Interested in picture books? Then keep reading and find out more and help us shape one about open education

Hello everybody,

So lovely to be here among so many interesting people from around the world. We hope you are all well and safe.

We have just launched a new and exciting open project thanks to the support of a GOGN Fellowship (see all 2020 Fellows at and would like to share it with you in case you are interested in storytelling and contributing in any way.

Basically what we, a team of open practitioners and researchers, most of us are GOGN members or alumni (see below who we are) together with an illustrator and a designer would like to create a picture book story about open education. How does this sound?

Storytelling and storymaking are part of being human.

We would like to harness the power of storytelling and see if it can work its magic to spread the bug of open education further, much further and hopefully beyond higher education. And remember, picture books are for all ages and often read with somebody.

We would love you to be involved and if you can spread the news about this exciting project further, locally or globally that would be so so fantastic and very much appreciated.

We have launched a story seed survey that gives the wider community an opportunity to contribute ideas which the writing team will then consider. Complete the survey:

And if you prefer to discuss some of the questions from the survey here, this is also absolutely fine. If you had a look at the survey, you will see that it will be a picture book with animals. Animals are often used for a more inclusive approach in picture books.

We can’t wait to read your responses.

If you have any questions about our project or any ideas and suggestions, please do let us know.

Warmest wishes to you all

Gino, Helene, Verena, Penny, Paola, Evie, OdyGino, Helene, Verena, Penny, Paola, Evie, Ody and Chrissi who co-ordinates this project

Ps To find out more about the project, please visit


Thanks for setting this up, Chrissi and dream team. I submitted my form responses and I hope you get many more during the conference.

First, I love this idea.

I thought of a bear as a character. They are often associated with animals to fear, and there are of course cases where people are attacked by bears. But they are also social, over protective of cubs, and would suggest their aggressiveness is a result of the impact of humans onto their natural way of being. And such a symbol of strength.

And in writing I remembered one of my favorite books Watership Down, where rabbits where the main characters. The story drew me in so much that you forget they are rabbits. And the tale is much bigger than the actions in the story.

I wonder some, and would guess you have thought about it. While the use of animals gets away from human type grouping, isn’t there a possible trap of anthropomorphism? Don’t snakes get a bad rap? And coyotes?

It also feels a bit of limiting to be casting characters as good versus bad, when we have many gradients in between, and there’s always motivations and influences that developed the characters.

Finally I am curious if the plan is to be explicit in that THIS IS A STORY ABOUT OPEN EDUCATION or if it might be told more as a metaphor, parable. I’m thinking about tales like Animal Farm that goes far beyond the literal story. Or a fun story I picked up on a whim at a bookstore, Click Clack Moo that at a plot level is an irony about what happens when a farmer gives his animals a typewriter.

I rather enjoy tales that work for kids at a literal level but also carry out a larger message via allegory. I’d hope that’s the goal here!

Looking forward to what others bring.

And it will be fun if people share some lesser known animals to the mix. I thought from my years living in Arizona of the Javelina, an odd creature in the deer family that has a boar like snout and horns, and are really aggressive. I always described them as something like “an animal designed by a committee using spare parts”


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Hi Alan,

Thank you so much for helping setting this up here and for your initial thoughts and observations. Also thank you for responding to the survey.

We don’t know what will emerge from the writing process but it will be a metaphor and hopefully work at different levels, so that different readers get different things out of it. This is the plan.

Animals help children to also connect with them easier and as you say, forget even that the stories is with animals all together, like what you shared abiut the story with the rabbits. The rabbits did draw you in and then you were among them and no longer noticed them.

Stereotypes linked to animals will be interesting but there are good and bad elephants and good and bad lions for examples, similar with people. So it will be important how this is managed when we start building the characters.

Now thinking about open education as a chameleon… or maybe the need to be a chameleon?

Wondering what everybody else thinks.

Wishing you and all a good weekend and speak again soon,