‘I’ve been thinking about my OER story or stories. Where to begin? I wish I had the time and the ability to weave a tale worthy of Scheherazade. One full of poetry, wishes, fantastic voyages and the odd djinn. One that would keep Vice Chancellors awake till just after the midnight hour (aka TEF/REF/NSS results publications). One that would entice them to fully embrace open education. However, if I want to get something done this week all I can do is share my experiences and some reflections my open journey so far.
My involvement in the open education world has been quite long and varied. It started during my time at Cetis. We were supporting open standards and open source, had been part of the whole learning object thang, so OERs and wider open educational practice were a natural addition to our remit. I was involved in our first OER briefing paper, was one of the first OLNet fellows back in 2009 when I went to Mexico to the OCWC conference to find out more about that community. I probably should do a time line of open stuff I’ve been involved in . . .
I think my open story is very much an evolving, personal one. Open practice has become an increasingly important part of my working life. I’ve never been “hard core” open, in the sense that it’s never taken up 100% of my time. Even back when I worked with Cetis I wasn’t involved directly in the support of the Jisc/HE OER programmes, I was of course influenced by them and did try to filter the open element to other Jisc programmes I was involved in at the time.
Sharing has always been at the heart of my professional practice. When we were made to blog at Cetis it actually opened a whole new level of professional interaction and personal reflection for me. At the time I didn’t really consider this as open practice, but now I really do. Openly sharing and reflecting has connected me to so many colleagues across the globe. That has been equally rewarding and enriching. It has lead to conversations and sharing of practice and ideas. This open story of mine probably hasn’t changed that much in the last two years.
I think that my experiences of open learning has been, to use a phrase I don’t really like, “game changing” for me. Back in 2011/12 in the heady days of MOOCs I probably signed up for a few too many of them but I really wanted to understand this aspect of open from a learners point of view. I still am a recovering Mooc-aholic. I still slip off the wagon now and again, but it’s not the same as it was back in the old days . . .
My experience as an open learner really helped me to focus and reflect on my own approaches to learning, my own practice in terms of my approaches to learning design, to learner engagement, to peer support, to assessment. In fact all the things I do now as part of my job. It also introduced me to another set of fantastically diverse, open learners and educators. People like Penny who is one of the organisers of the 101 stories project.
Open-ness is now a habit for me. It’s part of my practice, but it has natural (and at time imposed) peaks and troughs. Not everything can or should be open. I often find it a struggle to keep open on my agenda. I’m still working out my own praxis with open-ness. I’m doing this through the work of many open education researchers, people like Catherine Cronin whose work provokes and inspires me, and leads me to many others who are working in this field.
Open education isn’t a fairy tale, but it does confront some vary salient, moral and ethical issues around education. Including but not limited to: who can access education and publicly funded resources/data/research findings. What rights do staff have over materials they produce whilst working for institutions? Open-ness doesn’t automatically lead to a happy ending. It has many twists and turns, just like the stories of the Arabian Nights. It might be a bit like The Force in Star Wars, surrounding us and binding us. . . but that’s a story for another day.
Today as the UK takes a leap into the unknown and to closing of borders and creation of barriers, we need open stories more than ever. We need these stories to permeate, to keep open on the wider political agenda. To keep people talking about open, in the open.’
This guest post is published as the first of many celebrating Open Education in the run up to the OEPS final event, The Promise of Open Education at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Monday 11th September. Sign up for the event or join the conversation before, during and after the event with the hashtag#BeOpen’.
These are some of the posters which will be presented at #OEPSforum3 on 5 November 2015 in Glasglow:
Growing Skills: meeting the digital needs of online learners at RBGE – Cathy Shields, Jane Robertson and Lorna Mitchell, Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh
Development & Evaluation of University of Glasglow Biology pre-entry summer school – Dr Avril Edmond & Dr Mary McVey, University of Glasgow
25 years of embracing and fostering openness in education – Ildiko Mazar, European Distance and E-learning Network, UK
Open Educational Practices and Widening Participation – Lindsay Hewitt, The Open University in Scotland
Why and how the Open University provides free learning – Patrina Law, The Open University