Sunday, August 30, 2009

Will virtual birthing unit ideals inspire real birthing unit practice?

The Te Wāhi Whānau – The Birth Place in Second Life project has put another informative video out. If you watch that video, prepare yourself to be a little weirded out. Its really informative for those involved in midwifery and child birth, but for the rest of us its hard to get over freak out of using Second Life to consider such an extremely real life thing like birth! But that's exactly what I'd like to consider here...

Lowell Cremorne over at Metaverse Health has given the project a very nice write up, noting points such as:
the main impression I’m left with is how midwife-driven this project is. What I mean by that, is the birthing unit is so much better than most in existence in the real world. As a Registered Nurse (but not a midwife), I’ve witnessed half a dozen births and even from that limited perspective I can totally appreciate how much better a birthing environment Te Wāhi Whānau is compared to even the better hospital-based birthing units. As a clinical simulation for midwives, I can see its power as a key adjunct to lab-based learning and practicums. The gamut from initial assessment of labour to initiating breastfeeding and perineal care is covered in a comprehensive way.
While the development project has been focused on exploring ways of helping midwife students achieve certain learning objectives, the design of the virtual space refers to work outside that narrower scope. The design of the Second Life model drew on University of Technology Sydney research looking into what an ideal birthing unit would be. Having midwife students, mothers and fathers to be, and a wide range of health professionals watch the video and possibly even go into the Second Life build could inspire building better birthing units in real life. That would be a project outcome we may never know, but it is interesting to consider such an implication.

I am not aware of anything else that gives a widely accessible depiction of an ideal birthing unit. I can't find a link to the UTS research, and I don't think they have published any drawings or illustrations outside the academic journals they have probably published in. I know they haven't built a model for everyone to see in Second Life, nor have they produced a video on their designs and published it on Youtube. This project has done all that, as well as supporting texts on Wikieduator.

At the very least, having all these depictions made available in popular media sites like Youtube (a video made possible only by the models in Second Life) will likely mean that many mothers-to-be will take a look, and this will likely influence what they look for in a real life birthing unit (if they have a choice). This consciousness in the "market demand" for birthing units, along with the model in Second Life, could help leverage real change in birthing unit design, as more and more health professionals will be compelled to watch the video themselves.

None of this is a core objective of the project unfortunately, and so the idea is not directly addressed in the media, nor will the wider educational/learning impact be explored. I've written before about the potential of Second Life influencing ideas about real life spaces - I find it the most compelling aspect about the platform, and probably the side that has the biggest impact educationally. I would love to take part in a project that explored this relationship a whole lot more, especially a project where we focused on the linguistic premises of the platform while we worked on something specifically designed to influence a real life space.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No copyright

No ownership of ideas, no copyright. Public Domain if you like. Give, share, take, reuse

Friday, August 28, 2009

International developments in open education

I met with Stian Håklev from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education this morning, after watching his talk about Chinese Open Education at Open Education Vancouver, and listening to an older talk he made at Ontario Institute' called Open Education Around the World. We recorded our hour long conversation stemming from those presentations, and I've published it on the Archive.

Stian's work provides us in the English speaking world a rare glimpse and interpretation of the open educational work being done in other countries, which to me is a very valuable opportunity to hear things outside our unavoidable English speaking echo chamber. Listening to his talks gave me many new ways for considering my own work at Otago Polytechnic, and new ways I might approach future work. I especially liked the ideas drawn from how the Chinese Ministry of Education has been encouraging open education, intentionally (or not) giving a lot of freedom for the concept to evolve among practitioners, resulting it what appears to be a very eclectic array of initial work that could give rise to innovation in the future (in China or not!). Unlike our classic references in the "West" such as MIT and other institutions, where they each maintain a heavily branded, single platform approach that tends to over ride what the individual lecturers might have done otherwise, and dilute what we might achieve if we were to pool resources on popular platforms as they exist at each moment in time.

At Otago, we have elected to go the individual and independent route, focusing our efforts in building digital literacy across many popular Internet platforms, encouraging a few over others, but generally accepting whichever methods the teachers decide to use, hoping fundamentally that they decide to use an open copyright licenses. Sadly this human derived mish mash has resulted in some shallow internal criticism around notions of quality, and most teachers opting for closed education because they don't have time to fully consider the issues. But we have enough successes in terms of increased awareness, professional development, critical incites, open courses and resources, and ideas and discussion brewing that would suggest (all things being equal) that the approach is efficient, sustainable and cost effective in a multi dimensional way of accounting for it. What that means I hope to be posting about within the month :)

Anyway, here is just over an hour of what we think is interesting conversion between Stian and I. We hope to do this again, this time Stian questioning me more about Otago's work.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Other general notes from Open Ed 09

  • - A portal for open ed. User generated. User managed. Content aggregated. Built on a wiki. Use of the word Global is concerning. See OER survey.
  • BC OpenSim - Impressive use of Open Sim in education
  • BYU researching open education leading to paid enrollments.



  • Scott Leslie: Open Educator as DJ
  • - Free music
  • - Wikis


Films and TV

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The New Colonialism in OER

To what extent is OER part of the cultural imperialism being felt “globally”?

For example, is copyright really an issue for teachers in Kenya? I doubt it. It certainly wasn't a an issue where I worked in NZ 3 years ago. By that I mean, no one was concerning themselves with issues of copyright, so no one was affected by it. People happily taking images from a general Google image search and placing them in their slide presentations without a second thought. It's only when we go outside our individual practice, where our work represents something larger than ourselves (like an institution) that we may be confronted with issues of copyright... that there is an interesting point of difference to consider in terms of the benefits of remaining small and agile in practice...

If a place has no conception of the idea that an expression of an idea could be property, then does the introduction of OER become a vehicle for furthering cultural colonisation through copyright? Would it be right for a country like the USA, and those with similar such notions, to encourage a nation who has no conception of such a property to begin releasing its "intellectual property" as open?
“There is an overall culture of sharing knowledge here, even if this isn’t called ‘Creative Commons’ We had the launch of CCIndia in early 2007, but there seems to be little activity there… I think CC is a bit too conservative and too respectful of copyright issues. Copyright has not worked for us (in the developing world) for generations. Generally speaking, copyright in any form, including CC, doesn’t fit in too well with Asian ideas of knowledge, since it enables those controlling knowledge and information over the rest, and we find it impossible to emerge winners in this game. It is a colonial law, not meant to serve the interest of the people of those parts of the globe that are not ahead in the information race! Why should we be as respectful to it, as, say, Lawrence Lessig is?”
Indian journalist Frederick Noronha as quoted by Marco Fiorette in his article Tragedy of the Commons.
In many respects, OER and the Creative Commons licenses help propel US centered ideas of copyright and intellectual property, indirectly inserting such ideas on the back of moral concepts such as sharing, freedom and openness, as though sharing, freedom and openness didn't exist before, and that the only way to protect such notions is with legal instruments that recognise copyrights in the first place!

I attended the sessions at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver by Lila Bailey, Counsel, ccLearn, Creative Commons, and Lindsey Weeramuni, Intellectual Property Supervisor, MIT OpenCourseWare. Lila did a pretty good job of explaining the issues around Creative Commons' and ccLearn's global ideas, but one thing that struck me is that it all stems from US law in the first place. I asked why instead doesn't CC International and ccLearn find a country with more progressive laws (if any) relating to copyright, and use that as a basis to build up a creative commons. Obviously it couldn't work because for some well known if all too often unquestioned reasons - US law is the dominant force in copyright. My question was a red herring.

Glory By Binyavanga Wainaina questioning other Western born "aid" initiatives.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Models of open education

I spoke at the Open Education Conference 2009 Vancouver today. As usual I went in feeling a little unprepared.. but reckon I found my way through it :) Here's the notes I spoke to:

  • 4 Stories of OERP
  • 4 models of OERP
  • The Policy and support
  • Questioning and evaluating

4 stories
  • Teacher needing professional development at low risk, maximum flexibility
  • Emerging professional seeking recognition, migration and employment
  • Young school leaver needing a head start into an apprenticeship and trade
  • Self employed small business owner needing short courses on specific areas at minimal cost, maximum flexibility.

4 models

Free and open courses

Free and open instruction

Free and open content

Free and open programmes

Policy and support

Progressive copyright

  • Enables reuse
  • Gives assurances to publish

Use popular social media

  • Content outside
  • Learning inside (if necessary)
  • Digital networked literacy
  • Notions of life long learning
  • Addressing the disconnect

Evaluating this work

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Collaborative webbased video editing

Web based image, audio and video editing has been making quiet but significant progress over the years. Web based editing means every day punters like you and I can edit directly on the website where we store our media - rather than having to carry around (or even own) a computer, or worry about running software on a computer. With nothing but a portable recorder like a phone, we are free to wonder the streets uploading pictures as we go, and then jumping into a cafe or onto a friends computer to edit the media straight through a standard web browser with broadband internet connection.

For example, I upload photos to Flickr and video to Youtube directly from my phone. I just snap a shot, or take a few seconds of video, and send the media up by a special email address that both Flickr and Youtube provide. A while back Flickr quietly added web based image editing for touch ups, basic editing or even for getting post productive. Its as simple as clicking the "edit" button above your image on Flickr and then start adjusting brightness and contrast, adding colour and text, cropping and rotating.. I've been thinking to use it to create titles to add to my videos when I get around to editing them web side as well!

Speaking of which, Kaltura - now there's a promising bit of web based video editing software. Not only does it offer reasonably stable editing, it enables collaboration as well! I primarily use Kaltura as it is on the Wikieducator web site, although there are a range of other websites using Kaltura to offer web based and collaborative video editing.

When you are looking at a Kaltura player/editor (very easy to add one to a page on Wikieducator btw), you have two options: "add to this video", and "edit this video". Pretty self explanatory hey. When you click "add to this video", you have the options to add video from Youtube, photos from Flickr, and audio from CCMixter, among others. This is pretty handy seeing as I already load footage via the phone to Youtube and Flickr - not to mention the possibility of creating fancy titles and image effects on Flickr as well.. Its nice to be able to continue loading and storing on other sites, and then feed them into Kaltura when needed. (There's quite a lot of possibility in this approach to multi media, not to mention just a little bit more security in backup). When the "clips" are all feed over to your Kaltura editor/player, you're ready to get to work editing on its basic (but not too basic) editor. Other's can come in on your edits too, making Kaltura a web based video editor with collaborative potential as well.. I don't play too well with others, so I can't say much about that - always open to the chance to co-edit though :)

There's one downside to Kaltura sadly. We're still waiting for the obvious feature that enables downloading a finished video for playing offline. Unfortunately this is not offered yet so we're left with online viewing only.

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