Words of Wisdom from an OER Fellow

Applications are now being accepted for ISKME’s 2012-2013 OER Fellowship Program

Next month we’ll embark on our fourth year of the OER Fellowship Program. Each fall we accept up to eight educational leaders who work collaboratively throughout the school year and summer. The Fellows attend trainings and meetings to design, create, and implement an OER Project that they share on OER Commons, as well as champion OER in their communities. I checked in with one of our 2011-2012 OER Fellows, Teaching Artist Allison McGree, to hear her reflections on being a Fellow and what advice she has for incoming Fellows.  

Megan: What initally got you interested in the OER Fellowship Program?

Allison: I was invited by friends to attend the Art+Open=Change Event ISKME hosted in San Francisco in 2010 and met Fellows there who were showcasing their work. I realized that a lot of the big ideas that I had in my small town in Montana were happening in other places. I thought the OER Fellowship would fit in perfectly with what I hoped to do with my work in arts education.

What has surprised you most about being an OER Fellow?

How the Fellowship dovetails with what I already do. I’m an art person and I was collaborating with seven other Fellows from all over the country with different interests, jobs, and expertise. There was such a diverse range of Fellows and we all met and learned from each other. I wouldn’t have been able to connect with them otherwise.

Can you tell me more about what is has it been like working with the other seven Fellows?

It has been a real learning experience. The group is so diverse. Each individual is doing amazing things in all corners of the country, specific to them. They are passionate about their work and what drives them. One of the Fellows created OER around Chess that exposed me to different ways of thinking about the work I do. I really enjoyed collaborating with the group and experiencing the same pathway which ended up looking totally different for each Fellow.

What has been a highlight of your OER Fellow participation?

Sharing what I have been doing and what I have learned throughout the Fellowship during ISKME's Big Ideas Fest in 2011. Having to explain what it means to be a Fellow and work with ISKME helped me see my work in new and exciting ways. Also, seeing my work online as a resource and sharing it with artists, teachers, administrators, and others in the OER Commons community has been really rewarding.

How has your work been impacted by your participation in the OER Fellowship Program?

Now the OER process is a part of my mission statement. I’ve realized the power of sharing my work, that it is bigger than me. I feel more confident and grounded and that I can do so much more. I can share my processes and resources. Putting more energy into getting ideas out into the world has become how I start and follow through with things.

During the Fellowship I moved from working solely in schools to working more broadly with larger groups of educators. I now present and showcase my work and teach others about OER. The people I work with are surprised at the abundant resources available to them and realize that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sharing resources helps them feel more comfortable in teaching the arts. The more resources that I can put out there to support their teaching, the more art we get to students. Educators are remixing my work in different ways and the OER process invites them to do that.

What advice do you have for incoming Fellows?

Jump! Do it and stay open to the process. There is something in it for everyone. There is so much you can learn, no matter what your passion is. I'm sad it is ending this month. I love checking in with the other Fellows during our meetings and seeing what everyone else is doing. The Fellowship keeps you on task, on check with your own growth, and accountable for your work. It is very motivating.

What are your next steps?

I'm interested in facilitating and training more educators, in addition to my work with students. I’ll continue to write and share lesson plans around environmental sustainability and repurposing materials in the arts. I’m remixing one of my mural lessons to include the improv concept of "Yes, And" in the design and execution of murals. I’ve found some great US History textbooks and videos on OER Commons that have inspired a new mural project around pre and post colonialism. I’m also writing curriculum for the Indian Education for All Initiative. I’m finishing my Graduate Degree in Arts Administration this year and showcasing my personal art work in various Montana galleries.


Thank you Allison for taking the time to speak with me. We at ISKME wish you and all of our fantastic Fellows all the best in your future endeavours. We look forward to seeing what the next group of OER Fellows will do. Applications for the 2012-2013 OER Fellowship are due Friday, November 2, 2012.