Our 2023 season commences a sequence of conversations with the people recognized in the most recent Open Education Awards for Excellence. It is fitting to start with Robert Schuwer, who was recognized with an OE Individual Award for Lifetime Achievement. As we hear in the episode, it might take a lifetime to cover all of Robert’s contributions to Open Education.

The OEG Voices podcast studio traveled to visit Robert in the village of Malden, just south of Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Listen in to learn about his early influences, a career path from classroom teacher to computer science professional, and ultimately his rise as a key figure for implementing open education and open educational resources on a national level in the Netherlands. His work in the field and influence as a mentor has extended far beyond that.

In Robert’s voice and his descriptions of his career you will understand why he has been honored with this lifetime achievement OE Award for Excellence. At the time of the recording, Robert was days away from his retirement as a professor Open Educational Resources from Fontys University of Applied Sciences, but it is not surpising, as you hear, he will remain engaged in research on the sustainability of OERs. As a bonus, hear Robert describe the metaphor meaning of the black hole image in his zoom background and also learn about his passionate interest in classical music.

In the OEG Podcast Studio with (clockwise from top left), Robert Schuwer, Alan Levine, Paul Stacey (in one of his last appearances as OEGlobal Executive Director), and Marcela Morales.

References and Quotes for Episode 46

Actually the technical issues were the least difficult, [but it was] how to interest board members, how to interest students, how to interest teachers to be part of this, to adopt the sharing and re -sharing and reusing of resources.

So my real interest is in what can we do to widen adoption of OER and overcome all those barriers, which are mostly cultural barriers and psychological barriers and not so much technical barriers.

Robert Schuwer

Those are two important milestones to come to this situation that working with OER should be as normal as working with classical textbooks was 10 or 20 years ago for each teacher and for each student also.

That’s what’s going on in Netherlands. And that is what I also trust that will be the case in 2030, that was also how I ended my blog, because when I started in 2009, 2010, Fred Mulder said to get OER mainstream, it’ll take 20 years.

Well, 10 years have been past since then, so 2030, then it is 20 years later. I think all the conditions are now. There’s the UNESCO OER recommendation, which our government has signed. There’s a UNESCO Open Science recommendation. The Netherlands had signed it. We have this agreement with all board members from higher education.

We have this program, which is huge with a lot of money from the government where this OER is part of this program. And there it is a lot of very interested people who want to go further with it. So, if the lights are green, it is now or never.

And I’m convinced it is now. People really will take the responsibility and work on this. And of course there will be drawbacks. Certainly there will be barriers, but I’m convinced that in 2030, this goal, this picture I have in my mind, will be a reality then in the Netherlands.

Robert Schuwer

Our open licensed music for this episode was selected in honor of Robert’s music interest, a track called Beethoven – Bagatelle op.119 nº9 by Circus Marcus licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial License found, like most of our intro music, in the Free Music Archive (see our full FMA playlist).

The introduction created with the OEG Voices Mixer features voices of Robert along with Lori-Beth L, Ajita D, Terry G, Catherine C, Gardner C, Lisa Y, Alex E, Judith S, Jonathan P, Bonni S, Clint L, and Shinta H (learn how to add your voice to the mix).

Also on a production note, this was the first episode we used Descript for transcribing and editing audio, it feels like a game changer for editing!