World class education through OERu

Home___OERuOne of the delights of working at Charles Sturt University is being able to range across innovation opportunities – to make a difference!

A project that I have had some connection with has been the open university initiative branded as OERu. Check out what they are up to at It’s a very interesting project headed by Wayne McIntosh UNESCO / ICDE Chair in OER, Director of the OER Foundation, OERu thought leader.

The OERu makes education accessible to everyone. Coordinated by the OER Foundation, we are an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online courses for students worldwide. We also provide affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognised institutions.

In the traditions of open sharing, the OERu partners develop all OERu courses in WikiEducator.  This is a healthy relationship because 75% of the funding which keeps the WikiEducator website going is generated from OERu membership fees.  Without this support – we would not be able to fund the hosting of WikiEducator.

I need to ask for your help!  We need you to subscribe to the Youtube Channel.

One of the outputs of the communication’s project is a short video explaining what the OERu is and how it is designed to enable education opportunities around the globe.

As a charitable organisation, YouTube has approved a Youtube for non-profits account for the OERu. We have met all the requirements to qualify for a custom url for the new channel, expect that we need 100 hundred subscribers.

We need your help – please subscribe to the OERu Youtube channel so we can qualify for a custom url.

This will make it easier for learners to find more affordable options for higher education and higher education institutions to become more sustainable.

Internet Of Things

IOT Large

Industry leaders have been looking toward and anticipating the Internet of Things for quite some time. EDUCAUSE Review asked five experts in the field to share their insights on lessons learned, on current problems solved and created, and on the possible future impact of the IoT.

Predictions for the growth of the IoT vary considerably: some experts forecast that about 20 billion devices will be connected by 2020; others put the number closer to 40 or 50 billion. What does all this mean for colleges and universities? Considering the key role being played by vendors in this market, we decided to ask some industry leaders in higher education a few questions.

How we can truly unpack the value of the IoT?

The contributors were all asked the following five questions:

  • The Internet of Things has evolved over many decades as wearables, RFID, BYOD, wireless devices, and more have increased in both number and usage. How do you define the IoT today?
  • What game-changing IoT devices and uses do you expect we’ll be seeing on campuses within the next one to three years?
  • What are the most exciting academic and administrative benefits enabled by the IoT for higher education?
  • How will the demands of a more connected student and a more connected campus influence—positively and/or negatively—the systems, processes, and infrastructure of the current higher education landscape?
  • Will issues of privacy and data ownership stand in the way of a fully realized IoT? What other barriers or challenges will need to be addressed?

Great set of questions that lend themselves to a good discussion with your student cohort, as well as with industry experts! What does the average lecturer and/or student think or even understand about the IoT impact or potential?

To be honest, I haven’t seen very little impact yet in my day-to-day work on campus for administration or connection with students. I wouldn’t mind a few connected objects – would you?


Is there a library-sized hole in the internet?

It was in Florence during the Renaissance that the West realised we could surpass the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients, ushering in a new idea of the future. Now, in the Age of the Net, the future is changing shape again. Progress looks less like a path upwards that we carefully tread and extend, and more like a constantly forking domain in which ideas are barely born before they’re being reworked and applied in unexpected ways.

Embracing the future requires libraries to face basic tensions between their traditional strengths and the new shape of invention, including the role of privacy, the need to anticipate users’ needs and the role of experts in the networked age.

Embracing  new ideas of the future requires libraries to face basic tensions between their traditional strengths and the new shape of invention, including the role of privacy, the need to anticipate users’ needs and the role of experts in the networked age.

Last year, an interview with Internet thought leader, David Weinberger, published in Research Information pointed to a “library-sized hole on the Internet“. In it, David warned of library knowledge being marginalised should they become invisible on the Web and suggested linked data as a possible way of averting this.

David Weinberger is senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet &
Society, and has been instrumental in the development of ideas about the impact of the
web. He states:
Assuming that content remains locked up, then I think the right track is to make library information both public and interoperable where possible. Libraries can best achieve this
 Shortly after the article’s publication, David presented on these ideas at OCLC’s 2015 EMEA Regional Council Meeting in Florence.  This is 40 minute presentation is worth listening to.

Image:flickr photo shared by Bonito Club under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Virtual representation of information

Watching Twitter (as you do) I was quite taken by this quick post from Michael Wiebrands about the use of Unity 5 Personal Edition, to test out an information idea in a virtual environment – I mean really virtual, not just online!

So the first test combining Trove and Unity, resulted in a cool looking Virtual Archive Using Trove API. The idea was to represent the data in a similar way to the visualisation scenes in the 1995 movie “The Hackers”. The content is Curtin University JCPML images pulled in realtime from Trove via their API and animated on the servers/buildings.

Pretty cool video of the virtual outcome to my non-IT eyes!

Strategic directions for school libraries

Perhaps one of the most challenging conversations to have in libraries and learning communities as we move towards 2013 is the arrival of RDA.  Yes, here is a new acronym that needs to be embedded in our thinking. 2013 will be a year of living dangerously when RDA arrives. Don’t know about RDA yet?  Then it’s time to get excited, and up-to-date!

As we  close off 2012  many school librarians are busy with their annual stocktake (at least those who haven’t adopted a rolling model of collection maintenance). These same librarians and their staff are perhaps oblivious of the exciting developments that are taking place that will impact on how we manage collections and how we support curriculum in the years to come.

For my money, this is where the rubber hits the ground.  Its where the need for proper professionals in schools becomes more important than ever.   Here we have innovation happening under our very (information professional) noses – yet we have staff in school library senior positions who have no qualifications in the field or who have not done any further academic training to keep up with the changes needed to manage collections in the digital world that is the 21st century.  The next few years are going to be very exciting and challenging making it doubly vital that school leadership understand the importance of having  well-qualified teacher librarians and school librarians leading information services in schools.

These very issues were highlighted at the recent SCIS ASKS Forum held in Melbourne recently. How will education libraries best serve their communities in 2015? Support for the new Australian curriculum makes it imperative that we include emerging technologies and global understanding of information organization in the knowledge matrix that we support. It’s no longer about organizing those container of information that’s important – it’s the connections and access pathways and interpersonal learning experiences that a good school library can facilitate.  It is a teacher librarian’s job to empower students and teachers information access needs, and to manage systems that support this.   We are very lucky in Australia that  Education Services Australia, and the Schools Catalogue Information Service have their eye on this for us.

School library systems, media systems, LMS systems etc need to become the 24/7 structured access point for meaning connections. Here we have the key issue in that our multiple systems need to draw on as well as contribute to a knowledge matrix – one that connects to the various information repositories beyond our schools as well.

Old Questions: New Answers

How can this be done? Is there a vision for this? Enter the search and access power that is driven by Web 3.0 developments and the semantic web.  What’s different about school libraries now is that collections are really no longer about Dewey, or silo catalogue systems. In a world of API and open data, libraries ( particularly school libraries) are faced with a significant conceptual challenge.  Tim Berners-Lee introduced linked data in 2006 and unleashed the future! In 2007 the joint steering committee for Resource Description and Access said that RDA

would be a new standard for resource description for the digital world.

The point of it all is to provide a consistent, flexible and extensible framework for both the technical and content description of all types of resources and all types of content – everywhere, anywhere, always!  When search engine collaboration in 2011 added, we knew that the future was here. Traditional library data has had its day – and this century we are all about linked data ontologies that facilitate computer communications and  interaction for the benefit of human knowledge.


There is so much to learn, and so much to deploy. Essentially we need to create a new roadmap of open access and interoperability, to allow RDA new standards in schools to take us out of the confines of traditional library services, and to engage with the Semantic web.

Metadata has been changing everything, and information professionals have been leading these developments, mindful of  the semantic web and linked data.  There is a lot to discover and learn about.  If you are a teacher librarian, please make this part of your professional learning agenda for 2013. We are on the web and of the web, and our opportunities to improve the information and knowledge matrix in schools is fantastic – if we know how!

Visit SCIS Asks Forum, and check out the information from the Forum –   even add to the discussion via the survey forms.

Thanks to SCIS for allowing me to kick-start the day with some provocative ideas about Strategic Directions for School Libraries.

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Serge Melki

Hands on the future – spotting Web 3.0.

I recently returned from an outstanding conference in our region, hosted in Singapore by the International School Library Network. I have not had the opportunity to previously attend this conference, but with nearly 300 delegates  and 46 workshop presenters the Hands on Literacy  2012 conference was certainly a success. I was there to present the Keynote to round up the conference day, and I hope that Preparing our Students for Web 3.0 Learning did that in some small way.

But first we started with school library tours the day before, visiting all the various libraries at  Tanglin Trust School, the Singapore American School, and the United World College of South East Asia. What wonderful ideas and new design ideas were captured in each of these schools! Sofa seats with bookend designs, book-swap bowl,  painted designs on chairs, the most gorgeous story corners, the cleverest display and promotion ideas, and so much more. If you ever have the time to join a conference in the future, and take the tour you won’t regret it!

My favourite was the huge sign outside the entrance to SAS – asking for contributions to the annual year book.  Cool huh? Particularly since I hear that some students spend a lot of time on Instagram, even in preference to Facebook.

Learn and learn and then learn some more – I think that was perhaps the underlying message throughout the conference. Hands on literacy took many shapes and forms, and the challenges were equally met by enthusiasm and a willingness to share. Joyce Valenza set the day perfectly with a bucket-load of challenges, so even before anyone hit the workshops their heads were spinning.

My message is really that today’s novelty is tomorrows norm, whether we like it or not. And tomorrows norm is going to take a shape and direction that many have not even considered, even thought the shift is already taking place before our very eyes.

Our personal information age may well have been launched in 1993  when the Mosaic 1.0 browser made the World Wide Web available for contribution and participation by anyone with access to the Internet.  It was a revolution. The future possibilities are likely to be just as different to those initial experiences – so are we ready prepared? Now in the “Internet of Things” anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, be come intelligent offering almost endless possibilities in human/technology interaction. Information and learning are at another cross-roads, and I like to think that teachers and teacher librarians are going to meet these developments with their eyes wide open.

Today we are surrounded by interfaces for discovery.  What do we want from technology? How can we create better experiences?  Our new networked society is going to fundamentally change the way we innovate, collaborate, produce, govern and sustain. Come with me on the journey. Now!

Image: Faces cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery