OERs across sectors

The Synthesis and Support team were keen to facilitate a meeting for UKOER phase 2 projects with an FE focus or with FE partners. We  wanted to ensure that such a meeting would provide a space for projects to share initial findings, issues and positive approaches at this stage of the programme. The team were also keen to ensure that this might be the start of a broader conversation across the programme about OERs across all sectors – HE, FE, work and independent learning. We feel that it it would be helpful to tease out the specific sectoral challenges and issues as well as identifying synergies and potential linkages across the sectors.

We held the meeting on 12th April as one of the regular online Elluminate meetings and asked projects to offer some slides highlighting the following:

  • three challenges that are specific to FE
  • three things that seem to work in FE
  • take-home message for other projects working with FE

Four project teams offered slides and these stimulated some great discussion highlighting both differences and similarities between HE and FE focussed projects. We have created a page on the OER Infokit which draws together the slides and resulting blog posts. This page will hopefully be a place we can keep the conversation alive. We were pleased to have particpation from every strand and the audience also included projects from the HE sector who revealed an openess to learning from the FE sector. We also invited Chris Kelland from the Learning Skills Improvement Service who highlighted the Excellence Gateway, which some HE based projects had been unaware of. The session proved to be an excellent start to an ongoing conversation and seemed to be very timely, as projects have enough experience to understand the issues and could also share their approaches taken so far.

We have produced a list of bullet points as a summary of the session on the OER Infokit. here are some of the points that I personally found very interesting:

  • The issue of professional identity – and the challenges for staff caught between two cultures with the increasing HE in FE provision. This is clearly not just an OER related issue but one for the sector in general, and it also seems to be an opportunity to consider the differences and synergies. I think there would be value in investigating this more. The CSAP Open Cascade Project (one of those that  presented) have since written a very interesting blog post about power relationships which takes it beyond the discussions we had during the session – well worth a read.
  • Another interesting blog post from the Learning from WOeRK project (focussing on professional development in the workplace) illustrates the openness to learn from the HE in FE experience. The synergies in relation to workplace and employer involvement was very apparent and deserves more consideration as projects produce guidance and support materials, as well as OERs. Involvement of employers was identified as an academic imperative. I particularly liked this quote from the Educational Development Open Resources (EDOR) project.

“There is considerable experience in HE in FE- it has grown up and a signature Pedagogy is emerging that supports curricula that involves employers as academic imperatives and is delivered increasingly through a blended and/or WBL format”

  • The emphasis on teaching and student satisfaction is definately an area that I think HE could learn from, as well as the FE experience of providing for a wide range of ‘non-traditional’ learners – such as work-based learners, or students who find it challenging to access post 16 education.
  • Management culture in FE was identified as a possible challenge in that it could be inflexible, but it also emerged as a strength if senior management were very supportive of OER initiatives
  • Staff and student OER literacies were discussed and clearly cross all sectoral boundaries – but of particular interest is the notion of students as producers of content. This was investigated to some extent in the pilot phase of the programme but the SPACE project (also one of the presenting projects) based at Doncaster College is doing this with FE students – so definately one to watch.

This is already a very long post so I’ll leave space for my colleagues to add their thoughts…

I very much hope to keep the conversation alive!