Keynote: "Where is the mentor?" — New ways to support learning (ED-MEDIA 2008)

Peter Scott, Director of the Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, UK, spoke about mentoring. Technology is cool, but it is only valuable in the way it supports and enables people. So it’s useful to contextualise tools as follows:

  • social content like wikis
  • communicative content like blogs
  • social awareness like IM
  • social visualisation like Second Life
  • social search like Facebook
  • social telepathy like Twitter

The Open University (OU) has around 250,000 students, with 200,000 online at any time. It’s a mega distance learning university. 8,000 human mentors support the students. They have created OpenLearn and LabSpace. The OpenLearn site gives free access to course materials from the OU. The idea is for anyone to find a course they’re interested in, find a mentor/someone to study with, and go for it. It hasn’t had a huge amount of use since launch — but not much marketing was done. Still, it’s a great idea and example of open educational resources (OERs) in action. One of the tools that you can use in the collaborative process is FlashMeeting.

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