I spent 12-13th April at the CETIS conference, with a focus on OER and open practice, and 19th-20th April at Beyond the PDF 2 conference with a focus on open access and open research. I feel very lucky to have a foot in both worlds.

The view across the bridge was raised  by both Suzanne Hardy and Nick Sheppard in the OER session at CETIS. After a conversation with Laura Czerniewicz, who regularly crosses the bridge, I decided that it might be useful to share some of my thoughts on how these two worlds relate. This post is more about supporting infrastructures than it is about changes to practice. It is about some areas where the problem spaces feel similar, even if they are not exactly the same issues. To the few people that cross the bridge I hope it reflects your take. To the majority who live on one side of the river, I hope it might encourage you to borrow a little more from your neighbours where it fits.

oresund bridge

Oresdund bridge between Sweden and Denmark (image sourced and stamped via http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xpert/attribution  )

Slight differences

OER Workflows: a) frictionless sharing OER exhaust, sharing as a byproduct of teaching, collaboration. b) open development prior to use c) collaborative tools
Open Research: Workflows: a) data management as part of research, b) open notebooks c) collaborative tools

OER: Learning designs as a) a common language to develop practice, b) a framework for executing services
Open Research: Experimental designs as a) a common language to develop research, b) a framework for executing services

OER: Repurposing (I suspect this is a red herring and an unattainable goal)
Open Research: Reproducability (Carole Goble suggested this might be a red herring and an unattainable goal)

OER: student as producer, participative learning
Open Research: citizen science

OER: information about usage: paradata
Open Research: information about usage: altmetrics

And there is plenty where they have directly in common.

  • Creative Commons Licensing. Gratis/Libre debates, the CC non commercial clause and the role of publishers. I’d like to see both groups take note of the importance of machine-readable and embedded licenses because content in this distributed open ecosystem easily gets detached from its host page (see that chapter in Into The Wild). Ross Mounce pointed out to the BeyondthePDF2 conference that we should be improving embedded metadata.
  • Reward and Recognition for reaching out beyond traditional realms of academic practice, for crafting materials, for reviewing and commenting on other people’s work. Career risks taken by digital scholars.
  • An ecosystem approach: small pieces loosely joined rather than silos, interoperating pieces of the jigsaw, jorum and humbox, figshare and PLOS, giving people choices in how to assemble their services without locking them in.
  • Identifiers – Open Research world is ahead on this, with ORCID and assignment of DOIs, OER world should take note.
  • Provenance – the ability for a user to evaluate a resource: part of digital literacy, part of research skills.
  • Bundling linked outputs – Open Research world talks about metajournals, macropapers, nanopubs, OER world talks about curations. This is potentially a very fertile meeting ground – both worlds can lay claim to slidedecks, explanatory videos: both worlds aspire to the idea of the topic being at the centre of a whole range of outputs. A research output can be a teaching resource, a videoed lecture can be a research dissemination tool.
  • Blogging, tweeting, aggregating, data mining, the social graph of knowledge. We’re all talking about the public academic, what it means, how to surface the richness of the conversation, how to be an academic online.

Lastly, and most importantly: Public engagement. I talked about this a little in my piece on 21st Century Scholarship and Wikipedia and yet I was surprised by the number of mentions of MOOCs at BeyondthePDF2. I shouldn’t have been. Open access and open education may have forked away from simple principles but at heart they both share a founding principle: the opening up of access to what goes on in universities. They are not the same, they are rife with nuance and sometimes even passionate internal disagreements. But the energy behind the activists, developers and reformers is immense and I’d love to see a little more talking across boundaries. Take a little trip over the bridge!

Interested to visit but not sure where to start? Open Research developers, read a chapter of Into the Wild, and OER infrastructure people read the formats and technologies section of the Force11 Manifesto. I’d love to hear if anyone sees something from the other side that they can use.

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