Berkman Fellow Justin Reich liveblogged parts of the Hewlett OER 2012 Grantee Meeting over at EdTech Researcher, hosted by Education Week.
I’m spending this week at the annual Hewlett Open Educational Resources Grantee Meeting, where a group of developers, educators, and researchers are gathering to discuss the advancement of Open Educational Resources or OER. Hewlett defines OER as “high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that offer an extraordinary opportunity for people everywhere to share, use, and reuse knowledge.” Quite a bit fits under that broad definition, from Khan Academy videos to CK-12’s free textbooks. There are schools, like the Open High School of Utah or Peer to Peer University that have entirely open curriculum, aggregators like the OER commons and National Science Digital library, and courses like those found on MIT’s OpenCourseWare.
Vic Vuchic, Hewlett’s program officer, explained the significance of Massive Open Online Courses, like those being offered by Stanford and MITx. There are some fascinating features to these courses: the tens of thousands of enrollees, the automated grading, the rush of venture capital into the space. But here’s the big deal: elite universities have spent recent years bragging about how many students they turn away and how selective they are. Here is a moment where universities start bragging about how many learners they serve and how many people they reach. That has the potential to profoundly shift how elite institutions of higher education see their mission in the decades ahead. It’s not just about technology; it’s about shifting culture.
And as these educators staked their claim to a seat at the design table (and another seat on behalf of their students) there were plenty of nods in the audience, because lots of folks in the OER community are already inviting teachers and learners into real partnerships. I had lunch with Alfred Solis of the Buck Institute of Education, who is using Hewlett Funding to do a massive scaling up of their online PD around Project Based Learning. They are going to design courses that present projects to teachers that are about 65% finished, to scaffold teacher development as project designers and managers. I also ate with Mike Marriner of RoadTripNation, who is working to help teachers and students construct their own local road trips where they explore the different pathways that life offers to success and fulfillment. These are folks building curriculum development and professional learning organizations that imagine teachers as partners rather than wholesalers.
My own contribution to the Hewlett Grantee Meeting was a talk entitled “When Open Encounters Different Classrooms,” which is part of my ongoing campaign to raise serious concerns about issues of equity and education technology.
(Much more detailed papers, videos, and other descriptions of this work can be found here)