From a very young age we are taught to share.  It wasn’t easy, that toy that Santa Claus gifted me for Christmas was mine, I didn’t want my brother, or any body else to play with it.  But over time our parents and other grown ups helped us see the benefit of sharing with those around us.  I wasn’t giving up my toy, loosing ownership, but the joy and pleasure that sharing that toy gave both  my brother and I is hard to measure.  Over the years I came to realise that sharing had so many benefits including that others were happy to share with me too.  So why has the concept of sharing now presented me with so many questions?

What does it mean to be open in the context of education and learning? Certainly when I first started as an educator in healthcare simulation knowledge was power, and there was nothing openly shared. Individuals and institutions were positioning themselves as experts, making financial or professional gains from selling their knowledge, content or resources. I am pleased to say that the pendulum has swung the other way, with people realising that patients are always at the heart of what we do, so it would be doing our patients a disservice not to share. This cultural shift in the international healthcare simulation community has results in many open source material available. 

Whilst technology has been an enabler, I don’t believe it is the primary driver of this openness, instead I believe that it is about communities of practice (Wenger, 2000). Etienne Wenger summarizes Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” noting that any learning that takes place is not necessarily intentional. The cultural shift towards educators openly sharing their content, allowing other to adapt it to their local context, has been slow as, like when we were children, we learn the pros and cons of sharing.
I am a user of open sourced resources, and over the years have my favorite sites (  Since 2012 the FOAMed – Free Open Access Meducation.  In March 2013 the emergency medicine and critical care FOAM movement crystallised in a unique conference called SMACC (Social Media and Critical Care). This was followed a year later by an even more successful event held on the Gold Coast, smaccGOLD, before over 2,000 people assembled in 2015 for SMACC Chicago. Since then the conference has gone from strength to strength, with smaccDUB in Dublin (2016), dasSMACC in Berlin (2017) and become a community in its own right. It made sharing cool!

 So whilst I source information from open sourced platforms I am not ready to share.
Just like the literature that suggests children shouldn’t be forced to share, I don’t believe we should force educators to share and make their work.  I think we need to respect that sometimes the content is such that being openly available could be considered unsafe or unethical without appropriate controls.  

This has been another one of those modules that has resulted in me doing 180 turn (note not a complete 360) in how I viewed open sourced content. I am still not sure how I feel about open sourced learning as an educational platform, but I am better able to verbalise how I feel about sharing and increasing openness in terms of content.

Blog #2: Open Learning – Sharing and Openness