I am now in my second elective and fourth course in KPU’s Professional Program in Open Education. I chose OPEN 9600: Open Ed Policy and Leadership because I am interested in how leadership and policy advance the Open Education movement. In this first assignment, we are asked to draw on examples from our experiences and support our writing with examples from the course content.
To date, my advancing Open efforts have been primarily focused on Open Educational Resources (OER) development, adaptation, and adoption while sprinkling seeds of other Open Educational Practices (OEP) and the pedagogies that underpin them. For example, co-creation with learners for assessment and the inclusion of learners’ voices in their curriculum via classroom learning resources. An equal amount of time has been spent gaining buy-in from multiple stakeholders for the inclusion of OER in their work. Most are interested in participating. The piece that is missing is pulling them all together into a collaborative effort.
When I started in the Open movement, there was, and frankly still is, a focus on equity through affordability, meaning that by providing free learning resources for the classroom, everyone has their resources the first day. No one is left behind because they cannot afford the commercial textbook. Multiple studies demonstrate that OER adoption increases retention, learner success, and the likelihood that learners will sign up for another Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) course (Open Education Group, 2020). This is important for learners, and the impacts can be quantified through textbook cost savings.
Equity through affordability is not enough to sustain the Open movement in the long term, and we risk losing the transformational benefits that engaging in open educational practices provides. Hodkings-Williams and Trotter’s (2018) view from a social justice lens suggest that the adoption of OER can be an “ameliorative” response making a remedial reform to an injustice (OER provides a free textbook to everyone) but to be truly transformational, a critical examination to analyze if unjust practices are reinforced in OER is needed. Moving beyond affordability and inviting diverse representation of stakeholders to critically reflect on open educational practice integration in classrooms and resources, is, in my view, an aspect that is needed for the long-term sustainability of OER, and a differentiator from commercialized learning resources. The challenge is it is not easy to quantify.
In my advocacy presentations for OER integration, I have noted a gap in bringing people together for collaboration. Initially, meetings were held with working groups, but due to time constraints, these groups were not nurtured in a way that might have led to advocacy for institutional Open policy sooner. Skidmore & Provida (2019) advocate for an institutional steering committee with members from varying departments to broaden impact. Cox & Trotter (2016) propose that institutional policy for open must consider the political, cultural, and context of an institution for OER efforts to advance. Drawing on change-management theory, Kotter (2012) proposes that changes in organizations require building a guiding coalition, forming a strategy, and then enlisting a group of people who will pursue that common goal. A step towards a formalized open policy requires bringing together diverse stakeholders into one working group to pursue this goal.
Cox, G., & Trotter, H. (2016). Institutional Culture and OER Policy: How Structure, Culture, and Agency Mediate OER Policy Potential in South African Universities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(5). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v17i5.2523
Hodkings-Williams & Trotter, H., (2018) A Social Justice Framework for Understanding Open Educational Resources and Practices in the Global South. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 204-224.
Kotter, J.P. (2012) Leading Change. Harvard Business Review Press. ISBN 9781422186435
Open Education Group. (2020). The Review Project. Retrieved from Open Education Group: https://openedgroup.org/review
Skidmore, J.M. A Place for Policy: The Role of Policy in Supporting Open Educational Resources and Practices at Ontario’s Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from https://www.ecampusontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019-08-07-skimore-oe-policy-report.pdf
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