A Model for Use of WikiEducator for Offering Free Vocational Courses

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // According to several websites (Braintrack, 2008), (Univ, 2008) there are about 8,000 universities worldwide. There are many other institutions of higher learning, including training centers and community centers. In addition there are tens of thousands of institutions that support “informal” learning—libraries, museums, archives, etc. Sir John Daniels, currently President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning in Canada, and formerly Vice-chancellor of the Open University, UK has a startling set of observations (Atkins et al, 2007) about current education system. // • Half of the world’s population is under twenty years old. // • Today, there are over thirty million people who are fully qualified to enter a university, but there is no place available. This number will grow to over 100 million during the next decade. // • To meet the staggering global demand for advanced education, a major university needs to be created every week. // • In most of the world, higher education is mired in a crisis of access, cost, and flexibility. The dominant forms of higher education in developed nations—campus based, high cost, limited use of technology—seem ill-suited to address global education needs of the billions of young people who will require it in the decades ahead. // One of the potential solutions to above problems is the use of open educational resources (OER). The basic goal of OER initiative is to use information technology to help equalize access to knowledge and educational opportunities across the world. This initiative targets educators, students, and self-learners worldwide. // All OER initiatives provide OER informational content for free but require a fee for interaction with instructor. Open and free OER initiatives are equivalent to no access or interaction with faculty. OER provides the content of an education program at an institution. The most fundamental aspect of the learning process at an institution is the interaction between faculty and students and among students themselves. The three OER types described in the related work section of the paper are using community software to support voluntary interaction among users. So it can be said that OER are basic resources necessary for education but are not a credit granting teaching and learning experience. A paradoxical aspect of most OER initiatives to date is that while OER content is published and distributed to the Web, most of the OER content is from and for campus–based classroom use. Though web–based, most OER initiatives are not pedagogically designed for online learning. OER is locked into software hosted by the OER originator making it impossible to reuse by incorporating it into a course management system such as WebCT, Blackboard, or Moodle (Stacey, 2007). // In this paper an attempt has been made to include the interaction of learner with instructor using OER and in the course offering. In the following sections a model has been proposed and implemented using the freely available OERs and offering them through a learning management system (LMS) using Moodle in WikiEducator. There are four sections in this paper. The section one describes the related work in the area of OERs. Section two describes the model for offering a vocational course through WikiEducator. In section three the experiences and the lessons learnt are shared. Section four concludes the discussion. // Paper ID 443