We are currently going through the valuable material gained from last Friday’s expert workshop that was held in Birmingham. Many thanks must be given to the six participants; Alan Bryman, Antje Lindenmeyer, Sara Ryan, Dave Harris, Sean Moley and Kate Orton-Johnson who made the event such a success. During the workshop we covered a range of issues related to finding resources for methods teaching. It was particularly instructive to hear the perspectives of experienced practitioners responsible for teaching methods courses and their perceptions of what would constitute a useful collection of resources. The event was filmed and will be made available when the editing is complete. We also carried out a user-testing session of some of the OER repositories and searches such as JORUM, Xpert and Connexions.
I will be writing some blog posts about particular issues that emerged from the session but wanted to comment on the value of this type of format as a means of gathering evidence. This view was reinforced this morning when I attended a similar focus group/user-testing session organised by the TRITON project with a small group of undergraduates. Both sessions produced insights that would be hard to gather in another context illustrating the value of such small-scale strategies.
One example of this type of information gathered in the C-SAP workshop related to attitudes towards Creative Commons Licensing (C.C.). Since C.C. is at the heart of OERs there can be an assumption that impediments to implementation are mostly technical or legal. However discussions at our workshop revealed a great deal of complexity in attitudes towards making content freely available. The concept did not generate universal support and some participants expressed a preference for sharing resources in the context of personal relationships (such as with colleagues taking over a course or those having similar research interests) rather than making things openly available though Creative Commons licenses. A concern was also raised that making materials openly available might open oneself up to negative judgement from colleagues because of the perception of putting oneself forward as a self-appointed expert without adequate peer review. These views illustrate how the topic of licensing touches on sensitive issues of professional identity which need to be fully explored if higher education wants to promote the use of C.C. Such complex topics can’t be tackled through one-off surveys and benefit from the ongoing detailed conversation made possible through events such as the C-SAP workshop.