Earlier this year at the #cetis14 conference in Bolton we
were set the task of being from an imaginary country and setting out the case
for a national policy on open educational resources around the lines of the
Unesco Open Education Declaration . I did a similar presentation at the College Development Network last week.
When you ask most folks if they are prepared to put their hands up for the kind of change that is needed you get a great response - when you ask the next question about who is prepared to lead or start the change that is needed - the hands stay down.
Here were some of the use cases I
Some might see some parallels with real places and people but of
course this is purely co-incidental. This is an imaginary country with fictional
If I were a teacher in my imaginary
county I would expect a lot of regular open online CPD especially from some of
the other institutions that often knock standards in schools . I'd like
teaching resources I can repurpose for my learners . If we start with a shopping
list then principally in areas where human knowledge is moving fast and
curriculum is changing .. areas like the Human Genome , HTML5 perhaps how to set
up and use a 3D printers but list could really extend into most subject areas
I do acknowledge that I can already get a lot of these materials from
the open web but it would be great if local colleges and universities could do
more to help me and my learners particularly as I've just been asked to look at
ways of delivering more vocationally relevant programmes. How could colleges and
employers help me here with relevant open materials ?
I'd like to to be
able to take and repurpose for my pupils some chunks of the massive open online
course I dropped out of as it was running over a period when I had a full
timetable. I need asynchronous access to these resources.
At the moment this looks as though it is not possible as the
licensing of the MOOC materials prevents me from using chunks of the courses with my
I'd be keen too to embed a relevant MOOC in my classroom
teaching but I am not sure how this will be regarded by my managers. Will they
think I am redundant ?
I'd also like to be free to share any learning
materials I develop openly with both other teachers and learners and not be
constrained by a contract that does not allow me to share learning materials
with colleagues , beyond my school , beyond my local authority , with
institutions or individuals that are not schools, or beyond national
I am not sure if anyone other than my employers realise that this
is currently a major constraint on enabling the sharing of learning materials
I'd like some more information about Creative Commons licensing so I
can share materials non commercially and still receive appropriate attribution.
Ok let's look to an other sector ...
The major employer
am the CEO of a major company that specialises in .. Take your pick .
Engineering , Telecommunications , Hospitality, computing, customer care etc .
We spend millions of pounds a year on the training of staff mainly, we claim,
repairing the damage that has been done in schools , colleges and universities
. I'd be keen to open up some of our training resources, they are online
already . I can't get anyone in educational establishment to speak to me ? Why
is this the case ?
The school pupil
I am school pupil I am not
sure what I want to do when I leave school . I have had lots of information
describing lots of different occupations and courses, but I'd really like to try
some of these courses before I commit to studying something for the next three
or four years . Where can I experience some of the courses that are not taught
in schools ..what is involved in pharmacy , marketing , Webdesign , this could be a
What is the difference between the maths I do now and maths
for engineering or computing ? . I can already sample some of this by looking at
materials from a range of international institutions but there is not much
experiential material available from my local college or university available on
the web ? Why not ?
The school library has not bought any new resources
for the last five years and we use 10 year old textbooks in class that are held
together by wallpaper book covers.
I know there are a lot of other free
resources on the web but they seem to come mostly from other countries and a lot
of the really useful stuff still seems filtered out in school.
the online skills to do an online course but the school only offers classroom
based programmes. I'd like to do some computing courses but our school does not have a computing teacher.
I am an academic who despairs at
the decline in standards in numeracy , literacy , computational thinking ,
problem solving , teaching etc ... I regularly vent my anxieties to the
national media . Though surrounded by experts and lots of materials that could
support learners in schools , colleges and informal learning I have not
figured out a way to fulfil my social responsibility beyond a once a year
public lecture and the occasional column in the times educational supplement
criticising the education system.
I do publish articles in a well known
global social science journal but as the annual subscription fees are £15,000
these articles don't attract a broad readership, beyond my own and the 5 other
reputable elite UK university libraries that subscribe to this journal.
deeply suspicious of the open research agenda. Why would anyone ever give away
anything ? I'm thinking about doing a Ted talk but only if they pay me my usual fee.
We do a MOOC a year funded from our marketing budget to attract high
fee paying international students Openness is just a fad that will pass .
The Adult learner
I am an
adult over the age of 24 sometimes in a low paid job and sometimes out of work .
My shift patterns and other family commitments prevent me engaging with
education beyond occasionally dipping into Wikipedia and YouTube . I am looking
for some flexible online ways I can update my skills but I can only ever find
stuff that is for university graduates or foreign stuff.
I am a senior civil servant . I've signed the official secrets act
so I am really very uncomfortable with sharing anything . The freedom of
information act has honed my skills in redacting anything whatsoever that a
member of the public might find useful . Open is already a minefield
professionally and more openness in Education could, we've been advised by our
external legal advisors, only be dealt with on a case by case basis , any
materials, to be made open would need to be scanned by our legal team page by
page at a great cost . I've advised the minister that this area is highly
controversial and we better take a lead on this from our biggest and richest
institutions .Whatever they suggest, after a few years research, we will then
have a look into.
I can see some real benefits in schools , colleges and
universities sharing learning materials but I am really not sure that they
should be sharing these learning materials with anyone else . Above all, no-one
wants the blame if some of these open materials are not very good . If we open
things up then the public and the press will see what schools , colleges and
universities give to their learners. That might create some misunderstandings.
I am sure this could strike a few harmonious chords perhaps even
some discordant ones. These are purely imaginary barriers.
I used each of the cases above to make a case for
some open educational policy driven at government level to encourage open
practice at institutional and individual level across life long learning It is what prompted the authoring of http://declaration.openscot.net/
and I have great hopes that http://oepscotland.org/
will push things on.
We need to create the next generation of open institutions and of
open practitioners and it's not just a fetish for learning content.
next generation of learners will be designing their own courses ,repurposing and
developing their own learning content .. but that is another post.