I presented recently at a SEDA conference about how the benefits for learning technologists in working as part of OER projects can be seen as continuing professional development (CPD) in their role.
All our job descriptions include the phrase ‘enagage with relevant continuing professional development opportunities’ and rather than focus on this as an instruction to ‘attend training courses’ I am keen to ensure that colleagues reflect on their own development in practice.
Just as involvement in opensource projects offers skills development for software engineers, involvement in OER projects offers opportunities for learning technologists to enagage with a new set of core knowledge to:
- enhance their capabilities in leading and supporting change;
- assist the strategic development of the university in relation to the wider context in which higher education operates;
- encourage and support the development and application of greater understanding of open practices;
- ensure that practice will be sustainable and embedded.
At Oxford the benefits for staff in the Learning Technologies Group of delivering our many OER projects over the last three years have been:
- Enthusiastic engagement with learning technologies by large numbers of staff across the business: Academic colleagues, students, researchers, communications officers, marketing teams, outreach and schools liaison teams, museum staff, and alumni relations colleagues;
- Much greater understanding, within the Learning Technologies Group, of copyright and open practices evidenced by a shift from always referring copyright enquires to lawyers or librarians towards a creative problem-solving and proactive approach;
- New approaches to developing tools which met the needs of colleagues e.g. the inclusion of ‘ Publish as Creative Commons’ choices as options in new tools we develop for the VLE and the various attribution widgets and plugins;
- Improved understanding of education business models, funding , income, and cost recovery when faced with questions about what should be freely given away and what not;
- Development of local expertise in discovery metadata, search engine optimisation and webometrics.
- Improved understanding of the characteristics and affordances of different platforms and tools;
- Increased enagagement with strategies for marketing and advertising: activities which might previously have been seen as the domain of just one person;
- Informed choices in re-use of materials for our own presentations and websites;
- Greater understanding of what motivates and interests our academic colleagues ( thank you to colleagues who work with us on this) and the role of academics as public intellectuals on a world stage.