Contribution of AU's e-Lab initiative to Open Access and OER Development
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All universities have labs where research and teaching are conducted, where the physical tools of research and teaching are stored, where people get together to talk about their work and their ideas, and where the results of teaching and learning can be displayed. Increasingly, traditional universities are constructing media labs where students can also gain practice in using the tools of digital research and learning. While such labs are generally physically situated in actual buildings and house row upon row of computers, they are also beginning to take on a virtual life. The e-Lab at AU is one vision of what a university lab might be if it were entirely virtual. It is intended to serve many of the practical functions that physical labs have served in the past. But it is a way that AU is imagining the future by providing an online environment that encourages new understandings of teaching, learning, research and professional growth. The e-Lab offers e-Portfolio opportunities, a virtual tool cupboard, social media space, online workshops, and demonstrations of online research and student projects in such areas as mobile learning. The e-Lab also challenges current notions of pedagogy, as well as relationships between the University and the wider community. How does open access affect notions of teaching and learning, especially in an asynchronous undergraduate environment? How open can a university be with the resources it has developed? What are the copyright and FOIP implications of an open access lab? How does a commitment to open access affect the University’s partnering organizations? These are issues that must be re-examined with every technological change, but that are particularly interesting in the open access environment.