Collected Notes and Resources from the Hewlett OER 2012 Grantee Meeting

Last week, the Berkman Center hosted the annual meeting of the Hewlett Foundation’s Grant recipients. This conference generated a number of exciting ideas, captured in a wealth of notes, resources, and information for educators and academics involved in the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. Below, please find a roadmap of those outputs with links to the appropriate resources.

We also have a condensed list of the takeaways from the entire conference, listed at the bottom of this post.

The conference started with a presentation of a Heat Map illustrating key ideas for innovation in OER, and based on pre-conference inputs from participants. The opening exercise is covered in our Storify in two parts:

This session was followed by remarks from Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, and an introduction by the Hewlett team which provided an overview of the Hewlett Foundation’s vision, goals, and directions for the coming year.

Wednesday began with an insightful keynote from Joi Ito focusing on the new frameworks that digital culture fosters for learning, and also the challenges and disruption it can create for older, authority-oriented learning structures. Presentations from various OER stakeholder groups, including Learners, Facilitators, and Builders followed Joi’s keynote. Key takeaways from these sessions focused on the need to harness informal learning as a supplement to formal learning (Learners), emphasized innovation in terms of both technological and sociocultural factors (Facilitators), and underscored the importance of making OER easier to develop (Builders).

Next, John Palfrey led a synthesis discussion of the first segment meeting, encouraging participants to outline and weigh in on the ways in which potential OER intervention points should be prioritized. Detailed notes on the results of this synthesis can be found here as well as on our Storify page on the session.

Justin Reich then gave a lighting talk on his research into wikis and education. His research has indicated that wikis lead to deeper learning, but only in high income schools, producing a challenging dynamic in which usage data  overrepresents socio-economically advantaged learners; this can lead to the developent of tools are designed primarily to meet the needs of such learners. One take-away lesson for future action involves rethinking delivery systems to support the diverse practices, contexts and needs of those seeking to use OER.

Following this lightning talk, Sir John Daniels, Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, and Zeynep Vargolu each presented case studies of OER. Daniels and Uvalic-Trumbic focused on their work with The Commonwealth of Learning project, which seeks to survey and engage in the fora of governments of the Global South in order to facilitate OER implementation.  Vargolu’s presentation centered around the OER Congress, during which the data acquired by The Commonwealth of Learning becomes actionable by UNESCO.

Four more case studies were then presented to the attendees, each of which aimed to highlight distinct challenges, opportunities, and interventions that may be unique to that context. Synethesized versions of those talks are presented on our Storify platform.

Day Three of the meeting Thursday began with break-out sessions around specific contexts–formal and informal, international and domestic– into which participants self-selected, followed by a reconvening of the entire group to share the conversations within each break-out stream. Next, Carolina Rossini of the Research Group on Public Policy for Access to Information (GPOPAI) led an interactive discussion on the state of OER practice. Some of the important themes that emerged during this session were: the value of stakeholders, the importance of policy and investment, incentive structures, the measurement of needs and impacts, and the question of how to identify success in a way that perpetuates continued success.

Jonathan Zittrain kicked off the afternoon sessions with a presentation entitled “Textbooks, Casebooks and H20”. He outlined the opportunity that OpenCourseWare (OCW) provides for authors, particularly teachers, to collectively author casebooks.  This talk was followed by Cathy Casserly of Creative Commons, who presented a view of the pillars of the current OER ecosystem. A subsequent moderated discussion identified several important gaps and research needs, including: lack of policymaker knowledge about OER, a paucity of exemplary policies showcasing OER, and the need for compelling economic metrics.   Rich Baraniuk then discussed some of the challenges to scaling OER, with a particular emphasis on the lack of sustainable business models, the development of a scalable toolset, and a focus on resources.

The review and synthesis sessions began with an overview of the 3 parallel streams in OER that must be implemented for success. Breakout groups focused on High Quality Supply, Implementable Standards, and Supportive Policies dug deeper into these issues, grounded in participants remarks and presentations, and building on the work done already at the conference.

The final part of the day was spent in three sessions that attempted to help participants create meaningful and actionable steps to pursue in the broader OER space after the conference’s conclusion. In Joining the Streams, Bringing it All Together, and Moving Forward, participants and presenters went over some of the most effective ways to improve OER. The Joining Parallel Streams session in particular emphasized key ways to translate ideas into actions, presenting an updated Heat Map of possible OER interventions generated from each of the cluster groups in which participants took part throughout the event. Throughout these closing sessions, one of the most notable recurring points was the need for focal points in the OER ecosystem, such as specific products, policy objectives, and research cornerstones, and clearly articulated action items in the short, medium and long-term.

Ideas generated through cluster meetings were presented at the hack day, some of which turned into projects that groups worked on throughout the day. A full list of those ideas suggested by cluster groups can be found here.

For even more coverage of the meeting, see the conference through the eyes of its attendees and participants on Twitter with the hashtag #oer12hf or through OpenEtherPad. Also, the photographs captured throughout this gathering are now available on the Berkman Center’s Flickr feed.


And if you can’t find the resource you’re seeking, please see the condensed list below to access outputs from this meeting:

  1. Opening session Heat Map, based on pre-conference participant inputs, that illustrates ideas for innovation in OER
  2. Storify coverage of each session of the meeting
  3. Collaborative notes from John Palfrey’s Wednesday afternoon synthesis discussion
  4. Collaborative notes from Carolina Rossini’s Thursday morning moderated discussion, “Assessing the Current State of OER from a Practice Perspective”
  5. Closing session Heat Map, based on outputs from each of the cluster groups, that illustrates possible intervention points in the OER movement
  6. Photos of the meeting on the Berkman Flickr account
  7. Twitter feed (search for hashtag #oer12hf to access participant posts)
  8. OpenEtherPad notes compiled by participants throughout the meeting
  9. Hack Day project list – Ideas from cluster group meetings and those pitched at the hack day

2 thoughts on “Collected Notes and Resources from the Hewlett OER 2012 Grantee Meeting

  1. What’s next? I am excited about enabling wider use of DNA barcoding by high school students, including Cold Spring Harbor’s Urban Barcode Project competition (I am an advisor), open to teams from all New York City schools, with a focus on public institutions.

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