Tuesday 9:00-10:30 (3), Blaydon/Gibbs
Type: Lightning talk
Theme: Building and linking communities of open practice
Megan Beckett, Content Coordinator, Siyavula Education, [email protected]
Community building and collaborative authoring are key features of Siyavula's activities in producing OER. We hypothesized that the model we use for collaboratively producing OER will facilitate the development of communities of practice around openness, transparency and sharing.
In the production of our OER titles for K-12 STEM subjects, we have developed and refined a model for collaboratively authoring. This involves initial brainstorming workshops with volunteers, consisting of educators, postgraduate students, curriculum advisors and government officials. The subsequent creation and review processes take place online, drawing on the strengths of the community involvement. As we have refined our model, we have started to use it as a professional development exercise to firstly inform educators about 'open', develop IT skills and facilitate the sharing of ideas and content.
I will also be conducting surveys and interviews in 2014 with the OER Research Hub. The purpose of this study will be to collect evidence on Siyavula and the use of our textbooks by K-12 educators, learners and officials in South Africa, in terms of cost savings, the uptake, potential benefits and impact the use has had. I will also specifically target volunteers who were involved in the collaborative production of the Siyavula OER to evaluate their perception of open and whether being involved in an open project has had an impact on their practice.
We have found that by drawing in the community in the development of OER, the process simultaneously strengthens communities of practice, improves IT-literacy and expands content knowledge. By leading open and transparent processes, this has started to seed broader communities of open practice.
We have seen that those who have been involved in our open processes are much more likely to investigate using OER in their classrooms as well as advocate for their use in their own networks and communities. One of our volunteer Science educators has subsequently initiated a project to remix one of our OER titles to adapt it to suit their assessment needs for private schools in South Africa. They held a workshop, facilitated by Siyavula, but led by the community.
Our work has shown that leading open processes in OER development has helped to build open communities around the resources, link different communities of practice together, especially at the workshops, and also facilitate adoption of these resources. At government level, they are starting to see the benefits of open policy through our unique relationship with them and being involved in the production process from the start, educators are learning about what they can openly use as well as share resources and ideas at workshops, and the general public now has the opportunity to become involved in and contribute to an open, transparent education project in a meaningful way. We strongly advocate other open projects to adopt a similar model in the development of their OER to use the process to seed and link communities of open practice throughout their own country and the world.
Keywords: OER, Africa, communities, collaborative, STEM, K-12