5 Ways to Open Access

open access week It’s Open Access Week (19 – 23 October 2009), where the ideals of the Open Education Resource (OER) movement are highlighted. The movement believes that the Internet should be used to throw open the locked doors that once hid knowledge. Open Access aims to encourage and enable free sharing of content for the advancement and enjoyment of science and society.

I confess, I’m one of the ones that have not been egalitarian in the distribution of information. I’ve stored when I could have published. I’ve righted my copy when I could have shared. I’ve decided that it’s about time that I opened up my electronic filing cabinet and supported the ideals and ideas behind the Open Education movement.

Here are five ways that I could contribute to OER

  1. Remove the barriers to using my work.
    Notes, worksheets, photographs etc that I publish on the net should be licensed with an appropriate Creative Commons license. Flickr makes it easy to choose an appropriate license for your photographs.
  2. Author / Sponsor high-quality open content
    When writing or co-ordinating resource production, think of ways in which you could make your course accessible to an audience beyond your institution. For example, if you use Moodle, then make sure that you allow guest access. If you use a presentation package (like PowerPoint)  add a rights slide to your presentation.
  3. Stimulate use of OER amongst others
    Create a network of people that want to share and collaborate. Follow me on Twitter . Build your own Personal Learning Network, subscribe to a list serv, use Facebook to form/join a community of practice.
  4. Go beyond your website and publish your work in an online accessible open access repository.
    I’ve taken the first step and am putting my work on my website. But it can go further. If you put your material into an appropriate repository  (Thutong for example) it will more readily be identified as an appropriate resource.
  5. If you run a journal, facilitate open access of your research using Open Journal System
    The Directory of Open Access Journals has 4370 journals in their directory and have (as of 19 Oct 2009) 319585 articles are included in the DOAJ service. Consider using Open Journal Systems to expand and improve access to research.

15 years on since I first “surfed the web”, the ’net continues to make a profound effect on my learning and a substantial effect on my teaching. Access, however, to eminent educational content, is still limited and large amounts of excellent content still remain locked behind passwords, inaccessible for outsiders. Open Access is a timely reminder that everyone globally should be sharing in the development of knowledge.

I hate learning from failure…

Shoot! Technologically –  a failed lecture on Digital Portfolios. My old computer conked out and I was left with a chalkboard and a borrowed lap top (thanks Marco). I had wanted to introduce my students to the Digital Portfolio template and had put together for the Skills for a Changing World Programme and get them inspired with an evocative set of Portfolio Metaphors.

Never great when the Ed tech guy can’t get his computer working. Note to self – ensure that you have a backup on your memory stick! I hate learning from my mistakes.

Different thinking

Kevin Durheim, Professor at the School of Psychology, and his student conference team have put the 2008 student conference online, and  it has a few differences.

The Team

From left: Jared Forbes, Thembelihle Zuma, Janine Upton & Farina Karim.

As we planned this web site, the team and I decided (as one of the conference goals), to try and get 15 conversations started. With Kevin’s support, we set up two data projectors in each room (one for the speaker, and one for the “conversations”) and asked conference delegates to “comment”. By the end of the conference, we had 151 comments for the 31 conference papers that were presented. Highest number of posts – 20 for a presentation. Almost 5 comments per paper. I think that we achieved our aim. Hopefully the thoughts that were stimulated at the conference might continue – independently on the blogs.

Different Planning

It’s energising to work with people that are

  1. Willing to try new ideas in front of their peers
  2. Want to explore better methods of working
  3. Unafraid of looking silly

The psych masters conference team hadn’t published anything online before. Yet after a day and a half of work shopping, we had decided that we were going to look at different ways of hosting a conference. We were going to attempt to create a conversation. Together, the conference team put together a programme site with a Blog, Social Bookmarks and Photosharing capacity.  Farina and Janine where quite willing to explore different ways of putting themselves into the media.

Thembi, who ran the blog, had never touched Blogging software, yet she ran the account like a pro.  Jarred, who was introduced to some new tools, in the orientation workshops, has now decided to incorporate them in his research next year.

We really have to thank Prof Kevin Durheim,  for making the School of Psychology Presentations archieve happen and for his positive attitude to our little experiments in this project. We are all looking forward to some interesting learning.