OERHF: Keynote Hal Plotkin

Keynote given by Hal Plotkin at Hewlett Foundation 2010 meeting...

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Patrick McAndrew
9 April 2010

Keynote given by Hal Plotkin at Hewlett Foundation 2010 meeting

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Hal Plotkin - Senior Policy Advisor at the US Department of Education.

Vic will be working more closely with Obama Administration's OER Policies and Programs. Mike Smith and Cathy Casserly have also played a key role in reaching the tipping point for the Administration to support OER. Switch from "weeding people out" education to "pulling people up".

Brings greetings from Martha Kanter and Barack Obama.

Own  background as tough background and unable to complete high school in the conventional way. Though not a "high school drop out"; rather a "push out" by circumstances. Then took 8 years to get a degree through community college while working.

Joined administration with aim to take forward "Public domain materials for education". Commitment to educate the top 100% of Americans.

Updates of what is going on: President had proposed a $500m/year "online skills" legislation for OER. Need to push against "improve access" to move to "make open" - linked to required reform to student lending. Only chance to get it through was to join to health care bill in all or nothing strategy. However there was a voluntary move to change student lending so priorities changed. Saved by "trading adjustment act" to fund with $2bn for community college with a few sentences to include develop new community college programmes for dislocated workers. Still need to finalise how funds can be used - taking OER approach can benefit for dislocated workers alongside benefiting the wider group.

Bottom line is that he is "fairly comfortable" that he will be able to resource the aims of the online skills. With commitment from US government to take the open agenda forward for two reasons:
1. Moral imperative - everyone matters.
2. Economic situation - unprecedented debt and risk of downward spiral into a depression. No way to maintain leadership of US just by paying off debt - only way out if we do a better way to develop the capacity of people and the opportunities they have.
Path to national survival depends on developing potential and allow talents to grow to provide a secure future. OER work is essential to national economic revival. Investment in education also investment in securing future.

How to work together. Will rely on Hewlett Foundation to move forward faster to bring in experts and advisors. Mechanism in place to allow this to happen.

Also in listening mode - share ideas with Vic Vuchic who will feed into the department through an open door to influence administration. Big opportunity as "we are the people we have been waiting for".

Patrick McAndrew
13:25 on 9 April 2010 (Edited 09:57 on 28 April 2010)

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Chris Lindstrom
1:24pm 9 April 2010


Barbara Chow's comment that we need a better definition of OER and better 'messaging' of what it is is relevant in the SAFRA debate.  For instance, a project labeled "Course and Textbook Affforability Initiative" may have survived the cut whereas "On-line Skills Initiative" didn't, and got inserted in a trade/labor policy instead. . . where it's messaging fits better.

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