While at the Open Education Conference last week, a woman said, “I just work at a community college”, to which someone shouted “Never say ‘just’ a community college.” I don’t remember what was said after that at the session, because I was fixated on that idea, ‘just’ a community college.
In the Open Education Resources (OER) or Alternative Textbook world, the community colleges have been the movers and shakers. This conference highlighted that to me and made be proud of the OER classes at NMC. At my lunch table with both community college and university faculty and librarians, I heard university employees say how jealous they were of us community college folks. What?!?!
They are jealous of our flexibility and close contact with students. With the push to publish, librarians and professors, work hard to support the research process. What is lost is contact with students and time for creativity in the classroom.
The OER/Alternative Textbook community is primarily about sharing information but more importantly, its about the creativity and the freedom to teach the information that you are inspired to teach it, not just the information handed to you in a textbook. It’s similar to the difference with using a coloring book versus being handed a blank sheet of paper. I think we have a tendency to stay in the lines, it’s pleasing to stay in the lines and it’s easier. Where at first, a blank sheet of paper is harder to manage, it’s more work but in the end the product takes a shape and is uniquely, satisfyingly, your own.