The Faces of Open Education

September 26, 2013 in communication, featured

It’s really great that people are beginning to sign up to the Working Group mailing list and follow the newly launched Twitter account. People are also beginning to introduce themselves and talk about the activities and initiatives they are involved with. It’s clear already that we are a hugely varied crowd. Members come from all over the globe and are interested in open education for lots of different reasons. We already have educators and learners, researchers, policy makers, activists and business people on board.

headSo for example some members are interested in Open Educational Resources (OERs) and how they can be used in classrooms. Their questions might be around how OERs can bring people into formal education (an issue discussed by the OER Hub in the online seminar yesterday) or how they can support those already learning. Others are interested in Open Badges and how they can lead to an open accreditation and recognition framework.

Another angle to opening up education is removing the barriers for those with disabilities. One member explained that their interest was in helping sign users for whom spoken language was often too hard to understand. For others physical remoteness is an issue and open education relates to distance learning.

Other members see open education as being about removing the digital divide, and the EC Opening up Education action plan launched this week is looking to tackle digital problems which are hampering schools and universities from delivering high quality education. These members have joined up to help improve the education system either by changing educational practice or through sharing of knowledge and skills. Some are interested in flipped learning and new ways of teaching.

Other new members are interested in opening up education beyond the developed world. So here data can help to with planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation purposes – it can support those providing education. Resources, such as open textbooks and OERs can help ensure that learners in the developing world can actually afford to go to school.

It is also worth pointing out that open education spans from school, college and further and higher education to informal learning, career development and personal enrichment.

While some new members have been educators others work more with governments. We have had people sign up who are involved in policy making on both a national and international level (for example the European OER Policy Project). These people may be interested in how what is happening on the ground can help those at the top decide on approaches and where money should be spent. Other members have been active politically, campaigning for opening up data and knowledge.

Some members are focused on licensing and legal issues around open education. Universities are increasingly asking for resources to be openly licensed – what are the implications of this? What about support for attribution? What about licensing across countries? And what about OERs in different languages? The Open Education Europa launched this week and they will be considering many of these challenges.

Others are interested in the technical angles of open education. What data can be opened up, how can it be used, what tools can be created to support open education? The CC toolkits Project and LinkedUp Project are good examples here.

Some of our members come from commercial organisations who want to do good work in this area, or maybe they are also interested in the business case behind open education. Where can money be made? It’s an important question that can’t be ignored.

Some people may have joined up because they are interested in education and where it is going…

It’s clear there are so many sides to open education and so many reasons why people might want to be involved in the Open Education Working Group.

We would just like to welcome you all!

This group is about the synergies and overlaps between different initiatives. It is about bringing people together who, for a long time, have been working only with others who share their perspective. It’s about helping people to gain a wider perspective on open education and ultimately about doing new, exciting, relevant work in this area.

Thank you for all your introductions!

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