In this Spring 2013 issue of JIME there are three articles, which are quite different in nature. In addition, there are two book reviews.
In the first paper Mihailidis and Cohen explore the use of the free online tool, Storify, as a method of curation. The role of curation in an information abundant economy is of increasing importance, and yet it is one that is rarely taught explicitly or recognised as a worthy academic contribution. Approaching curation from a digital literacy perspective, the authors start an important dialogue in addressing this issue.
In the second paper, Muir, Allen, Rayner and Cleland also examine the use of another free, online tool, in this case, Second Life. This is a tool that often seems to divide opinion, with its evangelists who see it as a medium for all teaching and research, and its detractors who regard it as irrelevant. The authors here address a very particular application, enabling pre-service teachers to safely explore classroom management techniques for a range of behaviours.
Lastly there is a paper from Bliss, Robinson, Hilton and Wiley, which looks at some of the perceptions of OER across eight community colleges in the US. Now a decade old, OERs are arguably no longer a new phenomenon and there is increasing interest in finding firm evidence to support, or even disprove many of the long held beliefs about their usage (see the Open University's own OER Research Hub oerresearchhub.org as another example). This paper provides a valuable contribution to this field.
Although all three papers address quite different topics, they demonstrate a range of development. Both OERs and Second Life are relatively well established, while Storify and the significance of digital curation are relatively new. What this demonstrates is that in educational technology we need approaches and technologies to have embedded into something resembling regular practice before we can begin to evaluate them effectively. This is not to suggest it is necessary to wait 10 years before evaluation occurs, but that much of that early period will be influenced by projected ambitions and enthusiasm. This is worth bearing in mind as we see the surge of activity, interest and opinion around MOOCs. It will require this initial wave to settle into regular practice before we can really assess their impact and implications.