retain control over how it is used.
Image source - by opensourceway
The other piece of the puzzle is working for an organisation that encourages OER and open education. Otago Polytechnic has a default Creative Commons intellectual policy
. This allows me to retain ownership of the material I generate as a member of staff. I have also been given the opportunity by Otago Polytechnic to explore how courses can be facilitated in the open online environment using platforms such as Wikieducator which has led to my involvement with the course "Facilitating Online
" which was originally developed by Leigh Blackall
and Bronwyn Hegarty
. I was a student of the course in 2007 and now facilitate it as a lecturer. What has OER and open education done for me?
It allows me to get my material out to a much wider audience than would otherwise happen if I just kept to publishing in traditional academic journals. It allows me to interact people to get feedback on my work, exchange ideas and further refine my thoughts. It allows me to contribute knowledge and resources to the wider community which meets my philosophy of social justice. At the same time, it has allowed me to build a reputation and identity which opens the door to collaborative and research opportunities that would otherwise be closed.
The beauty of OER isn't just around what I can contribute in terms of knowledge generation, but how I can re-use the work of other people. The classic example is the images and photos that are published on Flickr under a CC licence
. Having access to thousands of photos has allowed me to completely change the way I give presentations, focusing on images to present an idea
as opposed to text.
Image source - by mag3737
Teaching and learning in an open environment is challenging. I feel very vulnerable at times when I publish my materials, fearing that my work will be criticised and my academic reputation will be tarnished as a result. I have had to learn how to take critical feedback which inevitably comes when you take the open approach to teaching and learning. At the same time this feedback has helped me to become a much more open teacher and person; to become a learner-centred teacher and be a lot more objective in my own personal reflection, which I think has improved my teaching. I have been given amazing opportunities to collaborate with people because of my work, such as my trip to Pakistan
earlier this year. And I have been "forced" into reviewing my philosophy to education, which has led to some hard decisions about where and when I will publish my academic work ie I am following the example of people such as Professor Terry Anderson
, and only submit my work to open access journals. This decision alone has huge ramifications for my academic career.
Image source - by United States Marine Corps Official Page How can you get into OER and open education?
I think the way to get into OER and open education is to take small steps to build your confidence and understanding about the issues involved. Make yourself familiar with the Creative Commons framework so you understand more about the issues of licensing. Have a look at platforms and resources that support OER such as Wikieducator
, and open access journals, for example, 'The International Journal of Research in Open and Distance Learning
'. 'Talk' to advocates of OER on their blogs such as Leigh Blackall
, Terry Anderson
and Martin Wellor
, and don't be afraid to ask them about their philosophy or the practicalities of OER.
Image source - by opensourceway
Then give it a go.
Every time you give a presentation, publish your slides on Slideshare
. Set up a blog and start to write (or video record) about your thoughts, research, teaching and so on. Start a wiki
and publish your teaching resources that can range from a plan for a lecture to a whole course. Record or video your presentations and conversations as mp3 and mp4 files and upload to on BlipTV
. Put a Creative Commons licence on all your work so that people can not only access your materials but also re-use them.
For me, OER and open education is about looking at what I can do to support education and the wider community in a sustainable way; how I can share ideas and resources, especially with people who do not have easy access to traditional resources. But OER is more than tangible results, it is also about a philosophy of teaching and learning. It challenges me to be a learner-centred teacher and to be a life-long learner. This is what has changed my life. Sarah Stewart
Image source - Sarah Stewart
Sarah Stewart is an education developer at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin and about to become a virtual midwifery lecturer at Griffith University, Brisbane in 2011. Sarah is widely known for her open approach to education which includes her blog
, her work with ePortfolios
and her management and facilitation of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife
. Sarah has published widely and consults on international health and education projects, which currently includes collaborative research with midwifery educators in the UK and USA looking at the Second Life Virtual Birthing Unit