By Adrian Stagg and Emma Power, USQ
In this coffee course, we’ll be exploring Open Educational Practice (OEP) and how it applies to teaching and learning, and research in higher education. We’ll start the course by looking at the key characteristics of openness, the distinction between free and open, and how open education is enabled.
Just as the choices of coffee (or tea) to have with this course are many, so are the choices for openness.
What kind of open do you want?
It is accepted that much of the content we access online is free, whether for work or personal use.
Within the university environment though, proprietary content (such as textbooks, research data storage, and journal publisher databases) are an accepted part of the institution. University libraries in particular pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to vendors to retain access to online resources that support student learning and staff research. The notion that students pay for textbooks, and that the university pays for other content is seen as ‘the cost of education.’
For the last fifteen years that notion has been challenged. Open Educational Resources (OER) aim to reduce barriers to accessing education, whether this be access to texts, access to research (which is often taxpayer-funded), access to learning experiences (such as courses), and access to different ways for learning to be recognised. It acknowledges that education is a fundamental human right, and that educational organisations should be invested in making learning accessible.
Open, therefore, means a different things to different people and organisations. Open Educational Resources are only part of the picture of what is broadly termed Open Educational Practice (OEP). The image below (from the Open Education Consortium) shows many – but not all – of the facets of OEP. Today, however, we’ll just focus on one branch of the tree – OER.
The ingredients of ‘open’
Open Educational Resources (OER) are most often described as ‘digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students, and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research’. There is a lot in this definition, so let’s unpack it.
Digitised: OER leverages the online environment through online sharing platforms (such as repositories and databases) to store and distribute resources. It’s worth noting that whilst OER is most commonly attributed as digital-only resources, but is not always true.
Materials: OER can take many forms from entire courses, modules, assessment, assessment rubrics, data sets, texts, recorded lectures, audio files, multimedia, journal articles, and images.
Offered freely and openly: Free and open have a symbiotic relationship. Free means that there is no charge (a lot of the internet works this way), but open means that it usually has either a Public Domain or Creative Commons licence that allows others to retain, redistribute, revise, remix, or repurpose the resource. It’s essentially upfront permission to use the resource. It’s worth noting that some materials can be free without being open, and it’s possible to monetise open content – which is why OER makes the ‘free and open’ distinction.
The following video from Lumen Learning illustrates a lot of the freedoms associated with OER use in teaching. As you watch this, we’d like you to consider which examples resonate with your practice, as this will lead into today’s activity.
Video [2mins 26sec]: Lumen Learning, Faculty members’ experiences using Open Educational Resources, used under a CC-BY Licence from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFb59_Gk040
It is also worth spending some time today reading over the JISC ‘New to OER?’ page. You’ll notice that it has three portals, allowing you to select an entry point that best suits your needs. The site does mention an updated version, but we’ll use this older one as the portal functionality is more useful to our needs.
Of particular interest as we start this course is one quote from the JISC Infokit: ‘Engagement with OER can be light touch. New staff should be encouraged to source open materials when creating new educational materials (from CC resources or other OER), and to fully reference all other assets in their teaching materials. An academic’s own digital assets such as images, pod casts and video can be released under a CC licence…’
Revisit the tree image of OEP above and consider the ‘light touch’ approach to OER. In the discussion forum below, we’d like you to comment on”
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?, and
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose?
Emma and I look forward to meeting you all in the discussion, and engaging with you during Open Education Week 2017! You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #OERCoffee.
The text of this work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. All images and videos retain their respective licences.
Links to resources
- OECD (2007). Giving knowledge for free: the emergence of open educational resources, accessed via: https://www.oecd.org/edu/ceri/38654317.pdf
- An excellent OER repository is www.oercommons.org. Take some time to browse the resources for your discipline area today.
- Open Educational Resources
- JISC (2013). What are open educational resources, accessed via: https://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24836860/What%20are%20Open%20Educational%20Resources
Hello, I am just checking in as an ANU Online Educational Developer to say that I am very excited about the possibilities you have shown us here of Open Education Resources and Practice. I hadn’t checked out what is available lately in the way of OERs but just went to the link to Open Education Resources and put some searches in under topics relevant to the area of Population Health (as I am assisting with some development of courses in this area) and was quite surprised at the amount of quality resources, particularly those coming from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Thanks for these valuable links!
Hi Jill! It’s great that you are looking deeper into OER; I’m glad that you’ve been able to locate some material already. The Health-related disciplines do raise some interesting challenges for openness due to the type of information (much like Law, I would assume) in that the currency of the content, as well as alignment with local legislative requirements is critical.
Do you think that the resources you found will require much work to make them useful for Australian learners?
Hi Adrian, I did wonder if the material was current or not, or whether some of the materials are independent of time and currency issues or not – it would be up to the Subject Matter Experts to decide on that, and what, if any, of the material is relevant or useful. My comment was coming from a first impression only, and that was surprise at how much was available in that particular subject area.
I wonder if this is one of the issues with OER, it can include cast-offs from wealthy institutions that have moved on to bigger and better things, or have updated their materials for paying students?
Hi everyone – I’m doing double-duty as a facilitator and a participant in this course! Looking forward to discussing with everyone and learning while I do that.
To answer the questions Adrian & Emma posted:
I think the open culture and open practices interest me the most, along with inclusiveness. Access and equity are very important to me in terms of education, and I like to consider the possibilities that open educational practices can offer to encourage more widespread participation in higher education. Creating a culture that promotes sharing and openness seems like a big challenge sometimes!
In terms of what resources would I like to share:
I was just chatting with Jill who commented above about how great it would be if resources around using technology in teaching were made available under Creative Commons licences, so that they could be re-used and adapted for different institutions and contexts without always having to start from scratch! But hopefully this blog is a small contribution to the open education material out there as well 🙂
Looking forward to hearing from the rest of you about your thoughts and experiences.
Thanks for your comment. I imagine that ANU must see its own unique cohort of students, and I was wondering about how OEP addresses some of the main equity and access needs you can identify for the students at your institution? I’m interested to see the similarities and differences in what OEP could offer students to larger metropolitan universities and regional universities (such as USQ), and other universities (to other participants: feel free to add your own experiences!).
As Adrian mentioned around three-quarters of our students are enrolled externally, and many of them live in rural and remote locations, which can make internet access difficult and expensive. Many students are often low-SES and/or ‘first in family’ to access higher education. Many academic and professional staff who engage in OEP and create OER here do so in order to reduce the impact of these barriers (whether these be remoteness and/or financial) for students.
I think that these barriers for students, especially the financial pressures of textbooks, is something that seems to be present for many student populations across the different universities around Australia. I know this was a huge issue for myself and many of my peers who studies undergraduate and postgraduate courses at a large GO8 university. It was always appreciated when lecturers provided alternative resources to textbooks, although many were unfortunately not openly licenced OER. For many, this would mean that the savings of not buying a textbook could be put towards two weeks of food or a week of rent. I think it shouldn’t be underestimated the financial relief that students are provided by cutting down on the number of textbooks they need to purchase through using OER, whether they attend a regional university or a large GO8 university.
Interested to hear your experiences in how equity and access at your institutions could be enhanced with OER and OEP, and from anyone else who would like to comment!
BCcampus estimates that it has saved students millions of dollars, as shown on this page: https://open.bccampus.ca/ . These kinds of numbers can be useful for advancing OER use. Some students in Alberta, Canada are aware of this kind of information and are a driving force for the adoption of OERs. So, if more students were aware of OERs, there might be a greater push everywhere for them to be used.
With regards to equity and access, one issue is time. Suppose you’re in a rural area and you have an Internet connection, but it’s intermittent. You can get the work done, but the disconnections cause delays in your completion of assignments. In this kind of case, it’s necessary to have instructors who are understanding and don’t mind giving extensions. This can be difficult to do to a great extent in cohort-based courses, but there at least needs to be some flexibility. To me, this is an OEP about attitudes and open-mindedness of instructors.
Another point is that access and equity is also about designing courses for people with vision, hearing, and physical impediments. I think it’s important for OER designers to know about the tools and techniques available for providing content in alternative ways, like alt-text for describing pictures. I certainly have a lot to learn about these things!
Hi Emma & Dan! Great to chat with you again!
I suspect ANU might just be the polar opposite of USQ in terms of student body! I suspect 85-90% of ANU courses are on-campus, and unlike many other Australian unis there is a large proportion of students who live in ANU campus housing as well. Many also come from overseas and across Australia to live in Canberra to attend. In this sense, it can be difficult to make arguments here for the use of online or distance ed because of these factors. I think ANU also promotes the “on-campus experience” as part of its brand, as much of the advertising centers around direct contact with academics who are leaders in their field. (I’d love to hear from other ANU staff if their perceptions match mine!)
But obviously despite the environment here equity and access are still essential. Internet access can be patchy in many suburbs, and non-existent on the many rural properties just outside the city. I really like the capacity of OERs to be adapted into multiple formats for students who may need alternative formats (such as smaller, lower-quality videos that are faster to download, audio-only, and or text-based alternatives.
Thanks for your replies Katie and Dan!
Dan your comment regarding the open and flexible perspectives of instructors is also key for students who live in rural areas and have patchy internet connections. I like the reminder to look beyond just the logistics in terms of access, but also the flexibility and understanding of circumstances, which could still be challenging in large courses as you’ve said. Always good to think of OEP beyond just the ‘product’ or OER. Your link to the BCcampus webpage on the savings from using OER is fantastic too, thank you for sharing it!
I like your point regarding equity and access also being inclusive of students living with a disability to ensure they have the same quality of educational resources as their peers. I think that this is an area for all involved in learning and teaching across higher education to think about and foster, perhaps through professional developments like these coffee courses. There is certainly a lot I don’t know about this area either, but it would be really interesting to learn how we could all be designing content that is easily accessible to all students.
Katie, its really interesting to see that despite ANU having a majority of on-campus students, that these students could also be facing similar challenges to our external students in regards to internet access. Its great that OER have the ability to provide equitable access to resources that would be needed no matter the institution you attend. I’m sure going back to Dan’s point there would also be many students with vision, hearing, and physical impediments that would benefit from resources and courses designed with their access needs in mind.
Hi Dan! Good to see you here, and even better to be part of the conversation.
The point of accessibility certainly has currency as the University of California, Berkeley Campus has just decided to take down their freely accessible content as they aren’t able to meet the expectations for accessibility. It is a matter of resourcing for them, so unfortunately, the whole collection is removed. (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/03/06/u-california-berkeley-delete-publicly-available-educational-content)
It’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes you can reach out to communities for this type of activity. The Artificial Intelligence MOOC at Stanford was translated by the students into 32 languages simply because learners wanted to share the content and experience with their peers. The fact that the MOOC content was ‘closed’ didn’t stop students.
Lastly, there has been a lot of student activisim in the US and Canada around textbook prices which have driven the move to free and open. We’ll be discussing this in one of the posts this week, but it’s worth considering in advance. Australia doesn’t seem to have the same culture of activism – or am I misrepresenting the sector?
Emma, while I have been teaching on-line at ANU since 2009, there have been very few other on-line courses for my students to do. There are more coming out now and some whole on-line programs, such as the new Master of Applied Data Analytics.
Students can also incorporate on-line courses from affiliated institutions in ANU programs. In 2011, I was doing the Graduate Certificate in HE at ANU and wanted to learn about e-learning. So I substituted two on-line courses from USQ’s graduate program. We may see more of this now ANU is offering program credit for edX courses: http://blog.highereducationwhisperer.com/2017/03/australian-universities-to-award.html
I suspect that there is already a rich on-line blend in ANU courses, they are just not called “online”: http://blog.highereducationwhisperer.com/2017/03/rethinking-teaching-at-anu.html
It has been interesting to provide an on-line course at ANU, where most of the students were full time, on campus. These students chose the on-line mode because of timetable clashes. Other students had to be at a job in Australia or overseas. Some had to complete one more course to graduate (one student did the 12 week course in four weeks, on-line).
You raise a good point about on-campus students, that flexible delivery methods such as online can be of great benefit to those that also have to balance work, timetables from other subjects, and likely other responsibilities. I’m sure there are ways that OER and OEP can be utilised at universities with any cohort in order to make resources more accessible and flexible to suit thier context.
Hi Katie. You raise a really good point about the reusability of open resources. Content is plentiful (we’ll cover that point in the next few days), but institutions invest a lot of resources into authoring new content all the time. If we were able to more openly and freely share the resource (and make it easy to reuse), then it could cut down on a lot of time. Also, it could mean that others create better products than your original – and you can fold that new version back into your institutions.
Like you, I place a high value on student equity and access; especially as rural and remote Australians are increasingly represented in higher education. I mention those students as they often have difficulties in accessing online content, and the current copyright or licencing agreements don’t always mean that we can easily make offline copies available to them. Open licences make this a much easier proposition.
On the note of culture, do you think that there are any aspects of higher education generally that make ‘sharing’ a challenging concept?
Hi Adrian – I think there has been a long-standing pressure in higher ed to keep publications in highly ranked journals as this is often needed for probation or promotion. (And obviously publishers can profit from this expectation!) In my daily work as a learning designer, I often hear concerns from academics about putting material online; fears about copyright infringement or intellectual property are common. I hope I can collect some arguments from this course that I can use to argue for the value of sharing!
*like* to your comment here, Katie Freund
You asked if we think there are any aspects of higher education generally that makes ‘sharing’ a challenging concept. Well …
Within an institution, sharing ideas, content, learning objects etc is very easy (it is at mine, at least) and there are a lot of benefits that come from that, including saving time, having a better product, standing on the shoulders of others, etc.
But when it comes to making the resulting content available outside of the institution, that becomes part of a commercial proposition. And getting students in to do our courses is also a commercial thing – and if it’s not about money, it’s about managing the limited resource of available students. We compete with other institutions for those resources (the students), so why would we share content with them and give up our advantage in drawing them in?
Is this part of the larger private good vs. public good debate?
And is there an easy way to manage this?
Katie and Alison, the issue of sharing does present a strange dichotomy (at least for me when I hear about it). On one hand, researchers are very pleased when people cite their work (better impact factor, H-index, etc) and are more than happy to discuss how it has been applied to other contexts or how their research is being extended, opportunities for collaboration, and the like.
In teaching and learning, it’s the exact opposite. This is a good preface to tomorrow’s post about ‘giving knowledge for free’, and what the ‘competitive advantage of universities’ is. If we reduce universities to a minimum of empowering a participatory society, and providing credentialling, then content doesn’t really factor into the discussion. The credential alone I see as a manifestation of the trust relationship between the university and society – the conferred degree means something to the wider community because of the trust they place on the institution.
The value of universities is – in my opinion at least – not about the nature of their content, which is plentiful. The value is derived from interaction, feedback, assessment, and engagement (with lecturers, students, industry), which is driven by humans, not content. It’s how we wrap the content and design learning experiences that is valuable.
Am I being a little too starry-eyed in my appraisal?
ACCESS< Equity< Opportunity – as a rural academic with ANU who works and teaches off campus, having equal access and equity to teaching and research resources is vital. It provides me with the same opportunities and hence my students to material that can engage me and them in learning. Being able to share learning plans, teaching resources, with other ANU academics to prevent having to "reinvent" the wheel is vital to making my work efficient and provide students opportunity to learn from a greater cohort of academics. Exchanging teaching materials and approaches to lesson plans both enhances the experience for the learners but also educational for the academics.
I would be willing to share approaches in teaching clinical examinations for medical students or junior doctors, although wouldn't say I am an expert and might be a bit embarrassed to share widely.
It was really interesting to read your experience of how equal access and equity to teaching materials can also benefit academics working in rural/off-campus areas. I can imagine having existing openly access materials and resources to share between yourself and other ANU academics must save you a lot of time and enable you to work smoothly remotely. You also mentioned this was use of open access resource was educational for academics like yourself, I was wondering what has been the most useful information/process you’ve learned from this?
I can understand the feeling of uncertainty and embarrassment in positioning yourself as an expert and sharing your created resources and approaches widely. Last week I was talking to an academic at USQ who was feeling similarly, that they were worried that people would judge their resources negatively or view them as unhelpful. I know that even engaging in this discussion and putting forward my questions is making me feel embarrassed/worried to say the wrong thing in this open forum. You are definitely not alone! I think some useful ways to combat these feelings is to work in tandem with another supportive academic/professional staff members or engage in a peer review process when developing OER before openly sharing them. I research the experiences of academics in our Open Educational Practice grants here at USQ, and often having the opportunity to share their ideas with team members and other open practitioners, along with having others support/review their work can be invaluable.
Hi Louise, I can empathise with your position as I moved out of town about five years ago and was given the choice of wireless with Telstra or nothing. We had a monthly download limit of 8GB and less than ideal download speeds. That is slowly changing, but it has given me an insight into how a lot of students must feel – being very strategic with downloads, and checking file sizes before opening anything.
One of the key elements of OER is, as you say, not ‘reinventing the wheel’ but starting with a foundation and then building. For students, I think that if they are exposed to notions of open content, then they could potentially gain value if they are working in regional and remote areas without the resources their metropolitan colleagues enjoy. I’ve often thought that nurses, doctors, and teachers would all be good candidates for learning about OER to use professionally.
You might be surprised to hear that a lot of new open practitioners have similar feelings about sharing their work, often feeling that others are ‘more qualified’. However, one idea you might consider is open development of content. A colleague of mine at the University of Hawai’i was developing a work flow. He put the work flow on Google Drive and set it so people could comment on the document but not alter it in the first phase. He then sent out invitations to his network and checked back every few days on the comments (this might be a way to maximise your activity given your internet access). At the end, he took all the feedback, developed the workflow and then shared it back to the community. I’m now working on his efforts to create a version that reflects our institution.
Would an approach like this work for you?
It’s nice to see familiar people in this course, and I’m looking forward to getting to know others who are interested in open education!
I’m doing my PhD at U Canterbury on OEPs with a focus on instructional design. I’m interested in pedagogical innovation that fosters effective and efficient learning. To illustrate, I spent all of my primary and secondary education learning about verb tenses in French language courses without really ever mastering that content. Later, I taught FSL using a highly organized system that showed how the verbs tenses relate to each other. Only then did things finally click for me.
I like to hear about courses that makes use of open communication tools including social media and open discussion forums. I’m also interested in open culture, one aspect being how to manage course design projects on an open platform in a way that potential contributors feel welcome to join in.
As for materials I would share, I’m planning on writing at least one article that will be openly licensed. I don’t have a lot of teaching resources to share since I have usually prepared course materials for other people using a closed license. If I were to offer a training session on OER or some aspect of instructional design, I would share that material.
I know that some people hesitate to share their content because of fears about how it will be perceived, or that it won’t be of high enough quality. These are useful concerns to the extent that we don’t need a flood of mediocre content. However, sometimes people have excellent materials to share and just lack the confidence to distribute it. I think this is one barrier to creating an open culture. How do you think this kind of barrier can be overcome?
Hi Dan! Good to hear from you.
I think that the quality of materials and an individuals confidence to share these materials is an area to investigate, I haven’t yet come across literature exploring this so if anyone has any interesting articles on this I’d love to read them. I think its important that people are only sharing quality resources, but are also able to feel confident in actually engaging with that process, because it is pretty daunting.
Like in my comment to Louise above I’ve noticed that support from community of practice, teams and other supportive people (educational designers, peer reviewers, copyright officers, librarians, media designers and developers etc.) can assist staff in adapting/creating materials into OER. These supportive people could potentially assist those wanting to engage with open culture, and this was a finding that came out of some research Adrian, Prof. Helen Partridge and I did on a case study last year: https://eprints.usq.edu.au/30148/1/ascilite2016_partridge_full.pdf
I still think that more research looking explicitly at academics confidence in sharing their materials openly (i.e. a potential barrier to OEP engagement from the emotional effects of perceived evaluation/critique leading to a lack of confidence) could be done in the future, unless anyone knows of a journal article/research exploring this already?
Being involved in clinical teaching for medical students I use a lot of the open access material involving guidelines and teaching already in place by hospitals and health departments for doctors, nurses and allied health staff. I think in my area sharing presentations between academics is very helpful and saves a lot of time particularly to those from smaller units.
It’s great to hear that you currently use a lot of open access resources in your teaching practice, alongside medical staff in hospitals and health departments. You mentioned sharing these resources between academics in your field, and I was wondering does this usually happen person-to-person or do you share them widely online or through a repository?
Also, in reply to Sally Somi’s question below, Michael how do you in the medical field ensure that the OER you use has accurate and relevant information? Because you share a teaching field I thought you might have some discipline-related advice you could provide, or even just the process you and other staff go through in selecting appropriate materials for your students? I imagine this could be a similar process to selecting commercial resources as well?
I love the availability aspect of a large range of teaching materials especially the ones that are hard to produce like videos, audios and pictures. I teach clinical skills to medical students and there are a large range of videos available but they all are different and also different to what we teach. This makes the students anxious in relation to assessments. How is the accuracy of material assured?
Quality Assurance does show up on priority lists regularly. British Columbia University takes an approach with their open textbooks that encourages peer-review, and that the review is made available openly with the book. This type of transparency is great. A scaled-down version can be found in the OER Commons (oercommons.org) where users can rate the material (out of five stars). It lacks context (you’re not entirely sure why it is ‘four stars’, for example), but it can be a proxy for usefulness.
I do field this question a lot from our academic staff, and it’s a reasonable one. Ultimately, though, I believe that we (educators and students) exercise certain critical skills when evaluating information resources whether they are ‘open’ or ‘closed’. The same set of skills apply. Just as there are poor-quality commercial resources, there are poor-quality OER.
One learning activity that has worked well in a few subjects here is ‘Watch this video that was produced in the UK. You’ll notice that they reference different Nursing Standards, and some of the approaches were slightly different. In your response, highlight at least three items you found different, and provide correct information for Australian practice.’ In this case, the difference became a strength, but that’s not always appropriate.
Would something like this work in your course, Sally?
1. Aspects of OER: Collaboration, Efficiency and Accessibility.
* Collaboration: I gave one of my former students a copy of some course-ware, they adapted it and then one of their colleagues produced a third version with quizzes. I then adapted the quizzes for ANU and sent a copy back to them. As this was all Creative Commons licensed, there was no formal agreement needed.
* Efficiency: The problem I have is finding OER of the quality required. I looked for OER on “Innovation” , but little I found was usable.
* Accessibility: One problem with proprietary educational materials, such as e-books, is they are provided in hard to access formats, as part of the IP protection. With OER you don’t need these controls and so should be able to provide more accessible content. Apart from accessibility in terms of people with a disability, this also helps with access for those using mobile devices and where Internet speeds are low (such as remote Australia and developing nations). This also addresses opportunity and equity.
2. What I share: course books and course-ware.
* ICT Sustainability (book and course-ware): http://www.tomw.net.au
* Digital Teaching In Higher Education (book and course-ware): http://www.tomw.net.au/digital_teaching/
These materials tend to evolve from blog posts, where I think aloud about what I am doing. For example, a recent embryonic one:
* Virtual Power Station Cheaper Than Snowy Hydro 2.0? (For ANU Systems Engineering COMP3530 Students): http://blog.tomw.net.au/2017/03/virtual-power-station-cheaper-than.html
ps: I wrote a longer version of this with more links, but the system prevented me from posting, saying: “bit spammy”. Hope this version is okay.
Sorry, that was my fourth attempt to get through the Spam detector, and one of the links was mangled. ICT Sustainability is at http://www.tomw.net.au/ict_sustainability/introduction.shtml
A bit late in the piece, but I’m still going to send it:
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?
A mixture of Open Practices and Learner Centered. I feel like I’ve got a handle on some of the OERs as resources though not others, but want to know more about how they can be used to form open practices and how this makes education more learner centered.
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose?
I like traditional communication methods, but set in the modern world. Around half of my articles go to Open Access Journals, and I’m Editor of one (Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning http://www.jofdl.nz ).
We have developed a kind of open/available textbook/resource, but it is not ‘offered freely and openly’ – just freely. It can be read and used by anyone but cannot be revised, remixed or repurposed. It is a shame in a lot of ways, as sending out into the big world on its own may actually help others add to it and keep it up to date without us having to do it – that would be quite benefit.
Certainly never to late to join in. Glad you’re here!
I suppose that the one point around learner-centered design and OER is that open education doesn’t have a monopoly on supporting it. It’s one approach and might not suit all disciplines and all educators (in fact, I’d be slightly worried if it did suit everyone). In some ways, the learner-centred design of OER is about (1) thinking about the students when setting resources – access and affordability, (2) developing assessment that is not, as David Wiley states ‘disposable’ (the much maligned essay is usually targeted as ‘disposable’, but I disagree), and (3) providing students with the opportunity to co-create.
David Wiley’s concept of ‘disposable assessment’ is that most of the reports, etc that are set as assessment are completed by students by then not valued in the long term. Using an ePortfolio linked to professional standards to showcase work is one way of tackling this problem; the assessment is professionally relevant and serves as a record that can be shown to potential employers. I’m not sure what discipline you’re aligned with, so this might not be appropriate. Really, though, the main move is answer the question ‘what do students do?’ in the design of the course (which I’m sure people already do, so this isn’t terribly new).
Providing students with opportunities to co-create can build a sense of community too – which is a big part of openness. For example, we have an assessment item in third year for Sports & Exercise students. They co-create a Glossary with resources for the discipline; the brief is ‘what would you include as key disciplinary concepts and resources for the first year of study?’ This co-created Glossary is then passed along to the next group of first year students – they are told that ‘students further into the degree’ have developed it, and they value the resource.
I’ve used JOFDL in my own research; there have been a number of excellent articles and the open publishing model has been extremely helpful.
Lastly, could you post a link to your textbook/resource? I’d be very interested in taking a look, and yes – the power of openness to allow others to update and add to the work is certainly worth considering.
Thanks for joining the course!
Thanks for the feedback! Yes – having assessments which can form part of a portfolio is a great idea, and students co-creating resources also good. We’re looking at developing these two ideas a bit more as we revise and redevelop online courses. I teach in Library and Information Studies at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. We do the Bachelor’s degree courses, so think Charles Sturt, not TAFE.
The online textbook our faculty developed is at http://informingnewzealand.wikispaces.com/home
One of the factors involved in it appearing in this form after 5 print editions was that we had a (nearly) zero-budget to get the revision of the textbook done.
Hi Alison; good to another Librarian aboard. I’ve bookmarked the text to take a look in some downtime later this week, so thank you for the link. I’m especially pleased about the streamlined process that you mention – this is a fantastic outcome, and one that I don’t think a lot of people can claim.
I’m a bit late as well, so I’ll be succinct. 🙂
1. I’m interested in the Flexible Learning, Open Pedagogy, and Innovation areas. Sometimes I feel like I understand OER and OEP, but then I come across something more and realise how little I know. But, from the tree, those are the areas that I’m most interested in.
2. I would share my teaching resources and planning resources, e.g. scaffolds for course design. I haven’t really found a good opportunity to share these openly – only through my current role within my university – and I would be interested in ways that I can share these to receive feedback and further develop my own skillset while perhaps providing interesting materials that others could benefit from. (Can you tell that I’m relatively new to sharing openly?)
Hi Trisha; glad to see that you made it into the Comments area.
The boon and bane of this area is that there is always something new to learn, and people are always extending open practice in new and interesting ways. It’s almost a full-time job keeping up sometimes, so I know how you feel. 🙂
I did mention a colleague at University of Hawai’i who recently courageously shared his work openly via GoogleDocs and then invited (via Twitter) any Comments and Feedback. It was all very civilised and there was some great discussion leading to a resource that can now be used by anyone (it’s an OER Workflow). Perhaps as a ‘first step’ you might consider housing your work in a collaborative space and then inviting your team to comment on ‘work in progress’? Depending on how that goes, you might then start to open up your work to slightly larger audiences.
It is a little confronting the first time – I’m just about to release a few items this way for consultation – but I do feel the benefits are worth the effort.
Would this initial approach work for you?
Adrian, thanks for sharing this resources ans the bare bones of the process for opening the content and mechanisms for input from others – very useful.
Hi Adrian, I follow you on Twitter – will this be where I can follow your foray into opening your items up for consultation? Cheers, Imogen
Hi Imogen; it’s still bizarre to hear things like ‘I follow you on Twitter’, but thanks! (Just a word of warning, I’m lost too, so your mileage on following me may vary!) 🙂
To answer your question: yes, I’ll be posting on Twitter when I do share and openly consult. I’d value any feedback from the network.
I am starting to use Google docs and Trello as part of my business as usual, but it’s the more formal aspects, like sharing documents and resources that I’ve created with others (more than just documents with team members) that is potentially scary. I do like the idea of the Google doc and Twitter, although I wonder about the quality of responses. Of course, I could filter them, but it is still sorting out those who provide good feedback from those who are trolling, I guess.
I’ve enjoyed reading the posts so far.
I joined this course to find out more about OEP as I know very little. The reason I am interested in learning more is that I have been using a youtube channel for around 6 months now to develop my jazz improvisation skills (I am a music lecturer). The content of the channel is GOLD, and offered for free. It has become very popular in a small period of time because people recognise the value and quality of the content.
What interests me most about OEP is collaboration. Being at regional university can feel isolating at times, but having access to resources such as the one I mentioned above helps me feel connected to the international community of musicians whose interests I share. I am keen to learn more about OEP with a view to considering how I might develop something one day in collaboration with others which would be of value to those students who may not otherwise have the chance to access quality content.
Welcome Melissa! Glad to hear you are enjoying the course so far.
I’m glad to hear that you’re able to feel connected to the broader musician community through a great YouTube channel. It would be great to hear your ideas for developing your own resources in collaboration with others in the future. We’ll be asking you to reflect throughout the course on how you could be utilising the ideas we discuss to your own practice. Hopefully you can get some solid starting points to create or remix existing music resources for those who may have difficulty accessing closed content in your field. I look forward to hearing more from you over the next few days, thanks Melissa!
Your point about perceived value is really important when discussing any type of content, and I’m glad you raised it. Places like YouTube are extremely valuable when you consider that people are willing to share their expertise for free to benefit everyone. Whilst a lot of the content is free, but not open, that doesn’t diminish how important acting on this sentiment is. I subscribe to a number of channels that offer tutorials and I’m always amazed at how much dedication goes into them. Every now and then the host might ask for people to donate so they can buy a new camera, or pick up some necessary supplies, and I don’t mind sending some dollars their way because I value what they do and want them to continue. In the meantime though, I think that the ‘Download’, ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Retweet’ and the like become proxies for showing the value individuals place on a work – which isn’t something you can really measure (or convert into AUD).
What it does, however, is build reputation. You get a sense of that person as another human, and make judgments about how you’d interact with them. If interests align and opportunity arises, the collaboration can be broached. I see it happen with podcasts a lot; hosts from one show appear on another, a good time is had by all, and their listener-ship increases through cross-promotion. In this environment, distance matters less and less.
Out of curiosity; have you left any feedback on the YouTube channel you mention? Is the producer of this content someone that you’d want to fold into your course, or collaborate with more broadly? I’d be interested to hear from you.
I work in the Library here at ANU. My understanding of OER and OEP is limited so I’m loving the opportunity to learn more through this Coffee Course.
The standouts from the tree (as of today, next week I might identify other circles) are Open pedagogy and Flexible learning. From a practical standpoint I do need to know more about Open licences and Open data.
To date, I don’t have OER to share but I envisage sharing articles, training session plans and in the future, recorded staff brainstorming face to face sessions as examples of how to facilitate and run with an idea (eg the research and writing process for article publication, development of online training resources). Just thought bubbles at present… 🙂
Hi Imogen, welcome to the course!
Good to see the thought bubbles forming, hopefully over the next few days as we discuss more about OER and OEP (including open data/research and open licencing through Creative Commons) you’ll continue to develop these ideas and share with us further. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts over the next few days, thanks for commenting.
Hi Imogen; ‘stream of consciousness’ is sometimes the best way to work before the filtering throws out potentially good ideas, so thanks for sharing in this format. 🙂
We’ll look at open licencing more on Thursday (open research tomorrow), but Creative Commons was designed so that the average person could read a few dot points and then use the licence. If you wanted to ‘skip ahead’, I’d really recommend the Creative Commons Australia website.
I could see a lot of applicability in sharing training session plans from the Library (I was a librarian for about fifteen years). You could certainly use it a way to find out how others are approaching the same topic (do a search of a repository like the OER Commons and see what sorts of content already exist), and maybe even share the workload with other universities if they want to collaborate. I mention in Day Two that ‘content is plentiful’, and I’m sure there are plenty of lesson plans – the value is (perhaps?) in how you engage with people and how you localise it for your university. As such, you’d have nothing to lose by collaborating and everything to gain.
Does this sound suitable for your work?
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?
I would start with Learner-centered, collaboration, and flexible learning. The reason is that Open Educational Resources would be meaningless without a pedagogical support that privileges the development of learning abilities and the socialisation of knowledge.
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose? I haven’t had much experience sharing resources but besides papers, Journal articles and educational materials; I think sharing results of teaching-learning experiences in open environments with other teachers would be helpful and fascinating.
Sorry for being late
No apologies needed at all, Noemi, we’re happy to have you here.
Your comment: “The reason is that Open Educational Resources would be meaningless without a pedagogical support that privileges the development of learning abilities and the socialisation of knowledge” is absolutely brilliant and I could not agree more. Simply providing access to free and open resources does not mean that ‘learning happens’ (or as a colleague of mine is wont to say ‘and a miracle occurs’). This is one of the reason I like the emerging learning design practice around persona modelling across the sector. Basically, this involves (although you’ve probably already encountered this concept), using evidence to construct a few potential learners and asking all learning design questions through the lens ‘what does this mean for these students?’ Obviously no substitute for actual students, but it’s a handy approach.
I think that we can sometimes get a little lost in the OER rhetoric about who will benefit; some practitioners have this dangerously neo-colonist vision of ‘educating everyone’, but can’t really articulate why ‘everyone’ would engage with the learning, or what the benefits are.
I also like your thoughts about sharing learning content openly, especially your use of the word ‘fascinating’. What aspects of this sharing and working openly would you value the most?
I have long thought that we could all save ourselves a lot of duplicated effort if we shared teaching materials across institutions. Now you are making this renegade idea respectable. As pointed out in the slides, having access to materials does not give you a degree, just as accessing coursera does not give you a free certificate. It will be interesting to see how this evolves, and I am going to help it along in my discipline.
Hi Heather, thanks! I will do my best to ensure that ‘making renegade ideas respectable’ becomes part of my email signature – I love it!
As for ‘access does not equal education’, I’m firmly in agreement, and your examples are spot-on. Would you mind letting me know what your discipline is?
This has come at a very opportune time! I’d found your coffee time training when looking at collating materials on the use of Turnitin & wanting to link to academic integrity.
The idea of a set of daily blog posts to cover training needs appealed – and we’re currently planning material to look at both ensuring staff don’t infringe copyright, but also to raise the awareness of CC / OERs etc., so I shall be reading with interest!
My pleasure, Emma. One of the (many) reasons I wanted to run this course was to see the format and structure, and you are right – it has a lot of appeal. I hadn’t considered integrating this into a ‘standard’ course, though, but the idea has a lot of merit. It could be quite a powerful tool for orienting students to a course and the expectations of learners. Thanks for this idea, I really appreciate it!
Glad to hear the format is working well for you Emma! All credit for creating the “coffee course” model must go to its creator, Sarah Thorneycroft (on Twitter @sthcrft – https://twitter.com/sthcrft). But I agree that this model of small chunks over time has been working well both for us as the facilitators/trainers, but also we’ve received excellent feedback from the participants too! In the final post we’d love for some feedback on future topics to run through the blog as well, and we are always looking for future collaborators and contributors. 🙂
Sorry that this is so late. I don’t have a lot of teaching experience, but I’m really interested in OER and the benefits of this approach to developing teaching resources. For the questions:
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?
Efficiency, innovation, and inclusiveness. As someone new to teaching, I find it hugely beneficial to have access to content that others have used. It gives me confidence that the approaches I am taking are on the right track, and provides a platform which I can add to and modify without having to reinvent the wheel. I feel that OER has a lot of potential to really drive innovation in teaching by facilitating idea-sharing. Inclusiveness is also something that’s really important to me, and having resources that are freely and openly accessible to students can only be a good thing.
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose? I haven’t had any experience sharing teaching resources, other than with others working on the course. I would share things like small-group workshops that I have developed, but I would like to share them after trying them out a few times to iron out problems. Sharing them in an environment that allows constructive feedback from other educators would be very helpful.
1. Which aspects from the ‘OER Tree’ would be of most interest to you?, and
Collaboration and Retain, reuse… would be of most interest to me, and it’s related to the following question.
2. If you were to share any of your teaching or research resources what would you choose?
I would be happy to share any of my teaching and research resources. Collaboration in both research and teaching results in a situation where everybody can benefit; pooling resources together brings about an outcome that is larger than a simple sum of individual contributions. In my experience educators do share their resources a lot, both within and across institutions (we even say that in research copying is plagiarism and in teaching it’s collaboration), but so far most of it happens on an individual-to-individual basis.
Really, I am interested in practically everything on the OEP tree — I have used something from almost every circle in different capacities during my time at the university. There are so many different elements to university that being able to draw on other people’s resources can really improve your own and improve what your university is doing.
I actually make OER in the form of linguistics memes and infographics for undergraduate students. There are no teaching resources for my particular sub-field, so I am really trying to fill this gap with some quality resources. I have questions about how and where to host the materials however, and where people can access them (and how they can find them!).
Flexible learning and accessibility are the two aspects of the OER Tree that I’m really interested in. After teaching for years in an open university and being exposed to different types of learners in different learning situations, I have seen the importance of offering different pathways to achieve learning objectives. The use of educational technologies is one way to support flexibility but technology can also be a barrier for some if we don’t consider accessibility. We may have OER available but if they are not designed/produced with accessibility in mind, then they will not be useful for some students. I have worked with blind and low vision academics, as well as students who use assistive technologies and I have seen how frustrating it is to access a digital resource that’s not accessible.