Why Open Education – a personal story

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I got involved in the open education and open educational resources (OER) movement back in 2011 when I became a SCORE fellow with the Open University UK. We SCORE fellows researched, developed, presented, and promoted open education in terms of particular projects. My project was about iTunesU as open educational resources, which is still a contentious proposition but one which I still stand by. My final report is here.

More recently I have become aware of #FOAMed — Free Open Access Medical Education which is a movement similar to OER but is 1) focused on medicine, and 2) less aware of Creative Commons. The FOAM and FOAMed story is here. Many doctors and other health staff use social media to share and discuss findings, experiences, problems (mostly Twitter) and images of conditions and x-rays (Instagram and Figure 1). Once these professionals take care of consent issues, they are happy to share and discuss publicly. Interestingly, I find it difficult to explain to and interest medical students in the benefits of open educational medical resources on social media, and student takeup seems slow…. with one notable exception. TeachMeAnatomy is a free online anatomy ‘textbook’ started by now-graduated University of Leicester medical student Ollie Jones and comprising a crowdsourced project which has now spun out into many daughter sites — TeachMeSurgery, TeachMeObGyn, etc. TeachMeAnatomy has now moved to Creative Commons licensing, around the same time the student presented his work along with me at the OER16 Conference (presentation viewable here).

Medical students seem to have a particular interest in creating and sharing their own learning resources. I hope to help them to understand issues around Creative Commons and the benefits of sharing openly — such as ensuring wide vetting and correction which boosted the quality of TeachMeAnatomy.

Terese Bird, Educational Designer, Leicester Medical School



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