Doors and windows: simSHARE – OERs in Simulation Learning Workshop, Cardiff

by Paul Maharg on 17/03/2010

Live-blogging bits of this posting re the above workshop, which is part of the dissemination activities of the UKCLE OER project.  For a summary of the day's activities, see here.  Slides for my presentation on why we might want to use sims are up on Slideshare.  There were 20 or so folk present — what did the day achieve?

The key aim was to disseminate the OER project and its website.  But the OER project is interesting not just for being an exercise in open resources.  It's a project that aims to raise the profile of simulation as a pedagogy, not just a set of resources.  If what are still fairly niche approaches to learning in law such as simulation, PBL, clinic, etc are to become more mainstream there needs to be available more than resources.  If staff are to become engaged with the approach, they need to feel that they are supported by research findings that point directions and give evidence of success or failure, and they probably need some kind of basic community that will function as a support group for people willing to take risks with their teaching, and will report back to the community with reports from the front, as it were.  

This was largely achieved.  The curious thing about the day, though, was that it was much less about the OER project and much more about forms of simulation teaching and learning.  In the quick project team debrief we held afterwards that was identified as a weakness in the day's design; but having thought about it, I don't think it was.  The project is about simulation and OER is there to support it.  But OER initiatives have a curious transparency about them — like looking through a large pane of glass at the landscape beyond, we don't pay attention to the glass, to the incredible technology that goes into its production, its frame, its embedding in the structure of the building, etc.  Similarly with our OER project: the project is there to give access to simulation stuff.  So it was actually really good that we spent more of the day discussing simulation practice as a landscape of learning rather than discussing the details of window frame.  In discussion of her presentation, for instance, Karen Barton gave a moving description of how the deep collaborative learning that students do in their 'law firms' in the GGSL enabled at least one student with a disability to learn socially in a way not previously possible for the student.  Nor need we be afraid of failure — as Clay Shirky points out in his fascinating book Here Comes Everybody, failure is an important and positive feature of the open access ecology.  

Legal sims predominated, but other disciplines were present.  Martin Lynch, who headed up a multimedia team at Glamorgan U gave us a brief overview of the work he and his team were involved with on a range of disciplines — quite fascinating possibilities.  I dearly hope some of it can appear on simshare.  

Patricia drew things to a close by summarising the functionality of the OER website.  She drew attention to how social we've tried to make the infrastructure of the site by showing the profiling functionality — managing sims one has downloaded, viewing who has viewed one's sims or downloaded one, forming a community of interest, etc.  The more I think on it, the more community element is essential for a pedagogically-based OER site.  If our project is to succeed it shouldn't be just a window to sim resources, transparent but still a barrier to the viewer: it should be a open door, a French window, opening out to a billowing landscape of learning…

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1 Digital Directions March 18, 2010 at 17:48

Open Educational Resources – Simulation Learning

UKCLE have a project that is part of the Higher Education Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources Programme: SimShare. 3 workshops across the UK are scheduled, and the first took place recently in Cardiff. Still to come are York (21 April) and Edinburg…

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