Open Advocacy Reflection

For the last assignment for the Creative Commons Certificate Course, I chose to write an essay in which I reflected on how I have advocated for openness in the past, and how I would advocate in the future. I enjoyed going back through the modules and reminding myself of what I learned over these past 10 weeks, as part of the reflective process.

As the school year is beginning in some parts of the United States this month and for the first time in quite awhile, I won’t be teaching in a school library, it felt right to be nostalgic about ways that I have come alongside my former colleagues to support openness in learning. As I am continuing to read and write on OER and OEP for my doctoral studies, it also felt right to reflect on what future advocacy might look like, based on what I have learned.

The following is my essay.

Advocating for Openness in K-12 Schools – By Sarah Hammershaimb

In module 1.2 of the Creative Commons Certificate Course for Librarians, I learned that education is fundamentally about sharing. Sharing is a value of openness. In teaching and learning, knowledge, expertise, and feedback are shared between instructors and learners. This idea supports my desire to see K-12 education grow in openness.

As an elementary school teacher librarian who has observed student engagement that accompanies open pedagogies, I want to advocate for open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP). My advocacy for smaller changes in the past has usually followed Rogers’ innovation cycle. I look for individuals who might be early adopters and partner with them, providing resources, information, or technical assistance. As other school staff witness the engagement of students and ease of adoption of new practices, they are likely to join the movement. However, advocating for OER and OEP at a district level feels more complex. 

In advocating for OER with educators and district personnel, I would describe their cost-effectiveness, flexibility and suitability for digital learning spaces. Additionally, I would highlight the ability of OER to support personalization, differentiation, and localization of learning. Furthermore, the use of OER by both students and staff builds digital literacies and fosters 21st century skills. 

One of the most significant benefits of OER, I believe, is their ability to transform teaching and learning through the use of OEP. These practices increase student voice and choice, support active learning, engage students in knowledge creation, and provide networked environments where learners can engage with each other and with content in creative, meaningful ways. In K-12 learning, I see aspects of OEP already in use. Perhaps this is the place to begin OER advocacy.

In my research, I have learned that while OER is in use in some school districts, many educators are either not aware that the materials are OER, or they are not aware of the affordances of the open licenses (Seaman & Seaman, 2020). Hence, these materials are not used to their potential. The in-depth look at copyright, the knowledge about the affordances of different CC licenses, and the modules pertaining to the 5R’s are important takeaways from this course for future advocacy. The materials that I created could be adapted into professional learning resources about OER and open licenses.

While enrolled in this course, I learned about resources to support future advocacy. The Creative Commons Open Education Platform, the Open Education Conference folk, and organizations like SPARC provide a network for information and community. The CC Search Engine is a helpful tool for educators looking for images. Repositories of OER materials, such as OER Commons, OpenStax and CK12, could assist school districts searching for OER.

 Despite the many benefits of OER and OEP, barriers abound in K-12 education. Textbook adoption cycles/policies hinder OER consideration. Fear of change, educator time limitations, and lack of leadership support contribute to hurdles. On a personal note, many teacher librarian jobs are being eliminated due to budget cuts, even though these roles effectively connect educators and open content/practices. 

Seaman, J. E., & Seaman, M. (2020). What we teach: K-12 educator’s perceptions of curriculum quality. Bay View Analytics. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Open Educational Resources & Practices

For the most recent module in the Creative Commons Certificate Course for Librarians, I looked at Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Pedagogy (OEP). In my related reading, I discovered the Hewlett Foundation’s 2020 Open Education Strategy report. As a K-12 teacher and librarian, I see so much possibility for educational innovation and equity through the use of OER and OEP. However, like the Hewlett Foundation reported, I’ve also noticed a lack of research in this area, especially at the K-12 level.

I created this video as part of an assignment for the Creative Commons Certificate course. However, I am hoping that it would provide insight to educators seeking to better understand OER, and the educational practices that are made possible by them.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

On Leadership: New Beginnings

View from the bridge

On January 9, 2018, EDDE 804, Leadership and Project Management in Distance Education, met online for the first time. The cohort reunion was sweet, and our initial conversations were inspiring. Leadership is a topic that interests me. I’ve attended leadership conferences, and have explored leadership concepts and issues by reading and discussion.  For example, pre-half marathon training runs were fueled by conversations around emotional intelligence and trust with my running buddy, an organizational coach. Although, I have never held an official leadership role, I have assumed the mantle of leadership in informal ways, and have noticed that in some situations and circumstances, others have looked to me for direction. The presence of followers has been scary at times, and affirming in others.

The introductory conversations in the forum for EDDE 804 surrounded the definition of leadership. I think Larry’s comments put it best, where he expressed that he is still trying to wrap his head around the concept of leadership. In my post, I wrote about my new-found idea that leadership embodies both role and process, which I had read about in Latchem and Hannah (2001). In the past, I have seen leadership more the function of a person, but by examining leadership as a process, I hope to grow a more robust definition and understanding of this concept, as well as develop thoughtful answers to the other questions proposed:

  • Why do we study leadership in education innovation?
  • Where do you see the value and importance of leadership in the current state of education?

My current responses to these questions include the following thoughts on the value and importance of leadership in education and the value of its study, strongly influenced by reading Cleveland-Innes (2012):

  • We are going to be leaders.
  • We are already leaders.
  • Leadership is an essential skill of an educator.
  • Changes in education require leadership.
  • Changes in society impacting education require leadership.
  • New ways of learning require new models of leadership.
  • We can learn, and make application by studying what has worked in the past and why it has worked.
  • Education as a public good is too important to not be led well.

Cleveland-Innes, M. (2012). Editorial: Who needs leadership? Social problems, change, and education futuresThe International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning13(2), 232-235.

Latchem, C., & Hanna, D. E. (2001). Leadership in open and flexible learning. In Leadership for 21st century learning, (pp. 53-62). NY: Routledge.

First term reflection

My first term of the Doctor of Education in Distance Education program at Athabasca University has drawn to a close. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve learned and how I have grown through this first course. I’ve encountered andragogy, learning theory and the Antigonish movement. I’ve explored interaction, open learning and globalization. I’ve discovered the importance of cohorts and have experienced first hand the support and care that this group provides. Sharing a learning journey with 11 other members has been one of this fall’s highlights.

Here is my final paper for 801. I’ve found openness in learning to be a fascinating topic and I hope you enjoy reading a little about Open Educational Resources.

Experiencing the Community of Inquiry


The first assignment for my first class at Athabasca University involved being assigned to a group to examine a topic and present at our in-person session in late August in Edmonton, Alberta. My group, which was distributed across timezones in North America, and who had previously never met, was assigned the topic of the importance of interaction and participation in open and distance learning environments. After introductory research and online meetings, we decided to approach this topic using the lens of the community of inquiry, which is a model depicting the relationships between learner interactions with content, instructors and each other. I chose to further investigate learner-content interaction, and was quickly introduced to the concept of cognitive presence, which is defined as the active interaction of learners with content to construct and confirm meaning through reflection and discourse.

The experience of researching this topic and creating a presentation with my group approximated what I was learning about the community of inquiry model. As I interacted with content through reading articles, largely written by Garrison, Anderson and Archer, I experienced social presence, meaning my learning required dialogue and discourse with my peers. These individuals assisted me by providing additional search terms and research ideas, and by commenting on my findings and slides. Feedback and the instructional design of the assignment, which are facets of teacher presence, provided a container for my learning.

Participation and interaction are elements affecting education in both face to face and open and distance settings. I am a constructivist. I believe that learning is an active process where individuals make meaning out of interactions, building upon previous experiences. I have even dabbled in constructionism, where the physical building of models and projects provides vehicles for and demonstrates learning. Learning is an active process, which requires interaction with content. Individually, learners dialogue with concepts, and neurologically, the brain develops pathways and connections to integrate new material. Learning cannot happen passively.

In the past, I have taken courses in which I found myself a passive recipient of content. I ingested the material, worked the necessary problems and completed the necessary assignments. I may even have written the correct number of posts on the discussion board within the LMS. However, I was not involved in critical reflection. Questions like the following often remained unanswered or unconsidered: Why was what I was learning important to me? To my field? To my future? What impact did learning this material have on how I understood the world around me?  What role did my peers play? How did I interact with the instructor? If I am honest, and in this moment of reflection, I find myself very honest, I didn’t choose to interact with my instructors or fellow learners, and my experience was not as rich as a result. The dialogue would have helped me to articulate my beliefs, to test my understanding, to shape my worldview. I would have been better able to integrate my understanding of the content into my schema. However, I was afraid of being wrong, of offending, of not knowing how to interact in this way.

Learning has always been an intensely personal experience for me. What did I know? Was I able to articulate my understanding? And yet, this group project experience pushed me beyond mere familiarity with a subject. This experience challenged my notion and experience of learning. What does it mean to learn?  Does learning mean just knowing facts? Or does it mean more? Could it be that my investigation of critical thinking points to the issue that learning always means being able to examine thoughts, concepts, arguments and discover the logic within? That critical thinking, combined with critical reflection, coupled with dialogue and discourse with others and instructors are the earmarks of learning?

Could it be that the nature of participation and interaction in learning goes beyond involving students in the choice of assignments or ways to indicate their learning? Beyond gamification? Beyond the use of manipulatives or inclusion of engaging learning strategies? Could it be that participation and interaction at its core is reflective of learning  as an active process? A process where learners are actively encountering content, examining that content in light of previously learned materials, discussing that content internally and with others, and expressing that learning in public ways. In a sense, this is modeling the cognitive presence practical inquiry model: triggering event, exploration, integration, resolution. This cycle continues with interaction from peers and teachers. The goal is knowledge/learning/growth.