The open education sin bin – more open washing for #oer15

Blue rubbish bins in a circle(image:

As part of the research/preparation/blind panic for my #oer15 keynote I’ve been having a closer look at the origins of open washing and in particular greenwashing.  The seven sins of greenwashing website defines greenwashing as

“the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”

As many have pointed out, there are many similarities with open education. Just replace environmental with open and that definition works well.

Maybe it’s just my inner Presbyterian guilt, but I have also been slightly obsessed with their seven sins of greenwashing.  These are the sin(s) of:

  • the hidden tradeoff
  • no proof
  • vagueness
  • worshipping false labels
  • irrelevance
  • lesser of two evils
  • fibbing

Again lots of parallels with open education practice/resources/products/platforms.

The theme of #oer15 is mainstreaming,  religious connotations such as sin are, I think, very detrimental to mainstream practice. Sometimes you do have to scare people into action – particularly when you are trying to save the planet – but for every day educators, I feel we have to be a bit more realistic in the trade offs we make in relation to open education.  Surely it is better to do a little openly than nothing at all because you are too frightened of doing the wrong thing and the OER police coming to get you.

So whilst I hold no truck with fibbing, no proof, vagueness, irrelevance I think we have to engage somewhat with “worshipping false labels” and a lot with “the lesser of two evils”. I know that practically every day I make a trade off with the lesser of two or even three evils.  Does that make me a sinner, less of an open practitioner?  I don’t think so. Does it make me think about my practice and how I could use more open, open stuff? Yes, of course it does.

Mainstreaming is about compromise which can be frustrating but open is still a scary word to some people and a little trade off can led to some big gains later down the line.  Perhaps it’s all a bit Star Wars where we have to see things “from a certain point of view” but again that’s what mainstreaming is all about.

I’ll be sharing more next week in Cardiff – so please hold off  striking me down with lightning bolts until then. if you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments.

A bit of experimentation with visualizing blog comments using Textexture

I’m still processing all the comments that were left on my blog about mainstreaming OER and Open Education last week. I’ve done a quick summary and as a quick visual overview a wordle of the comments.   However I thought I would try and do something a bit more sophisticated and perhaps more enlightening.  I’m a bit fan of the visualizations Tony Hirst does using gephi, and have played a bit with it, usually with the help of my former Cetis colleague, David Sherlock. Anyway, I was all set for an afternoon of visualisation delights at the weekend, but gephi didn’t want to play. I’ve since found out it is probably a java/mac issue . . .

However in my search for an alternative I came across Textexture, which will “visualise any text as a network” (using gephi).  Below is a screen shot of the network for the blog comments (the embed code doesn’t work for me in wordpress), but if click on the picture you’ll be taken to the interactive network.

I’m not sure how much more this tells me, other than confirming the interconnectedness of ideas.  But, it is a pretty simple service to use and we all love a network diagram.

Network visualization of comments

How do you mainstream open education and OER? OER – v OEP: the crowd has spoken #oer15

This is just a quick follow up from my post looking for some feedback for my #oer15 keynote. Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who commented, tweeted and retweeted a link to the post. My stats as wordpress keeps telling me “are booming”. I’ve been sent a number of links to examples of mainstreaming OER which I’ve collated in storify. I’ll be looking at these in more detail over the coming weeks.

The post generated a record number of comments for me so in the order that they commented, a huge thank you to: Alan Levine, Pat Lockley, Charles Knight, Dave Cormier, Tony Hirst, France Bell, Chriss Nerantzi, Simon Thomson, Melissa Highton and late entry Rob Farrow. A special thanks to Pat who has really engaged with all the comments, and I think just beat Dave in the number of comments posted. A wealth of ideas and viewpoints have come through, far too many for me to do justice to in one post. So, to give a snap shot I thought I do the old word cloud trick.

word cloud of blog post comments
The comments have drifted from the “how” of mainstreaming more to the “how” and back again. So on the one hand we have strong advocacy for clarity and rigour around licences and content, and on the other a desire (need) to experiment and extend practice more. Whilst Simon showed examples of replacing the R(source) in OER, Melissa argued that we need to extend the rigour of OER practice and OEP just muddies that, as it’s all a bit woolly and half baked (the things Dave Cormier and I really like). Tony made a great point about needing to consider ourselves as OERs. In many ways people are the greatest OER asset that any institution has.

Lots, and lots to cogitate. I urge you to read the discussions and keep contributing.

How do you mainstream open education and OERs? A bit of feedback sought for #oer15

The theme of the OER15 conference is Mainstreaming Open Education

“. . .  the aim being to explore approaches that are moving OER (& OEP) into the mainstream, and also barriers that need to be addressed for that to happen.”

As part of my keynote I want to explore and share my experiences with mainstreaming open education and OERs.  I think part of the reason I “got the gig” was down to a couple of posts where I questioned some of the assumptions about open and actual (mainstream) practice.

Whilst I love the simplicity of the slogan “the opposite of open is broken” in reality it is a bit more complicated than that. We are still a way away from an open by default approach in my institution and I suspect many others. There is a cost to open, and many of us don’t have access to external or internal funds to kickstart and maintain open approaches.

So, this post is an attempt to do a bit of crowdsourcing and feedback before the conference on OER and open educational practice in mainstream education.

Here at GCU we have OER guidelines (which hopefully will be actual policy one day soon), that’s still not that common so can I count that as mainstream? In terms of practice it’s difficult to measure what impact they are having.  Guidelines alone does not a mainstream culture of OER creating and sharing make.  Sharing, even within our walled gardens is still not on the radar of many of my colleagues. Personally they are really useful for me and my team as we have somewhere to point people to in terms of creating and releasing OERs.  So maybe just having that simple workflow is actually a mainstream practice- or at least the beginnings of one. The guidelines have been driven by Marion Kelt in our library so are very much a bottom up approach, which in many instances is how policy should develop.  I have a noticed a change in the past year in that I hear “openness” and OERs being talked about much more regularly now by staff at all levels.

In my own practice, I do self-identify as being an open practitioner.  I try and share as much as I can, mainly via this blog and also now via our team blog. Wherever possible I take try to take an open approach. To take Martin Weller’s guerrilla research analogy , I quite often take a guerrilla approach to educational development. I use as many open (and often just open as in free) resources, software, platforms as I can.  I encourage my colleagues to do the same – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. GCU Games On,  The open event we ran last year was only possible due to the fact we could engage with and use a number of open resources.  This case study I wrote for the OEPS project explains our approach in more detail.

I’m not sure if that approach is mainstreaming or more like pic’n’mixing. But in the mainstream you have to be very pragmatic and work with what you’ve got, not wait for what you’d like to work with. Doing a little openly is better than doing nothing openly, right?

So, how/do you you do it?  Do you have examples of mainstream and by that I mean I mean regular, everyday, use and/or creation of OERs by the majority of teaching staff in your institution? How do you get and maintain the “open habit”?  If you could share anything in the comments I’d be really grateful and I will include them in my talk at the conference.