Plans for Open Access Week at Wits

Denise Nicholason and I have been working together to create a programme to celebrate Open Access week (18 – 22 October) here at Wits University, with a series of lunchtime seminars promoting openness – including Open Access, Open Educational Resources (OER), Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and Open Data.

The seminars include the following themes:

18 Oct –  Openness – the key to creating a culture of innovation at Wits
19 Oct  – Publishing Smart – Tools that maximize scholarly impact
20 Oct  – Open Education  –  Openness and educational resources
21 Oct  – The Right to Research – an activists guide to Open Access
22 Oct  – What are you doing about Open Access?

Presentations and discussions will take place during the lunch hour and will be aimed at raising awareness about the concept of openness.

  • We want to promote participation in a local, national and international communities of practice that share an open attitude
  • We also want to help local academics and students here at Wits to realise that they can make open choices when publishing research, creating or using digital media.
  • We want to give participants the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a range of teaching techniques often associated with open resources (podcasts, blogs, web video etc).

If you want to show case some  open initiatives here at WITS please notify me and we’ll be very happy to demonstrate your project, research or work.

How do you do

For me it started with a diagram. After a decades worth of dulling down, the horizons of my educational web landscape suddenly broadened with Scott Wilsons’ Future VLE illustration. While I struggled to understand the ramifications of this shift from the funnel model for my teaching, I saw in these diagrams,  the possibility of re-creating a new owned but distributed space where we were all learner, encouraged to take responsibility for the configuration and direction.

After starting my blog, creating my image gallery, selecting my bookmarks etc … I posted and collected and started to wonder if this was what learning was.  While my online environment stopped being centralized, my learning remained solitary and much like the zen question about hearing trees falling in forests, I started wondering if I posted on my latest web 2.0 platform nobody read it, would it exist?

At the end of 2008, while attempting to put a PGCE course, I stumbled upon Alec Couros blog and his research and teaching materials from University of Regina. Here he demonstrated the PLE in action, but linked it strongly with networked communities, participation and collaboration. Excited about this idea, I reactivated my Twitter account and started building a network.   Steve Wheeler (aka @timbuckteeth) helped me gel the two concepts together and articulated the Personal Space concept and I was lucky enough to be able to engage with him and Alec, who both walked their talk and connected with me as I took my time about putting the concepts together.

Now, I’m trying out my learning paramaters and have joined George Siemens, Stephen Downes et al at #PLENK2010. This is my attempt to say hello to fellow learners. Look forward to learning together