Activity 5: Are OER both open and innovative?

For me, innovation works with creativity to produce new ideas and solutions that meet the current and future needs of learners.  Innovation is transformative and will undoubtedly introduce change for our learners and our educational establishments.

In terms of my definition of innovation I would judge OpenLearn as being part of a tool kit which helps build creativity and innovation. OpenLearn has been able to build its resources upon existing work of the OU (and its reputation as a market leader in providing quality graduates).  OpenLearn created an open source learning environment which offered a chance for self-study embedded within a supporting site, rather than just a transfer of materials.  These self-study materials became ‘Learning Objects’ (Rehak and Mason, 2003) and as Ilich (1971) envisioned enabled students to gain access to any educational resource which may help them to define and achieve their own goals. Together these provided opportunities for students to work unrestricted alongside peers of similar or slightly advanced skills allowing individuals to improve their own performance and taking them through their Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky).  In 1995 Brunner spoke of a world where learners can act directly and interact with others as this could help provide the ideal cross-over from the restricted models of teacher-based education to more independent and holistic approaches.  OER needs to contain transformational elements which have educational merit and openness has offered a way to respond to this constructively.

 I believe the key challenges faced by the OER movement will come through meeting the future needs of learners and this we know is unknown.  There is a growing global demand for education as the world is changing at a fast pace.  What is being taught in school at present may not support our workforce of the future and it is not always relevant for a workforce to return to formal education to update or learn new skills.  The OER movement must continue to develop its capacity across the globe through its technological infrastructure which includes attracting researchers to a platform which will provide them with as much credit for sharing and publishing their papers and articles as that provided by academic journals.
OER challenge conventional assumptions about paying for further education because from the outset they are fee free.  They do not however provide the higher education module certificate that employers may require as entry requirements.  Participation in OER projects such as MITx and Futurelearn offer participants the option of paying for certificates of completion/participation and perhaps we now need to look at the knowledge and skills obtained by participation in these projects and how they meet the needs of employers looking to update the knowledge and skills of their workforce.  This of course will have a negative effect on possible future take-up of university modules by employers and thus reduce the income and capacity of universities.


We are working towards demand-pull learning where the learning shifts focus to enabling participants to ‘learn to be’ through enculturation into practice along with collateral learning.  This new learning environment will provide access to rich (OER supported) learning communities which may be virtual.  Learning will be motivated through the student’s needs and wants and will be informal, reflective and will develop through working with others in a shared learning environment.

References:

McAndrew, Patrick and Farrow, Robert (2013). Open education research: from the practical to the theoretical.  In: McGreal, Rory; Kinuthia, Wanjira and Marshall, Stewart eds. Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice. Vancouver, Canada: Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University, pp 65-78.

Seely Brown, John and Adler, Richard, P. (2008). Minds on Fire.  Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no.1, pp. 16-32; also available online at http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0811.pdf (last accessed on 8 February 2016)

 

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