Reflections from OE Week

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic OE Week 2024. There was so much to do and take in, I thought some space for reflection might be welcome.

I was lucky enough to open a session during OE Week which celebrated and featured two authors sharing a resource they had created through a small grant program we run in the school of continuing education at Toronto Metropolitan University. They were new to the concept open education and this was their first time diving in! They talked about their impressions before they started and how, through the project, they began to consider more ways to work in the open.

I was catching up on threads in OEG Connect last week and was grateful to see a thought-provoking prompt from @Mackiwg calling out the spectrum of development between "sharing to learn → learning to SHARE ". (This was a comment on a post from @lcbyoung on the OE Competency Framework if you want to check it out!). I thought immediately of the two educators who shared their story of the resource they built. I remembered the first time I shared something openly and the small feeling of letting go and hoping that my work might become something bigger beyond me. This is learning to share, but it takes time and being able to endure that little bit of discomfort that comes from letting go of something you have put a piece of yourself into.

So my question for the community is this: when did your first remember the experience of what it might mean to “learn to share”? How did that impact your journey?


Thanks Lena for launching this topic! I’d be interested to know more about that first share of yours. My hunch is we fight 2 voices in our heads, “what if my work is crap and it gets ridiculed” or “what if nothing happens, no one reuses it?”, and the big step is just letting go of both expectations. So what did you share? And what compelled you to share again?

Bear with my long winded stories! When I started as an instructional technologist at the Maricopa Community Colleges (I owe most everything in my career to that as my starting place), I had to learn everything as I needed. At that time it was needing to learn how to script HyperCard (my age is showing) to do what the faculty I was working with wanted it to do.

In the pre-web era, it was getting information from email listservs and finding FTP sites where I could download example (open) HyperCard stacks other people did and learn from their code. That feeling, that someone I did not know, had given me materials to learn from, made and still does, always make me want to give back in the same way. I learned everything I know from an educational technology standpoint, from the examples, posts, emails, articles shared by others.

In the majority of the cases, you will (a) never know if/when/how someone makes use of your materials; and (b) it’s rare they will bother to let you know. Think about how you learn from the resources others have shared. How would they know?

Here’s another story that changed my way. Early on when I started photo sharing on flickr, because of that earlier lesson, I posted everything first with a CC BY license. Over time, I’d get a few messages through the flickr system from someone asking if they could have permission to use one of my photos.

I felt like it was my duty to explain how Creative Commons works, so I would reply, “yes”, and let them know that they could use it without asking and it was advisable to include an attribution of any kind.

One time (and I wish I could find the message!) the person replied, and said, “Yes, I know how Creative Commons works. I just thought you’d like to know someone used your photo.”

That changed everything! I stopped trying to be all teachy smart about licenses, and just reply with gratitude. I do ask if they can let me know where I can see their work.

So for the most part:

  • When you share, it’s rather unlikely you will know when/if your “stuff” does get reused. Are you okay with that? (I am). It’s like a message bottle tossed in an ocean.
  • It’s rather helpful, when you can, to sometimes send an author a message of thanks or let them know how their work is used. I have found, 100% of the time, they do not criticize my work, but even more, you should know that all content creators are humbly appreciative to know their work has found a home elsewhere. And you know what happens there? You have a connection, that may spark again, or not.

So let loose of expectations, and when you can, despite what a license says is required, take an extra step to offer gratitude. It’s like adding a sprinkle of potential serendipity energy into the eduverse ;-)(

Thank you, Lena, for starting this thread. I sure want to hear how others approach this first step of sharing.

Dear Lena, regards and best wishes to all. How can someone forget the first time of falling in love … with openness!!

Late year 1999, I was already flirting with free software and its principles, but mostly struggling with Linux. But, I heard about this application that could connect computers and you could access to music from any part of the world … Napster. I installed it at my workplace computer (fiber, at that time very rare) like I was installing a nuclear bomb on my closet. Then I started to look for argentinian and brazilian music, impossible to find in Chilean commerce and you or someone else travellling the only option to access. Really impressed as I was downloading lots of music I have so longed for … but then … magic happened!! I acknowledge that not only did I have connections downloading, in another tab I had more the 20 people connected extracting music from what I had already downloaded … I was reciprocally sharing what I had obtained from others who shared … My head exploted and my body in extasis … if we could have sharing setup as default, we could actually share freely, no permissions, whatever we wanted!!

I remembered then being a little child in total disbelief and my mother insisting that sharing was a best I could with others. That same afternoon, I showed this wonder to my boss, in his early fifties … I was leaving, went to say goodbye to him and found my boss just crying his heart out … he had found an old song he only heard from the voice of his grandmother that had passed away a couple of years before … he could not stop crying.

I had fallen in love (again) with sharing. Hard to admit that those P2P technologies where held off from other interests, to configure a WWW mostly away from free sharing. But back then, I learned that if I was to contribute to education, sharing in reciprocity was the best way to do it. Thanks for recalling such meaningful memories!!