5.1 The Concept of Open Educational Practices (OEP)
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The first lesson aims to fully understand what OEP means, making sure that you can make the best out of your use of OER in your daily practice. Making your resources open, for example by applying a Creative Commons license to your material, does not in fact automatically mean that you are adopting Open Educational Practices.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Open Educational Practices are the next phase in OER development which will see a shift from a focus on resources to a focus on open educational practices being a combination of open resources use and open learning architectures to transform learning into 21st century learning environments in which universities’, adult learners and citizens are provided with opportunities to shape their lifelong learning pathways in an autonomous and self-guided way.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Two definitions of OEP are proposed:
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- The Open Educational Quality (OPAL) Initiative defines Open Educational Practices as “the use of Open Educational Resources to raise the quality of education and training and innovate educational practices on institutional, professional and individual level”.
- The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) states that “Open Educational Practices are defined as practices which support the production, use and reuse of high quality open educational resources (OER) through institutional policies, which promote innovative pedagogical models, and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path”.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The Implications of “open” for course and program design: towards a paradigm shift
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Although in recent years MOOCs have been receiving most of the media attention, we believe that developments in Open Educational Resources, Open Textbooks, Open Research and Open Data will be far more important than MOOCs and far more revolutionary. Here are some reasons why:
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 a) Nearly all content will be free and open.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 1 Eventually most academic content will be easily accessible and freely available through the Internet – for anyone. This could well mean a shift in power from teachers and instructors to students. Students will no longer be dependent particularly on instructors as their primary source of content. Already some students are skipping lectures at their local institution because the teaching of the topic is better and clearer on OpenCourseWare, MOOCs or the Khan Academy. If students can access the best lectures or learning materials for free from anywhere in the world, including the leading Ivy League universities, why would they want to get content from a middling instructor at their university? What is the added value that this instructor is providing for their students? There are good answers to this question, but it means considering very carefully how content will be presented and shaped by a teacher or instructor that makes it uniquely different from what students can access elsewhere. For research professors, this may include access to their latest, as yet unpublished, research; for other instructors, it may be their unique perspective on a particular topic, and for others, a unique mix of topics to provide an integrated, inter-disciplinary approach. What will not be acceptable to most students is repackaging of ‘standard’ content that can easily be found elsewhere on the Internet and at a higher quality.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Furthermore, if we look at knowledge management as one of the key skills needed in a digital age, it may be better to enable students to find, analyze, evaluate and apply content than for instructors to do it for them. If most content is available elsewhere, what students will look for increasingly from their local institutions is support with their learning, rather than the delivery of content. This means directing them to appropriate sources of content, helping when students are struggling with concepts, and providing opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and to develop and practice skills. It means giving prompt and relevant feedback as and when students need it. Above all, it means creating a rich learning environment in which students can study. It means moving teaching from information transmission to knowledge management, from selecting, structuring and delivering content to learner support.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Thus for most students within their university or college (with the possible exception of the most advanced research universities) the quality of the learning support will eventually matter more than the quality of content delivery, which they can get from anywhere. This is a major challenge for instructors who see themselves primarily as content experts.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 b) Modularisation
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 1 The creation of Open Educational Resources, either as small learning objects but increasingly as short ‘modules’ of teaching, from anywhere between five minutes to one hour of material, and the increasing diversification of markets, is beginning to result in two of the key principles of OER being applied, re-used and re-mixed. In other words, the same content, available in an openly accessible digital form, may be integrated into a range of different applications, and/or combined with other OER to create a single teaching module, course or program
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 The Ontario government, through its online course development fund, is encouraging institutions to create OER. As a result, several universities have brought together faculty within their own institution but working in different departments that teach the same area of content (for example, statistics) to develop ‘core’ OER that can be shared between departments. The logical next step would be for statistics faculty across the Ontario system to get together and develop an integrated set of OER modules on statistics that would cover substantial parts of the statistics curriculum. Working together would have the following benefits: a) higher quality by pooling resources (two subject expert heads are better than one, combined with support from instructional designers and web producers); b) more OER than one instructor or institution could produce; c) subject coherence and lack of duplication and d) more likelihood of faculty in one institution using materials created in another if they have had input to the selection and design of the OER from other institutions.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 As the range and quality of OER increases, instructors (and students) will be able to build curriculum through a set of OER ‘building blocks’. The aim would be to reduce instructor time in creating materials (perhaps focusing on creating their own OER in areas of specific subject or research expertise), and using their time more in supporting student learning than in delivering content.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 c) Disaggregating of services
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Open Education and digitization enable what has tended to be offered by institutions as a complete bundle of services to be split out and offered separately, depending on the market for education and the unique needs of individual learners. Learners will select and use those modules or services that best fit their needs. This is likely to be the pattern for lifelong learners in particular. Some early indications of this process are already occurring, although most of the really significant changes are yet to come.
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 d) Learner support
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Students may have already determined what they want to study through the Internet, such as a MOOC. What they are looking for is help with their studies: how to write assignments, where to look for information, feedback on their work and thinking. They are not necessarily looking for a credit, degree or other qualification, but if they are they will pay for assessment separately. Currently, students pay private tutors for this service. However, it is feasible that institutions could also provide this service, provided that a suitable business model can be built.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 About Open Course Design
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The increasing availability of high quality open content is likely to facilitate the shift from information transmission by the instructor to knowledge management by the learner. Also in a digital age there is a need for greater focus on skills development embedded within a subject domain than on the memorization of content.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The use of OER could enable these developments in a number of ways, such as:
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- a learner-centered teaching approach that focuses on students accessing content on the Internet (and in real life) as part of developing knowledge, skills and competencies defined by the instructor, or learners managing their learning for themselves; however, content would not be restricted to officially approved open educational resources, but to everything on the Internet, because one of the core skills students will need is how to assess and evaluate different sources of information;
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- a consortium of teachers or institutions creating common learning materials within a broader program context, that can be shared both within and outside the consortium. However, not only would the content be freely available, but also the underlying instructional principles, learning outcomes, learner assessment strategies, what learner support is needed, learner activities, and program evaluation techniques, so that other instructors or learners can adapt all this to their own context. This approach is already being taken by the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, to some extent by the UK Open University’s OpenLearn project, the Virtual University of Small States of the Commonwealth and OER Africa.
- These developments are likely to lead to a severe reduction in lecture-based teaching and a move towards more project work, problem-based learning and collaborative learning. It will also result in a move away from fixed time and place written examinations, to more continuous, portfolio-based forms of assessment.
- The role of the instructor then will shift to providing guidance to learners on where and how to find content, how to evaluate the relevance and reliability of content, what content areas are core and what peripheral, and to helping students analyse, apply and present information, within a strong learning design that focuses on clearly defined learning outcomes, particularly with regard to the development of skills. Students will work mainly online and collaboratively, developing multi-media learning artefacts or demonstrations of their learning, managing their online portfolios of work, and editing and presenting selected work for assessment.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Conclusion
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- Despite all the hoopla around MOOCs, they are essentially a dead end with regard to providing learners who do not have adequate access to education with what they want: high quality qualifications. The main barrier to education is not lack of cheap content but lack of access to programs leading to credentials, either because such programs are too expensive, or because there are not enough qualified teachers, or both. Making content free is not a waste of time (if it is properly designed for secondary use), but it still needs a lot of time and effort to integrate it properly within a learning framework.
- Open Educational Resources do have an important role to play in online education, but they need to be properly designed, and developed within a broader learning context that includes the critical activities needed to support learning, such as opportunities for student-instructor and peer interaction, and within a culture of sharing, such as consortia of equal partners and other frameworks that provide a context that encourages and supports sharing. In other words, OER need skill and hard work to make them useful, and selling them as a panacea for education does more harm than good.
- Although open and flexible learning and distance education and online learning mean different things, the one thing they all have in common is an attempt to provide alternative means of high quality education or training for those who either cannot take conventional, campus-based programs, or choose not to.
- Lastly, there are no insurmountable legal or technical barriers now to making educational material free. The successful use of OER does though require a particular mindset among both copyright holders – the creators of materials – and users – teachers and instructors who could use this material in their teaching. Thus the main challenge is the one of cultural change.
- In the end, a well-funded public higher education system remains the best way to assure access to higher education for the majority of the population. Having said that, there is enormous scope for improvements within that system. Open education and its tools offer a most promising way to bring about some much needed improvements.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 1. Using Open Education Practices means:
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 a) Teaching with Open Educational Resources
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 b) Teaching through open and innovative pedagogical models, empowering learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 c) Teaching with the help of technology
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 2. Open Education Practices will lead to:
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 a) the emergence of a few macro universities that will dominate the global Higher Education market;
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 b) an increased modularization and disaggregation of learning services, which are needed to respond to the increasing diversity of learner needs in a digital age
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 c) the multiplication of micro-universities with a high thematic specialisation.
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 3. In the long run, OER and OEP will:
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 a) disappear – as many technological innovations: education will remain as it has always been;
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 b) replace existing formal education systems, who will become outdated for a digital world;
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 c) enhance existing public education systems, which remains the core foundation for enabling equal access to educational opportunities.
This para is a really good summary of the challenges for teaching staff. Student expectations will rise, but there is more opportunity to create unique value by specialising.