Essen, April 2013 - To discuss this matter, the University of Duisburg-Essen invites educators and researchers to a European conference on May 16 and 17, 2013. Some main points of dialogue will include defining quality in learning and innovations in learning resources.
Recently Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have shaken up the blogosphere and media reports on higher education. These courses make use of open digital resources for learning and have attracted hundreds of thousands of online learners at no cost. A digital resource for learning can be a written text, pictures, slides, videos, a 3-D simulation or a website combining all of them into ready-made curricula including tools for (self-)assessment for educators or learners. More and more digital resources with open licenses facilitate educators and learners in editing, improving, and adapting to different learning situations inside or outside of the classroom and in turn share their own work with the online community. These open digital resources provide the foundation for a borderless exchange of teaching and learning methods in many different fields. But a potential conflict exists between open learning resources and the quality of those resources. Restrictions on the certification of the creators of such content or the access to learning materials through paywalls have to some degree defended the quality of those resources in the past. How can creators ensure that their digital resources meet an appropriate level of quality and how can users be certain that said resources are worth their time?
The LINQ conference will bring together current initiatives from all areas of education - schooling, adult learning, informal and on-the-job learning - to demonstrate their online resources and methods of quality development and thereby address this potential conflict. An example of such an initiative is VOA3R (Virtual Open Access Agriculture and Aquaculture Repository), a European research project consortium of a variety universities and research centres. This group is building a hub for resources in agriculture and aqua-science through a social network in which researchers can share, comment and rate content. Through the VOA3R platform advances are being made in the sharing, reciprocal reviewing, and rating of learning innovations in the aforementioned fields, thereby addressing the important aspect of learning quality which should accompany learning development. These advances have proven of great interest to the Global Headquarter of United Nations' organization Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - LINQ conference host and supporter of the VOA3R project.
In Rome, discussions will deal with the following questions:
· How can the quality of resources be improved and what does “quality” actually mean for teachers, learners and institutions?
· Are teachers and educational institutions ready to make use of the wealth of resources and how do they find the “right” thing?
· Will the future of digital resources be determined by metadata, i.e. the data about data, feeding databases and search engines?
· What must be done to ensure that we can still access valuable resources in 15 years from now (think about your files from 1998)?
· Do more easy-to-find resources lead to better learning?
Especially but not exclusively for those who do not plan to travel to Rome in May, the University of Duisburg-Essen is inviting interested parties to exchange views on the future of digital resources on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LINQConference. Two conference fee waivers will be given away to Facebook-Followers.
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