Yesterday was quite an exciting day in the life of the cascade project. Given that we are such a distributed team, it is a rare occasion that we actually have a chance to see each other in person. Such meetings are quite special and provide the vital glue to keep the connections between the partners well and alive and maintain their enthusiasm for the project. This is even more important as we are getting that stage in the project where suddenly deadlines loom and the reality of commitment to the project and delivering the teaching resources and other outputs sinks in.
At the same time, yesterday felt like a lived expression of our cascade methodology in action as it was somewhat of an experiment in terms of capturing the stories we tell about OERs within the project and sharing them with the wider community. That story-telling aspect is vital to our methodology which is based around a reflexive yet critical approach towards Open Educational Resources, which encourages exposing and challenging some of the tacit assumptions about academic practice and sharing teaching resources. While we are keen to impress the world with new and shiny OERs, it is just as important to document the journey that got us there and accordingly, we use a number of tools to help people extract that tacit element of their practice via visualisation/mindmapping tools, reflexive tasks, and sharing elements of our work in progress as we go on. Twitter is one of the tools that the project team have embraced quite early on in the project and personally, I found Twitter to be an extremely useful project management tool. To start with, it is quiet an effortless way of tapping into the existing OER networks and resources provided by the OER community. As project assistant for the C-SAP OER pilot phase project I spent way too much time trawling the web for OER programme related updates, newly released reports and articles, information about events etc. Now that time has been significantly cut because all the relevant updates arrive straight to my Twitter stream and equally, I have used the tool to let the world know about any relevant resources that have been produced in the context of C-SAP OER projects.
The project meeting yesterday saw a renewed commitment to Twitter on the part of our academic partners. While we continued our conversation about pedagogy and critical approaches towards OERs, we simultaneously tweeted some of the questions that arose (using the #csapoer hashtag for the meeting) and this way went from sitting in a small room with six people to interacting with a much broader audience who retweeted our comments, responded to some of the questions and kept the conversation going. And despite the 140-character limit, Twitter helped us yesterday to engage with some quite profound questions and encouraging a perspective where OERs could be seen as a way of reminding the students of what education could be about-becoming somebody different in the process. Our colleagues introduced a very interesting concept of “anarchogogy“-pedagogy that empowers students to ask questions and become creative co-producers of knowledge who start questioning the purpose of education, where OERs become a disruptive intervention to academic and pedagogic practices. At the same time, we also questioned whether the call for anarchy will be appreciated in the new financial climate of £9k fees? Especially given that context, what if you discover, the horror of horrors; that the OER resource is of better quality than what you can offer to students as a tutor? Not all of the questions had (or can ever have) immediate answers, but we see the questions and the stories from the day as the essential part of developing a cascade framework that will hopefully live beyond the current iteration of the UKOER programme.