Friday, 24 January 2014

Activity Seven: Open education

Activity Seven: Open Education

Define OER and OEP in your context

The definition of Open Education Resources (OER) is best described as a free research resource that can be used for the purposes of learning and teaching. This information is available in the public domain and accessible for anyone who uses the Internet. This information has been released under an intellectual property license that allows it to be used freely (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, cited in Jelley, 2013). Ruth Jelley describes OER as "full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and any other tools, materials or techniques use to support access to knowledge" (2013,p.1).

Otago Polytechnic is working towards the goal of implementing more OER as part of moving forward towards a more sustainable future. "OER is the means by which education at all levels can be more accessible, more affordable and more efficient. Using OER approaches, institutions can lower cost and save time required to produce high quality courses with untapped potential to diversify curriculum offerings especially for low enrolment courses in a cost-effective way. OER is about sharing and collaboration and to this end we have much untapped potential" (Phil Ker, Otago Polytechnic, 2012). "Without sharing, there is no education" (David Wiley, 2013).

Whilst researching this topic further I was very impressed by the Departments that have made their information available to the wider community. Veterinary Nursing appears to have just the one resource available in Wiki books; Anatomy and Physiology by Ruth Lawson. I found it to be a very useful teaching and learning document, well written and easy to follow, but prior to my current research I was not aware that it was there. We need to use these resources as part of the sharing of knowledge and find ways to encourage more use of OER.

Currently our students are given information in a blended learning approach offering on-line delivery and also classroom interaction. Perhaps we could incorporate more information on OER so that the students learn to investigate further rather than take the first article that comes up when they ask a question on a search engine such as Google.

Throughout New Zealand there are a large number of Veterinary Nursing Schools. They all have the same aim of supplying the veterinary industry with work ready, qualified, capable nurses. Perhaps if the tertiary providers in New Zealand worked together there may be a greater chance of the qualifications being recognised at a level similar to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, both of which are recognised as top providers of veterinary nurses.

Reflect on what OER and OEP means for your teaching and how you can introduce these concepts into your practice to enhance sustainability.

The Teaching and Learning Strategic Framework for Otago Polytechnic states the following:

"1. Our graduates are developed to be capable, work ready, future-focused, sustainable practitioners.
2. Our programs are designed to be attractive to learners, accessible, future focused, efficient and sustainable" (Otago Polytechnic Strategic Framework: Strategic Objectives, 2013).

Encouraging our students to become "capable, work ready, future-focused sustainable practitioners" is to empower them with a thirst for knowledge. Part of being sustainable is not only about caring for our planet but also caring for ourselves- achieving a work life balance.

Moving towards a more open form of education allows for more flexibility for learners and teachers alike. The ability to study and write assessments at anytime of the day or night has not changed. What has changed is the ability to tap into huge resources at the touch of a button or two. Does this help us work smarter or is the amount of information out there overwhelming? Is there a risk of over working because of the ability to use the Internet 24/7?

It can be difficult to narrow down material to a workable level. The danger is that in our efforts to inspire passion into our lifelong learners that we bombard them with too much information (Lockwood, 2005, p.1). I know in my own teaching practice I am at times guilty of this.

The challenge is to find the balance that best suits everyone. My intention this year is to pull back a little and rather than giving the students all information and expecting them to remember it, I will encourage them to research and reflect on the topic. "Having free access to a wealth of information and content online is now expected: being digitally literate today means being able to use appropriate tools to find useful, high quality information in an efficient manner, as ‘Web Kids’ do", (Czerski, 2012, cited in Panto and Comas-Quinn ,2013).

This is quite a change from how I was taught. We were given information and told to learn it. Now we turn to Wikipedia rather than the trip to the library, although we can even access libraries on-line now. The School of Veterinary Nursing considered making You Tube videos about various nursing tasks and making them available to their students; perhaps we could go one step further and open them up as an open educational resource.

Otago Polytechnic was the first tertiary institution in the world to adopt a default Creative Commons policy Wikipedia (2012). Creative Commons is a concept whereby the publishing of original works on the Internet by the author provides a free license to share and reuse. To open up any of our educational materials and make them available to an open forum we need to be willing to have our work available for peer contribution. This will allow and encourage the 4 Rs, Reuse, Redistribution, Revision and Remix, (Wiley, 2009, cited in Panto Comos-Quinn, 2013).

Jelley, R. (2013). Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organization/OER Literature Review. Retrieved from
Lockwood, F. (2005). Estimating student workload, readability and implications for student learning and progression. Australia: ODLAA

Otago Polytechnic (2013). Teaching and Learning Strategic Framework: Strategic Objectives. Retrieved from

Panto E., Comas-Quinn A. (2013). The Challenge of Open Education.

Wiley, D (2006) Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. Retrieved from

WikiEducator (2011) Otago Polytechnic OER Implementation Plan. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree Cheryl. Why are so many different educational organisations delivering the same qualifications and not sharing? One word - Money! Competition becomes fiercer as government funding becomes harder to get. That is why we are exploring alternative forms of revenue at OP, and I am sure others are doing the same.

    I think fear about losing potential students and income revenue is what is holding many institutions in NZ and Australia back from embracing OER and Open Education Practices. People fear that others will steal their stuff if they put it in open platforms, but as you may already be aware sharing openly has many benefits. The organisation gets free marketing, and along with the teachers and students who create the resources together they can build a reputation on the world stage. The spin offs far outweigh the loss of $ because potentially more students get to know about the organisation and as a result, and because they can see what they are letting themselves in for many more may wish to come and study here.

    Have you ever looked online to see if you would like to do a course with an organisation, only to become frustrated because you cannot get access to any materials to see what sort of quality they are and how the course might be structured? I think we need to do more to get more of our courses on an open platform like WikiEducator so we can give potential students 'tasters' of what the course look like. At the moment most courses are hidden away in Moodle so we haven't made that much progress even though we have the OERu and creative commons licensing.

    But in saying that, more programmes are using Youtube and slideshare and blogs so at least students can see something of what is on offer. How do you feel about having your materials fully open to the world?

    You are right about the work-life balance, and getting students to find more of their own materials and actually create some resources is a great start. Being there as a guide to help them decide what is relevant will actually help their learning more than you spending hours and hours creating all the resources. Don't you think? So sustainable workloads for teachers and students alike is possible if open education is used properly - enabling digital information literacy - getting students to access, interpret and create their own resources for learning, resources that are relevant to their level of existing knowledge and their goals for achievement.

    The amount of information is massive, yes, so you are essential as a filter of appropriate, relevant and high quality information. There is certainly a danger of working and studying 24/7 so realistic workloads need to be in place for students and teachers - sharing resources can certainly help with this.

    Goodness this has ended up as a bit of a rant, and as you can see I am passionate about this subject. :)