Sunday, January 21, 2018

UNESCO Experience V What it is like back in a Scottish College #oer18

Presentation from OER Policy Forum Warsaw June  2017

Those of you that know me,  know I've wandered around both the practical doing things landscape in  many sectors of education and the more reflective shaping and writing policy landscape too, this mainly around the vocational and assessment areas.

The former in Scotland at least can be easier.

If there is not a big sign saying don't do this, I think that gives anyone permission to innovate and experiment. It is a view that I wish more folks working in education and learning would take.  But, too many wait at the institutional or national policy bus stop before setting off in any direction. I think some are worried about setting off in the wrong direction but depressingly many more are still waiting in some queue to seek permission to innovate.

I'll return to that metaphor.

Policy making sounds good, you can influence policy and you may actually be able to change things. The  first part can be fun in the planning,  but often the planning is killed off at the drafting stage as both the other policy makers and the constituencies they serve can be very cautious, conservative with a small c .  What about the unintended consequences? better to do nothing !, is too often the mantra.

'Sorry, we are too busy;  creating frameworks for educational content procurement , dealing with chronic underfunding , the impact of Brexit on education , figuring out what narrowing the attainment gap actually means, creating a new funding formula for a system with ever diminishing resources, creating new models for educational leadership  etc etc...very often simply repeatedly attempting to change the system with the very same toolkit that has failed to change the system in the past.

When you propose !

' Imagine we mandated that schools , colleges , universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public sector, were obliged to share their materials with a sensible open licence. It could be useful for learners and it is  not a unique notion, it is what UNESCO is trying to embed in global education'

You don't get much notice from policy makers,  even direct approaches to successive education ministers don't make much headway, beyond polite and supportive acknowledgements,  though thankfully Open Scotland continues to attract both a grassroots following and a great deal of interest internationally - thanks in a very large part to my co-founder Lorna Campbell and support from ALT.

When you stress UNESCO say that schools , colleges , universities and indeed anyone creating learning materials in the public should be obliged to share these and there is an expectation that there is an identifiable national policy position. You get a bit more notice.  But policy for schools , colleges and universities is actually quite dispersed below the ministerial brief and no one has a brief to look at open education in the round, they are all in school , college , higher education and vocational silos. It is even actually quite hard to get anyone to respond to UNESCO officially from within the administration on Open Education, weeks pass as documents move from intray to intray.

Open Education is a new area and no-one in government really knows what it means in the UK and this is simply mirrored within the Scottish administration.

That is why #OER18 and the community around it is so important.

Now I am back in a College and following my mantra - I am just going to push things on.

At the moment we have all the usual learning tech tools ; a VLE, a plagiarism checker , a couple of e-portfolio systems , nationally ill defined competencies for staff and learners around digital capacities and lots of conflicting priorities.

Open educational resources are just part of open educational practice and perhaps a much bigger open and closed societal change,  there isn't a stop sign , so I will just push on . The vehicle I am going to use is called Citylearning4.0 I know lots of my network across the UK and Internationally will help us on our journey . I'll leverage the #oer community , ALT , JISC, the Wikimedia Foundation   and many other networks as we make the changes that will help learners across Glasgow and beyond.

And through Open Scotland we'll keep lobbying to get the national policy bus to head in a new open direction and most importantly, we will get everyone on board.

If you are a newbee to #OER18 - start learning to be an open practitioner and carry the message back to your institution and to your national policy makers.


Dr Vivien Rolfe said...

HI Joe - thanks for this super post. Sometimes I don't know which way to turn but you are right - 'just pushing on' and changing our individual practice is a great starting point. We can all make our lives easier and help our students reap the benefits. In my past research I did note that some staff do need 'permission' and senior management buy-in. Others just get stuck in. A great mantra to spread at #OER18.

Unknown said...

Dear colleague, we're interested in #OER18 too
I see it's very important because we could transform (change) our reality
Best regards

Unknown said...

Thank you, it's important for us too

Unknown said...

Tatyana and thank you too - the levers for this change in practice are multinational ones - learning as we know is without borders. I am preparing a session for #oer19 and depressingly not much has changed in policy landscape in Scotland .