Openness: In practice or content?

“Openness is the breath of life for education and research. Resources created by educators and researchers should be open for anyone to use and reuse” – D’Antoni and Savage (2009)

When we say “Openness in Education”, are we referring – Is it being open in your practice or is it related to being open with your content?

My first exposure to the term Openness was in 2010 with the NMC’s open horizon report and Educause review article (Cormier & Siemens, 2010). This post title is an inspiration from the article by Cormier & Siemens in which they talk about “Openness as Transparent Practice ” As Cormier and Siemens (2010) state “open” to me is also “in constant negotiation”. Being an academic developer, each course we facilitate is one in which my learners are  “invited to enter our place of work, to join the research, to join the discussion, and to contribute in the growth of knowledge” (Cormier and Siemens, 2010). There are many articles from people like Alan Levine, George Siemens, Cormier, Stephen Downes and David Wiley – all of whom are stalwarts in this field of openness and encouraging OER usage.

I have always been committed to being open. But the key take away for me from this topic on sharing and openness is for me to take stock of where am I at sharing my own materials and practice accessible and transparent to others.  When we say materials, it is clear that it refers to content in the form of resource guides, research articles, videos, audio podcasts, assessments, textbooks, simulations, etc.

But what does it mean to being open with your practice? Reflecting on this, it could be about how open I am with:

  1. Giving feedback to others
    This has been largely possible with my area of work in working with teachers in exploring the use of learning technologies.
  2. Sharing my work with others through blogs or other social platforms
    Examples: ideas and tips for using technology in the classroom. Some examples can be found in my blog at:http://blog.nus.edu.sg/cdtkdr/technology-in-pedagogy/. I have recorded video lectures, prepared resource guides for my workshops/courses. But how open are these resources? I have not created a creative commons license, nor have I explicitly written or communicated about the materials being freely available for anyone to use (open access).
    So what am I going to do? In the next few months, I will relook at my materials to see how can I share them by creating a CC license.
  3. Sharing my own reflections and experiences
    I have never thought about doing this. Discussing and sharing my experiences with academics – using different kinds of technology tools, the process I went through to decide on a strategy and appropriate technology tool, reflections on what went well or went wrong, how I have integrated these experiences and learning into my own practice over the years.
  4. Collaborating to work with others in developing materials for sharing.
    For a recent PBL group work, our group decided on creating a presentation that is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike International License. This is my first experience in using the cc license.
  5. Creating learning communities
    Using these communities to share open educational resources, a community which academics at my university can use it as a springboard so that it gives them a starting point to start, discuss, and also help in a shared knowledge.
  6. Participating in interactive discourse, discussion, or conversation.
    I have been participating in a recent open online course and we have two groups (a main group and a smaller tight-knit PBL group) for discussion.  I have learnt from this experience that this restricted access in the smaller PBL group provides a safe and a more focused environment for me reflect and learn from others in my group.
  7. Giving my time in providing support, and assistance to my peers
  8. Sharing applications or even technical infrastructure across institutions which enables a collective responsibility to enhance such applications (I am aware that this will require permissions of institutions, and taking it too far, but definitely not impossible!)

Having said all this, I do understand how complicated this whole process of openness can be; and that I will need to consider a number of things before I can share my work in the open.

References: 

D’Antoni, S., & Savage, C. (2009). Open educational resources: conversations in cyberspace. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Wiley, D., & Green, C. (2012). Why Openness in Education? In Oblinger, D.(Eds.), Game Changers: Education and Information Technologies, (81-90), Educause.

Cormier, D., & Siemens, G. (2010). The open course: Through the open door–open courses as research, learning, and engagement.  Educause Review,  45 (4), 30.

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10 thoughts on “Openness: In practice or content?

  1. Well written and easy to read. Thank you. You already have so much experience. I guess the next step is to create a creative commons license

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  2. You’ve captured the many dimensions of openness and I think we have to decide on how open we need to be in each particular context. Sometimes it’s good to share completely publicly but at other times we need to be more careful, especially if we are working with sensitive subjects. Openness is another aspect of digital literacy and it takes time to learn how to handle it. Most people need to practice with only limited openness before going public.

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  3. Hi
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Yes, it is difficult to find a “good” place to publish although we have recourses. The place should open and easy to find. For, research papers you can use Researchgate or Academia. But, you should consider terms and conditions if you have already published in a journal or conference.

    Also, you can consider publishing in open access journals. An overview of open access publishing options,
    http://www.editage.com/insights/a-young-researchers-guide-to-open-access-publishing

    Best Regards

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    1. Thank you Ranil for these resources. At one point i did look at MERLOT as an option to share, but never got around to it. It is also probably as many others have pointed out in their own blogs about the fear of not being sure how useful and good these resources are! But again, there is no better way to get them peer reviewed.

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  4. Hello Kiru! I liked the way you extend the the meaning of “sharing” by referring sharing to yourself. When I found out it was so complicated to make a MOOC or an Open Educational Recourses this topic did not engage me very much. However, you brougt it back to the powerful sharing between colleagues and for your own learning. If the university came and gave me money and time it would be a lot of fun to make an OER or MOOC. And maybe that possibility will come because a lot of experience from your own sharing. / Charlotte

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