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Wednesday, November 18 • 2:15pm - 2:45pm
Expansive Openness in K-12 Teacher Practice

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This mixed methods study seeks to identify and explore teacher perspectives on the potentials and barriers to openness in K12 educational practice. Pulling upon previous work focused on open educational resources (OER), open source software, open scholarship, open publishing, and open courses, this study operates on an expansive or inclusive understanding of openness that emphasizes adoption, adaptation, and sharing of educational resources. Operating on this expansive definition, the researcher first conducted a series of summer institutes with practicing K12 teachers to introduce them to the concept and to give them hands-on experience with openness in action. Participants were then recruited from institute attendees (n = 101), and qualitative data was collected during incubator sessions, modeled as large focus groups, during the institutes.

Qualitative data was analyzed phenomenologically to ascertain participants' experiences and perspectives on the potentials and barriers of expansive openness in practice. Qualitative results were also utilized to construct a survey, which was distributed to participants six months after the institute, for the purpose of verifying qualitative results and establishing a unified voice from participants. Results revealed that participants uniformly believed that openness offers pedagogical, economic, and professional potentials for practice, but that major barriers to adoption exist at the macro and local levels.

First, the most important potentials and barriers to openness are not bounded by grade level. This means that all K12 teachers should have no problem finding common ground in advocating for shifts to openness and that traditional siloes that serve to divide and weaken their voice for change should be ignored in light of such overwhelming commonalities.

Second, openness is more than economy. The freedoms afforded by open practices have great promise for improving the pedagogy and professionalism in our educational institutions as educators are empowered to differentiate, collaborate, and innovate in ways that were impossible under non-open paradigms.

And third, the biggest barriers are systemic and institutional, not personal. Personal barriers are likely symptoms or reflections of local and macro problems, rather than the reverse. This means that solutions must start by addressing the problems at their source by engaging legislators and administrators and helping them to understand these identified problems in a more realistic manner.

In concluding this study, we believe that openness in practice has great promise for K12 teaching and learning globally and encourage educators, researchers, and legislators alike to reexamine the meaning of open in educational practice and to advocate for those practices that lead to greater freedom and professionalization of teaching.

avatar for Royce Kimmons

Royce Kimmons

Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University

Wednesday November 18, 2015 2:15pm - 2:45pm

Attendees (24)