Organizational Professional Development, Hacking ‘free’ (as a puppy) #ds4oer

Rare but precious and exciting finds. Arctic Blue Berries, Iqaluit Nunavut
OER, Rare finds but precious, nourishing and exciting when found. Arctic Blue Berries, Iqaluit Nunavut (taken September 2007).  Creative Commons Licence
OER Arctic Blue Berries by Briar Jamieson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I have been reading about and thinking about Open Educational Resources (OERs) for a couple of years now (Oldsmooc shared meeting notes, February 19, 2013). In a research notebook (for a course on research methods), I indicate my interest in the professional development of my colleagues and how organizational professional development might be conducted (Jamieson, personal notebook, jump to February 13, 2014).  If you follow my learning ramblings, I begin to explore OER literature (and never look back). The eventual assignment focused on teacher attitudes/behaviours of resource sharing in a repository.

And so it seems, I am here another year later pondering organizational learning and the possible institution of an OER design for our material development. Does it really take two years for a concept/idea to move from introduction/theory into practical application (seems much faster)?  This time the learning is much more meaningful (relevance, application and immediacy) because my focus is on how (if?)* OER design would be executed – impact on learners, workload for staff, effect on organizational policy and funder expectation.

I have asked my colleagues to work through the #ds4oer materials with me, because foundational and shared knowledge of the work team will allow us to:

  • use the same language to consider OER design as it applies to our organizational and role context
  • distribute input into the process of adoption, curation, development of OER content, process and policy
  • grow as collaborative and constructive team because we have learned to trust each other as fellow learners in the process
  • respond (vs. react) to changes in our environment as informed professionals
  • present the best service and product for our learners and our broader stakeholder groups.

At our staff meeting I presented the idea of concurrently learning together with #ds4oer (course feed). I wanted ideas for how we could do this organizationally (another tangent that I would like to explore another time is how to balance our professional responsibility for professional development vs organizational required knowledge/skills). Our team is small and we have recently undergone massive change so workloads and learning curves are still steep.  I did not want to require an additional ‘todo’ without considering that we might need to create time during the day.

The conversation started generally about learning and motivation for learning. While some of the team loved learning for learning sake, others sought learning to resolve problems.  There were lots of questions about expectations on what would be expected in terms of engagement with the materials, completion of the activities and readings.  I didn’t want to impose a requirement, so used a term I dislike, that we could ‘pilot’ possibilities for learning together.  I expressed that this is our chance to determine what works or doesn’t work.

I think what worked best was when the conversation went deeper into the content of #ds4oer.  As I had the chance to explore some of the materials the previous day, I introduced my own learning about the criteria for resources to be considered OER. As many of us already considered that our content was being moved to open access they thought that this was OER. I explained my own confusion about OER. I said that @Mackiwg responded with several more resources to inform my understanding of Free Cultural Works. (I am not sure if this is significant but as the conversation continued @Mackiwg went from twitter handle, to first name, to full name, to honourific title :))

As the meeting evolved we discussed how the ideas presented in the course could be applied to the organization and how tangents of learning from the course could apply to our practice. I also told them about one of the stories of the professor who would not allow notes of his lecture because it would be considered derivatives of his work; this was humorously considered. (I can’t find where I saw this story in my exploration of #ds4oer, but if someone knows the reference to this story can you send me the link).

At the end of the meeting colleagues agreed to registering, reading one/two items of the course and meeting every week to discuss application to our organizational context.  I did commit to making space during the work day for this learning but this was luke warmly received. I am not sure what I would have been prepared for but I was open to someone saying – can I take the week ;).

Additionally some of my broader PLN in the Canadian English Language Teaching Community have registered (@thespreadingoak and @kathrynrockwell)! The same benefits of organizational learning apply to the whole teaching/learning professional community.

Here are the resources Professor Mackintosh forwarded to support my learning of the NC licence and free cultural works:

As the #ds4oer course continues, I am already ‘behind’ as I consider this reflection on coordinating staff professional development an important aspect of the Open/OER movement for tiny not-for-profit organizations striving for excellence.


  1. eslclaudie

    Head spinning from precipitous learning curve. Very fun.

    When I was learning art of teaching I picked up knowledge from watching other teachers ( and from retrieving their lessons and handouts from the recycle box!) We need to see how others use and apply edtech – courses are good but seeing is believing. Part of problem with bringing Adult ESL teachers into the digital world is that there so few early adapters so fewer models. (Also everything in digital world is still in the liquid ” chaos” stage – think creation – very overwhelming).

    Great idea to invite others to join course. Collaborative, support Or,as. I am thinking of doing, to at least invite them to follow blog of experience and highlights – potted version of course.(e.g. I followed Matt Bury’s course blog – learned lots – secondhand!) (Then blog itself becomes learning object – like Tweets of conference workshop or storified (verb!) report of conference tweets.

    Now question is do I hang with you or get seduced by that foraging resource creation!

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