RCOER17: Embrace different perspectives of openness

RCOER17: Embrace different perspectives of openness

Next week I will attend a European consultation meeting to prepare the upcoming OER World Congress organised by UNESCO and COL. Since the last OER congress was in 2012, I think it is a very good idea to assess the developments from 2012 until now and to define a shared vision and agenda for stakeholders involved in open education. Reading the background document (pdf!) of the regional consultations I was surprised to see that recent developments around MOOCs are not getting attention in the report and that focus is only on open educational resources and open licensing. I have earlier already formulated my worries, that the communities of OER and MOOCs are not working productively together, but that there is a de-facto separation happening and both communities do not embrace the potential strength of the other. The current focus of the consultation meetings seems to contribute to this separation. I have prepared together with members of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) a statement that should serve as input to the meeting (available at the EADTU website).

  1. EADTU, as the European association of leading institutions in online, open and flexible higher education, very much support the positioning of OER in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (#SDG4). EADTU and our members are strongly involved in OER, including re-usable MOOCs, and as such are dedicated to the OER agenda and the successful outcome of 2nd OER World congress in Ljubljana later this year.
  2. EADTU strongly feels that the upcoming OER declaration should be (re-)positioned to the aims of Open Education. I.e. OERs must be seen as instrumental to widen access to higher education for millions of people, including those in the developing world, and ultimately enhance their quality of life. In this context, recommendations on OER, including related educational provision activities, in themselves should be inclusive and support related initiatives that contribute to #SDG4.
  3. While the focus on Open Educational Resources in the initial World Congress was clear, the focus today contributes to a separation of communities. Ignoring the fact that 58 Million participants have followed (massive) open online courses of 700 institutions (Class Central, 2017) just because the resourced were not published under an OER license, strengthens the already existing misalignment and barriers between an OER community on the one hand, and a MOOC community on the other hand. We call for a more inclusive approach to open education that values open resources and open courses despite the difference of approaches. Both approaches contribute to a more accessible (higher) education system.
  4. We appreciate the effort of COL and UNESCO to foster a dialogue between policy- makers to establish national frameworks for OER and MOOCs. To ease the dialogue on a national level and also to include more countries in this process, a stronger evidence base of effects of OER and MOOCs is needed. We call for stronger evidence and joint research to establish this base.
  5. While the availability of OER has steadily increased, the level of reuse and adaptation of OER and also the factors that influence use and adaptation is still unclear. We call for more investment into research that deals with this topic, including quality enhancement of OER and MOOCs.
  6. We propose to widen the focus regarding business models on the whole open- ecosystem and support experimentation and entrepreneurial activities happening in this ecosystem to allow a real co-existence between open content and free services and additional payed content and services.

To allow a more public consultation I have transferred the background document into a GoogleDoc that is open for your comments and suggestions.

CC BY 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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