This blog post is based on an event facilitated by Jenny Wallace with presenters Christina Brauer and Alex Fransen during UTS Open Education Week. For more detail, view a full recording of the event (45 mins).  

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.” 

from Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver 

Imagine a world where education is accessible to all and access to information is truly equitable. What about a world where, if you want to learn or teach something, all you do is reach out for the resources and guidance you need, adapting these to suit your educational context. 

Open Educational Resources (OERs) give us a glimpse of these possibilities, where benefits not only extend to learners and societies, but also enrich the institutions that invest in them. As resources are shared and remixed in different ways, they can evolve into a myriad of formats and outputs that might never have been imagined otherwise. 

Learning Design as endless iteration 

As part of Open Education Week (OEW), the UTS Learning Design Meetup ran an interactive session on OERs which explored the journey of an OER for developing sustainability knowledge. Here’s a snapshot if you’re curious how content like this can evolve…  

  1. The first version of the resources were created as a Canvas Commons Sustainability module, providing UTS lecturers with materials to adapt and integrate into their subject Canvas sites.
  2. The Canvas module was added to OER Commons as an exportable ‘package’ so that people external to UTS can access and export the resources. 
  3. Inspired by adaptable resources for teaching with technology, the resources were re-designed as a set of open, sustainable lesson plans on sustainability that anyone can access online and adapt for different teaching contexts. Called ‘Integrating sustainability into your subjects’, this set of resources is not set in stone, and can continue to grow as more topics and lesson plans are created. 
  4. The resources were re-mixed again for this live online Learning Design Meetup event, where online participants take part in a Sustainability Quiz and share their ideas in discussions on Padlet and in the Zoom meeting chat.  
  5. The recording of the Learning Design Meetup x Open Education Week event was made available to the public to be viewed by anyone who couldn’t make it. And so the conversation continues… 

The ‘open’ education experience – live! 

In the spirit of OERs and their adaptability, the Learning Design Meetup session was designed as an offering of flexibility. Participants were given the opportunity to interact with the content firsthand, assuming the role of both learner and educator. They explored the online lesson plans and shared their reflections about the resources on a Padlet board. If you missed it, it’s not too late to participate; watch the session on YouTube and if you do have any ideas, please add these to the OEW x LDMU Padlet board

The conversation raised questions about how OERs can be adapted, reused, and shared by instructors. Although the Sustainability Resources are ready-to-go, they have a Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence so they can be moulded to any subject, from mathematics to fashion, as long as they are used for non-commercial purposes.  

OERs for collective knowledge in universities 

The lively discussion and idea-sharing at the workshop highlighted the importance of OERs for universities. OERs democratise access to information and can enable individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute insights and solutions, with varied perspectives and group expertise often surpassing the knowledge of any single individual. In the context of sustainability, where complex challenges demand interdisciplinary solutions, tapping into group wisdom becomes essential. 

Examples of this collective knowledge include numerous open tertiary education materials that participants shared in the final activity of the workshop. Here are some highlights: 

The world really does offer itself to our imagination when you start looking at sustainability OERs that are already there for you to use. We are excited to see what else universities and their work in OERs have to offer to our imagination! 

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