Open educational practices – what do we mean?

To conclude our posts for open education week, I’ve been asked to introduce our new briefing paper on open educational practices.

I think we’ve been talking about open practices since the pilot phase of UK OER – you can find it in some of our recommendations. When we set out, I for one had the idea of a perfectly formed OER as openly licensed, self-contained, professionally tagged with educational metadata, and probably hosted in an open repository. Very quickly it was clear that open release would be messier and more interesting than that. OERs were caught up in a host of other emerging practices, such as guiding students to freely available content (with open licensing being only one way of judging value), or using third party services to support students outside of institutional learning environments. The people who were  interested in making open content had other open agendas too, some of them very radical.

One problem with tracing the links between open practices is that they tend to be ‘owned’ by different agencies. Even within JISC there are fascinating developments in open education at large, in open access publishing, and in open research data management, that I am only just finding out about. Can we build better connections? The Curriculum Delivery programme has reported on new pedagogical models in which open content makes good sense, while the Curriculum Design programme aims to make design teams more effective and collaborative – couldn’t high quality OERs be of some help here??

Finally, I’m interested in how ‘open’ embodies a different set of values for different people. Other members of the team have pointed out to me that open learning is not the same beast as open education. And our work with earlier phases of the programme confirmed that different stakeholders have very different perceptions of benefit and risk. It’s important to acknowledge the complexity of the open landscape and I hope our new briefing sheds a little light. Do also head over to where Amber Thomas has collated some  visualisations of the wider open education landscape. And please comment!

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