Mainstreaming Open Education (Slowly, maybe...Is 'Open' what we are doing?)

This Storify is a response for Sheila MacNeil's blog post, February 23, 2015 "How do you mainstream open education and OERs? Sheila my apologies for taking so long, I hope this narrative provides a glimpse into our slow but steady (sometimes bumpy) transition to Open (outside of the HE context).


  1. As you know, I work for English Online Inc. a not-for-profit organization in Manitoba, Canada ( supporting the language and settlement needs of new immigrants to the province since 2008.
  2. I think the first step into 'mainstreaming open' in our delivery choices was a response to the LMS not meeting our teaching/learning needs. Nothing strategic, just leveraging online tools that our team, lead by Iwona Gniadek (@yvetteinmb), needed to provide resources for learners.
  3. We opened up with a variety of tools: wiki, microblog, social bookmark, social video platform, and a social network. These social platforms provided a way for our eFacilitators to share news about upcoming courses or curate content more openly with our learners.
  4. One of our early lessons learnt was that we needed to provide orientation for learners to understand how they might use/engage/ignore the variety of open online places for their learning.
  5. An unexpected outcome of sharing our resources was that teaching colleagues from across the country appreciated the shared resources; this started a community of sharing practitioners.
  6. The next concurrent step, if it can be called a step, was the growing experience (and confidence) of the English Online team. Iwona participated in the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge MOOC (Siemens and Downes) a few times. I participated in TESOL's Electronic Village a few times. Then together we followed OLDSMOOC, a transformational learning experience for us.
  7. At the time we were aware of the Open Movement, but OLDSMOOC specifically introduced OER as a tool for educators to use. The Week 6 tasks provided more questions than answers about what qualifies as an OER. (Thank you @daveowhite & @MarionManton for leading the week and @yishaym for ensuring that OER was part of OLDSMOOC)
  8. My thoughts on OER at that time, February 2013, are captured in the Google Document Converge chat (see link below, I am the small light purple colour font). What strikes me, to get back to 'mainstreaming open education and OER', is that the mainstreaming journey takes time. My two-year younger self was just starting to question my contextual restrictions on being open. My younger self worried about quality and risk of having content openly accessible. Yet even two years ago I was committed to taking the OER learnings to the teachers in my PLN.
  9. The mainstreaming journey happens in very small steps. In the summer of 2013, English Online moved high quality, instructionally designed content in front of a login. This nod to opening up some of content seemed low risk as the modules were professionally created.
  10. In January 2014, Iwona and Margarita Berezyanskaya (ber_margarita) presented at Realize14 on CC licences to the Canadian English Language Teaching Community! In order to mainstream you need a 'stream' so what better way than to share knowledge with educators in our community.
  11. REALIZE 2014_Creative Commons Licenses for ELT Materials
  12. Now two years on from OLDSMOOC I have felt that our organization was about 'sharing' and being 'open'. Several staff blog about their practice, we talk about found resources, and we share with our ELT colleagues. I was getting ready to present at TESOL15 on Alternative PD, which included ideas of Open.
  13. However, it was after your February 23, 2015 blog post that I discovered that I might have made some assumptions about how open our organizational culture was/is to open education.
  14. At our staff meeting on February 24, 2015, we were discussing the launch of our new website, The team updated me on the transition of content to the new site, which I had thought was going infront of a login. Facilitators were hesitant about moving content out front because they were uneasy about the quality of the materials; and further concerned about copyright, attribution of images, privacy for the learner, and the value of having learners log in (in order to track for reporting requirements).
  15. The whole night I was up reading and tweeting the team about open education.