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Yesterday, at the Girl Geek Dinner held at the Enterprise Centre at the University of Hull, attendees heard a presentation by Emma McGrattan of Ingres. Along with discussions about Software Engineer Barbie and whether men and women code differently (don’t go there), I was particularly interested in what she had to say about Open Source.

We had many IT students in attendance and she encouraged them to see getting involved in the Open Source movement as a way to get some real world experience, something to add to their CV and a way of finding what they were particularly passionate about within their discipline. We heard about Google’s Summer of Code and the opportunities it offered as just one example.

Could there be such enthusiasm for Open Source the UK in the future (as there is in the US) and could the OER movement become as popular?

Could we encourage student teachers and new lecturers (on post graduate certificate courses) to get involved in OER as part of their studies, contributing resources to some repository for which they could receive feedback or which could be developed by others? How much support would this need and who would/could provide it?

(My thanks to @iamhelenharrop for prompting me to attend this event.)


  1. I think we have a duty to ensure student teachers and young lecturers know about and try using and contributing OER. I honestly think, though that it will only ever really be taken seriously if it is tied in to institutional reward and recognition schemes.

    • I would love to think of new staff getting involved with OER in the enthusiastic way novice coders get involved with open source. I know the two things are not the same but I see no reason to think one group are more community minded than the other, it just seems that the OS movement has been supported and thus it has thrived.
      I take your point about reward and recognition; if you’re judged on your paper count and how much research money you have secured, it’s hard to justify time spent on other things, however much you want to do them.

  2. *cough I made a lovely OER widget for wordpress cough*

    I think OER needs to be more granualar in the way OS is, you can dip in and out of it. At the mo, most OER is either too big to be remixed, or too small to be useful.

    • Re: Too Big to be remixed – Might this be due to the fact that a lot of the OER that has been released recently has been connected with the UKOER projects, and it was stipulated that the resources had to be pre-existing? Had the resources been destined to be OER from their inception they might indeed have been more granular (and a lot more beside.) It will be interesting to see, now some have dipped their toe into this area, what affect this has on the resources/OER in future.
      Re: Too small to be useful – Hmmm… it was single images that got me started in CC (prior to UKOER). It’s also the OER I most often point beginners to who want to know more about OER because it’s something many find genuinely useful.
      However, your post does highlight a real problem and that is the lack of communication between producers and users of OER (be they different people). This is why I find aspects of OERAfrica so exciting because those wanting OER are being specific about what they want. At the moment there is a lot of sharing going on (giving and reusing, we’ve been a part of that before UKOER came along) but, through no one’s fault, not a lot of dialogue. If producers of OER knew more about what happened to their OER, it might have a significant effect on what they produced, but I’m not sure where that dialogue will take place.

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