Open the Gateless Gate: OER and Open Education

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year (and last, as a matter of fact) was to fight less and celebrate more. I can get really annoyed when I come across a pay-wall when trying to access materials that are openly licensed. Or if I have to go through a gate-keeper: no matter how enthusiastic the “thought leader” may be, it is still a gate. What part of open don’t you understand?

Anyway, in the spirit of celebration, I want to point out the Open Pedagogy Notebook. Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani created the site to “support community sharing of learning materials and ideas around access to knowledge and knowledge creation.” I love this site because it points out what I think is the real power of Open Education – connecting educators and creators together to make education happen. They go on to describe the project on their site as “a collaborative space where educators could share assignments, approaches, syllabi, and other examples of their Open practices. Though definitions of ‘Open Pedagogy’ are emergent and diverse, and this site is intended to inspire more than to inform, we hope having a space to gather interesting and promising work will be helpful to both advocates of Open and those who are new to these ideas.” This is so important. If we are ever to achieve the goals of Open Education and the OER movement in general, it will only be through modeling openness in our practices, connections, and institutions. Some of the best OER projects I have ever seen came from a community of teachers who looked at their surrounding school districts and found common problems and deficiencies and solved them using community-created or adapted OER.

Is the project “sustainable”? If by “sustainable” you mean provide a means for a corporation to make money off of the hard work of other educators, then no, maybe not. If you mean that the effects of work like this will go on to encourage and develop the education practices of others to make education more wide-spread and inclusive, or to encourage change in education over the long term, then yes – this is what real sustainability looks like.

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