In this, my 5th in the my reflections on my role as Chair of ALT , I wanted to share some of my reflections as we develop our new strategy.
This week I chaired another quarterly meeting of the ALT Board. The meeting took a slightly different format as the main focus of it was the development of our new strategy.
The development of the new strategy started in September at our annual conference (add links) and we have had lots of community feedback through the Assembly meetings and our online suggestion box ( feel free to add your suggestions).
In preparing for the meeting, Maren Deepwell (CEO of ALT) and the staff team have been collating and mapping what has been achieved in the last three years. As I have been reviewing the progress that has been made, it really struck me how openness has impacted on our core values from open licensing to open governance to open participation.
This openness has in turn proved to be a very successful way for us to grow as an an association and also to measure progress. Now, perhaps because the board were very “open” to the idea of open and open practice there wasn’t a huge debate about including open as one of our core values. ALT had already been openly licencing many of its outputs and had just incorporated the OER conference into our conference portfolio. So, we didn’t have to spend a large part of the last three years developing any new open procedures, or policies. Instead the last three years have focused on ALT becoming a fully independent charitable organisation. That is no mean feat in and of itself which I’m sure I will reflect more on too as part of this series.
Rather, taking an open approach first allowed our work from our governance structures and reporting to our openly available conference recordings, to be open and accessible in the most relevant way.
Maha Bali recently wrote a really powerful post about openness and permissions. It’s really rich post but the notion of permissions really resonated, particularly technical permissions such as copyright versus the human aspect of open educational practice.
“Open Educational Practices as a human endeavor is so much more than a technical permission. And I wish we would push this aspect of it to the background of details and instead foreground the other aspects relating to social justice, connection, and co-construction of knowledge in potentially equitable ways, for the interests of diverse people, and on their terms.”
I see the human endeavour, the connections and co-construction of knowledge as something ALT is really getting to grips with and succeeding with. Fundamentally we are all about supporting people, and developing our community. Whilst we endeavour to be as equitable as possible, there is still a lot work to be done. Part of that work is to recognise the cultural context of any UK based organisation, our colonial history, and our current realities in relation to discrimination, lack of diversity, that is part of our educational landscape. That said, over the past three years I think the diversity of our conference keynote speakers speaks for itself.
Our members are at the heart of what we do. That may seem like “stating the bleedin’ obvious”, but in many membership organisations there can be a gulf between members and management. One of my key drivers as Chair is to make sure we keep that value at the forefront of all our work, so that everything we do shows value and supports the work of our (paying) members.
Having open-ness as one of our core values has allowed us to operate and report really effectively over the past three years. We are sharing an ever growing set of resources with our members and beyond. At the same time the human aspect of our community continues to thrive through the work of our member groups, now working so well together through the ALT Assembly, and of course our conferences/events, blog, journal and mailing list.
What is particular satisfying for me is that our open business model is something that has evolved and grown without us ever having to debate the value or risk of openness. Through our working openly our staff benefit, our community benefits and it is providing us with a really secure foundation layer for our next strategy, the next 3 years and beyond.