I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the Open Education Consortium’s Open Education Global Conference in Kraków, Poland, which ran April 12-14/16.
My presentation was built on the results of my survey of TRU faculty, admin, students and instructional designers, exploring their experiences with and perceptions of the use of open textbooks (OTB) in TRU and TRU-OL courses. The survey itself was slightly modified from the survey used by BCcampus in 2015 and an ongoing survey sponsored by the OERHub at the UKOU.
As is typical for conferences, it was great to catch up with old friends (@johnhiltoniii, @millerjamison, @beckpitt, @philosopher1978, @jennihayman) and to meet new ones (@jesshmitchell, @nat_kitkat, @nkbe1, @celTatis, @unatdaly) to name a few.
Having never been to Europe, this was a great opportunity, and I was fortunate that my wife was able to tag along. Kraków is a beautiful city, and we had a bit of time on either end of the conference to tour about, and even tour the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site at Auschwitz/Birkenau. That is a post itself, so I won’t comment here.
There are two big ideas that stand out in my mind that I will be considering in the next little while.
OER in ‘Other’ Languages
The word ‘other’ isn’t intended to imply that there is ‘English’ and ‘other languages’, but that the language in which a particular OER is authored automatically limits how broadly it can be used. Currently, there is a huge emphasis in North America on authoring OER and OTB, so there is a huge amount of material available in English.
It is typically assumed that anyone is free to translate OER, but in practice, that is often difficult without significant funding. If an individual faculty member wants to use a resource in another language, they are SOL if they aren’t already fluent in that language.
For those of us in English speaking countries, I wonder how you might be able to use the open resources made available through the host university of OEGlobal? They are free to use at http://open.agh.edu.pl/index.php.
Perhaps there is an argument to be made that English is becoming the lingua franca of OER, given that it is becoming more widely spoken, but that really smells a little too much like educational colonialism to me.
As with any presentation in a conference, there is never enough time to delve deeply into a problem, topic, or solution, so I’m chalking this one up to ‘something to consider in the weeks to come’. Perhaps I’ll learn something as I wander the web and have something to contribute.
It is great when a presentation aligns with a line in your job description, and even better when the presenter is as engaging and likeable as Jess Mitchell (@jesshmitchell). Jess explained that:
Inclusive design is design that is inclusive of the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference.
Designing inclusively makes better experiences for everyone. [Source]
3 takeaways from Jess’ presentation are:
- Disability is a mismatch between the needs and goals of the individual, and the learning experience being offered. This means that disabilities are not fixed, they are relative to the person in a particular situation, and, consequently, we all experience disability in one sense or another.
- We can design our learning environments so that ‘one size fits one’, as opposed to ‘one size fits all’. Educators are awfully enamoured with averages, but when we design learning environments and experiences for ‘the average student’, we are chasing unicorns and rainbows. By designing experiences that can be adapted by the student and according to their needs, we promote inclusion over exclusion. For more on this idea, see this article by Todd Rose.
- Design decisions, even great ones, can exclude, so we should respond by designing for the edge cases and iterate towards inclusion.
One of the projects that Jess shared with us was the Infusion Framework, which you can see for yourself at http://fluidproject.org/infusion.html.
Notice the top, right side of that site has a little tab that says ‘show display preferences’.
When you click on that tab, you are given various options to change how that webpage is displayed.
Providing these options for users in our learning environments is a good first step to allowing ‘one size fits one’ design.
You can find Jess’ slides on slideshare and embedded below.