Open Professional Learning at BCcampus
The announcement for Open Education Week in 2011 brought about a flurry of activity. There are so many excellent learning opportunities thanks to educators willing to share their expertise and resources. This prompted some reflection among BCcampus staff on how we have walked the talk when it comes to OPEN professional learning. Here is a summary.
For the past 7 1/2 years, the SCoPE community has gathered together educators, researchers, students, administrators, and software developers from all over the world. When the idea for SCoPE came about, an open, international community that would also support educators locally was not your typical model for professional development. Nor was a sustainable community of practice model the norm, where ideas for learning opportunities emerge through participation, and where members demonstrate their passion for learning and sharing by volunteering and giving back to the community in a variety of ways with no exchange of funds. Throughout the years of organizing and hosting a variety of online activities — seminars, workshops, conferences, MOOCs — we have remained committed to the original vision that SCoPE would provide OPEN professional learning opportunities for everyone.
Over the years many of the facilitated discussions at SCoPE have focused specifically on open educational practices. Just in the past year a series of 3 seminar discussions have helped to move concept of an OER university to the next level:
- OER University
- Designing OERu Credentials
- Developing a Framework for Academic Volunteers International
Last month a seminar called Writing an e-book for fun and no profit combined an exploration of this new way of writing, creating, compiling, and publishing digital content with a how-to session on authoring strategies and platforms.
The British Columbia Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG), a grassroots group with a 18 year history, is another great example of commitment to the open agenda. At last year’s Spring Workshop the theme was “Open 4 Learning”. Not only were all sessions about openness in education, but they were all recorded, archived, and materials made available to the world. This has become standard practice for all face-to-face events organized by ETUG.
More recently, the new monthly Tuesdays with ETUG Lunch ‘n Learn (T.E.L.L.) series has attracted a lot of interest as a way for members to repurpose workshop materials they have used with faculty and staff. The deal is you offer the workshop (or present the materials) then participants can leave with a bundle of resources and ideas for implementing the workshop at their own institutions. Simple, effective, and open.
Opening Up Events
As more and more educators experience the benefits of open professional learning, they are in turn becoming more mindful of the opportunities they can provide to others by extending invitations beyond the walls of their institutions. Beginning in 2007, BCcampus hosted a series of meetings to bring together representatives from various groups involved in faculty development and educational technology. A key outcome of that group was the shared vision to improve communication and dissemination about learning opportunities taking place at post-secondary institutions around the province, and to explore ways to share resources and expertise.
The practice of reaching beyond the walls of the institutions for professional learning continues to take on many shapes. BCcampus has been called upon to help support events through the use of social media, both as a way to help institutions get started with these new ways of working, and to model for others the many ways educators can be engaging a wider audience in learning activities. This summary of a Selkirk College event outlines what went on behind the scenes, and this Opening Education example describes a participant’s experience.
Each year we are also called upon to participate as sponsors and hosts for conferences and events such as Moodle Moot and JustID. BCcampus support always comes with a condition — that open practices be part of the program.
Events About Being Open
In addition to the many activities embedded in the educator communities supported by BCcampus, we are also involved in planning and hosting events about open educational practices. In 2012 Vancouver will be home to the annual OpenEd conference for the second time, and BCcampus is once again playing a role in organizing, this time as host. In October, 2011, we hosted a one-day Opening Education event focusing on how practices of Open Access research, publishing, and open educational resource (OER) course content have emerged as complementary and creative alternatives to traditional copyright practices.
A new initiative now underway is to engage educators in dialogue about open textbooks. We are in the final few days of a 4-week Adopting Open Textbooks workshop pilot with faculty in the BCcampus Collaborative Programs, all based on materials developed by the College Open Textbooks Collaborative. Future plans include online workshops open to all faculty across the post-secondary system, and open textbook learning activities and resources tailored for librarians and others in faculty support roles to implement at their home institutions.
Opening Education Website
One thing is for certain — as we continue to respond to emerging needs and trends it is important to engage educators in dialogue about their practices and in learning new skills. To bring together the wide range of professional learning activities related to open educational practices, we have launched the Opening Education Website. This will become the go-to place for educational professionals to learn about open curriculum development, publishing, teaching, and administrative practices. Be sure to check back often!