Out and about on school visits

Apparently this Monday was supposed to have been the most depressing day of the year but here at DeFT headquarters we are too busy to even consider catching the blues. We’ve even managed to keep to our New Year’s resolutions, which included visiting all of DeFT schools and talking to the teachers about their ideas for the case studies to be included in the open textbook we are developing for the project.

Throughout January, we have been exploring new territories, both metaphorically and geographically, given that school don’t always make it easy for visitors to get access and we do have a couple of stories of spending considerable time circling round the building, trying to find the reception as opposed to the “no visitors” signs. Fortunately, once you pass that test, things appear to be much more welcoming and we are lucky enough to work with an amazingly creative group of teachers who are bubbling with ideas as to how they would like to use the space of the project.

Interestingly enough, while digital literacy seems to be a concept that is quite well established and well understood within the school context (not an unproblematic one of course, but that is a whole different blog post), our second key strand within the project, Open Educational Resources is a completely new beast. This is not to say that sharing doesn’t happen as we keep discovering, time after time, that sharing resources and advice is part and parcel of the profession. As one of the student teachers we’re working with put it, as a teacher you will be sharing your knowledge with the kids anyway, so sharing your teaching resources should be a logical extension of that process. In quite a few instances, our work consists in facilitating the process of sharing which is already underway at a given school, so that the teachers can take full credit and recognition for their hard work. For instance, one of the case studies will explore the story of maths teachers at the Notre Dame High School who have produced a textbook and decided to release it openly. We would like to use the case study to learn from them what sort of conditions made that possible and what inspired them to go for an open access publication rather than go via the traditional publishing route, At the same time, we want to work with them on developing a model for other teachers to follow in their footsteps in a way that ensures the resource can then be re-used and re-purposed by others as this is something they have yet to work out for themselves. Given that Notre Dame pioneered the use of student mobile devices in the classroom, we are very pleased that we can help them potentially become pioneers in the area of OERs.

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