4 min read
TJ had a hell of a job following Sara - and he was stimied by technology woes almost constantly throughout For those who don't know TJ he is a progamme officer at the Hewlett Foundation, and has worked on OER and open education grants since 2012. TJ's first name is actually the letter "T" and his middle name is actually the letter "J".
William Hewlett said "Never Stifle a Generous Impulse".
TJ does his job because other people have achieved results - people (in this room and in the wider community) have done the work. TJ gets to know what people are doing, and can link people together. This is one of the main things a funder can bring to a field - he can help frame issues around the wider movement.
What we are doing is important - but it is not the whole thing. There are drops in the ocean we can give to support partial solutions to much wider problems. What we are working on in Open Education is solvable. This is something we can do to support some of the issues that the students Sara talked about are facing.
People are joining and contributing to the community all the time, which makes it both welcoming and healthy.
The four (or maybe seven) "I"s of OER.
1. Ideology - at the core is the the concept of sharing within education, and sharing as a foundation of education. We often talk about content, about the sharing that happens in and around the classroom. The ideology of the global commons describes a worldwide space where we can share. OER is a part of a broader open movement, which is perhaps best described by Wiley's 5Rs.
2. Individuals - these are people who are taking on these ideologies, and committing large parts of their lives to the movement. Sometimes we call them "champions" or "heroes".
3. Institutions - institutions matter. Hewlett was set up as an institution deliberately. Institutions are where people are - and (ideally) keep people safe. Educational institutions matter - at all levels. Funders (and there are more funders getting involved with OER the whole time, including governments) matter. International organisations like CoL and UNESCO matter. All of these organisations support and drive the movement.
4. Infrastructure - what we need is not well understood. We don't what trees are missing in the forest, or even what the forest needs to look like. Strong early work on the legal infrastructure has supported global change in a wide variety of fields - technical and policy infrastructure are the next steps. Research, and researchers, are an essential part of the infrastructure - we need good critical research to hold ourselves accountable. We need to be "open for criticism".
5. Idiosyncraticism - OER is idiosyncratic... it is becoming less so as we learn what works and our designed interventions become more predictable. But the strength is with the choices and decisions of individuals and the ability to experiment and challenge.
6. Institutionalisation - as we move away from the "wildness" of early experimentation, it becomes systematised. Direct one-for-one OER textbook substitution is an important driver, but resources do often need to look like the resources that are already used. Open Textbooks have driven adoption, but as faculty begin to understand the opportunities of OER more kinds of resources are widely used and repurposed. Policy has become national (eg Poland has adopted OER across K12.
7. Individualisation - we are beginning to become able to support faculty in personalising materials like textbooks in ways that have never been possible before.This is what drives a range of innovative pedagogy that can meet needs around the world. This is the tradition of "open pedagogy" and "open educational practice" that has always underpinned this community. This will become mainstream, and this realised the full value of OER.
Imagine an education system where the goal was not simply education, it was to solve the world problems. Imagine a system where learners at all levels were empowered to make meaningful, real world, contributions to solving these problems. Where this could be a truly global endeavour.
Predicting the future is fun, and hard. We don't know which way OER will go, or how much it would matter in 20 years. (the futuOER.org site).
OER is in the great glass elevator. Dare we go "up, and out"?