearing what looked like a burlap shawl/jacket over a layered dress/skirt and flat pumps. Apparently this image came from "Journal of a Voyage to Peru, a passage across the Cordillera of the Andes, in the winter of 1827, performed on foot in the snow..." I couldn't fathom what relationship the image had to the Journal so I googled the title and found the document on the Open Library site. The full title is
"Journal of a voyage to Peru 

a passage across the Cordillera of the Andes in the winter of 1827, performed on foot in the snow, and a journey across the Pampas 
by Lieut. Chas. Brand.

Published 1828 by H. Colburn in London .

I wondered who was behind the Open Library and, no surprise, it's an initiative of the Internet Archive
Thanks to this wonderful site, you can read the journal online (or have it read to you online), download it as a PDF, a plain text file, in DAISY (accessible), ePub, DjVu, MOBI format or you can send it to Kindle. Talk about choices eh? I've downloaded it to my iPad to see if I can understand more about the journey and what the illustration means.
I did flip through the online pages and found out the full title of the illustration is:  "A Lady of Lima in Her Walking Dress" The text that appears to relate to the image begins on page 182:
"The depravity of morals at Limia is proverbial. The disgusting dress of the females in a great measure speaks to the fact." Lieut. Brand then cites a description written y a "lady to her friend in the United States":  "A most singular and disgusting dress is worn by the females of Limia in the streets...It consists of a petticoat of silk or bombazine, laid in fine plaits and drawn together underneath with silk; they are so thickly laid that the dress is elastic, and defines the figure as nicely as possible; this is confined in a binding, just large enough to hook round the waist, and reaches to the ancles; they are generally black or brown...A black silk mantle, or thick elastic guaze, is then tied round the waist, and drawn up behind over the head like a hood or friar's cossack, concealing the arms, and so held by the hand as to completely hide every part of the face except one eye."
Whereas I had assumed the cowl-like shawl was for protection from weather, this writer appears to think otherwise:
 "...is not only inelegant, but extremely indelicate; it forms such a perfect mask, that no man knows his wife or daughter, and affords such a disguise that the females go where they please, even at night, without fear; and it is a good comment upon the extreme laxity of morals..."

Wow, talk about cultural judgement eh?
I'd like to find out why they wore it and if it really meant that they could go wherever they wanted, even at night.
I'd suggest you go exploring too - I'm curious what people will actually do with these images and how I'll find out?

College & Technical courses free or low-cost

posted Nov 10, 2013, 11:22 AM by Sylvia Riessner   [ updated Nov 10, 2013, 11:25 AM ]

Open Course Library
You'll have to teach yourself and it might cost you small amounts of money but you can access course materials through Google Drive.

Check out the Open Course Library website for access to 81 high-demand courses at Washington's 34 community and technical colleges.

An initiative that was launched in 2011 and funded jointly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Washington State Legislature, these materials should be high quality. The site claims that all course materials are developed by:
  • One or more faculty developers who currently teach the course
  • Two or more expert content reviewers
  • One instructional designer
  • One research librarian
Even more interesting to me is that the courses are reviewed for accessibility and evaluated by a global education specialist. I'll have to do a bit more digging to find out what perspective/analysis the global education specialist did. There is an accessibility file on the Google Drive with the actual course materials.



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