A Guide for No/Low-Cost Learning

Notes of session at Leicester Meeting, 29 March 2012


The starting point for discussion was how we can help people to create and manage their own learning experiences - a critical competence in times of crisis.

Here are some of the points to emerge:
  • There is a free resource, The Edupunks' Guide, which addresses this general area (supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). However, this is heavily geared to the context of US college education, and much of it does not 'translate' across the Atlantic. [David adds: see my review]
  • How would we go about this? Is it a matter of curating the free resources for learning about subject areas? This is the approach taken by the Saylor Foundation (also US-based) -- see for example their degree level Psychology course materials.
  • We should learn from the experiences of the OU with OpenLearn -- Paul Richardson has done some work bringing OpenLearn materials to disadvantaged learners in North Wales.
  • There is also the JISC-funded PADDLE project developing digital literacy skills with a decentralised learning environment -- again Paul is involved
  • [fellow participants, please add things that I've forgotten]

How and where should we start? We debated whether we should go 'vertical', concentrating on one subject area and working through how to roll your own education in that field, or 'horizontal', trying to lay out general principles that could be applied across many/all areas. After batting this to and fro a bit, we decided this wasn't something that could be decided by discussion and deliberation alone: we really need to start to do something in order to find out which path is more fruitful.

So we turned our attention to what we could do, recognising our extremely limited time and resources. Adopting Lean Startup terminology, what is the Minimum Viable Product that we could create as a means to provide a very basic guide and test our assumptions about what kind of guide would be useful? This would have just sufficient materials and features to make it worthwhile to share it on the web and get feedback.

Once we have a minimal prototype and some feedback from learners/potential users, we could use this as a basis for a funding proposal... [can someone else elaborate what was discussed on this, please - this was the point at which I had a 'bathroom break' and only heard the summary when I got back!]

Links & next steps

  • Think about the form that the initial prototype guide should take -- e.g. is it another wiki?
  • David has started work on a wiki on agile learning -- this material is mostly not appropriate for our guide (it's aimed more at learning technology professionals & researchers) but may have some elements that can be adapted for present purposes
  • Not sure if this is relevant here, but since the meeting David has had a chat with Anthony McCann, who is interested in organising some small online webinars on the hedge school and agile themes (hedge school has a good platform for this). Probably not free. Possibly worth keeping an eye on as this develops to see if there might be links.
  • [fellow participants, please add things that I've forgotten!]