We have written a draft chapter that provides an overview of the background to the development of OLnet and in particular the preceding OER and learning design research the initiative builds on. Comments welcome!
The web 2.0 principles of user participation and experimentation have created models for social networking that influence the way people work and interact online. Applying the same principles to educational and research contexts offers opportunities and challenges.This chapter describes an initiative that draws on web 2.0 principles and the patterns of behaviour that are prevalent with social networking tools to support the sharing of experiences around the design and use of Open Educational Resources (OER). The aim is to mix the affordances of new technologies alongside face-to-face events with shared research challenges and activities. An ongoing programme of research activities and fellowships provide a framework to synthesis the findings and experiences and give a basis to feedback and inform future activities. The initiative, OLnet, is a global network to facilitate the engagement of ideas between researchers, users and producers of OER. This chapter describes the underpinning research that the initiative is based on, along with an outline of work to date, the vision behind the work and perceived challenges for the future.
OLnet is attempting to apply modern practices in the use of technology as a means of supporting and enabling practitioners to find, share, represent and discuss ideas and experiences. The approach is incrementally building on research undertaken by the co-authors and others at the Open University UK in recent years, but also seeks to add scale through international partnership and connection to the strong community of those working on OER. By drawing the background work together, with the direction of current work the chapter can provide practical, illustrative examples to back up the arguments being made, as well as links to useful resources and tools. All the resources and tools described in the chapter are freely available to use, with the majority released through appropriate creative commons or open source licence agreement.