In a recent comment Scott Leslie asked,
“…clearly there is a long way to go before OER becomes mainstream, and any positive and practical suggestions you had on how to move it that way I’m sure would be appreciated by the community.”
Well here goes.
One of the powerful ways people learn (to teach) is from watching others and emulating their practice – often improving it through further iterations and enhancements. I know I’ve benefited from many wonderful teachers and colleagues in my career, and I’m fairly certain that the core beliefs and principles in my own practice arise from those experiences.
The first really “open course” I saw was a wiki-based approach that David Wiley modeled a few years back. I was still using learning management system models myself and was impressed by David’s approach. Even though I knew lots about keeping content and presentation separate throughout its life-cycle, I’d never seen any achievable examples of how to do that using lightweight tools completely under my control as an instructor.
At the same time, John Maxwell at Simon Fraser University, a former student, and more recently a mentor to me, was experimenting with wiki-based course environments for his SFU Publishing Program students.
Since then, I’ve seen other fine examples of open instructional practice from Alec Couros and from the team of Stephen Downes and George Siemens.
Most recently, my co-teaching colleague David Vogt and I have taken our UBC Master of Educational Technology (MET) course Ventures in Learning Technology into the open blogosphere using a Word Press MU (multi-user) environment. Previously, we’d explored various environments for hosting and engaging with students in this course, everything from WebCT Vista to Crowdtrust – an experimental social networking technology.
Without benefit of access to the models noted above we would have nothing obvious against which to compare our UBC MET experiences. And, I’m sure other folks are looking for models and examples for comparison and exploration, too. It think it would be a great service to see a catalog of examples of open-type course models that we could all explore and borrow from to suit our own instructional needs.
We’ve presented on our UBC course model, talked about why, what and how we do what we do in our course, and have reported on the experiences of our students. Recent presentation slides from the Canadian e-Learning Conference 2009 can be found here:
So, in answer to Scott’s question, I believe the simplest approach is best. Contribute examples of practice, be prepared to answer questions and critique about them. I think this could be an accessible starting point for many instructors wanting to go in the open direction.
We also need to bear in mind that what we’re talking about here should be close to the principles that Brian Lamb put forth in his post, Are you open enough?