I was reminded of this fact last night while my wife and I were watching the BBC production of Les Misérables on CBC. I was also reminded of how annoying watching a serialized TV mini-series over the course of weeks in realtime with commercials is. I have become accustomed to the freedom of binging complete series uninterrupted in a single night, and wonder how the teenage me ever got through the weekly serialized mini-series of my youth.
I know Les Mis mostly from the zeitgeist. I’ve never seen the musical or movie adaptations, or read the book from Victor Hugo. But I had a vague understanding of the plot going into the mini-series from various pop culture references I have seen over the years. I also spent time in community theatre in the 80’s and 90’s and it was hard to miss its influence on the theatre friends I had at the time. It was just something I had never gotten around to watching but always wanted to in one form or another so I was looking forward to this.
I soon realized that my knowledge of the history of France was missing a few pieces. For one, I thought that Les Mis occurred during the French Revolution. But yet the opening scene of the mini-series is at the Battle of Waterloo which was the end of Napoleon’s reign – the same Napoleon that emerged victorious from the French Revolution (I remembered something from high school history). So I realized that the timeframe for Les Mis wasn’t actually the French Revolutionn and I began to Google to do a bit of research on the post-Waterloo time period that Les Mis is actually set.
One of the phrases I Googled was “who ruled France after Napoleon was defeated” and what is the first thing that pops up? A Google snippet from an open course on world history from Lumen Learning.
I followed the link and spent the better part of the evening going down a French Revolution rabbit hole, deep into the Bourbon Revolution and the July Revolution of 1830. Which is the actual timeframe of Les Mis, not the French Revolution that occurred 30 years earlier.
There is a lesson here that OER benefits more than just students. Every time an OER is posted online, knowledge is made public. Public knowledge that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. OER benefit everyone in society. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that fact in our day to day work where we often focus on our own localized and specific contexts. But when we make knowledge open, everyone benefits. Even a guy sitting at home on a Sunday night watching a mini-series looking for something to do to fill the time between commercials.