We have heard, read and probably experienced that OERs are often under-used… does it have to be this way? And what about OER courses?
Orr et al. (2015) in a recent study recognise among others that OERs can bring educators together and trigger opportunities for collaboration especially in the area of professional development of educators.
I have been exploring various approaches and strategies to achieve this with many passionate colleagues and closely with Sue Beckingham over the last few years and (co-)created openly licensed courses and initiatives in the area of informal open cross-institutional collaboration in academic development since I did my MSc in Blended and Online Education with Prof. Keith Smyth which helped me discover opportunities in this area and I am since January 2013 a PhD student exploring open cross-institutional professional development.
Scalability is often mentioned as something we haven’t worked out yet… an answer could be cross-institutional offers perhaps? I have been interested in this with a focus on creating conditions for versatile and collaborative learning experiences within supportive communities.
Sustainability is perhaps something that needs more our attention as well? How often have we heard projects that have received seed funding disappearing after this dried out? And what about non-funded grass-roots open initiatives that solely rely on good will and sustained commitment? Do they have the potential to live longer? But how?
To sustain open courses and initiatives that are of value for others, make them truly democratic, inclusive and collaborative, I think one way of doing it could be through community engagement – community driven leadership that empowers and creates shared ownership. It requires the community to play an active role in shaping and reshaping the course or initiative and taking it into new and exciting directions. It might also be a way for open practitioners to give something back to the wider community while developing new capabilities?
Projects which grew out of seeds I planted, and are out there in the open are changing… What I just described has actually started happening and I am including specific examples here:
The Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars: Since September 2015 we introduced a rotating organising team. I am extremely impressed with how well it has worked so far. Dr Rod Cullen, Prof. Ale Armellini and Calum Thomson are definitely taking the TLCs to the next level where one person couldn’t.
The Learning and Teaching in Higher Education tweetchat (#LTHEchat) had a mixed team last term but from this term we have 2 colleagues from the LTHEchat community, Dr Stephen Powell and Ian Tindall leading together with a colleague from the HEA, Kandy Woodfield, as the #HEAchat and the #LTHEchat have come together, which will be beneficial for the wider academic community. I am really looking forward to this new collaboration and the forthcoming #LTHEchats.
The open course Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L) is going to be offered for the 4th time next week (11-15 January 16). Colleagues who have participated and facilitated in previous iterations of the course, have kindly volunteered to become organisers. I am extremely grateful to Neil Withnell, Sheila MacNeill and Alex Spiers for taking on this exciting opportunity forward. I would suggest to join BYOD4L from Monday for a week of development where students and educators are coming together to learn about how they can utilise their smart devices for learning and teaching. It has been a very popular course so far, creates a real buzz every time it is offered, has lead to rich learning and changes to practice and generated many opportunities for collaboration that stretched beyond the course. Jump into the BYOD4L community directy! No registration is required!!! Read Sheila MacNeill’s related post here.
The title of this post says… handing over the baton… it doesn’t mean that I will disappear. Relay only works with great team work and that means sustained commitment! In my new role, I will be there to support the teams as long as needed, more silently in the background 😉
I am looking forward to finding out where this new direction in my thinking and practice will lead us. Might this be a valuable path for more democratic, distributed and participatory leadership of open practices and help us sustain and grow practices further?
To an exciting year ahead!
Your comments and ideas are, as always, very welcome 😉
Orr, D., M. Rimini and D. van Damme (2015), Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing, Paris.