On the map: towards a multidimensional understanding of Open Educational Practices

Havemann, Leo and Marsh, J. Dawn (2018). On the map: towards a multidimensional understanding of Open Educational Practices. In: OER18: Open to All - 9th annual conference for Open Education research, practice and policy, 18-19 Apr 2018, Bristol, UK, Association for Learning Technology.

URL: https://oer18.oerconf.org/sessions/on-the-map-towa...


In the context of contemporary higher education, the concept of Open Education has come to be closely associated with technology-enabled approaches, particularly the creation, sharing and repurposing of Open Educational Resources (OER), and the development and facilitation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). However, today's Open Education Movement (OEM) partakes of a longer tradition of opening activities which have sought to extend access to the transformative benefits of education and knowledge. Educational openness, therefore, takes a variety of forms, and the meaning of "open" can best be understood as contextual, contingent and situated.

Openness, in the context of OER, resides in the application of an open, permissive license that enables access, reuse and remixing. The openness of open courses, conversely, can be understood as chiefly a question of unrestricted enrolment or participation. In the last decade, the term Open Educational Practices (OEP) has gained currency, in association with attempts to both a) recognize that resources do not emerge without practices and practitioners, and b) broaden the conversation about openness beyond resources, licenses, and technology. Yet, whereas a resource can be open via a license, it is less obvious how a practice is classified as open (or not-open). The invocation of the term open problematically suggests a contrast with its binary other, closed, or perhaps that a continuum exists between these two extremes. Yet, if we accept that different forms of practice are open in different ways, then a continuum model is also inadequate.

This session reports on experiences of leading a series of workshops in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, in which participants were asked to explore the multidimensionality of openness. The activity draws upon an existing mapping exercise based upon White and Le Cornu's work on digital "visitors and residents" (V&R). In the original V&R mapping activity, the two axes labeled Visitor-Resident and Personal-Institutional are placed on the page, creating four quadrants, and participants are then asked to consider in which quadrant(s) their own digital practices are located. For the 'axes of open' mapping, participants examine microcases of OEP and consider in what senses these are open or closed. Two axes are used, with one labeled Closed-Open and the other left unlabelled, as the core goal of the workshop is to provoke debate about what the other dimension of openness might be.

This session will provide an overview of how the workshop was conducted and discuss the outcomes of the initial series of workshops. Of these outcomes, the most significant is the irreducibility of openness in an OEP context, as no consensus was reached about the nature of the other axis. A wide range of possibilities have surfaced, and in turn, stimulated a wider discussion about diversity and criticality in the Open Education space.

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