Open as we wanna be

“If You Were an OER, What Kind Would You Want to Be?” asked Maha Bali.

Something I try to bring up whenever I talk OER is that resources – the stuff – is nowhere near as important as practices – what people do. Learning is the point. The things we make through that process are byproducts. I don’t mean to dismiss OER. They can be products of great value, and they enable all sorts of open practices. But free textbooks is not what it’s about. It’s the learning that matters.

Of course, we shouldn’t define resources as textbooks. Anything that can be used in learning, teaching and research may be considered an educational resource. Also, people can be resources. As a librarian, I am a resource for students, faculty, staff and the general public who come to my library. As an educator, I am a resource for my students. But I’m only open to an extent. I don’t qualify as a public scholar, probably because I don’t work hard enough at it.

But I like to think I have an impact. I like what we did in True Crime and The Internet Course and I like to think I had something to do with those successes. Jim made them happen, but he was open to letting me in to collaborate. We weren’t focused on open resources, although our classes did produce online material. Rather, our focus was on working in the open, and opening our courses to a great deal of student control. The experiences opened my eyes to what students can and will do when given the autonomy, encouragement and support to take the wheel and drive the bus. And that’s the kind of open resource I want to be.

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