open with care

Fine craft by Anne-Marie Scott. Image  Creative Commons CC-BY
Fine craft by Anne-Marie Scott. Image Creative Commons CC-BY

Next week is Open Education Week March 9-13th 2015.

Last week I was contributing to face to face (at Open Educational Practice Scotland OEPS steering group) and online discussions  (comments on How Sheila Sees it) about the difference between open educational practice (OEP) and open educational resource practice (OERP).  I imagine it will come up again this week when I am speaking at the Coursera Partners Conference.

The challenge for me, is that in discussions of OEP the ‘open’ seems very ill defined. It can encompass a full range of open approaches and does not necessarily involve any consideration of content licencing.

In OER, the open is more clearly defined.  e.g Open definition, OER Commons, Open Education Week,  as it relates to content, data etc. It is content made available to be shared, used and modified. This is why Creative Commons is doing so well; there is now a way for anyone to make their content explicitly open.

What I liked about the early JISC OER projects was the explicit challenge to release a significant amount of content from within your institution, and ideally for that process to become mainstreamed and sustainable. It meant the technologists and content owners ( academics) worked together with the lawyers and librarians/collections to release stuff at scale, either old stuff or really new stuff mostly.

Academic staff development people always tell me that teaching and learning isn’t about content, but I kinda think it is. That’s why we have libraries full of published content, and reading lists, and course packs, and slides, and handouts, and recordings,and datasets and we constantly produce and publish more as we research and teach.  And we get promoted because of it. Our students produce a bunch too, and sometimes we assess it.

As an ex- academic staff developer myself, I’d say academic staff development people don’t produce much discipline content and are notoriously bad at using each others’ so they are not big OER producers. They are more into OEP now which is such a wide concept that their expertise is needed to develop it as an area of practice.

I like OER practice. I like the rigour of defining and working within something that ‘is’, knowing what ‘is not’.  I think it is really interesting and challenging to help people to find , make and use resources, and to be literate in their use of open content. And I like to mainstream it in ways which lower the barrier to participation in OER production as much as possible. I like to put systems and workflows in place. The more wonderful, unique stuff gets out there on an open licence, the more there will be for me and others to use.

During Innovative Learning Week, we ran the first of our ‘Making open courses using open resources’  workshops at Edinburgh.  In theory that task should be much easier than it was 5 years ago. There are 900 million Creative Commons-licensed works, up from  400 million in 2010.

We’ll present at OER15 about how we got on.

 

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