The land of the long white cloud

Open education road trip through Aotearoa

Posted by Billy Meinke on April 12, 2015   •   5 min read

It’s a pleasure

to join my friends Matt McGregor and Fabiana Kubke on a Creative Commons & Open Education road trip of sorts through New Zealand this month. Shortly before departing from CC at the beginning of February, Matt reached out to ask if I would take part in several speaking engagements at universities in New Zealand during April, finishing with a keynote address at the Open Source // Open Society conference.

Taking the overnight flight from Honolulu, I arrived Sunday morning in Auckland and taxi’d to meet Fabiana at her home in the outskirts of the city. Fabiana and I first worked together during last year’s Mozilla Festival, which was the result of a discussion between her, Nick Jones (NeSI) and Kaitlin Thaney (Moz Science Lab) at the eResearch Symposium earlier in the year. At Mozfest we hashed out our ideas about what skills and competencies for doing science openly look like. Since then, she and others (namely, Cameron McLean) have facilitated two workshops with leading scientific researchers from across New Zealand, asking which skills incoming students should have so that they’re better prepared to work in a research lab setting. You can read more about their progress over on the NZ Commons blog.

Stops along the way

Here’s a list of where we’ll be visiting this week:

  • 13 April, Auckland University of Technology
  • 14 April, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
  • 15 April, Victoria University of Wellington
  • 16-17 April, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington (OS//OS conference)

These talks are free to attend (with the exception of OS//OS), so do get in touch with Matt and the CCANZ team if you’ll be in the area and are interested in finding out more about open education.

The good stuff, the OER stuff

Open educational resources (OER) have really begun to take the spotlight over the last several years. The primary reason Matt asked me to join this tour of open education talks is that I was directly involved in the world’s largest OER project during my time with CC. Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor decided to implement an open licensing (CC BY) mandate for content created in their TAACCCT workforce training grant program, investing a total of US$2bn in what would be OER-based education programs for community and technical colleges. Along with Cable Green, Paul Stacey, and Jane Park, I was on the front lines supporting TAACCCT grantees with everything from finding suitable open content for their programs, to negotiating the remixing process and properly marking materials as they went.

In my section of the talk, I’m planning to overview TAACCCT’s open policy component, which is how the U.S. DOL has made a massive investment of taxpayer dollars go further towards improve America’s workforce. I’ll also touch on the support technology and methods we used to keep things running smoothly for the eight hundred or so colleges inside the program. Matt and Fabiana will first give an overview of Creative Commons and licensing for education, and I’ll be followed by Simon Hart, Richard White and Erika Pearson from the Media Text Hack team at the University of Otago, who will talk about the development of an OER Media Studies textbook. There will be lots to cover in the hour-long talk at each stop, and I’m excited to get reactions and feedback from the folks we present to, and see what their take on the whole open education topic is.

Science and education geekery

What makes this trip to Aotearoa special for me is the fact that I’ll be around some of my favorite kinds of people: geeks like me that love science and education. Open, that is.

science gif

I’m really excited about the impending collision of open education and open science. Say what you will, but we should expect (read: be teaching) all learners to squish, squash, and otherwise remix the learning material they touch as they progress through educational systems. They should take a more active role curating and improving the curriculum. They should digitally annotate their textbooks, leaving improvements and reflections and queries as they go. They should tweak source code and scripts to create neat webby artifacts that represent their learning pathway and online identity. And they should want to work with real live data about themselves and their world, not silly fake datasets that came packaged with their science textbook. I do, however, struggle to describe what an ideal learning experience that marries open content, open code, and open data looks like.

I have a feeling that after this week’s events, I’ll have a better idea than I do just now ;)

*Header image by Tom Hall / CC BY 2.0