Irrational behavior

As a final task for my Beginner’s guide to Irrational behavior I had to write an assignment on the following:

Using what you’ve learned from this course so far, you’ll propose a 500 to 800-word solution to a problematic behavior.
1. Introduction: Describe a problematic behavior
2. Outline the existing research
3. Propose a solution

Motivation
Acknowledgement and purpose
For years I have been questioning myself about the contrast between the way a customer is received in a State company and in a Private one.
There’s an obvious difference in the form employees address the general public if they are working for a real, ‘flesh and blood’ employer or if they are reporting to a ‘non real’ one – a more abstract institution called State. That is, there is no need for a deep research to understand that the former tend to be nicer, more attentive, careful and caring compared to the latter who are generally less patient, less nice (sometimes even ruder). Let me stand out that I am exclusively referring to Southern Europe countries.
I have always thought that this behavior was directly connected to job security, payment and bonuses (or lack of them). As it seems there are more determinant factors responsible for people’s commitment and motivation such as pride, sense of purpose and meaning (4.1 Extrinsic versus Intrinsic Motivation 3:45).
Let me use a very common example: banks. On one side
1. A private bank clerk
• Direct CEO, to whom all report and whom they know personally and work with, on a daily basis
• Possibility of being made responsible directly in case of misperformance
• Possibility of career progression based on skills and good performance regardless age or working time
• Real possibility of being tapped on the shoulder for a well succeeded performance which might even culminate with a dinner out with the boss
2. A State bank clerk
• No direct CEO (just a hierarchical superior whom they have to report to and who takes no direct benefit from an employer’s good performance
• No direct possibility of being let go- unless under strict decision by an unknown responsible most of the times placed far away with no direct knowledge of the inner functioning of his workplace.
• No tapping on the shoulder every time a good decision is taken or good job performance
• No possibility of ‘going for a drink’ with the Head as most times they never meet personally
• Career progression only occurs in case of retirement or decease of a colleague
It was scientifically proved (Ariely, Kamenica & Prelec) that being ignored and not being acknowledged had a more tremendous impact on the individual’s performance than the monetary compensation given. The experiment that proved this theory shows clearly that the ones who are acknowledged are more willing to work (even for less money) than the ones ignored and those who had their papers shredded. (A group of MIT students was divided to be randomly assigned to these 3 conditions. After performing a task G1 were acknowledged, G2 Ignored and G3 had their paper shredded.)
So as I see it, this State clerk’s attitude results not from the financial incentives they might not get but from the lack of acknowledgement or, as Dan Ariely nicely put it in his video lecture ‘4.3 Acknowledgement 00:56’, it is due to the absence of the ‘a-ha’ factor. In a State structure there is a shared feeling of outperforming the colleagues and most times the superiors are too busy themselves trying to do well to even take the time to analyse their staff’s good performance. The stress is, most times, put in how bad you have done, rather than how well you actually did. By default, doing well is your job (which is, in fact, the purpose of any company) and therefore deserves no additional praising whereas a bad performance is due to receive a critical comment. But in fact ‘we view labor as meaningful to the extent that a) it is recognized and/or b) has some point or purpose’ (Ariely, Kamenica & Prelec).
In this Private/Sate example I present, demotivation seems to be crucial here. A further analysis would probably show that employees experience a feeling of absence of meaning, recognition and purpose, much also due to the actual economical deficitary situation the country is currently undergoing as well as the absence of a physically present hierarchical figure that could establish a social market relationship (Ariely &Heyman: 787) with his employees.
As I see it, the solution for this behavior would probably implicate a change in the working structure, too many times overformal. That change would have to consider:
• Giving the employees a sense of meaning to their work – withdrawing from the sense that what they do has no purpose – this could be done, for example, by asking the customers’ opinion on a particular employer via a questionnaire (which is never done in my country and in fact, we consider it to be quite ‘American’)
• Acknowledging the best performances publically within the company
• Investing on social market relationships bringing employee and employer closer by means of social arrangements within the company’s staff

Creative Commons license- Activity 9

Activity 9 of the course #h817open. This is what I am supposed to do:

Consider which of the Creative Commons licences you would use, and justify your choice.

Bearing in mind what Creative Commons are and what their aim is:

… I went through their license options…

Attribution
Atributtion
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-ShareAlike
atributtion+sharealike
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NoDerivs
NonDerivs
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial
Atrib.NonCom
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
At.NonCom+sharealike
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
Att.NonComNonDerivs
This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

…and chose ATRIBUTTION-NON DERIVS as the kind of material I produce can (should?) be used for either commercial or non-comercial purposes. The only restriction I would present is that it is not altered as it could actually misrepresent the message I am trying to convey.

OER issues Activity 7

This week’s task for #817open

Based on your reading, write a blog post , setting out what you perceive as the three key issues in OER, and how these are being addressed.

The term Open Educational Resources – OER – is only a few years old although some visionaries had already predicted its coming. In this video Isaac Asimov explains how he sees the future concerning education. He envisages a huge library that people can have access to, from their own home, at their own pace learning without being forced to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way.

Asimov’s envisagement was quite audacious for the 70’s but , in a way, it still is. At least for the less economically capable nations.

The first two issues I consider relevant are somehow interrelated as they both depend on the applicability of financial resources (should I coin it as ER?) and have a great impact on the way the OER are used, reused and made available.

SUSTAINABILITY

Contrary to its denomination, free, these open resources are all but free for those who conceive them. The funding, the services to create and distribute a resource are cost dependant (Downes, 2007:32). Governments along with foundations and organizations have started OER projects but their maintenance and enhancement costs sum up to the initial amount of the project implementation (Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:24).

Additional approaches to sustainability need to be explored

(Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:24)

ACCESS/ TECHNICAL RESOURCES

If we consider developed countries the issue of accessibility doesn’t represent a problem but as we move to less priviliged ones, the situation becomes quite different.
In his study performed in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Mathias Hattaka (EJISDC, 2009) points out various inhibiting factors for reuse of OER being accessibility one of them.
1.On the one hand we have poor IT literacy of most users which prevents them from conducting an adequate research. So what we have here is not lack of open content material but inability to select from the available material.
2. On the other hand there are defficient technical resources, namely, lack of computers and poor bandwidth preventing both students and teachers to access the digital world. Even if we consider the case of a teacher having access to a computer at work he will have to use printouts as the students don’t have access to any.

INTELECTUAL PROPERTY

Along with the possibility of building OER came the issue of copyright and how to cope with authoral rights as the contents are open.

Hewlett Foundation has wisely supported Creative Commons
to help mitigate the constraints of “all rights reserved” copyright.

>(Atkins, Brown & Hammond, 2007:27)

And in fact Creative Commons was the solution to actively enable users to access materials without the concern of copyright issues. By creating several license possibilities the author is capable of choosing the one that best suits his needs and allow the sharing of his material under the restrictions he decides. There are some issues concerning CC Noncomercial license (Erik Moller, 2005) as it could actually be compared to a plain copyright model.

References

Albright, Paul (2005) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES OPEN CONTENT FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
WESTERN INTERSTATE COMMISSION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, COLORADO, USA. Available: http://learn.creativecommons.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/oerforumfinalreport.pdf

Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.S. & Hammond, A.L. (2007). A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities. California: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Available at: http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/Hewlett_OER_report.pdf [Accessed 11.3.2013].

Downes, Stephen (2007). Models for sustainable Open Educational Resources.
http://ijklo.org/Volume3/IJKLOv3p029-044Downes.pdf

Downes, Stephen (2001). Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwidehttp://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/32/378

UNESCO. (2002). Forum on the impact of open courseware for higher education in developing countries: Final report. Available from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128515e.pdf [Accessed 11.3.2013].

Setting priorities

This week’s task for the Course H817Open by the Open University was this:

Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education.
Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list. Share this in the Week 1 forum and compare with priorities of others.

Here are the topics I found should be prioritised:

RECOGNITION
College_graduate_students

Education for all, recognition for none? I think that one main point that should be thought about, besides the quality of the course itself- regarding syllabus and course material- is the recognition we will get for it. Assuming that you commit, take the course seriously, do the activities, follow the lectures and deliver the final assignment without having the tentation to drop out, it is legitimate that you get credit for it. In my personal case, I have to admit that I’m investing in the course way more than I did when I was actually in ‘standard’ college… Why, I do not know. Be it maturity or the lack of other distractions, like going to discos or hitting the town with friends, the fact is: this is the way it’s working for me. Professionally I do not need another degree/certificate. I do it for myself, merely to learn. What if the purpose is different? These courses are aimed at those whose objective is to attend high education courses and for whom there is no alternative. It is comprehensible that renowned (and less renowned) institutions might fear the advance of such possibilities and may either struggle against it or, as some already did, embark in this adventure. I can follow a Stanford course online, watch the lectures given by the best teachers and engage in all activities, but does that make me a Stanford student?
I don’t really know how this issue is going to be dealt but it sure must be given a lot of thought.

ASSESSMENT

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As there is obviously no chance of getting 20,000 students (assuming that the other 20,000 have dropped out in the meantime) being assessed by the teachers the alternative of peers deciding on the grade of our certificate doesn’t seem that appealing. No matter how much it has been written about the advantages of peer-to-peer assessment it is still not convincing. You can be lucky and get someone critical and commited to assess you, or you get the risk of being assessed by someone who doesn’t even get the message. I’ve seen it happen. One way to make this process more serious would be to eliminate anonymity. Hiding behind a screen saying whatever comes to mind with no risk of being found is quite tempting, specially after a rough day at work and a strong will to let it out on someone! A puerile approach? Maybe, but nonetheless true.

DROPOUT RATES

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This should also be a priority as the number of students abandoning the courses before their end is quite surprisingly high. They’re easy to enroll in but there’s no way you can ‘disenroll’ if by any chance you realise that the amount of work required exceeds the time you can dedicate to it. There should be given the possibility of ‘disenrolling’ after the course syllabus is offered, which, in most courses, happens just as the course begins and not before. Then a more accurate number of dropouts would be obtained.
The creation of activities/competitions would possibly be a good way to engage students in a course and keep them motivated.
Finally there’s the retain issue. As I have seen posted before, what is free is dispensable and easy to leave behind so why not apply a fee not too big to hinder signing up but not too small to allow dropping out?