Cheaper mobile devices coupled with the boom in educational app development means that many learners in developing countries can now access quality educational media outside of the classroom. An increase in mobile access (especially in Nigerian and South African markets) has enabled educational technology businesses and non-profits to broaden education, taking learning to students’ daily commutes and homes.
These days everyone who spends time online is a producer of content. This content could be the blog posts you write, photographs you take, research articles you publish, videos you upload – the list goes! As the producer of the content, you get to decide how to license it. You can retain copyright (current standard and in most cases automatically assigned); you can decide to use a Creative Commons license and retain some rights; or you can release the content into the public domain, relinquishing all rights. The issue of copyright is an equally important consideration when developing and managing any online project, including an education project where you can decide whether to openly license your content or product as an Open Education Resource. Some organisations feel it is important to retain full rights to their content in order to commercially exploit them, however there is growing evidence that open business models (where some or all content rights are ‘opened’) can be successful in the ‘new economy’. I’ll write more on open business models in future posts. Deciding how to deal with copyright during the conceptual phase of a project is important and ensures that the project does not run into problems later, during the execution phases. With this in mind, I’ll attempt first to introduce the concept of copyright and then cover appropriate policies for digital education projects, including a discussion on Creative Commons.
Design-based research (DBR) is a research methodology used in the learning sciences whereby interventions are conceived and implemented in real-world environments in order to test hypotheses and generate frameworks in a practical and iterative manner. As an approach, it was popularised in education research by Jan Herrington and colleagues such as Thomas C. Reeves. Reeves presentation ‘Enhancing the Worth of Instructional Technology Research through Design Experiments and Other Development Research Strategies’ (2000:8), defines the characteristics of DBR as an approach that seeks to address complex problems by collaborating with practitioners in real contexts to incorporate technical affordances and known as well as hypothetical design principles to propose potential solutions. There is an iterative process in play which is used to refine and reflect on the process and principles used.
Learning environments that are fun and engaging rather than dry give learners stronger motivation to persist and take charge of their own educational outcomes. Because positive attitudes to learning foster positive teaching and learning environments, gamification in education has become an important concept and has seen educators find innovative ways to introduce elements of game design to the classroom.
Digital technologies provide all manner of new opportunities for the recording and dissemination of local knowledge and histories, outside of the already established chains of cultural transmission. Greater access to the Internet and the proliferation of mobile phones and other digital devices, coupled with the multiple ways in which people in the present are engaging with the past, points to the potential of these new technologies to facilitate new modes of recording and sharing local knowledge, cultural practices and histories.
The democratising potential of these digital technologies is great, in that they offer opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups to record and share their local knowledge and histories on the Internet, from their perspectives. They have therefore given rise to (amongst other things) the broad category of “digital memory projects,” including undertakings such as community-run museums, community archives, so-called indigenous cultural centres and alternative approaches to those commonly employed by cultural institutions (Sandell, 2002). The variability of digital technologies is vital to the success of these, and is seen to encourage dialogue, multiple authorship and the exchange of ideas and opinions. In contrast to the closed authorship, fixed ideas and practices of museums, libraries and heritage institutions, digital files circulate more freely and are open to further editing, co-authorship and interpretation. This suggests a more democratised mode of production as different constituencies can collect, interpret, alter and create new meanings for digital content as they see fit (Parry, 2007).