I just got back from the Cascadia Open Ed conference in Vancouver British Columbia, a conference that focused on open education in all its forms.  Open educational resources (OER) and Open educational practices (OEP) were the topics of the sessions and keynotes. I have attended many conferences in my career and this one was by far an exception.  I felt that I had found my people. The conversations that I had were exciting, inspiring, and even sometimes challenged my thinking. So as I sit down to provide a critical reflection of the technology chosen for my individual learning plan, I am very aware that I am leading by the shine of the moment that I find myself in.

As I have stated before, in previous blog posts and talks, I have been involved in open education before I fully understood what the term meant.  At the beginning of the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University, we participated in a virtual symposium. One of the sessions I attended was from the previous year, a talk by Catherine Cronan titled “Open culture, open education, open questions” (Cronin, 2017).  It was in this talk I started to resonate with the whole philosophy of Open. There were many times while watching that where I would hit pause on the recording and took copious notes. It was also in this symposium that I was first introduced to the work of Henry Jenkins and his ideas surrounding participatory culture.  This introduction would be instrumental in my future use of OER in my practice and I will touch on this later on in this post).

After the symposium, I continued on my journey learning about open, I started finding areas in my own practice and classroom that I could start injecting bits of OER and OEP.  As my classes progressed I found more OER, whether they be textbooks, videos, assessments, that I could use in my class. I loved the idea of David Wiley’s 5 R’s of OER (Opencontent.org, n.d).  I could take a resource and retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute any of the open resources that I was using (depending on the creative commons license of course). This was all very exciting but the problem was the focus was still on me.  I was the hero of the story. I was picking the resources, I was remixing, I was revising, I was redistributing the resources I was curating. My students were still sitting at my metaphorical feet waiting for me to release the knowledge that I found fit to the masses.  One thing that I love about the philosophy of open is how learner-centred it can be and should be. The students are the heroes and makers of their own story. We, instructors, are just the guides. We are the Yoda to the student’s Luke Skywalker.

As mentioned earlier, Henry Jenkins’ article that changed things for me.  The article discussed participatory culture and defined it as:

With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement.

With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creation with others

With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices

Where members believe that their contributions matter

Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care what other people think about what they have created).

(Jenkins, 2006)

I began to ask myself, how could I bring my students into a more participatory model?  How could I involve them in their own learning? I started involving my students more and more in the creation of resources, I began to invite them into the evaluation and assessment portion of the course.  By involving them, I started seeing students get excited to come to class, to share ideas, and to help each other learn. Since then I have become very interested in bringing students into the learning conversation and having them help co-create their own resources.  In my short time of experience, I have seen great results and see this as an area of research I can see myself following in the future.

I will be the first to admit that I am new to the OER and OEP movement.  I have much to learn and I am by no means naive in thinking that embracing open education is the cure-all for the woes of the educational system.  As Robin DeRosa (2016) states, “open is a process, not a panacea”.

As I continue in my exploration of open pedagogy I am curious as to what other issues may arise?  What are some of the challenges that others have faced? What are some of the issues/problems that you could see arising in co-creating OER with students?


Cronin, Catherine. (2017, April 20). Open culture, open education, open questions [Video file].  Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mQS_o-C_jO2taghriJfXKDsgfa1fUL0mTDMo2JTGSJc/edit#

DeRosa, Robin. (2016, October 16). “Open” for the Public: Using Open Education to Build a Case for Public Higher Ed.  Retrieved from http://robinderosa.net/uncategorized/open-for-the-public-using-open-education-to-build-a-case-for-public-higher-ed/

Jenkins, Henry. (2006, October 19). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Part One). Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2006/10/confronting_the_challenges_of.html

Opencontent.org. (n.d.). Defining the “Open” in Open Content and Open Educational Resources. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/definition/