Crewing on the Good Ship #OERu

While I get some great inside knowledge laughs, and frequent kicks in the butt about pushing boundaries from reading critical ed tech blogs, I’m developing bad habits. I’m already sarcastic with a tendency to scoff, it’s not a skill set I need to expand. Criticism is healthy, but it is not productive without the extraordinarily hard work of collaboratively crafting, and sharing alternatives. I consider myself a passionate agent for change, but even I’m tired of reading about how bad things are in higher education, and how much we need to change. Let’s just keep on with it. Good things are happening, we need to build on them. Let’s talk about that.

Collaborating for change, truly supporting educators and students labouring in the “status quo” is not a task for the feint of heart. Such work is not without its milestones and moments of inspiration and satisfaction, they just seem small in the context of the over-hyped disruption and radical change sought after in the ed tech blog-o-sphere. Dear bloggers, stop making important, and real work seem small and ineffective. Thank you.

Yesterday I peeked in (invited of course) on the work of some amazing global educators as they continued the exceptionally hard work of building OERu. OERu is a consortium of global higher ed institutions dedicated to building an open (shareable, adaptable), affordable, accessible Bachelor of General Studies for anyone in the world to try. This is not glamorous work, although the face-to-face team was meeting at University of Tasmania (pretty cool). The spirit of collaboration, and humour I witnessed, in the face of hundreds of hours of volunteer (and fairly thankless) time commitment was inspiring to see. The barriers each of these leaders faces, in their nations, within their own institutions, within their worn families, are enormous. They carry on anyway. They believe that their work will make a difference in global education. It most certainly will. These are the people I most admire in the world.

One of the other things I witnessed about OERu is that they need more crew.

Wayne Mackintosh, the chief cook and bottle washer, joked about what would happen if he accidentally stepped in front a bus. I actually crossed myself (old Irish catholic habit). God forbid. Someone would pick things up and carry on, but the loss would be staggering. One of the items on the agenda for this meeting was establishing a leadership succession plan. There is a clear need for younger, not about to retire, workers and leaders to keep OERu, and similar open initiatives moving forward. The call to action for this post is, step up, volunteer, check out WikiEducator, learn something (if you don’t already know how to Wiki), build something, be a change agent. Join the crew of OERu in some way, or join any other open initiative. I’ll be sweating and moving the boat forward, one stroke at a time, right alongside you.

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