Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Educational Practices (OEPs) support an approach to education which champions sharing, collaboration and transparency. 2017 marks the 15 year anniversary of the term ‘open educational resources’, the 10 year anniversary of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration and the 5 year anniversary of the Paris OER Declaration. The Open Education Global Conference, held 8 to 10 March 2017 in Cape Town, celebrated the movement and considered progress in the uptake and understandings of OERs and their associated pedagogies across the globe.
BRIDGE was attracted by the conference theme ‘open for participation’. This speaks to our mission of enabling collaboration and sharing through our communities of practice and the dissemination of OER knowledge products.
BRIDGE’s Melissa King presented on ‘Collaborating for impact in education projects: learning from practice’. Melissa’s presentation discussed some of the theoretical literature on collaboration at different levels, and mapped out BRIDGE’s own emerging understanding of its dynamics in practice. To do this she explored two BRIDGE community of practice collaborations that have evolved into partnerships with concrete outputs, and a formal consortium for a three-year project in which BRIDGE is involved. These three examples were plotted against a few of the key drivers and principles for collaboration that BRIDGE has identified.
To view the presentation, see document at the bottom of the page.
As the focus of the conference was on OERs, our main interest was to track discussion on the impact of OERs. The issue of impact brings up a number of questions relevant to BRIDGE. How do we gather evidence of uptake of BRIDGE knowledge products, the degree to which they are shared or adapted, and whether or not they improve teaching practice and thus learner outcomes? Some of the research projects presented at the conference touched on these concerns, but it was acknowledged that much of the evidence of impact is either anecdotal or limited to specific groups of immediate end users such as students giving feedback to faculty members on OERs used in their course.
Of particular interest from a South African perspective were the various reports from the ROER4D project – Research on Open Educational Resources for Development. This research comprises 18 sub-projects across 26 countries in the global south, some focusing on the use of OERs in teacher development, others considering practices in higher education. Initial findings and updates can be found on the website www.roer4d.org.
Conference presentations covered a lot of ground, and were streamed into categories such as policy, research, teacher development, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), technology and open practice. A small sample of key themes at the conference includes:
-Understanding OERs as a continuum of different practices, ranging from accessing to adapting. The ‘5 Rs’ of OER usage are: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute.
-The range and applications of the different Creative Commons licences for using OERs, such as the one used by BRIDGE.
-How using OERs relates to teaching methodologies and pedagogies.
-Core competencies for sourcing, using and adapting OERs.
-How access to resources and technology relates to the impact of OERs.
To see some of the conference presentations, visit http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2017/presentations/
BRIDGE will continue to support the OER approach in our own context, and to participate in debates on OERs and their applications. As far as possible we will share our learnings with members of our communities.