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Friday, November 20 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Open Education: Sustainability versus Vulnerability

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The idea of innovation in education (or anywhere) is dependent on the ability of people to embrace a shared problem (Nisbet & Collins 1978). In doing so, the seeking of solutions often gives rise to tensions; these develop from dichotomies of ideas and practices that can emerge (Kuhn 1959). In the context of open education for example, the idea of 'open' versus 'closed' provides a helpful simplification on the one hand, but tension can arise from the exaggeration of contributions to the open community, as observed in 'openwashing' (Villem 2014).

In open education, many innovative initiatives rely on the presence of a 'champion'. These people share the characteristics of being able to lead in different directions and reject old solutions (Kuhn 1959). Von Hippel (2005) suggests that in the present day, these people share the ability to navigate around organisational structures and also work openly with others.

This paper examines the sustainability of open educational practice in a UK university. It is a longitudinal study employing mixed methods to track progress. In part one of the analysis, the 'reach and impact' of the open educational resources (OERs) was examined some three years post-funding (Rolfe 2015). This paper will present part two of the analysis and explore open practice through the lens of innovation.

These government-funded projects typically gave rise to great lurches forward in OER release and open practice. The data shows that beyond the initial funding, open educational practices are sustained by individuals and teams:

"It has changed my practice in terms of whenever I'm doing anything I think how could this be an OER or how could it supplement what I'm doing?" (Interviewee).

At institutional-level the evidence of impact is patchy with the initiatives causing little more than a 'shuffling of feet' (Trump & Georgiades 1972). Areas of vulnerability have been identified including the reliance on champions, and the inability to take action despite embedding 'open' at strategic level.

The paper will provide a series of recommendations for the community on how to maximise the sustained impact of open education projects based on these experiences.

avatar for Vivien Rolfe

Vivien Rolfe

Lecturer, University of the West of England
Sharing open educational resources to support life sciences education. Like to animate physiological processes. Saxophoning. Dog walking. Jellied Eels.

Friday November 20, 2015 3:30pm - 4:00pm PST
BC Ballroom

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