OER are by definition fostering collaboration among the producers, the users, the improvers, the re-users of the content. Along the same line, also Open Pedagogies are strongly based on collaboration, especially through social media. The Center for Open Learning and Teaching (University of Mississippi) define Open Educational Practices (OEP) as teaching techniques that introduce students to online peer production communities. Such communities (for instance, Wikipedia, YouTube, Open Street Map) host dynamic communities and offer rich learning environments".
In the following chapter you will read about Online Collaborative Learning, a very powerful approach that can potentially increase the motivation and engagement of students:
- Social and online collaborative learning (click!)
|Quoting from the chapter, “when applied appropriately, online collaborative learning can lead to deep, academic learning, or transformative learning, as well as, if not better than, discussion in campus-based classrooms”. Further, it “can also directly support the development of a range of high level intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, analytical thinking, synthesis, and evaluation, which are key requirements for learners in a digital age.” (Bates T., 2015, Teaching in a digital age. BC Open Textbooks. Chapter 4.4.)|
Online Collaborative Learning is an important example of what it means “teaching through networking”. Other typical activities that characterise Open Educators are collaborative course design, open research collaborations, and many more. But, as a first step, being present on the most relevant social networks is a prerequisite, and being connected to peers in order to exchange ideas and knowledge is more and more the norm.
Having said this, you might ask yourself: "What is an Open Educator?". In his Open-Creativity Cycle in Education paper, Martin Weller discusses the concept of the ‘open scholar’ whose whole approach to learning, teaching and researching, he argues, is shaped by digital and networked technologies.
The articles proposes that an open scholar is likely to:
- Have a distributed online identity – using a variety of services an identity is distributed depending on the means by which the individual is encountered
- Have a central place for their identity – although their identity is distributed, there is usually one central hub, such as a blog, wiki, or aggregation service page (e.g. Flavors.me)
- Have cultivated an online network of peers – the open scholar usually engages in social networks through a preferred service (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed) and regularly contributes to that network
- Have developed a personal learning environment from a range of tools – not through a deliberate policy of constructing a PLE, but through personal trial and error, the open scholar develops a suite of preferred tools
- Engage with open publishing – when formal publications are produced the open scholar will seek an open publishing route for their dissemination
- Create a range of informal output – as well as producing traditional outputs, the open scholar produces and explores different forms of output such as video, podcast, slidecast, etc
- Try new technologies – there is an acceptance that technology is not fixed, and that new technologies are explored on an individual, ad hoc basis to ascertain where they fit into the individual’s overall portfolio of tools.
- Mix personal and professional outputs – the social network space is characterised by the personal elements its participants reveal, which can be seen as the hooks through which connections are established. The open scholar deliberately mixes personal and professional observations in order to be an effective communicator within these networks, and does not seek to keep them distinct.
- Use new technologies to support teaching and research – when assessing or adopting new technologies they will be appraised not only for their use on a personal basis, but how they can be used to support professional practice, such as using social bookmarking for a research group or creating student portfolios in Friendfeed.
- Automatically create and share outputs – the default position of an open scholar is to share outputs, be they presentations, ideas, suggestions or publications using whatever route is appropriate.