Monday, March 16, 2015

Entry 51 IDT1415 - Priorities of Openness (A self reflection)

For this specific activity I would like to imagine that I am advising my current organisation.

The way I would go about it would be by inviting stake holders to a 60min presentation which would give an overview of what Openness Education is (25min with a 5min slot per topic), the 3 priorities for this exercise (10min), what there may be in it for us as a private sector organisation (10min slot) and a Q&A 5min session at the end.

I would establish from the beginning that the project would be considered a 'big' OER Project by offering examples of my own 'little' OER personal ongoing project as a way of comparison for an understanding that big OERs are institutionally generated (Weller 2011) as opposed to individual. Subsequently, I would address the areas included in the many interpretations made of Open Education as suggested in the OU course and shown below:
  • Open educational resources
  • Open licences
  • Open courses or MOOCs
  • Pedagogy for open education
  • Literacies and technology for openness.
  • Potential for a Private Sector Institution like ours
Now, the three main priorities which I believe my institution should address have been chosen in relation to our context and as demonstrated by Weller (2011) in his Joshua Bell story, it plays a significant role in terms of audience reception and content reception. Our context is defined by a 15 years old, private sector language school, examinations centre and teacher training centre member of national and international organisations working closely with local state schools.

The three main priorities to be considered in order of importance would be: Sustainability, Pedagogy and Technology. Sustainability is directly related to cost so this would be at the top of the agenda for most institutions and even more so for private sector language schools were resources come from direct rendering of services and thus allocation and investment of funds would be expected to have a return in order to be guaranteed. Weller (2011) mentions three models for sustainability as suggested by Wiley (2007): a centralised team of donors and grants which is highly unlikely an option for my current context as setting up a donor-hunting scheme would in itself be a project on its own which would prevent a small scale institution like ours to allocate staff and resources to more than one project. The second model regards linking sustainability to teaching responsibilities and this would seem actionable in the light of our current contractual conditions, but which would need careful attention because of the impact on the teaching staff. Thirdly, the last model, a decentralised collaborative authoring approach would not really be an option in our context because of the implications and requirements for both the staff and institution. Now, linking sustainability to teaching responsibility would be actionable as long as certain conditions are met. For instance, any time allocation to OERs development would have to be within the 23+2 contractual hours our teaching staff are bound by, where 23 are contact hours and 2 are admin hours. This means the institution would have to be ready to reduce the number of contact hours to, let's say, 21 to be able to dedicate 2 hours to OERS and this represents an 8.7% reduction in production terms. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, success in highlighting the possible returns on investment would have a big impact on the sustainability of the project as for the following reasons. Upon my arrival 4 years ago and the subsequent systematic introduction and integration of technology the school has seen an increase in enrollments as we are seen as a point of reference for innovation in our community. For this same reason, this gradual increase in numbers and feedback from customers on their appreciation of this innovation has led to measured but sustained investment in IT resources.

The second priority would be that of Pedagogy and in this sense I see it from two different perspectives: required and implementable. The former represented by teaching staff's lack of skills to make informed decisions about the technology to be chosen and used (Conole 2010b in Beaven 2013:62) when implementing the OERS project, but with a positive outset as the school's educational policy embraces the integration of technology and as such teaching staff receive regular training as part of their In-Service Teacher Training programme having reached for the most part a confident stage 6 of normalisation in Bax's terms (2003). The latter concerned with those pedagogies suggested by Conole (2010 in Weller 2011) namely: resource-based learning (RBL), problem-based learning (PBL), constructivism, communities of practice and connectivism. For the sake of brevity, I would argue that because of school ethos and educational policy which encourages a guided discovery approach, the easiest pedagogy to be adopted would be that of PBL. This, in turn, does not mean that the other pedagogies would be self excluding, but rather integrative.

The third and last priority would be that of Technology in terms of what technologies are best suited to an open approach. Unfortunately, this question although valid, it would not be applicable to my current context where a more suitable posit would be: what technology we have already available and whether it can be used for the project. I fear that a negative answer would almost automatically translate into the rejection or at best postponement of the project for the financial implications which augmented proportionally to the context and sector. This is specially so for a small scale school that has been willing to invest into the exploration and adoption of technology.

In short, I believe that a clear and informed presentation about Openness in Education and OERs along with what these are, what the potential benefits are, what the options and possible implementation routes are may lead my institution to seriously consider moving one step forward and decide to try the deployment of an OERs Implementation Project while taking my own 'little' OERs as an example to follow at a larger scale.


Bax, S., 2003. CALL—past, present and future. System, 31(1), pp.13–28. Available at:

Beaven, T., 2013. Use and reuse of OER: Professional conversations with language teachers. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 9(1), pp.59–71.

Weller, M., 2011. Openness in Education. In The Digital Scholar. How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. London: Bloomsbury Aacademic, pp. 96–113. Available at:

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