UBC creates local open online course (LOOC) on digital literacy

The University of British Columbia is creating a LOOC to help its community members increase and promote their digital literacy skills.

Dr. David Vogt
Dr. David Vogt

Built on the same principles of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), a LOOC is for a local audience. In this case, it’s for anyone with a UBC login ID.

Why digital literacy matters to UBC

“If UBC’s courses are its academic bricks, then digital literacy is the flexible mortar that holds those bricks together,” says Dr. David Vogt, a graduate advisor in the university’s Master of Educational Technology (MET) program and one of the creators of the LOOC.

The LOOC effort also fits well with UBC’s Flexible Learning Initiative, which focuses on technology-enabled learning.

Enrolling in the digital literacy LOOC will help students get better grades and give them a real-life skill to put on their resumes. For example, instead of just being a law grad, they could be a law grad who is also an expert in social media marketing.

Keeping it local

Keeping it local—that is, creating a course just for the UBC community—means that all of the participants already share a set of academic standards and geography. By creating community within an existing community, the course developers have more control over people’s behaviour.

The course, called M101, is grouped into topic areas:

  • Mining (research),
  • Meshing (idea creation), and
  • Mobilizing (generating value from information and knowledge).

The LOOC takes place in an open WordPress blog, so anyone anywhere can look in, but only UBC folks can contribute.

Two separate courses, joined at the hip

The LOOC is a self-guided learning experience without teachers or cohorts. It’s powered by another much more formal but completely online graduate course where MET students create content for the LOOC and manage it.

The material in M101 is collectively, continuously created and reviewed by its learners. For example, a student’s website on digital storytelling will be critiqued by other students so it can be revised and improved. In this way, quality control is reputation-motivated and peer-moderated; and the material is always fresh.

Like all open courses, accreditation is an issue. Currently, Vogt is working with Mozilla to create badges— a way for learners to get recognition for these skills.

Coming to a campus near you

Right now, the UBC LOOC is in its prototype stage. Vogt anticipates there will be a much broader roll out to the entire UBC community in the spring of 2014. He hopes that, eventually, the project will be expanded to include all B.C. post-secondary campuses.

Notable quotes:

“It’s a wonderful concept because it’s tied to regenerative learning. Courses can become much more fresh and relevant through the actions of students, rather than just those of the instructors.”- David Vogt

“For students and the UBC community, the LOOC is filling a large information gap. It provides education in an area that isn’t currently addressed in a campus-wide way, and allows for the community to engage in information and conversations about social network technologies while growing digital skills.” – Erin Fields, Teaching and Learning Librarian, University of British Columbia

“Digital literacy includes, but goes beyond, simple technology skills. Just as traditional literacy goes beyond comprehension to include the more complex skills of composition and analysis, digital literacy includes a deeper understanding of, and ultimately the ability to create a wide range of content with various digital tools.” – Digital Literacy in Canada: From Inclusion to Transformation

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