Open Educational Resources: January 19 - February 8, 2009

Welcome and Introductions

Picture of Scott Leslie
Re: Welcome and Introductions
by Scott Leslie - Sunday, 18 January 2009, 10:43 PM
...and I'll start with my own introduction and my favourite OER story. My name is Scott Leslie. I guess my small claim to fame regarding OER is that I manage a project in British Colombia, Canada for BCcampus called Shareable Online Learning Resources (or SOL*R for short) that shares both lessons and full course content both around BC and with the wider world. I also blog at and have worked for years with WCET on the edutools project ( where, amongst other things, we examined both learning content management systems and learning object repositories.

As to a story about my 'favourite OER,' I'm actually slightly reluctant to tell this one lest it be seen as 'tooting my own horn' but hopefully you'll see by the end that the real star of the story is openness and the serendipity it enables.

Probably by far the most popular item I ever posted to my blog was a 'Matrix of Blog Uses in Higher Education' that I developed while facilitating a session quite like this one in 2003. Over the last 6 years it consistently has generated a lot of traffic and citations, and like everything else I publish on my blog was created and shared under a Creative Commons license. But the amount of use and attention it's received is not the reason it's one of my favourite OER stories.

The first remix of the matrix diagram I found was actually the second remix (the first being one by a Dutch blogger that has since vanished). Someone in the UK liked the graphic overhaul that the Dutch blogger had given it (my original was not very eye-catching, to say the least) but needed it in English, so translated that derivation back into English. When I first found this I was overjoyed, as it seemed a clear improvement to me, one I could myself use. Similarly, I was well chuffed to see other translations, first in Italian (I think?) and then Spanish. In all of these cases, no one contacted me first - they didn't need to because of the Creative Commons license I had chosen. In none of the cases was my own use of the resource impinged, and indeed in my eyes the remixes were often improvements.

But the biggest pleasure I took was when someone (who did contact me, after the fact) with skills much greater than my own took the matrix and totally transformed it. Tony Lowe, from a UK-based Academic spin-off called Webducate, wrote me to tell me he had created a Flash-based version of the matrix. You can see by my write up that I was over the moon, that I now had a visually appealing and dynamic version of this static diagram I had originally sketched up in a Word document! For free!

But it didn't stop there; I speculated out loud that a version that allowed new uses to be created on the fly and added to the matrix would be ideal, and almost no sooner had I written those words than Tony delivered another version, this one doing exactly that! While I think the idea of the matrix must have resonated with Tony, he was also developing this to help show off his authoring product, something I was extremely please to help him with. And I got an amazing dynamic version that I could NEVER have created myself. And the rest of the world now got a teaching tool so that if the idea of the matrix resonated, but the specific cases did not, they could easily add their own.

I apologize for the long story, but it feels important to tell it in detail, because people often find it hard to understand the value in giving their stuff away, for free. From my perspective, having published anything I was ever able to give away under an open license (or with an invitation to reuse it) it's the opposite - I have a hard time understanding why you wouldn't want to share! So now maybe you have a little idea of where I come to this issue from, but how about you? Have you ever shared a learning resource you created to see it multiply in ways you could never have anticipated?
Picture of Christine Horgan
Introduction - Chris Horgan
by Christine Horgan - Monday, 19 January 2009, 7:27 AM

Hello Scott

Chris Horgan (SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary, Alberta).

Just dipping a toe in the waters of open educational resources so I'm expecting to be an active lurker vs. a participant. Looking forward to the wisdom of those further along on their journey.

My role at SAIT is as Curriculum Co-ordinator for a large service department.

Cheers, Chris

user foto Colby
Re: Welcome and Introductions
by Colby Stuart - Monday, 19 January 2009, 8:21 AM
Hello, there, Sylvia, Scott and Chris...

Colby Stuart, here in Amsterdam. I've been integrating social media into learning tools since they first came on the scene. We use blogs for posting ideas and building on them, archiving and as a window to forums and wikis where we actually discuss and build on the documentation of topics.

I teach people how to build concepts - Applied Connective Dynamics - at the post-grad level in different places around the world. So, the communicative, creative and cultural aspects of social media in Open Learning Environments or Virtual Learning Environments VLE's have truly enhanced learning and sharing.

You can see some of the other examples here:

I love learning from others. No matter whether it's through applications or ideas or even questions posed.

For the Kids 2020 Foundation's Learning Programme, I am trying to pay attention to how others are applying and experiencing social media tools in their learning environments.

Also, we believe in Open Source. Scott's example here was perfect result of that kind of collaborative effort.

Looking forward to what shows up in here, Scott!
Thanks for invite, Sylvia!
Picture of Gina Bennett
Re: Welcome and Introductions
by Gina Bennett - Monday, 19 January 2009, 8:51 AM
Hi Scott, hi everybody

My name is Gina Bennett & I work at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook BC, where my job title is 'eLearning Specialist' . I think it's kind of a cool job title but it is somewhat misleading: College of the Rockies is a very small institution & so like everybody else, I wear many hats & have diverse responsibilities. I blog occasionally at

Like most faculty people I have been a proponent of open educational resources long before they were called that. Years ago, we just called it 'sharing' or 'swapping handouts' & the conditions of openness were informal. Of course the internet has enabled us to share far more widely & the development of sharing licences (like Creative Commons) have helped us to set sharing conditions we can be comfortable with. I guess I've grown along with the movement & shared lots of things, both formally & informally.

I can't really think of a favourite OER so early on a Monday morning but I can think of an observation... In the course of my job I've been able to travel & work in a couple of developing nations. The concept of sharing seems to be better understood there. The "problem" of protecting our resources, including educational resources, seems to be far more acute in wealthier nations. It seems to be taking us a bit longer to learn that (as Scott's story illustrates!) the more you share, the greater your potential to benefit. It's sort of a new twist on the 'Matthew principle' wink

Jo Ann
Re: Welcome and Introductions
by Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers - Monday, 19 January 2009, 11:05 AM
Hi Scott and all,
My name is Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers. This site looks like a very interesting e-conference on this OER topic. Hi am in clinical practice as a psychologist in Edmonton, Alberta. I teach online and some traditional too. I have just been getting into more blogging and often blogging on the Athabasca Me2U and this is about my 7th Scope participation. I will learn from all of you and contribute when I can add something (hopefully). I'm a recent grad of the AU GDDET program (pending). Thanks for doing this everyone. I enjoyed you Matrix Scott. Jo Ann