Introducing ideas for the 2016 OER Sprints. To get involved, you can:

  • Join our organising group (on a platform

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called Loomio)

  • Fill out the expression of interest form
  • Check out the existing task-list for the

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Organise the Open Educational Resource Sprints 2016.

We are getting a critical mass of schools with Creative Commons policies, enabling teachers to legally share and collaborate. This is good news, of course, but the risk is that the policy becomes just a piece of paper, to which no one really pays all that much attention.

Websites/resources etc should be clearly state the work is under a Creative Common licence.

Show how kiwi teachers can work together to make new, open resources.

What's a sprint?

An idea borrowed from the technology sector, where it is sometimes called a hack

'The GovHack' weekends are one example of technologists, designers and a range of other volunteers coming together to make new products and services from open government data and information.

An example that inspired us was the Media Text Hack, a team of educators and researchers got together to write an open Media Studies textbook. It's now an assigned undergraduate textbook at the University of Otago.

The other example was the Oppikirjamaraton (Finnish for - textbook marathon). This event involved about thirty Finnish mathematics educators writing a new textbook for schools.

These events give us working models of how an OER Sprint might work.

Organising teams have been open about the problems they had during the event and what they would do differently.

At tech conferences sprinting is often used an event where people work towards a goal - often bugfixes in software.


Still details about the event to figure out. Opened up the process early, everyone can see how decisions are being made. In the end, we will have a model that schools, associations and informal groups of teachers can use to sprint - or hack - their way to the resources they need.

So, what do we need to think about?

I'll be reflecting on these issues over the next few months - both here at NZCommons and in our open Loomio group, with other volunteer organisers. But here's a few to get us started.

How long should it last for?

Some sprints last for two days, others just one. Some sprints keep strict, family-friendly time-frames, while others keep working deep into the night. We ought to keep it short and sweet i.e a busy 9/10-5 - for either one or two days, though with an expectation than many participants won't be able to commit for the full period.

Technology the bane of many such events. We'll need to find a technical platform that works for everyone.

My initial thinking is that Google Docs will work fine for small teams, and is a technology many teachers already use.

Some bigger projects with many more collaborators have had issues with using Google Docs, and more technical platforms like Github have also been problematic.

Participants, volunteers and facilitators.

It should be a two day event. Saturday and Sunday are usually good. There is the idea of opening the conference on

What skills do we need?

What's the best mix of practising teachers, non-teaching subject-area experts (like academics), facilitators and other volunteers?

We need to keep the focus of the event as by teachers, for teachers, with other volunteers serving to support the needs of the participants teachers. At the same time, we want to take advantage of the collective expertise of everyone who wants to help out.

What's a resource?

Other sprints have focused on making single book (or book-like entity). My feeling is that a resource is whatever the heck participants decide to make on the day, and that this should be the decision of each individual team.

Team formation:

what constitutes a team? How many people?

3-6 seems about right, though I'm not sure about this.

What about virtual participation?

If we're working on Google docs, this is fine though virtual collaboration can breed those dreaded Technological Problems, which well want to avoid. But we shouldn't put any barriers on people participating, either.

What will the events actually look like?

Will involve people sitting at tables, talking and typing. Minimise the amount of scene-setting at the beginning, and look to have a plethora of helpers to solve problems as they arise. This will involve giving clear guidance beforehand. A minor amount of faffing about at the beginning is probably unavoidable.

How much does it cost?

From our point of view, there are two sorts of costs: event costs; and outreach costs, before and after the event. For the event, we'll need funding or in-kind sponsorship to cover food, drink, venue, technology and other incidental costs.

For the outreach, we'll need funding to get resources on CC and OER to as many teachers as possible.

Finally, how many events?

Were not sure, yet, though before the end of the year, we should make some initial committments.

Keen to have them anywhere and everywhere, though this will depend on us getting strong local support.

If you want to help answer these questions, join our Loomio!

Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch.