I’m a gut physiologist who has wandered through my working life looking for new gigs. I’ve worked in hospitals, universities and industry. This blog post finds me at a transition having just left higher education and thinking about how I can continue contributing to the open education community that I know and love.
I’ve been involved in open education for around fifteen years, producing reusable learning objects as part of the University of Nottingham School of Nursing Educational Technology group (SONET, now HELM) led by Professor Heather Wharrad. At De Montfort University I gathered all the knowledge gained at Nottingham to start sharing laboratory skills and science open educational resources, all still available today via WordPress blogs hosted by @ReclaimHosting. I’ve been recently involved in the @UKOpenTextbooks project with the aim of raising awareness of open textbooks available in a wide range of subject areas suitable for undergraduate teaching. On the way I’ve taught myself website design, Flash animation, the basics of search engine optimisation and animated GIFs. You can’t beat a good dabble.
My proudest open education moment is yet to come though – that is co-chairing with David Kernohan the next #OER18 conference in Bristol April 18-19. I particularly wanted the conference to focus on the impact on learners and how open serves inclusion and equality – we hear surprisingly little about these areas. As a community we need to leave our footprint in the academic literature perhaps more so than we are doing, so future folk can learn from our work successes and non-successes.
Working with the OpenEd Sig is a joy – particularly Teresa’s leadership and direction which I find very inspirational. The Sig plays an important role in providing a sense of focus and keeps the conversations going in between our celebratory annual conference #OER, now in its ninth year. I’ve been so lucky to work alongside, co-present and co-author with some amazing people. I particularly loved the GoOpen wiki project with Catherine Cronin aimed at getting folk started with open practice. Open education reminds me of jazz a little – you can learn all the theoretical and technical aspects first, or alternatively you can just get stuck in.
As Charlie Parker said “don’t play the saxophone, let it play you”. I suspect this is also true, “don’t do open education, let it do you”.