Successful idea sharing for open education and innovation – 9 key statements

Feb 25, 2016
Anne Tannhäuser

Idea sharing visualizedWhen we start building new OERs in a collaborative manner or start thinking about educational innovations with our peers to revolutionize education, we naturally want the collaborative effort to be a successful one. It should be rather simple, right?

Idea sharing visualizedIdea sharing visualizedDuring the last 2,5 years we have explored differing ways to collaborate on educational ideas with the OEI2-team. In general we can say that an optimal process is something you see in the figure here. The reality is sometimes slightly different. Below we raise few statements regarding idea sharing one should consider.

Statement 1: Lead users guide the way

What we have learned is that there are certain educators who are extremely active in collaborating on ideas. These lead users are often the initiators of a certain idea. In such case it is very obvious that such person has the strongest motivation to develop that idea further.

If this description sounded like yourself, your on a good way to successful idea sharing!

Statement 2: Online environment not the place where all magic happens

In the OEI2 project we have learned that fully distributed idea sharing projects hardly exist or sustain. The successful projects usually had some face-to-face activity where like-minded people got together.

Use all opportunities of co-located collaboration to your advantage and at minimum, set regular conferencing sessions. Try the conferencing tool included in each Idea Space!

Statement 3: Educators can be protective toward their ideas

While we need to feel a bond to our ideas to be motivated, educators can also be protective toward their ideas when they feel those are “their own”. This can turn out in a way that one does not take part in idea sharing.

Agree early on with your collaborators whether the process can be fully open and transparent. If some are hesitant, agree on approach that the ones uncertain are happy with. This is a necessary step to do!

Statement 4: Find the motivated people

Shared passion is critical. Setting up collaborations where not all participants are devoted, is unlikely to take off. Additionally, the chances for successful collaboration is higher if the participants have previous experience in working collaboratively in ICT environments. This does increase sharing intentions.

Statement 5: Expect contributors to get involved at different stages

While the lead users usually remain from start to the end, contributors (both in offline and online settings) tend not to remain from the early idea setting to the diffusion of ideas. This is why it is beneficial that several online networks are utilized throughout the process to keep an ongoing activity and discussion up and running. Ideas that stop, even for days, often remain untouched and unchanged. This is when great ideas remain as ideas and do not come out as OERs, practices etc.

Therefore, don’t worry if not everyone is interested in every single step of the way. Acknowledge this and utilize several networks in different steps of the process.

Statement 6: Keep in mind that preferences matter

One of the lessons learnt early in the OEI2 project was that educators have very different types of attitudes and behaviors and even hidden agendas to technology use and to idea sharing. These attitudes and behaviors are unfortunately very hard to detect except afterwards when idea sharing should have taken place. One of the most critical factor to sharing open educational ideas is the preference to collaborate on early, not-so-fully-thought-through ideas. The second issue is whether educators appreciate to brainstorm (both asynchronously and synchronously) on these early ideas with professionals they do not know well, even by their reputation.

Idea sharing is highly creative so ensure participation of individuals who truly like brainstorming and are happy to discuss various perspectives and solutions.

Statement 7: If objectives and goals change, stay flexible

What might start as an idea toward a new course or course material might result in a national or even international project. Not all projects set in Idea Space even have a clear outcome in mind but the process and common ideas will be pursued further.

Be open minded about changing the direction when good opportunities arise.

Statement 8: Benefits need to be clear while raising status or reputation do not play a big role in OEI sharing

Outcome expectations such as an increase in reputation and position in a certain network do not seem to influence the sharing intentions of educators. This does not mean the benefits for sharing should not be evident. On the contrary, our validation results indicate that the benefits for sharing need to be perfectly clear for both short-and long-term.

Discuss what value the collaboration brings to participants and adapt your approach accordingly.

Statement 9: If your contributors are not fully at ease with early idea sharing, go open gradually

Idea sharing going publicWhile educators can be protective towards their ideas, the findings of our studies in the last two years have shown the importance of interaction between educators and the benefits they get from the rich contributions of others.

Thus, start the online collaboration in a private mode with the peers you are comfortable sharing your ideas with. Gradually see whether including wider networks could be useful. When that time comes and you are already collaborating in idea space, turn the privacy setting of Idea Space to public, not before.

With these considerations in mind, you’re well prepared to idea sharing online!

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