One of the most important contributions that libraries can make to their community is to create meaningful learning experiences, and openness is an important factor that can help achieve this. Curtin University Library has been working to create an open, participatory and connected learning space through its online digital dexterity program, 23 Things.
23 Things is a self-directed learning program designed to help students develop the digital capabilities required for successful study, work and life. It consists of online modules, workshops and creative challenges on topics as diverse as video editing, digital security and virtual reality.
Throughout the process of designing, creating and implementing the program, the Library has striven for openness in different ways.
We have been open to trying new approaches in learning design as part of our Students as Partners program, employing students from diverse disciplines and backgrounds to design the site, create the content and assist in running the program. Enabling student voices to be heard and fostering peer-supported learning has bought unique perspectives to the program and helped make the content relatable and accessible. As our student partners share their knowledge and experience with their peers, we have seen engagement, enthusiasm and friendships flourish.
An open learning community also requires removing barriers by offering different modes of engagement to cater to different learning styles and preferences. Activity-based learning has formed the bedrock of the program, moving away from passive information delivery. Taking a sequential approach with a focus on a new topic each week, we provide synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities through self-paced online modules, face-to-face and online workshops, creative challenges, and invitations to connect with others.
Another major objective is to make the content accessible and inclusive by ensuring diverse voices and perspectives are represented in the content. The storytelling element of the program, which we use to illustrate how digital skills can be applied in a workplace context, have also provided a rich opportunity for normalising diversity and inclusion. For example, through the fictional character of Charlie who is a ‘deadly yorga’ (or impressive woman), we are able to incorporate our local Nyungar indigenous language and culture into the learning experience.
23 Things is open to anyone to participate, and we have intentionally kept the content generic and applicable to the different contexts of study, work and life. Although the program is now part of Curtin Extra, the University’s extra-curricular credentials program, it also remains open to the wider community. As a result, we are customising our communications to the different groups who engage with the program.
23 Things is an Open Education Resource that is licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Each self-paced module has been created as a single H5P file, and is very easy for others to download, re-use and modify.
Our efforts to create an open, inclusive learning space through 23 Things has been extremely rewarding. Being open to new approaches, welcoming anyone to participate, striving for inclusive and diverse representation, and open-licensing the content have all contributed to enabling our community to participate in and contribute to a meaningful, connected learning experience.