Connecting to Community

To properly address student needs, it can be helpful to build partnerships with different disciplines and communities. When we say community, there are a number of communities you may belong to — from coworkers and peers at your institution or industry, to community, cultural, and/or student organizations.

Interdisciplinary collaborations bring multiple perspectives to a discipline that enables a deeper learning of the subject matter. Interdisciplinary can mean a multitude of disciplines, inside and outside of academic institutions. A friend and I had a discussion the other day about his experiences in education. He mentioned that most of his first year courses had a core instructor but several guest speakers, each lecturing about their different expertises in the same discipline. He noted it made classes more engaging and that he ended up with a wider depth of knowledge in the subject matter. Below are some points to consider as you are thinking about collaborating with community partners. While planning a collaborative OER project, be mindful of knowledge extraction vs. knowledge exchange by:

  • Giving communities the recognition that they deserve
  • Centering impacted people when conducting research, writing, and decision making
  • Remembering your experience can be a catalyst for someone else’s journey in advocating for equitable education
  • Being intentional, and ensuring that everything you do in the classroom is flexible. This benefits both students and yourself!

Think of open practices as community service. Connecting your content to the real world benefits not only your students, but a wider audience. I think back to my undergraduate experience and one particular class comes to mind – my third year community psychology course. My professor opted out of a traditional textbook, instead curating specific readings and news articles. Each session we were provided with a news headline that related to the topic of the class and had open discussion around it. This style of teaching substantially changed how I learn, as I was able to hear about classmates’ lived experiences and how the content we were studying connected to the real world.

Pause & Reflect on Community Engagement

  • Are there community members and industry professionals who can come into your class to speak?
  • Are there ways to expand your knowledge of your field? (such as networking or joining a community of practice)
  • How can you bring back lessons learned into departmental conversations or in other volunteer work that you’re doing in the community?
  • How can current OER be adopted or adapted outside the classroom?

Action Plan: Join a Community of Practice

Join a community of practice. This could mean to introduce yourself, crowdsource a question, or share an interesting OER resource with the group. Simply clicking on each part in the accordion allows you to read the individual sections.

Find an editable worksheet here.


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Making Ripples: A Guidebook to Challenge Status Quo in OER Creation Copyright © 2023 by Rebus Community (Kaitlin Schilling, Apurva Ashok, Jördis Weilandt) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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