Open education: sustainability versus vulnerability #oer15

Just returned from an outstanding two days at OER15 in Cardiff (Tues 14 – Wed 15th April 2015). The theme was ‘mainstreaming’ OER and one of my talks looked at the sustainability and impact of the open education projects I was involved in as part of the HEFCE-funded UKOER programme (2009 – 2012). Six years on, where are these projects?

OER Impact

My video shows the main points of the above image.

1) The impact of projects continues to grow and sustained some 6 years after the launch of the initial project (which was VAL in 2008/9. SCOOTER followed and then did BIOLOGY COURSES).

2) Staff practice has dramatically changed – for those originally involved, open is part of what they do, and open practices and use of resources has crept across the faculty and is adopted by new staff coming in.

3) The void is around institutional practices. Circumstances were such that two project champions (myself and another) left the university. Change in senior management and other reorganisation probably has resulted in some of the loss of traction of these initial conversations.

4) ‘Open’ was embedded within learning and teaching strategy, but the question is, how to make this real? How to turn words into action for institutions?

OER sustainability versus vulnerability.

I suppose this goes for any innovation or new practice, it takes time, investment, enthusiasm and effort to embed and sustain. However this can quickly become vulnerable for the reasons in the next image.

OER sustainability

What next?

I liked the ideas presented by Martin Weller in his keynote (see YouTube video). Martin was talking about mainstreaming OER, and that we are almost on the verge of victory. But progress is not about the big event and initial victory. History is made, or innovations embed and sustain only following a series of events and victories. That is what I see in our UKOER projects at De Montfort University. Yes, it was all about the big events – we had so much fun, students had fun, we made new collaborations – but the subsequent victories are contributing to what is becoming a changed faculty.

I’ve left the conference with growing concerns regarding the roles of ‘champions’ and will seek to explore this in a future blog.



5 thoughts on “Open education: sustainability versus vulnerability #oer15

  1. Pingback: Navigating across boundaries: openness in higher education #OER15 | catherinecronin

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  3. Interesting
    What’s the financial model behind open education?
    Who’s paying what to whom?

    I understand that open education is not the same as having open educational resources, is it?

    • Hi Ronald – sorry for my slow response. Open education best work when it becomes part of ‘what we do’. As I make teaching materials to put on Blackboard, it takes no more time to share them openly. Of course, for large scale initiatives – open textbooks, clearly investment is required. But once established, again, I’d see the textbook model as part of learning and teaching practice.

      Open education is a broader term isn’t it – practices, philosophies, whereas the OERs and textbooks are some of the tools.

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