OER What's in it for me?

At the very beginning of October, Creative Commons’ OER policy project organised a two-day workshop in Porto, gathering 15 Open Education enthusiasts, educators, advisors, lawyers and experts on Creative Commons licensing.  Apart from representatives from CC Sweden, CC Spain, CC Poland, CC Netherlands and of course CC Portugal, we were very happy to be able to reach out to other communities and have Rob from OER Research Hub present, as well as Ana and Ricardo from Journalism++, Eduardo who is conducting a PhD on OER, and last but not least from Heitor Alvelos, creator of the Future Places festival. The event was the first official event organised by the “rebooted” CC Portugal, at the wonderful lab space of the Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC).

Workshop participants

Proud participants: John (CC Germany, Lisette (CC Netherlands), Alek (CC Poland), Gwen (CC), Eduardo (U. of Porto), Kamil (CC Poland); bottom row: Fatima (CC Portugal), Rob (OER Research Hub), Teresa (CC Portugal), Ricardo (Journalism++/Manufactura Independente), Ignasi (CC Spain). Photo: Kristina Alexanderson (CC Sweden), CC BY

The workshop was organized at the end of the initial “OER Policy for Europe” project, with the goal of creating a basis for the continuation of our work. To this end, we decided to create a toolkit that can be used to organize a self-learning workshop on Open Educational Resources and policies that support them. With the help of the toolkit, we would like to ask OER enthusiasts to organize such workshops around the world, during the Open Education Week in 2015.

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The toolkit, as we imagine it, should consist of following materials:

  1. Workshop materials:
    1. Concept of a modular workshop scenario, with each module addressing one of key aspects and issues around OER
    2. Guidebook with a step-by-step explanation of the scenario and with background materials for each module
    3. Concept of workshop activities: what good is a workshop without games and active elements that make learning fun?
  2. Background materials. There is a lot of content that can be reused but two additional items are required:
    1. FAQ file: there are many FAQs about OER, but this one will be tailored to the specific workshop modules
    2. Infographics: OER can be made easier to understand by visualizing information
  3. Promotional materials:
    1. Poster and invitation – that can be printed by workshop organizers
    2. Webpage design – for the Web hub through which we will coordinate the workshops

We’ve spent the first half-day on defining the concept of such a toolkit and the content needed for self-taught OER workshops to take place. As in every situation when over a dozen OER activists meet, we talked about definitions of open, avoiding flamewars on licensing choices, value- and benefit-based language. We imagined representatives of our target groups (having settled on academic librarians and school teachers), asked ourselves: why so few “do it”, if so many know about CC? and discussed policies as both barriers and enablers to sharing content.

Having settled the ideological debates, the participants quickly divided themselves into three groups, who continued to work on three specific pieces of content. One group worked on a leaflet explaining OER from the practitioners’ perspective, the second on policies – from the perspective of the barriers to openness that they remove, and the last on a scenario for a modular workshop on OER .

Group One: What is there for me (in Open Education)?

After a profound discussion on identifying stakeholders, the group decided to focus on three perspectives: of consumers, creators who don’t share, and creators who do share. After brainstorming pros and cons of sharing, we created the first version of a leaflet for educators. You can download it here (PDF).

 

OER whats in it for me leaflet

 

Group Two: design a workshop

This working group created a scenario for a workshop about OER. It was quickly decided to make the workshop modular, allowing for individual modifications based on particular wishes and experiences. The workshop would rely on existing resources as background material. We produced a model slidedeck with an outline of the workshop, together with an accompanying guidesheet for the persons leading the workshop

Group Three: policy solutions

The last group tackled the challenge of finding a relatively simple way of describing OER policies. The general consensus among participants is that these are challenging issues to understand, and not necessarily important from a practicioner’s perspective. We nevertheless assumed that it is crucial to provide simple explanations for policies. To this end, we started with a list of barriers to the sharing and use of OERs; and defined policies (with examples) that help to remove them.

Next steps

While our toolkit is still in an alpha version, we managed to come up with a concept of the workshop, produce part of the content needed and discuss two crucial issues for promoting OER: practical benefits that can be used to convince people to adopt OER; and ways of explaining difficult policy matters in an easy way.

With half a year to go before the next Open Education Week, we’re planning to finish the toolkit by the end of the year, and then build momentum for a series of local workshops around the world. Let us know if you’re interested in helping out with this project!