Ladies, gentlemen and fellow OER practitioners, the DeFT – Digital Futures in Teacher Education project is ready to share its news with the world! It was conceived on the August bank holiday through a series of conversations between a small group of academics with an interest in digital literacy and all things open. For their sins, all three collaborators are now members of the core team and have been blessed/burdened with the funding to actually help their ideas materialise as an open textbook exploring digital literacy in the context of teacher education. Two of us– Anna Gruszczynska and Richard Pountney – are OER veterans (with battle scars to show…) and have been involved in OER projects undertaken by the Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics in the pilot and the second phase of UKOER. The third partner in crime, professor Guy Merchant, is somewhat new to the UKOER programme but very conveniently happens to be an expert on in the field of digital literacy and education. Overall, the guiding principle seems to be that the more the merrier and so we will be accompanied by ten primary and secondary schools, four PGCE tutors at participating universities (Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield) and partners from the creative/digital industry sector– Learning Connections, SmartAssess, Sheffield Children’s Festival and Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning.
The aim of this project is to produce an open textbook “Digital Literacy (DL) for Open and Networked Learning” based upon two strands of development that are mutually reinforcing: the first is to create materials for a module accredited by the two partner HEI for trainee teachers on their PGCE courses, involving the (re)use of OERs and associated pedagogical design; and the second is to develop guidance on practice in teaching and learning in the school sector involving digital literacy. Over the next eleven months we hope to explore the meanings of digital literacy, the challenges of openness at the HE/non-HE boundary and the potential of the open textbook. It looks like we’re off on quite an exciting journey of discovery and hopefully, when we come to revisit this space in a year’s time, it will all make sense as we try and connect the dots backwards.