#OER23: Open Education and Open Source

Although I’m barely back into the UK, I’ve decide that the resting and relaxing thing to do is to pack up again and head further northwards to the OER23 conference. For many of us this is the touchstone conference, offering not just an opportunity to engage with excellent sessions from our colleagues, but to spend good time in our open education community. As my first in-person OER since OER19 this one is very meaningful for me. Today I gave Maren Deepwell the first hug in 3.5 years. Though we’ve shared love on the ds106radio airwaves, nothing beats in person.

Since I’ve changed timezones, some slightly different content was more prominent in my Twitter feed this morning, and I was lucky enough to catch a little of Simon Horrocks reporting on Tim Drysdale chairing a session at #U15UniScot2023. Tim made a couple of points that set me thinking and notes for 2 blog posts were scribbled down on the train.

At the same time as Tim suggested that “a free and public digital infrastructure for education is a human rightAlex Enkerli over on Mastodon asked whether there were deeper moves afoot to link open education and open source, given some of the crossovers in community members. The short answer is: Yes. There have been for some time. I made a poor attempt to catalogue a few in replies on Mastodon, so for posterity I’m going to collect them up here too. This is in no way exhaustive, and I’m okay with that because Jim Groom today said not to worry too much about Writing The Things.

However, this little list gives me hope, says something about the breadth of activity, and also emphasises the need to pull our collective efforts together better (cc Patrick Masson – this is a running conversation).

  • Back in early 2019 Tannis Morgan asked whether it was possible to really have open education practices without open educational infrastructures.
  • In the spirit of this, Tannis, along with Grant Potter and Brian Lamb co-founded the OpenETC in British Columbia, Canada. Based on platform coop principles, it aims to provide that open edtech infrastructure in support of open education. I am forever grateful that Clint Lalonde and myself were invited in to play too as this work has been rich, rewarding, and pushed my thinking on in so many ways.
  • At a different scale, the work that Dave Lane has done building out the completely FOSS infrastructure supporting OERu is beyond impressive. This is full stack open education.
  • The aforementioned Tim Drysdale has been building out a next generation digital remote labs infrastructure all open sourced. The use cases and future possibilities for assessment that Tim explained to me recently were impressive – authentic assessment, focus on process, not product etc.
  • Along with a few others, myself and Brian Lamb co-authored module on open educational technology as part of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Professional Program in Open Education. We also had the pleasure of co-teaching the first iteration at the start of this year, and it was interesting and depressing to see the extent to which outsourcing has a firm grip on anglophone higher education. It was also enlightening to see the awareness gap that needs to be closed between OER practitioners and open infrastructure knowledge.
  • Then there’s the work that Jim Groom and Reclaim Hosting do supporting the use of the open web in education – again across the full stack. There will be a talk at #OER23 from Jim and Lauren Hanks on exactly this which I am excited for.
  • Of course, Tony Hirst at the UK Open Uni has been showing us the way in this space with Jupyter and containerisation for years now too (and this was a fun early session where some ideas were thrown around).
  • And last, but by no means least, there’s the work that Melissa Highton at the University of Edinburgh has been doing for years: “Open educational resources, open source software and open access digital tools offer our last, best hope for equity and inclusion.” I am forever grateful to Melissa for giving me the space and permission to take a niche interest totally mainstream in my time at Edinburgh. I am still immensely proud of the work done there.

There’s a number of us out here doing the good work, but the climate isn’t always favourable in anglophone countries. France and to an extent Spain and South Africa give us examples to follow, as do changes in government digital infrastructure. So what I like about this non-exhaustive list is that it’s examples of the work in different domains, off the side of desks, fully funded, producing physical infrastructures, digital infrastructures, trying to close out that education gap, and doing the advocacy work.

Since this isn’t exhaustive, what other examples have people got?

One thought on “#OER23: Open Education and Open Source

  1. I’d like to put in an honourable mention for the SPLOT WordPress themes developed by cogdog Alan Levine (with, I believe, the support of Brian Lamb at TRU). SPLOTs enable non-logged in contributors to add images, text, GIFs, videos, etc with ease and some light moderation from SPLOT admins.
    SPLOTs have really made a difference at FemEdTech. We had an early foray into having conversational spaces in a WordPress site but ran into the problems of managing users and encouraging contributions. The FemEdTech Open Space developed for OER19 by Lorna Campbell and me has served us well and became an important location for Stories and other activism events during COVID-19 and since. It’s become our website at femedtech.net – check us out.
    You Anne-Marie developed another great SPLOT for our FemEdTech Quilt project – thanks. It’s at the quilt sub-domain and has images and stories of the quilt squares as well as interactive quilts.

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