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Show that you share – a first report

December 16th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

On Friday we organised the Bazaar project conference – Show that you Share – at the University of Utrecht.

Personally, I greatly enjoyed the conference – as I think did other participants. As with previous Bazaar project events, the conference was designed to be participant led.  And we wished to draw on the experiences and expertise of those attending to develop new ideas and knowledge. It will take a little time to draw out the different insights from the discussion. But for me what became very apparent was the link between social networking and Open Education Resources.

Whilst the Open Educational Resources movement continues to grow in terms of ideas and support, a number of major issues have not been answered.

  • What is the motivation for developing and sharing Open Educational Resources
  • How can we find  appropriate resources
  • How can we provide resources in a format which is easy to edit and adapt
  • How can we track the use of resources
  • How can we provide contextual metadata

Whilst much development work has gone into the creation of repository services, use of repositories in at best uneven. The long tail probably applies – most Open Educational Resources are available on local machines, local networks or little known servers.

What has perhaps not been probably considered is the influence of communities or social networkas as a major factor in resource sharing. People are happier to share if they know the community in which the resources are to be used and equally people are more trustful of resources if they come from a community of which they are a member. Yet resource repositories have focused on subject or discipline as the main way of finding and prioviding resopurces – there is seldom any focus on who created them for what purpose.

Refocusing on people and through people on practice could overcome many of the barriers listed above. This does not mean that resources would be limited to closed networks. Social software allows a transfer of trust and trust relations between people in different networks. But of course social software focuses on people  and and practice, rather than artefacts.  The Open Educational Resources movement has tended tofocus on the artefacts themselves, rather than people. If we could build on social software to provide social networking for resource creators and resource users, it might be we could take the OER movement a further step forward.

2 Responses to “Show that you share – a first report”

  1. Cristina says:

    I just wanted to add to this post that, as a participant of the Bazaar conference, I really enjoyed the informal aspect of it, which was introduced by the event’s loose agenda and the meaningful involvement of the organizers, round table moderators and also the audience. I really liked the approach and could only wish organizers from other conferences had been there to learn from you. This is really a good format.

    Re: OER… You really said it all. Although I am all for Open content and sharing, I can’t really picture myself using content from an “impersonal, community-less repository”. I think the sharing culture is developed with the community activity and it is also there that it becomes more relevant. Also because I am not very convinced that there are that many people wanting to use each other’s content just like that…and that is the argument of many against it…
    Although I wouldn’t have any problem if someone wanted to use a ppt I created or other online activities I developed for students – and the latter has already happened, at least once, as far as I was told, I think the open sharing of content could be more useful in the sense that people share what they developed within the communities they belong to, benefiting what others are doing in that subject area.
    I always need to adapt the content I have access to to my personality and the way I teach/learn. Accessing content in repositories and using it like it has been submitted it not of that much use to me. I need to personalize it and sometimes it helps if I have the help of others to help me make sense of that content so that I can call it “my own” too. Of course, in return I would be sharing the results if that too.
    And so yes, we need to develop systems where communities of PEOPLE can work on content that interests them and share it with others…not only the result, but also the process. In this sense it takes more than to create the software and find a way to make in available to people. It takes people to engage in the culture of sharing and collaborating with others, in the same way they want others to share and collaborate with them. It is always a 2 way road…Always!

    Looks like the tone of this comment is getting too philosophical…I will stop now! 😛

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