Open education
Open education

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Open education

1.5 Priorities of openness

Over the next two weeks you will look at one of the most prevalent, and successful, interpretations of what open education means, namely open education resources (OER). This is the process whereby universities, institutions and individuals make their learning content freely available. These can be whole courses, parts of a course, lecture notes, video lectures and so on. The key characteristics are that these learning materials are free to use and have a copyright licence that encourages reuse. We will be looking at OER and different types of licence in more detail but for now it is sufficient to think of OER as freely available learning content from universities or other providers.

Much of the research around open education has been derived from the OER movement. A number of key questions have arisen, which can apply to most aspects of open education, including:

  • Sustainability – many OER projects have received initial funding from organisations such as the Hewlett Foundation. How sustainable are they after the funding stops?
  • Pedagogy – are different ways of teaching required to make effective use of open education?
  • Barriers to uptake – what prevents individuals or institutions from either using or engaging with open education?
  • Learner support – how can learners best be supported in these open models?
  • Technology – what technologies are best suited to open approaches?
  • Quality – how can we assure the quality of open educational content?
  • Rights – how do we protect the intellectual property of individuals while encouraging wide distribution?

During this course you will engage with these questions for different aspects of open education.

Activity 4: Identifying priorities for research

Timing: 3–4 hours

Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education.

  • Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list.

In this activity you are just expected to start thinking about these issues, and to use your own experience and intuition; you are not expected to research them in depth. You will build on this work during next week, and also for the assignment.

After creating your list of priorities, consider the following questions, which will give you some ideas as we move into the second week of the course:

  1. Do you feel some issues would be more easily solved than others?
  2. What would be effective ways to address some of the priorities listed?
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