In 2015, three British Columbian institutions (Thompson Rivers University, University of Northern British Columbia, Justice Institute of British Columbia) joined to create OpenETC, a community of educators, technologists, and designers sharing their expertise to foster and support open educational technology infrastructure for the BC post-secondary sector. By taking advantage of shared technology infrastructure and shared technical expertise we felt that could provide a sustainable response to the growing need for more specialized educational technology to support students and teaching and learning in a context where IT and educational technology resources are increasingly stretched and where concern for the ethical use of student data was growing. OpenETC (https://opened.ca/about) pools expertise and resources to support shared infrastructure and was inspired by the spirit of cooperatives more broadly. In additional to shared infrastructure and technical oversight, the OpenETC also shares instructional design and organizational expertise across collective endeavors. The OpenETC is motivated and encouraged by a growing interest in platform cooperatives and open infrastructures such as the OERu tech stack (https://tech.oeru.org/2018-update-oeru-technology-stack ). As of September 2018, the OpenETC counts nearly 750 users across 3 platforms, and is actively used by faculty, staff and students at six post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.
This presentation will provide an update on the OpenETC (which we first introduced at #OER17) and provide some examples of how open infrastructure of the OpenETC has been used by educators and students. Special emphasis will be places on how shared environments promote collaboration across institutions and allow for enhanced services. The presentation will outline why the coop model is appealing to us, but also discuss some misconceptions that arise with a community that is more used to the “shared service” or vendor provisioned model. Through a liberating structure exercise participants in this session will be asked to interrogate affordances and challenges of coop governance for shared open educational technology infrastructure and consider strategies offering sustainability for the future. Liberating Structures activities introduce tiny shifts in the way we meet, plan, decide, and relate to one another. Liberating Structures are intended to up-end the normal way meetings and collaboration are typically organized, which is usually top-down with restricted participation created intentionally or due to entrenched group dynamics. For more on the methodology of Liberating Structures see http://www.liberatingstructures.com/. Participants in this session will 1) discover how OpenETC offers shared, sustainable open educational technology infrastructure across the British Columbia post-secondary sector, 2) understand how the values of platform cooperativism inform OpenETC, and 3) interrogate the affordances and challenges of the OpenETC model via a liberating structures activity.
“About.” OpenETC – Free Range Educational Technology, opened.ca/about.
“The Platform Cooperatives Movement Helps Light up the Commons.” Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-SA 3.0, 24 Jan. 2017, creativecommons.org/2017/01/24/platform-cooperatives-movement-helps-light-commons/.
Sylvester-Bradley, Oliver. “Ours to Hack and to Own.” OpenDemocracy, 16 Jan. 2017, www.opendemocracy.net/oliver-sylvester-bradley/ours-to-hack-and-own.
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