'Yes, we are open'?: exploring definitions of openness in education

Havemann, Leo (2017). 'Yes, we are open'?: exploring definitions of openness in education. In: ALT-C 2017: Beyond islands of innovation – how Learning Technology became the new norm(al), 5-7 Sep 2017, Liverpool. (Unpublished)

URL: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2017/sessions/yes-we-are-op...


In the evolving landscape of higher education in the UK, the arrival of measurement exercises such as the NSS and now the TEF are contributing to an atmosphere of increasing pressure upon institutions to deliver a satisfying student experience and excellence in teaching. What excellent teaching is, and whether this necessarily increases satisfaction, remains debatable. Meanwhile, within the open education community, there has been discussion of an alternative path to the enhancement of learning and teaching, via the open sharing of teaching resources and practices, and the development of innovative and collaborative pedagogies. Arguably, Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) represent potent opportunities to enhance the quality of teaching, as well as widen access to knowledge (Andrade et al., 2011). Making a case for the opening of resources and practices raises the question of what exactly openness means. Whereas the openness of OER is generally agreed to derive primarily from the application of open licenses to resources, the form of openness implied by the use of the term OEP is more multifaceted and therefore elusive. OEP are consequently more challenging to precisely define. While often closely associated with OER, OEP is also used to refer to forms of collaborative, connected, and networked practices that are not necessarily resource-based (Cronin, 2017; Havemann, 2016; Masterman, 2016; Nascimbeni & Burgos, 2016). While there are persuasive arguments for the adoption of OEP by teaching staff, it seems their enthusiasm may be dampened by perceptions (not necessarily inaccurate) that this would require new skillsets, create additional labour, or lack recognition and reward (Atenas et al., 2014). Yet, it also remains the case that there are educators who share their work and show their processes, who engage with networked communities, and who involve students in the development of open resources in assessment tasks. These activities can be characterised as open, but are open in a variety of ways. For the purposes of this workshop, the term OEP is understood inclusively, as working with open content and/or 'in the open'. The workshop will take the form of a group-based mapping exercise, asking participants to locate forms of educational activity on an openness continuum, across multiple dimensions. This exercise will act as a provocation for a whole-group discussion exploring whether practices can be truly closed or open, and what is therefore achievable through claiming practices for openness.

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