At the launch of the OpenUCT repository recently I thanked 70 people by name. It’s a dangerous thing to do because one might leave out some one (and to my shame one name was written down on the sheet I held, but not said aloud when I got distracted for a moment). It took a long time, but I had decided it was important to acknowledge every person who had helped, and that is aside from the ones I don’t know by name.
What has stayed with me is how every single one of these 70 people genuinely played a part – I was not just “ being nice” . This is what it takes to get to the point of launching a good-looking functional repository containing some good varied content to start with. This is what it takes!
Even so, there are still bugs, and teething problems, and the team are getting great feedback, and ongoing processes are being set in place. This is before the the road show to the faculties has even begun, and the next round of engagement and contestation begins.
But this is what it took to get this far. This is what collaboration actually looks like- that word so easily and glibly written in funding proposals, strategic documents and miscellaneous reports. Next to each of the names listed below is an activity, or two or three. And linking all of those activities were all sorts of connecting activities that make up collaboration: ie discussing, negotiating, compromising, disagreeing, clarifying, refining, redefining, requesting, explaining, advocating, interrogating, questioning, interacting, reviewing, requiring, conferring, referring, deliberating, expounding, justifying, rationalising……the mediation of multiple perspectives and manifold interests.
True, it was not an out-the-box process or solution, but the technical developers got mention through just one name because that is only one (albeit critical) aspect of the work. Those rock solid technical requirements and the challenges of the diverse content types were embedded in the entire universe of the scholarly landscape, of representations of scholarship, in what the nature of scholarship is in terms of what it looks like and how these can be represented in a dynamically changing environment; and they were entangled in the relationships between subtle communications of institutional, disciplinary and multi-disciplinary identities.
For the outcome of all these negotiations to have any value, there must be shared understandings, and a vision, and buy in, and ownership. That is where so much of the work happens, and where the collaboration happens. It has been a humbling and salutary experience that has cast a light on what real collaboration really looks like. Easy to say but elaborately difficult to do.
OpenUCT Launch, 31 July 2014. Thanks to:
Stuart Saunders and the Mellon Foundation for funding and support.
Jo Beall, DVC at the time for sharing the vision and kickstarting the journey with us.
VC Max Price for backing the venture, DVC Research Danie Visser and DVC Teaching & Learning Sandra Klopper for owning the vision; Sandra Klopper for co-ordinating the process of setting an agenda for openness at UCT, Danie Visser for embracing the open access opportunities.
Colleagues in CILT who have been pioneers leading the way in vision and imagination and solid hard work: Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Glenda Cox, Stephen Marquard, Roger Brown, Eve Gray.
Colleagues from CHED generally especially Nan Yeld, Ian Scott and Suellen Shay for their support, Lena Nyahodza for her solid work curating CHED scholarship.
Those involved in the VC Student OER Project so ably lead by Thomas King. The students- Luyanda Dhlamini, Neil Berry, Boikanyo Modungwa, Chris Andersen, Bongani Baloyi, Rushikesh Alur.
Colleagues in Health Sciences EDU working on OERs. Sharing the journey, being advocates, solid work: Veronica Mitchell, Greg Doyle, Nicole Southgate.
Colleagues in the Library. Gwenda Thomas for recognising the possibilities and embracing the future with excitement and vision. Reggie Raju and Dale Peters for walking into their jobs, picking up and engaging with immediate effect and enthusiasm. Mandy Noble, David de la Croes and Janine Dunlop, for solid hours of rigorous work mapping out the specificities that would enable the repository and discoverability become a practical reality.
The Metadata Queen Pat Liebentrau, without whom nothing would be organised and found online. Jenny Wood and Yvonne Hertzog for meticulous metadata work.
Colleagues in ICTS. Andy Duncan – for asking the hard questions; Sakkie van Rensburg signing the contract and financial support; Andre le Roux – who took all the vlak and contributed so much; Eugene van Rooyen – for general unfailing support including working after hours on a Friday night; Timothy Carr – platform support and assistance well above and beyond the call of duty; David Heyns – liaison within ICTS and change management; as well as Dirk, Trevor and others in ICTS whose names we don’t even know for patience and kind assistance.
Lieven Droogmans for diligence and answering every single email; his team at @mire for technical development (so much hidden complexity in that short term!); Lyncode for the site design; Rondine Carstens for design work – banner and buttons.
University PVCs Murray Leybrandt and Mark New for recognising the possibilities, sharing the vision and being prepared to be gueanea pigs. Also Haajirah Esau for solid work on the P&I pilot .
Colleagues in Law IP Unit Tobias Schonwetter and Caroline Ncube for unfailing advice and expertise .
Colleagues in RCIPS especially Andrew Bailey enthusiastically working on the legal aspects of open licenses in contracts.
Colleagues in the Research Office for providing space, inserting us into their programmes, backing the open agenda, being engaged in the debates – Marilet Sienaert, Rob Morrell, Lyn Holness, Mignonne Breier and others.
Those involved in the Launch : Blythe Edwins & Kevin Bennett & co; Theresa Schoeman, Wesley Barry and Marilyn Wilford for marketing and IT support ; Sukaina Walji for social media and Tinashe Makwande for videography.
The contributors. This is ALL about academics , the staff and students at UCT. There would be no repository and no point without the work done and resources produced. So many have been on this journey with us, Ed Rybicki a backer right from the beginning. I will only mention the award winners by name for now - Gina Ziervogel, Matumo Ramifikeng, Juan Klopper – but every UCT scholar in this repository is an award winner. This whole venture is all about the outstanding scholarship and teaching resources produced at this university.
The OpenUCT Team: a small team at the heart of making it happen. Meticulous, dedicated, passionate, going beyond the extra mile, without whom nothing would ever have happened. In different configurations at different times: Michelle Willmers, Sarah Goodier, Kyle Rother. Also Patricia Chikuni who helped at short notice and Shihaam Shaikh who laid so many solid foundations. Thank you all.