Hewlett Foundation OER Review & grantees meeting

April 2, 2007

I just returned from a week on the road, and one of the stops was at the Hewlett Foundation Grantees conference. Just to be completely on the up-and-up, Educational Technology Services (ETS) at UCB (where I work) is not a grantee. But we have been talking to Cathy Casserly about our program, so we were happy to have me attend and learn more about where the foundation is going based on the recent review of their OER program and their diverse set of projects.

If you haven’t read the review report, and you are in the Ed Tech or education field, I highly recommend it. Some of the interesting highlights in the report for me were:

  1. A focus on the need for not only and active learning-by-doing environment, but also a learning-to-be environment. Each of these supported in a web 2.0-3.0 collaborative environment. (Very near and dear to my heart)
  2. The above combined with an increased need around “Cyberinfrastructure” will be an opportunity to deliver on the need for research-based learning experiences and the support for increased computational capacity across higher education and extending into k-12 and lifelong learning.
  3. The concept of an Open Participatory Learning Infrastructure (OPLI) which promotes a learning ecosystem and culture of learning that is never static, and as an ecosystem in the physical world is “always in a state of perpetual ferment.” Learning is never done.
  4. Recognition of the global shift happening in population, technology adoption (such as cell phones), and global educational needs. The meeting was started by viewing the Shift Happens video.

Some of the areas that I see need to be explored and expanded are:

  1. IP support. Developing open content is complex in a world where fair use is under attack and litigious publishers, RIAA, and MPAA are looking for any reason to punish perceived violations (rather than looking for a stronger business model).
  2. Best practices for developing/capturing/sharing OER. The cost for developing sustainable OER has not been proven out as of yet.
  3. Building tools that enable active and engaged learning activities around the new learning resources.

It was a good meeting. I particularly enjoyed the booklet on storytelling as a best practice. Hewlett is doing good and meaningful work, which is good for the world and takes the long view. At this meeting and the COSL meeting last September I was struck by how many excellent projects and people Hewlett is funding who are really passionate about their mission and thinking about better educational experiences and in turn a better world.


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