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Wednesday, November 18 • 11:30am - 12:00pm
A Path to Open Learning Data?

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As the recently published Asilomar Convention argues, the sharing of learning data is an essential element in maximizing the benefits of learning research; this call for open data as a public good is exceptionally well-aligned with the underlying philosophical foundations and practices of the open education community. This alignment suggests what should be a close relationship between open education and the open data & science communities—in theory, learner interactions with OER could produce Open Learning Data that would drive Open Scientific advances, in turn informing the future generations of educational resources.

In practice, however, the opening of learning data has proven more elusive, such that we continue to lack clear definitions and practices around Open Learning Data. Approaches that have served Open Data well in general have proven less useful in the educational data context, due to a combination of legitimate concerns for appropriately protecting learners, an excess of caution around the risks of opening learning data sets, and a regulator inheritance that is not always well suited to educational research. While some earlier attempts have been made to resolve these tensions, these attempts often rely on anonymizing approaches that can dramatically limit the utility of the data for scientists.

This working session will seek to begin the work of producing clearer and more useful definitions and practices around Open Learning Data, with an emphasis on the potential special relationship between the open education movement and the data that OER can produce. The session will begin with a very brief overview of the promises and challenges of open learning data, highlighting some current practices in the space. The majority of the session will be devoted to a discussion of Open Learning Data, ideally generating some draft definitions and approaches that can serve as foundational elements for continuing work beyond OpenEd 2015.

Key guiding questions for the discussion include: How do we define Open Learning Data? What constraints around access and use can be put in place while still ensuring the data is open? Should there be a special relationship between OER and open learning data? What are the appropriate legal and/or normative approaches to encouraging open learning data? What are the missing elements in the open education system infrastructure that would better support the generation, sharing and use of learning data? How does data fit into the larger open ecosystem?

Emphasis is placed on the working nature of this session, with a goal of producing artifacts and interest in longer-term work to advance the open learning data space. Some preparatory material will be available as pre-reading at: http://oli.cmu.edu/get-to-know-oli/get-involved/opened2015/

avatar for Norman Bier

Norman Bier

Executive Director Simon Initiative; Director, Open Learning Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University
Norman Bier has spent his career at the intersection of learning and technology, working to expand access to and improve the quality of education. He is currently the Executive Director of the Simon Initiative and the Director of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) at Carnegie Mellon... Read More →

Wednesday November 18, 2015 11:30am - 12:00pm PST

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