The blog title may remind you of the movie Monsters Inc, one of my favourite movies! Just like in the movie, there is a parallel to be drawn in higher education when examining the inherent motivations behind sharing.

Deci & Flaste and Shirky talk about understanding human motives towards the act of sharing, finding that the intrinsic motives of acting autonomously, feelings of competency, being connected and sharing are identified as drivers of people’s performance in most cognitive activities. Sharing educational materials as the main form of cognitive activities within an educational institution brings several benefits to the university, academics, and students. As Wenes Gunawan recently wrote on this blog, “open educational practices are the lit candle of teaching and learning” – they illuminate the path for ourselves and for others.

Institutional perspective: social justice and knowledge sharing

UTS is committed to fostering a culture of sharing among academics and across faculties and units as part of its UTS 2027 strategy. This is evident through initiatives like Associate Professor Amanda White’s open textbook, Accounting and Accountability. Aligned with the principles of social justice and knowledge sharing, Amanda’s book reduces barriers to education by providing zero-cost access to quality educational materials for UTS Accounting students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The commitment to social justice is also reflected in Amanda’s aims of improving and decolonising content by including First Nations perspectives. By embracing a culture of sharing, initiatives like producing open textbooks contribute to positive social change and create equitable opportunities for all students which fosters autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Academic perspective: being connected

Sharing educational materials supports feelings of relatedness. The experiments conducted by Deci & Flaste and Shirky show that intrinsic motives of being connected and sharing are drivers of people’s performance in most cognitive activities. In the LX.lab we leverage the creative learning and teaching activities and assessments that academics create and convert them into reusable and sharable resources as in the collection of Adaptable resources for teaching with technology. The collection provides a platform for academics to collaborate with learning designers and generously share their best practices openly for academics at UTS and other universities to benefit from. Sharing resources in this case opens the doors for academics to exchange ideas, perspectives, and best practices, leading to the development of more effective teaching methods and approaches.

Student perspective: engagement and student success

Incorporating student-generated content into open pedagogical practices offers significant benefits for students. It enables them to engage in content creation while also benefiting from sharing their knowledge production. The Open Education Group provides many examples such as Students writing or editing Wikipedia articles, Students remixing audiovisual materials to both entertain and inform, Students creating or revising/remixing entire textbooks and more. Using renewable assessments is another authentic approach that offers a great way to engage students in sharing resources, shifting the value of their knowledge production from personal to communal value.  

Can you think of other reasons that motivate institutions, academics or even students to share their educational materials? Let me know in the comments below.

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