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Currently the project is under development, with a beta launch planned for early 2009. As well as the technical development, which is being informed by pedagogic theory, the project is also developing new business models, on the assumption that truly open education will need to find sustainable models, if the conventional funding from governments does not apply. The project is seeking to understand how socially data driven learning can be used to support alumni, informal (or leisure) learners, and those seeking career development. The current support and accreditation practices we have in higher education will need to be rethought to meet the needs of these groups in society at large and SocialLearn can be viewed as the OU’s means of understanding, and influencing, these changes.

In undertaking all three of these projects the OU is seeking to remain relevant in a rapidly changing society. The projects are both a means of developing a new profile, but also of understanding how learners behave and what their needs are in a digital society. But they can also be seen as a means of reinterpreting what open means - from Moodle we have come to understand how to operate in a large open source community and from OpenLearn we have investigated what an open approach to content means, both for the institution and learners. From SocialLearn we hope to understand what openness means in terms of subject area, technology and business models.

I’ve presented these endeavours as a positive action, but they are not without risks or significant issues. Is a university the best place to create a social network site? Does this type of activity lead to the commercialisation of education, or is it a response to it? Can learners really learn effectively in this manner? Does it mean learners are challenged less during the learning process?

In thinking about the issues, my general view is that higher education needs to adapt to remain relevant to a society which is changing rapidly. I want to avoid accusations of technological determinism by suggesting that digital technologies themselves are changing society, but they are facilitating new types of behaviour and communication. As Clay Shirky says in Here Comes Everybody, ‘when we change the way we communicate, we change society.’ But, I do have a concern that if we begin to disaggregate higher education, we will lose some of the subtle benefits the existing model provides to learners, educators and society itself. Although I feel that the OU, and other educators around the world are right to pursue these new models, occasionally the words of British singer/songwriter Billy Bragg come to mind: “The temptation to take the precious things we have apart, to see how they work, must be resisted, for they never fit together again.”


1. plefrere - october 15th, 2008 at 7:32 am

“When a learner creates a goal, similar goals, relevant resources, and potential third party offerings (eg mentorship, tuition, formal courses) can all be assembled.”. A crucial question is who controls the system doing the assembling. If a university is at the center of the system, that looks like business as usual.

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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