Why is it so hard for Open Ed professions to talk to each other?

As many of you know, this week was the Open Courseware Consortium’s “Open Education Week;” which according to their website is “a series of events to increase awareness of open education movement.” This is the third year they’ve put this program together, and they generally have a good turnout. Last year I presented with Tina Grant, who was then the director of the National College Credit Recommendation Service about their review of the Saylor Foundation’s open courses. (Although I guess it’s the Saylor Academy now)

This year I submitted a proposal to talk about getting open educators together to collaborate. For all of our talk about openness, it doesn’t seem to transfer to an open dialogue. At many schools, there is only one or two people working on open initiatives and the lack of community can have a deleterious effect on your sanity as well as the quality of your ideas. Yes there are conferences, which are nice, but they are infrequent and it can be difficult to justify the cost to attend them. And yes, to a greater or lesser degree you can start a dialogue on twitter.  However, it can be very difficult to break into those conversations, especially if you aren’t a member of the expert’s club.

To remedy this situation, I’ve been working with Amy McQuigge from SUNY Empire State College since last June, to put together a discussion group of open educators. Over the past few months we’ve grown to nine regular members that attend our monthly conference calls and participate on our discussion board. We were hoping to use our Open Ed Week presentation as a place to share our stories, discuss these difficulties, and recruit new members. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

As if the universe sought to emphasize our point about the difficulty of open educators to communicate with one another, a glitch with Open Ed Week’s calendar of events caused many sessions to appear at the wrong time. In our case, our 3pm EDT session was listed at 4pm. And unfortunately for the group of us who were scheduled to present, our schedule didn’t allow for us to present at the later time. Not only that, Twitter was down for scheduled maintenance, leaving us with no way to reach out to folks and tell them to tune in.

This left us with a webinar full of presenters, and no audience. No audience for us to interact with or to present to. So we did the next best thing, we presented anyway and recorded the session. If you are interested, you can view it here.

And then there were none...
And then there were none…

So I’ll ask you – the followers of this blog and of my twitter – the questions we wanted to ask our webinar audience

  • What can we do to foster more of an open dialogue among open education professionals?
  • What successes have you had starting a dialogue about open ed at your institution?
  • Do you belong to any communities with a similar goal?
  • Would you like to join our efforts?

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