From Matthew Bloom, English Faculty, Scottsdale Community College.
We’ve probably all heard that groan before. You know: the one that follows any suggestion that a task is going to be made even more complicated than it already is because of some arbitrary decision made by someone else. That sound–somewhere between disappointment and irritation–that you make when you realize that your house keys are in your left pocket and since you’re holding all the grocery bags in your left hand you’re going to have to put them all down just to unlock the door. Something like that.
That was the sound I did not want to hear from all of my colleagues one Friday morning when we’d gathered to work together to develop some practice exercises related to our department’s assessment program and I wanted to make sure that what we produced was open. We were broken up into groups and tasked with writing questions that would test a student’s ability to determine the relevance of evidence as used in an argument. We were going to be there for a few hours still. The last thing anyone wanted to hear from me at that point was, “Hey, everyone, make sure that you put a Creative Commons license on your work” or “Yeah, so don’t use any copyright-restricted materials.” It would have been additional complication. So I was sneaky about it.
“You know,” I told them, “if we just make up all of the examples, we don’t have to worry about violating copyright.” That was it. No mention of Creative Commons and no mention of OER (at that moment).
For the most part, everyone nodded sagely at my advice (I think they understood that we didn’t want to get sued).
Then, when we were done and lunch had arrived, I explained that I would compile the questions we’d produced and, after quickly verifying that nobody had been copying from the web, slap a Creative Commons license on it all. Everyone agree that it was a good idea.
They had developed OER without really even knowing it. All it took was a sly OER advocate to focus their attentions in the right place.