Gino’s role in the OpenEdInfluencers project stems from well before being employed at MandelaUni, from UNISA, and University of the Western Cape since 2005. Being an advocate for Open, and indeed for Opening Up access to free, high quality, fully accessible education resources motivated a research endeavor as a GO-GN member, as well as a student and staff developmental and empowerment initiative.
After 3 years at the institution, it became evident there was lacking progress in the awareness raising sector. Adoption, and the prime objective of generating new OER became a point where endeavours often fell short. Too many people didn’t know what Open was, nor the potential of OER and Open Textbooks, especially. Gino set up an Open advocacy strategy where students would be able to take the lead in bringing this evolution in the provision of teaching and learning resources to the fore and gain work experience, and payment. Focusing attention to the efforts, successes, and greater potential the initiative offers, and to celebrate actions for Opening Up. Initially, funding was limited, so Gino embedded Open into the praxis of the writing respondents. This proved useful, but student transience made strengthening Open into institutional practice a challenge. Support from DVC Prof Foxcroft, and Directors Dr Toni, Dr Kizito and more recently Mr Dave Jenkings helped realise the mission.
Since 2019, the OpenEdInfluencers project is part of the Siyaphumelela Programme funding cycle, into 2022, via the Kresge Foundation.
The recent 2021 conference featured an institutional video which Gino produced and directed, profiling the initiatives undertaken thus far, published under CC license
This grant helped establish payment for advocacy and student work experience, and the creation of the OEI project has catapulted the project into local, national and global spaces where their work is widely recognised, and being used.
This has supported recognition and placement onto Programme Committee membership on the Open Education Global conference annually, as well as a placement to the UNESCO Open Education for a Better World Advisory Board in 2021. Gino is now a mentor to a socially relevant project, titled Peacebuilding within high-risk communities in South Africa.