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Spotlight topic 2: The Big Shift?!

Welcome to the second week of the discussion on Open Educational Practices! This weeks topic is...

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Ulf Ehlers
6 June 2010

Welcome to the second week of the discussion on Open Educational Practices!

This weeks topic is the Big Shift. We have found in our research so far a number of factors which turn out to be important if educational practices in an organisation are to be opened. We have coined ths process the BIG SHIFT - because it obviously involves more than 'just' using open educational resources.  We found that

  • Teachers
    • need skills an learn about how to e.g. with user generated content rather than e xpert content
    • have to become knowledgeable in guiding tudents to become professional in self-assessment processes and embracing the notion of assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning.
    • are faced with a powershift in the way that not their own resources are subject of teaching any longer but those of other experts as well.
  • Students need
    • to become autonomous learners 
    • have to lean about assessing their own progress and taking responsibilit for their learning
    • are faced with beeing peers to each other  and validating each others learning
  • Leaders of educational organisations
    • are faced with the question how they can make content which has been produced in teaching and learning processes relevant to other actors within the organisation
    • how an open policy can be lived within the institutiuon and express itself not 'just' in the use of just another open educational resources repository.
  • Policy makers want to stimulate the use of opean educational resources to improve the quality of education - not just the access to educational opportunities. But what is quality of open resources?

This week we would like to invite your best reocmmnedations and experiences how to make the big shift. What are your experiences?

At the end of the week a summary will be posted - looking forward to reading from you, Ulf Ehlers

Extra content

Summary of week 2:

Dear colleagues - thank you for the feedback you gave and the time you took to contribute to the discussions from many parts of the world. The following issues struck us a key comments from week 2:

  • Materials that are intended for open use should be developed right from the beginning with 'openness' in mind
  • In fact the whole idea of academic practice sometimes seems to be overwhelmingy concentrated on being original and creative and 'new' rather than playing creative and originally with something which already exists.
  • Giselle: teachers are confronted with further pressures, ... and are expected to think on their feet and incorporate resources, new ideas and even suggestions that students themselves may bring in, basically, 'stuff' that's new to us?
  • 'open' and 'openness'  is new! ...There's a lot to be thought, discussed and clarified regarding 'openness' and what it means to be 'open', particularly when the ideological bases of education are buried under business 'realities' as they seem to be more and more...
  • Olufemi: OER are a novelty in African countries - and administrators yet have to develp their experiences with them to see how policies around them can be shaped to support upake of OER

Thank you all for sharing your keypoints on how to ake the BIG SHIFT  happen! We will incorporate them into our work and will take them as inspiration in further discussions! Have a look at www.oer-quality.org to see what's next. Here we continue with the third and last week of our discussion. Roberto Carneiro, Professor at the Catholic University Lisbon, Portugal and former Minister of Education in Portugal will lead the topic.

Best regards, Ulf Ehlers

Ulf Ehlers
08:54 on 13 June 2010

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John Garner PETTIT
10:35am 8 June 2010


Hi Ulf

you pose the question:

"What is quality of open resources?"

There's often a tension, I feel, where OER may be well suited for one context but not for another context. At least, it might not be of high quality unless/until it is adapted for that second context.

In practice, I don't think teachers will necessarily do that adaptation. Can we expect learners to do it? Maybe that's part of what we should expect as they become autonomous learners?

Regards

John

Tina Wilson
10:56am 8 June 2010


Hi Ulf,

Your discussion of important factors in the Big Shift towards opening up educational practices within organisations is very interesting.

I was particularly struck by 'how an open policy can be lived within the institutiuon and express itself not 'just' in the use of just another open educational resources repository.

The POCKET project (JISC, UK funded) suggested that materials that are intended for open use should be developed right from the beginning with 'openness' in mind. POCKET also showed that institutions react in different ways to 'openness' after they have experience of making their materials open as OER. Some institutions were happy to consider an open policy for the future and some were not.

I look forward to hearing about experiences elsewhere of how an open policy has been adopted or what the barriers are in terms of adoption of an open policy.

Chris Pegler
10:57am 8 June 2010


There are some amazing examples of OER practice influencing practice and policy (or at least starting to) in the UK coming through the HEA/JISC funded OER programme (www.jisc.ac.uk/oer for the variety of projects at institutonal, individual and discipline levels). Teachers certainly do need the skills to engage with other people's content - as John has suggested. Its not something that we currently learn as part of learning our academic practice. In fact the whole idea of academic practice sometimes seems to be overwhelmingy concentrated on being original and creative and 'new' rather than playing creativelt and originally with something which already exists.

One of the things that came out of the OER10 conference in Cambridge in March was the idea that making practice public - we so often cannot see what other people are doing with _their_ teaching practice and OER offers us that opportunity. To inspire and be inspired.  I would love there to be more sharing of OER in progress, perhaps in the LabSpace http://labspace.open.ac.uk/ at the OU which we are currently re-ordering, but which always was a lot of playing around potential.

So, what is quality? Its the usual answer from me - 'fitness for purpose'. But what is the purpose? Is it to be usable 'as is' within a different context by educators (some are), is it about being easy to dissaggregate and reassmble with other parts (blended OER?), or is it simply a starting point which others can take up and fly with, knowing that they can make changes because the quality of the rights is sorted?

Giselle Ferreira
11:29am 8 June 2010


Hi Ulf

You suggest that teachers:

are faced with a powershift in the way that not their own resources are subject of teaching any longer but those of other experts as well.

I totally agree with the notion of a powershift, but I wonder: haven't teachers always used resources other than their own, e.g. textbooks written by others, as well as 'things' they may have produced themselves? I'm not questioning the enormous value and potential impact of OER on our practices, but I am questioning the notion that re-use is a totally new idea. 

This may not have been what you meant (so please correct me!), but I do believe that, if more people realised that they already have experiences that are relevant to working with OER, experiences they could draw upon, a known ground from where they could jump off to something different, perhaps more people might be using these resources? (though, of course, there's the question of gathering evidence of re-use, and there are questions regarding technology etc.)

There's another side to this as well, I feel, that raises questions of power. With OER and open content, more generally, teachers are confronted with further pressures, beyond the need to deliver a 'curriculum' or some 'learning experience' (whether this is 'handed down' to them in outline or created by them). Would it be the case that the pressure is mounting on teachers, who are expected to think on their feet and incorporate resources, new ideas and even suggestions that students themselves may bring in, basically, 'stuff' that's new to us? The independent, autonomous learners we want are/will be much more demanding, and this has potentially an enormous relevance to our established notions of 'expertise' ...

Ulf Ehlers
12:44pm 8 June 2010


HI John,

thanks for the oppinion! Do you think that OER could even help teachers? Sometimes the oppinion exists that OER could also save time. however, with your comment I am unsure if that would be the case - if there is a lot of ad aption work to do... Then it is questionable if OER are of use - oif they take longer time to make them useable for ones own context...

What do you think?

 

Ulf

Gráinne Conole
12:48pm 8 June 2010


Hi Chris thanks for pointing to examples of where policy is making an impact on practice.. I have a conceptual framework that I use to guide my thinking and the research activities I do which talks about the fact that you need to have an ongoing inter-relationship between the following four things:

  • Policy
  • Resaerch and development
  • The learner voice/experience
  • The academic perspective

Ulf Ehlers
12:51pm 8 June 2010


Hello Tina -

the notion of openess is also to my mind still a big unknown.Educational institutions everywhere are build around the notion of exculsivity and not really about openess...

On the other hand we have to consider that openess now more and more comes to be a competitive advantage. Thos who cvan manage their openess are better known, better visible, can integrate more extenal validation and feedback. 

I suspect that it takes a certain type of organisaational setup or organisational culture to be open to openess (so to speak)...

In the OPAL project we have already analysed 8 dimensions of open eductaional practices. We asume that oeganisation who display a certain configuration of these characteristics are suited to deal with openess in such a productive way that they are developing their quality automatically because they constantly are exposed to external validation from other stakeholders.

Will keep you posted,

Ulf

Gráinne Conole
1:09pm 8 June 2010


I've added a link to a recent article where I talk about the policy/research/practice intervention framework I mentioned above.

Ulf Ehlers
1:10pm 8 June 2010


Hi  Chris!

Thanks -. for poiting out the importance of sharing practices. Actuall this is where OER and OEP are parting ways.... It is a matter of resource sharing if you want to go OER but it is a mater of reflection if you want to share a practices of teaching, learning or organisational growth.

Another issue: What is quality...? I think the answer you give is right - but the question is wrong. Because with quality the problem lies not only in the defition but in the process of achieving it. In an open educational practice envirionment I would say that all stakeholders have to enter into a negotiationg process to share their expectations and their constraints and then can develop together what is fitting to their needs. And that is a bloody hard thing to do in an everyday educational practices situation.

Don't you think?

 

Ulf

Ulf Ehlers
1:15pm 8 June 2010


Dear Giselle,

thank you for sharing this insight! I could not agree more.
Of course we are alrerady always using materials prepared by  others. Nothing new therefore.

Now - open eductaional practices has another notion to it. it is using something from others - and doing it in a way that quality of educational exeriences is raised. How does that sound?

probably this would put more stress to teacher's minds because actually now it is up to them to see if there is imporvement potential when reusing oter's learning materials.

On another note - the changing learners you mention are also pressuring in the direction of changing teachers roles, no?

Ulf

 

Giselle Ferreira
4:51pm 8 June 2010


Hi Ulf - thank you for a fascinating discussion!

I was trying to say that, what seems to me to be the 'novelty' and, hence, a source of stress, in the OER/OEP scene is in the O: 'open' and 'openness' (partly also in the technologies that are enabling/fostering this to be conceived in the first place!). I think there's a lot to be thought, discussed and clarified regarding 'openness' and what it means to be 'open', particularly when the ideological bases of education are buried under business 'realities' as they seem to be more and more...

So your question regarding how an 'open policy can be lived within' institutions, which Tina highlighted, is fundamental, but I wonder if a focus on policy is the necessary and sufficient way to foster 'openness'?

The issue of 'quality' is also very interesting, but I'm inclined to think that this is strongly linked to context (though I don't think 'stuff' is ever neutral, with OER fitting the bill of 'stuff' here) and, so, I totally agree with your suggestion that the question is somehow 'wrong' if we look for a one-size-fits-all answer. In this vein, I don't know about 'improvement potential' as 'improvement' is relative to a particular situation - so I'm more inclined to think that everything has 'adaptation potential'. Even 'exemplars of perfection' for me have this latter potential -  like J. S. Bach's music, which has been mashed-up and remixed to create further excellent stuff, though, admittedly, not to everyone's taste, but there you go! ;-)

Yet, I don't quite see that OER/OEP places extra pressure on teachers in the way you seem to be describing - isn't it the job of teachers to be critical and selective with their resources to help them create valuable learning experiences in the first place?

I do believe that the relationship between teaching and learning (and teachers and learners) is beginning to suffer major changes, even though it's still unbalanced inasmuch as teachers are still the main assessors and validators of learning experiences.

Sandra Schaffert
6:28pm 8 June 2010


Dear Ulf, colleagues,

from my perspective, the challenge to assure "good" OER is not as important as the fact, that the implementation of OER seems to be a good driver and motivator to work on the quality of self-produced or -modified OER or (at least) to serve as a inspiring source for better teaching.  For example, the videos of Walter Lewin (even if its not OER in the most often defined way) are SOO great - and you have to have a heart of stone if this would not influence your work as a teacher of physics.

Best wishes,

Sandra

 

Olufemi Olubodun
4:08am 9 June 2010


Dear Ulf,

Your intro is indeed very detailed but I think there is need to consider the education society. I mean those I want to call the stakeholders. Those that sponsor education in private initiatives like establishment of private Universities, strong opinion leaders that help shape policies on education etc. This kind of people may not exist in every society but where they do they have very strong influence on what become the practice in an education system. OER implementation and acceptance will be partly determined by this people. I think they deserve a mention. OER in developing countries is yet to take root as technology that drives it is yet to gain wide acceptance. In my country Nigeria with over a hundred Universities do not have one of them that have fully integrated ICT in its curricular so how do you expect OER to be understood by the administrators of these Universities. I must say efforts are in top gear to get that done but pace of progress is indeed slow.

I believe in OER as an approach to creating freedom of   knowledge flow and transfer of quality practice across international boundaries. I believe it will make knowledge available rather than reside in some so called professors who are regarded as custodian of knowledge.It take a large heart to operate OER in our environment where educators still hold tightly to what they know, unwilling to share. University of Cape Town in South Africa is leading this in Africa and I think none in Nigeria despite her place in Africa continent.

Let me rest my case here and thanks for the opportunity to air my views on this.

Olufemi

Ulf Ehlers
8:44am 13 June 2010


@ Olufemi: Thank you for your contribution! I think that you describe the situation in some African Countries very well. Having just been back from the eLearning Africa and now with my hands in full work for proposal writing with a Cameroonian and an East African University Consortiums, I understood that colleagues from African countries more and more go on a dual track.

1) While they realise that ICT is a necessary condition, they also see that Africa with its mobile revolution might not take the same root down the 'equipment path' than the 'stationary computer countries' (may I say so?) did. 

2) More and more the issue of pedagogical practice and organisational culture is coming to the foreground. In a recent keynote at eLearning Africa Shafika Isaacs emphasized that experimentation now is key in her country and the coutnries she is advising. Whilte not everything is in place it becomes already visible how much work has to be done underneath the layer of technology.

The message was: Let's not wait until perfect technology is in place - let's see how openess and ICT is challenging our educational practices, values and beliefs and learn from it.

Also - what we were impressed by African colleagues is the creativity in which they are often implementing OERs in their institutions. I remeber the case of A HE institution in Mozambique who does not have internet access, but who decided to collect and organised all materials from professors and lecturers and burn a CD ROM of the entire course materials which they sold to their students.  They had impressive feedback.

What do you think?

Ulf

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