Mapping in Education


In the 2016 discussion on the Future of OERs, MIT’s Karen E. Willcox and Luwen Huang discussed the complexities of navigating the “data-rich” world of online education.

In their paper entitled: “Mapping Unbundled Open Education Resources: Pathways Through the Chaos”, they introduced the Xoces project which catalogs, structures, and visualizes learning outcomes within a curriculum. By creating visual analogues they are trying to:

determine the nature of what is being mapped—for instance, which entities are defined as points, what relationships can be defined as “roads” or pathways between points, and what clusters or “suburbs” of points may exist.

A structured approach to educational mapping, the two authors claim, can offer a data driven future for open education, cartography being one major discipline that can help them to achieve this goal.

The FutuOER project was conceived of by Norman Bier and Brandon Muramatsu.



#GoOpen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, ASCD, and other nonprofits and companies that aims to create an open education ecosystem that makes learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information.

It is currently addressed to K-12 education with 14 districts committed to contributing to the creation of OERs. South, in his report on the establishment of GoOpen refers to the COW initiative as a point of reference to this endeavour; the initiative taken by three school districts (Ohio, Wisconsin and Vista Unified School District) to create a “standards-aligned, competency-based, inter-district, inter-state, interdisciplinary, collaborative, project-based social studies curriculum.”Their experience led to the belief that there is a high need for the creation of new open educational material in the form of OER as they were unable to retrieve anything ready that could constitute a content base for their course.

What South is wondering is the money and effort needed to implement this project. “The question is”, he says, “how quickly, how thoughtfully, how sustainably, and with how much rigor and support?” Michael Q. McShane, in his “Open Educational Resources” article in Education Next, asks the exact same question; for OERs, he claims, are free to use but not free to produce. What is more, McShane argues, the overwhelming number of emerging OERs might give untrained K-12 teachers a hard time choosing which one to pick, let alone modify this material to produce a new form.

Both McShane’s and South’s questions are completely natural in an ever-changing landscape where textbooks gradually lose their dominance to digital content and the traditional role of the teacher is at stake. But in my opinion, the OER movement is by definition seeking to engage the teachers and students more or -if you’d like- in a different way. It promotes them to active agents; it presupposes that the teacher will collect the material he/she wants to use and that he/she will spend more time designing his/her course. It presupposes that the student will benefit from this shift in the medium and resume a more active role in composing knowledge or connecting information.

So, despite OER production difficulties in funding and/or regulations, at the end of the day, all that remains is the grade of involvement of the teacher on one hand and the time he/she will spend planning a course and the student on the other and the time he/she will spend using these resources. And thus OERs are a key component to the real change in education. The teacher can choose from multiple sources how to address the content to the students. If the teachers accept OERs as a simple digitization of the traditional textbook, the innumerous benefits of open education will be lost.



  • #GoOpen official page available here
  • Joseph South, Office of Ed Tech, Why #GoOpen? Why now?, article available here
  • Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) information on the project #GoOpen available here
  • Michael Q. McShane, Open Educational Resources”, Education Next, WINTER 2017 / VOL. 17, NO. 1, available here

Image available here

Ace the ACE project


Hokkaido area in Japan suffered a scarcity of professors for all kinds of disciplines. Academic Commons for Education (ACE) was developed to confront with these difficulties by using OERs. It aims at enhancing the creation of OERs and also to promote their use by instructors.

ACE mostly consists of MOOC-type OERs (short video lectures and quizzes) that existed on campus or are based on existing OERs by other Institutions. Video conference connects classrooms and students from different cities who are able to connect as Universities collaborate for lectures and discussions.

In the last ten years, Japan has been heavily involved in Open Education movements especially for higher education but the reluctance of professors to hand in their notes is indicative of the prevailing feeling about OERs.

Image and a more detailed description of ACE can be found here



Interesting paradox as Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) has launched a MOOC for teachers to discuss OERs. For those interested in attending it is still running. Dominant figures of online education discuss various aspects of OER creation and management. The platform is made by POLIMI and resembles edx’s layout.

For more click here

OER solutions to coursework material


Notes from: Open Educational Practices: A literature reviewBy Heather M. Ross

OERs DEFINITION: they offer the possibility not only of free access and sharing but also of combining content material from multiple sources whereas the acquisition of textbooks or other educational resources (online journals etc) has become a practice too expensive to sustain (…) they include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”

On the word open: Open Education was introduced as a term by Nyberg in 1975 in his Introduction of the book “The Philosophy of Open Education”. Definitions on the word open vary. Iiyoshi and Kumar  (2008) use the term to define an “education can be improved by making educational assets visible and accessible and by harnessing the collective wisdom of a community of practice and reflection”. 

On the use of Creative Licences: At one of end of the Creative Commons spectrum of licenses are those that require only attribution and allow the work to be freely shared, modified, and even used for commercial purposes as long as the original creator is credited. At the other end of this spectrum, the creator of the work may restrict the work under a license that not only requires attribution, but also prohibits changes to the work and any use of it for commercial purposes.

On the use of Open Access Publishing: Open access publishing allows for articles to be freely available to anyone interested in reading the materials. There are different types of open access publishing, including “green” where authors self-publish on their own web site or in an institutional repository, “gold” where authors pay for their articles to be made open to the public (generally this happens in journals that still charge for subscriptions for non-open articles), and “platinum” where journals publish articles openly without charging authors (usually these are financially supported by an institution or professional organization) (Weller, 2014).

On Wiley’s five Rs: Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute and Retain

On OER Benefits: they show gaps in existing resources, they make instructors and learners collaborate, materials are adapted to meet the needs of a specific course, they can be customized, access to learning materials is increased, there are opportunities of empowerment.

On OER Barriers: lack of knowldge of OERs, lack of time needed, the existing academic culture, instructors’ attitude toward technology.

Image available here

Course Layout


A diagram of our experimental course’s distribution of online and in-class activities reveals the complexity of exchange; as it is evident students and teachers are designed to meet on several occasions. They transmit their content independently yet they come together in online activities such as the lexicon and the course constitution as well as in all in-class activities. Most interestingly, what each group transmits separately is later adjoined with the rest of information in all common activities, therefore, blog posts and content are discussed and used in workshops and examples material is both read and illustrated in-class.

Excerpt from the paper entitled: “Transformachines: Transforming City Data to Architectural Design Methodologies”

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Turning in-class lectures to online content


Determining the duration of the online videos of our course was a major step in its production. Before shooting the videos, we gathered all the lecturing content of each unit and collaborated with each lecturer to transform it into online material. Having read Guo’s article on video production we figured that content had to be condensed in 30 to 40 minute long lectures and further dismantled to max 7 minute self-contained videos. That is videos whose content could be seen independently and whose contribution to the meaning of the main core of the lecture content could be evaluated autonomously.  (For more please check my article in “The Creativity Game – Theory and Practice of Spatial Planning”: DOI 10.15292/IU-CG.2015.03.30-37)

In addition we used highlighted text to make terms and definitions stand out of the narration and we’ve also included images and diagrams of the narration of the specific entities of meaning we were presenting at the time. We also uploaded the transcript of each segment so that students who were engaging in the content for the first time could also follow the narration by reading it.

The effectiveness of lectures was also examined by Donald A. Bligh in his book “What is the Use of Lectures” (analyzed further by Tony Bates in his “Teaching in a Digital Age”), and he also supports the notion that lectures “should not be longer than 20 to 30 minutes – at least without techniques to vary stimulation”.

Our primary aim was to present those units as an expert’s insight on a subject matter. Each lecturer provided the students with a unique tool for urban mapping both in terms of content and representation. Therefore, the process involved more than the sole transmission of content; it was configured to describe a specific mode of thinking about the city.

Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning – See more at:
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2016 EDEN Annual Conference


Budapest, 14-17 June 2016

Looking forward to going there. An E-learning conference with a long tradition of excellent publications of related research around the globe. This time, we’re gonna be in it too!

Paper title: “Transformachines: transforming City Data to Architectural Design Strategies”, Olga Ioannou, Nelly Marda, George Parmenidis, NTUA