Question #1: Tell me about yourself and how you came to be involved with Open Education.
I’m Angela DeBarger, Program Officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. I’ve been at the Foundation for about three and a half years. I work most closely with our teams working on Open Education and our Open Education strategy. I came to Open Education five or six years ago. In my former role, when I was a Program Officer at the George Lucas Educational Foundation. In that role, at Lucas Education Research, we were developing project-based learning curricula. Collaborating with K-12 teachers and researchers. One of our goals was to create these courses where we were connecting what was happening in the classroom to students’ experiences in the world, and in their communities. We really wanted both students and teachers to have agency and ownership and co-constructing their learning experiences. I was in the midst of this work and happened to get invited to a meeting hosted by the Hewlett Foundation with colleagues that I knew from my previous role as a researcher at SRI International. I showed up at this event which had something to do with Open Education, but I didn’t know what that was all about.
I ended up connecting with TJ Bliss, the OER Program Officer for Hewlett at the time. We got to talking and it started to click for me the connection between what we wanted to accomplish with our project-based courses and what the intention of OER and Open Education. I started to learn about Open Licensing with Creative Commons and realized that we could make it explicit to teachers and students that we wanted them to adapt and customize these project-based courses in ways that make sense for them and that make it more relevant. That was my hook into Open Education. Then, from there it opened up. Now I really enjoy working on not just the technical aspects of Open but also the field-build and the other elements around pedagogy and practice.