Leigh-Ann Perryman and Tony Coughlan presented an engaging look at the notion of a public-facing open scholar, an academic with digital skills and open practice, joining in with a community in order to share knowledge, materials, and be a general help.
In 2012 Tony began collating open material for the voluntary sector and distributing them on the Facebook page CYP Media. But this seemed limited, and he began to look deeper into this issue. He found a very active online child welfare community which had been operating since 2003 on a completely anonymous basis. He spent time reading until he felt he could understand their needs and he shared open resources which could meet some of those needs. Using a framework for understanding community, he found that this community’s ‘creative capability’ was already very well developed and he helped best by joining in the conversation and himself learning how they discovered resources already. Tony learnt about many new sources of information he hadn’t known, from group members. He also found that the anonymity created a level playing field.
Among the implications of this case study: being a public-facing open scholar is likely to take a lot of time. Listening to needs includes learning about culture and interaction modes. A public-facing open scholar may need to explain how resources relate to community needs.
Leigh-Anne and Tony concluded that public-facing open scholars have the potential to extend the benefical impact of OER, to prompt institutions to release new OER to meet the needs of people outside HE, and to help communities. BUT: are academies benevolent enough to let them do these things?
Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow