Paul Stacey

Global Education Commons Steward
February 8, 2018, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a two part blog post. In part one Starting Anew in the Landscape of Open I describe how thrilled I am to be starting a new job as Executive Director of the Open Education Consortium.  In that post I map out how I see the current landscape of ‘Open’ and mention the most prominent challenges and opportunities.

In this part two blog post I tackle the second part of what the Open Education Consortium asked me to describe in my final interview – define where the Open Education Consortium should be positioned within this landscape and propose a roadmap for getting there.

The research and writing I did co-authoring Made With Creative Commons led me to realize that “open” results in things being put into a commons. At this point in time this kind of thinking seems largely absent from the open landscape. There seems to be a sense that simply sticking a Creative Commons license on something and sharing it is all that open education entails. I think those things are necessary but insufficient to create a lasting, sustainable open movement. To create a lasting sustainable movement we’ll have to move beyond seeing open education as simply a pool of openly licensed education materials to seeing it as involving a community based social system.

I’ve come to agree wholeheartedly with David Bollier who, in his Commons, Short and Sweet,  says the commons is:

  • A social system for the long-term stewardship of resources that preserves shared values and community identity.
  • A self-organized system by which communities manage resources (both depletable and and replenishable) with minimal or no reliance on the Market or State.
  • The wealth that we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children. Our collective wealth includes the gifts of nature, civic infrastructure, cultural works and traditions, and knowledge.
  • A sector of the economy (and life!) that generates value in ways that are often taken for granted – and often jeopardized by the Market-State.

I wrote a lot about the last two bullet points in Made With Creative Commons. But in the context of the Open Education Consortium and the open education movement overall I think the first two bullet points are key to the future.

For me the Open Education Consortium is positioned in the open landscape as a Global Education Commons Steward. This shows up across the top of my one page visual of the Current Landscape of Open.


To take a leadership role as a global education commons steward the I propose the Open Education Consortium focus on two things:

  1. Manage a pool of shared education resources. This can be the entire collection of open educational resources all members of the Open Education Consortium have or it could be a subset of all the resources. In either case the idea is that the consortium pools resources and manages them collectively.
  2. Develop a community-based social system for managing the resources. To further quote David Bollier “There is no commons without commoning – the social practices and norms for managing a resource for collective benefit.” Part of the roadmap for the Open Education Consortium establishing itself in the open landscape as a global education commons steward involves its members establishing a community-based social system for managing their pooled resources. Simply having a community and pool of resources is not enough. There needs to be a set of protocols, values and norms devised by the community to manage its resources.

I’ve spent a lot of time working in the open education landscape. On my one page visual above I list some of the values and norms I think are needed for this social system:

  • Collaboration
  • Cross Institutional Teams
  • Co-creation
  • Collective Use
  • Curation
  • Impact Evaluation, and
  • Iteration

I list these merely as pieces of a whole. There is a lot of work to be done with the Open Education Consortium members themselves as a community to collectively devise a full social system process.

So for me the Open Education Consortium is positioned as a global education commons steward within the landscape of open. The roadmap to fulfilling that role involves pooling and sharing consortium members education resources and developing a community-based social system for managing the resources.

The back page of my Current Landscape of Open describes more thoroughly what my approach as executive director will be.


As you can see my initial plan is broken into three phases, 1. Review, 2. Future Vision, and 3. Implementation. I won’t describe everything but here are a few highlights from each phase.

In the Review phase I plan to talk and listen to staff, the Board, committees, consortium members, and funders. I’m interested in getting a complete handle on status, challenges and opportunities. I see this as largely about me listening.

In the Future Vision phase I want to define the Open Education Consortium’s future as a unique compelling call to action based on a theory of change in the maturing open education space. As already described I see the rallying cry as establishing the consortium as a global education commons steward with a social system for collectively managing a pool of resources. But I see this phase as also establishing the consortium’s value proposition. What is it the consortium can do as a whole that members can’t do on their own? It may also be possible to increase the value proposition by broadening who can be a member and considering the potential of integrating some of the other components of open in play in education as depicted in my visual of the open landscape.

The Implementation phase involves continuing with the successful initiatives the Open Education Consortium is already engaged in as well as adding new ones and finding funding to bring them to fruition. It involves implementing the Future Vision and growing the membership globally.

I describe these as phases on the road map and in some sense they are sequential but I acknowledge that to a certain extent they also happen concurrently. You can’t stop implementation while you engage in review and future vision.

I hope this gives you a sense of my vision and plan for the Open Education Consortium. If you are a consortium member please reach out to me and engage me in dialog. I’m keen to hear about what each of you are doing and how the consortium is providing you value. I also want to hear your ideas for what more it could do and get feedback on my concept of pooling resources and developing a community-based social system for managing them.

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