We don’t have a top down open education initiative here at Penn State. At some point in the near future I hope to see that change, but at the end of the day so much is already happening in the open across the PSU web … quite frankly it is really amazing to see. I try to highlight that incidental openness when I can, but I have been thinking more and more about what our OER might look like here. And when I say that, I’d like to do it in a way that could impact more than just people looking to grab some solid open content to consume … I’d like to take it a step further, but up until recently I haven’t been able to figure out what that means.
After Learning Design Summer Camp, one of our undergraduate writing interns put together a short piece on her reactions from the day in a post called, Learning Design Summer Camp from the student perspective. There was one part that really struck me as interesting and thought provoking …
The one presentation that I found particularly interesting as a student was Sam Richard’s presentation on teaching Sociology 119. I actually took Sam’s Sociology 119 class during the spring 2010 semester, so hearing him speak about the actual teaching of a class that I had taken just recently was very interesting for me. His presentation at Camp focused heavily on engaging students in a large lecture setting, especially through the use of technology. Sam’s Sociology 119 class was one of the most engaging classes I have taken at Penn State, especially amazing, since it is in such a large lecture setting. Before hearing Sam speak at Camp, I never really thought about all the things he actually did to keep me engaged and interested in a class so large that it would be easy to feel forgotten. Hearing him discuss choosing these technologies and why they work in the classroom helped me to better understand from his perspective how he can make a class of 700 students work so well.
What grabbed about it is that I’ve never really thought about what classroom practice looks like to students. What I mean is that I never recall thinking about the kinds of things my faculty did to engage me in the classroom … and I certainly never really thought about the fact that they were doing something deliberate. It makes me wonder if any of the students on our campuses think at all about what goes into making a particular class interesting or engaging?
With this new perspective I have been talking about an idea that would go along with some sort of more structured video based OER project. What I would like to do is to not only produce a video based OER series, much like Yale’s, but add shorter vignettes of the featured faculty talking about their designs, motivations, inspirations, and reflections on how and why they teach. I think it would be terrific to hear in short bursts from the faculty about what is going on in their heads as they prepare to stand in front of their students. I could see it being very much like a powerful digital story that can inspire other faculty to think critically about their practice and it may be really interesting and engaging to students to hear their faculty talk more informally about what is going on behind the scenes. It may also help inform design practice in ways we haven’t yet thought about.