The need for Open Educational Practices policies to transform Australian higher education

Bossu, Carina and Stagg, A (2017). The need for Open Educational Practices policies to transform Australian higher education. In: Proceedings of the 2017 ODLAA conference, 5-7 Feb 2017, Melbourne, Australia, Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia, p. 1.



Open Educational Practices (OEP) have been playing an important role in assisting higher education sectors and governments worldwide to meet their current and future educational targets in widening participation, lowering costs, improving the quality of learning and teaching and promoting social inclusion and participatory democracy. However, OEP is a relatively new approach to learning and teaching and therefore many questions regarding how to adequately support OEP remain unanswered. In order to pilot and leverage OEP initiatives, many countries have attempted to trial, develop, and implement educational policies that incorporate and recognise OEP activities and programs.

In Australia, there have been some important OEP developments across the higher education sector. Following an international push for 'opening up' education and the growing number of OEP initiatives worldwide, some universities in Australia have embarked on the this journey via various institutional and collaborative projects, as well as through government funded ones. In less than a decade, the scope of OEP in higher education in Australia has expanded, influencing learning and teaching.

There have also been some developments at government level. These federal initiatives have been mostly focused on encouraging government agencies to adopt open source software and to publish government documents and reports under an open license. There is also a strong emphasis on making available publically funded research outputs and data through open access. Today, most Australian universities have an open access repository where research data and outputs from government funded projects are made available, typically using open licenses, including Creative Common licenses. In addition, major research funding bodies have also responded positively to the government position on open access and have encouraged these practices through their own regulations (Picasso & Phelan, 2014).

These developments at the national level have certainly advanced open access in Australia. These initiatives are equivalent to other global open access practices, notably those in the UK, the US, Canada and across the European Union. Unfortunately, these Australian federal initiatives are not focused on increasing access to education and educational resources. Currently, Australia does not have a specific program, framework, policy or regulation that supports the adoption of open educational resources and practices in higher education (Bossu, Brown, & Bull, 2014). Meanwhile, in the countries mentioned above, open access policies have evolved to incorporate national policies and frameworks for OEP.

Despite an articulated national priority focus, a small number of commissioned reports and research projects have been funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching to investigate and develop OEP across the sector. These have included the "2016 Higher Education Standards in a Disaggregated Learning Environment" Fellowship Report (, the "Student, universities and open education" project in 2015 (, and the "Adoption, use and management of Open Educational Resources to enhance teaching and learning in Australia" published in 2014 (₁₆₈₇BossuReport2014.pdf). All of these reports strongly lobby for OEP intervention, support, and policy development at national level. However, the Australian government has failed to commit to, or acknowledge the recommendations in educational policy, despite funding the research.

This paper will further aggregate, discuss, and analyse existing research, documentation, policies and artefacts available nationally and internationally as an attempt to provide a framework in the form of a white paper. The paper will include policy recommendations for OEP implementation at national level in Australia. During the conference presentation, the authors will invite the audience and other potential stakeholders to initiate a Community of Practice in OEP that will actively promote, lobby, and recommend OEP developments in Australia.

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