(Open) Attitude is Everything, Part 2

Cross-posted at The Educators’ Cafe.

Open is Welcoming

cc licensed Flickr photo by cogdogblog: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/6476689463/

In my final reflection on #ETMOOC Topic #4: The Open Movement – Open Access, OER & Future of Education, I am going to focus on OER.  According to Wikipedia, open educational resources (OER) are:

…freely accessible, openly formatted and openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes.  OER are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

Sharing.  Sharing openly.  That’s what OER are all about.  Alan Levine shared True Stories of Openness, an inspiring collection of true stories demonstrating what can happen when you share openly on the web.  Alan calls True Stories of Openness a celebration of the open attitude.  In one of the first stories Alan gathered, Nancy White succinctly stated,

“It isn’t just about open resources, it’s about open attitudes.” ~ Nancy White

Attitude.  Open attitude.  Alan was inspired by his experiences with openness and wanted to provide a platform for others to share their inspiring stories.  I, too, was inspired by the openness I experienced through my interactions on the web, specifically through social media, only my ‘platform’ was in the form of a dissertation.  In my dedication page I stated,

I dedicate this dissertation to all of the innovative, inspiring educators who have enriched not only my learning but the learning of others by unselfishly spending hours of their own time using social media to connect, share, collaborate, and search for ways to improve their practice and in turn increase the learning and engagement of their students.

When asked why they used social media for informal professional learning, my research revealed that educators valued the community, sharing, and collaboration made possible by its use.  In other words, they valued the welcoming, open attitude they experienced online.  I highly recommend you take some time and explore the wonderful collection of True Stories of Openness on your own.  I wanted to share a few that particularly caught my interest because I have been following these particular people for a long time by reading, watching, listening to, being entertained/challenged, and learning from their work.

Wes FryerOpen Sharing Leads to eBook Inspiration: Indonesia to Minnesota to Oklahoma – Digital BackPack Project.  “When you share openly and when you share publicly and utilize the social media channels like Twitter and blogs and other things like that, it really can be amazing and exciting to see what happens.”

Howard Rheingold Sharing Pays Back – “I am a communicator, well, why not? … for every ounce of my time that I share with others, I often find I get a pound back.”            

Amy BurvallNichetastic! – There’s a Niche for Everything – “Weird and endearing things that have happened since posting some educational parody videos to a budding YouTube channel; History for Music Lovers.  It never ceases to amaze me that if you post it, they will come … every niche, subculture, special interest out there.  Just do what you love and someone will invariably love it, too.”  “Create.  Don’t hate.”  “Do it because you love it.”  “I feel not so much alone.”

…and my favorite, so far (True Stories of Openness is a project in process),

Darren KuropatwaConnecting with co-workers.  Darren shares pics via Flickr and videos.  He said after reflecting, the most important part of his sharing has to do with people and relationships.  Darren creates ‘while walking videos‘ that he shares and people have started watching.  His coworkers feel closer to him so that when they see him during the day, there is a connection.  Darren shared a quote by David Wiley, “There is no teaching if there is no sharing.”  In response, he beautifully reflected, “That’s what I do.  I teach, therefore, I just can’t imagine doing this any other way.”

That’s what I do.  I teach…”  That’s what I do.  I share…  That’s what I do.  I connect…  That’s what I do.  I learn… 

Isn’t that why we all became educators?  To teach, to continually learn, try to be the best educators we could for our students?  During the various chats, discussions, and posts the roadblocks to openness were discussed.  Topics such as intellectual property rights, fear of theft, copyright/copyleft, and attribution came up, and they are terribly important.  It’s our job as educators to teach the importance of giving credit and to model doing so.  In the years to come, these issues will evolve, but we shouldn’t wait for a resolution.  We should continue to share openly with each other. 

cc licensed Flickr image by http://wikieducator.org/File:Recyclethis-185807557.jpg
cc licensed Flickr image by http://wikieducator.org/File:Recyclethis-185807557.jpg

The following quote was shared in the Topic #4 introductory post,  

Open Education is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge.  ~ The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation

That’s what we do.  We share, use, reuse, remix, revise, and share, again.  This openness not only benefits our students through engaging lessons/projects and collaborative experiences, it also benefits the educational community as a whole.  During the chat of Alan’s session, Glenn posted, ‘I live in an area where educators have little interest in being connected.  What would I do without Twitter, Google+, etc.’  Many people agreed with Glenn, including me.  That was also one of the themes that was revealed during my dissertation–isolation reduction.  As educators we have all worked with people (or institutions) who were not open for whatever reason.  The openness of social media has provided a lifeline to those of us who have felt isolated in our classrooms and schools.  We have been able to connect as never before with others in our own towns or around the world who believe in the open attitude that Nancy White spoke of.  After all, to paraphrase Darren Kuropatwa,

That’s what we do.  We teach.  We share.  We are open.  We can’t imagine being any other way.