Conceptualising collaborative participation and engagement for learning and creativity in OER communities

Alevizou, Panagiota; Wilson, Tina and McAndrew, Patrick (2010). Conceptualising collaborative participation and engagement for learning and creativity in OER communities. In: OER10 Conference, 22-24 Mar 2010, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



Recent advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enable educational and cultural institutions to rethink and experiment with their conduct of learning using digital social media and networking tools. Meanwhile, several well-known – yet distinct – initiatives within the OER world continue to purport a mission of education as a ‘public good’. In addition current thinking as well as emerging United Kingdom (UK) and international policy agendas on education are shifting from the idea of simply providing access to content, towards the notion of creating ‘open participatory learning ecosystems’ (cf. Smith and Casserly, 2006; Seely-Brown 2007; Seely-Brown & Adler 2008). At the core of these evolutionary trajectories of OER mediation, the notion of community and participation become more complex. Put simply, an OER community might consist of those who collaborate to create or reuse OER content. Alternatively a community may be formed by interactions between tutors and peers aggregating in the study and creative adaptation of particular OER units. Likewise, as the landscape of OER becomes more diversified (comprising of initiatives coming from both established educational institutions and from ‘alternative’ or informal social constellations of interest and practice), so does the configuration of social production of content in learning environments. The question then arises as to the appropriateness of community building tools or mediating artefacts that address different audiences’ inscriptions or goals to facilitate engagement. To address these questions we first chart definitions of, and affordances surrounding participation and community engagement in a diverse body of OER initiatives. Secondly, deploying Engeström’s framework on social production as a new landscape for learning (2007), we draw on a number of interviews with OER professionals and volunteers as well as on insights on learner behaviour to offer a mapping of learning situations across ‘informal’/’formal’ public spaces. We conclude by problematising the notion of collaborative communities or ‘relational networks’ within an OER context and by proposing a framework that takes into account a number of boundary issues concerning design of original and OER content (Wilson, 2007), and peer-production of content, including expertise, locus of agency and pedagogy (Conole et al., in press).

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