Open Educational Resources: The Writing on the Wall

I admire immensely Stephen Downes’ work.

Each weekday and Saturday morning here in Australia starts for me with a read of OLDaily over coffee.

Each day I find something that takes me on a journey of the imagination and to new connections.

Today I have been reading Stephen’s post on Open Educational Resources.

Stephen defines Open Educational Resources (OERs) thus:

Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone.

Stephen’s post elaborates how he came to define OERs. I noted in particular:

  • “it avoids needless redundancies. Specifically, it avoids phrases like “digital or non-digital’ which, on examination, mean the same as “everything”. It also avoids formulations like “OERs are resources that…” because this has the form “resources are resources”, which is not helpful.”
  • “What makes material used for learning an OER is not the license it carries with it, but rather, whether it allows anyone to access, use, modify and share the material.”
  • “the purpose of a functional definition – one based on the ability of a person to access, use, modify and share the resource – is that it enables a simple empirical test. Instead of metaphysical discussions about the nature of an object, we simply ask, “Can a person access the object, can a person use the object, etc.?”, and on being shown that they can, conclude that the resource is open.”
  • “The purpose of the word ‘freely’ in the definition is intended to stipulate that the resource may be access without conditions.”

With Stephen’s guidance and Leigh Blackall‘s help I have been keen to explore open sharing in my work at the University of Canberra. Recently, the #HOPAU project with the Australian Paralympic Committee  has given me opportunities to explore openness in a very practical way.

Stephen’s post today has helped me clarify the essential characteristics of this project. This is a writing on the wall time (about aspiration and country)!

Open Language

UCNISS submitted an open tender to the Australian Paralympic Committee this week.

We submitted a proposal to produce A History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia, and to establish a repository of media and digitised primary resources to compliment the text.

The tender was written as a Wikiversity page.

The process of becoming open has been a great personal learning experience. I am fortunate to have had Leigh Blackall and James Neill as my guides and to access Stephen Downes’ OLDaily to extend my horizons.

Stephen has presented his ideas on The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning this week. I liked his discussion of a language of open learning:

  • We have to stop treating online resources as though they were ‘content’
  • The people who actually use them have moved far beyond that
  • These artifacts constitute a new language; they are a large, complex, post-linguistic vocabulary
  • That’s why they need to be open

Our open tender has received a great deal of interest and comment. The objections to the project we are proposing to the Australian Paralympic Committee underscore for me how important it is to revisit and develop the forms an open language may take.

I am still waiting for the arrival of Stanley Fish’s book in my local bookshop and hope the issues raised there will help me develop my open language and practice.

Advocacy of openness requires many literacies. I am keen to explore how the form of our writing contributes to the flourishing of a sustainable, collaborative approach to the produsing of open educational resources.