The starting point of the project is that university educators represent both the highest resistance and the potential best promoters for any innovation in education, and if they would fully engage with the open education movement the whole process would be more inclusive, creative and rooted to the real needs of learners (Albright 2005, Pearce et al. 2010, Allen and Seaman 2014, Price 2015).
The Open Educators Factory project has produced a framework that aims at gong beyond the understanding of open education as OER-centred, encompassing all the areas of work of a university educator (courses design, teaching resources, pedagogical approaches and evaluation) and has developed for each area different “openness stages”. The framework has been operationalized in a web platform that allows university educators to self-evaluate their openness capacities and to improve their openness performance, through recommended readings and courses tailored to the level of the participants.
By piloting the platform among a number of universities, a number of results have emerged, that will be discussed during the presentation. First, as noted by Weller (2012), a clear relation exists between the level of openness of an educator and his/her attitude toward collaboration, confirming that the use of OER and open pedagogical approaches can have an impact on the personal networks of educators, and viceversa. Second, approaching the issue of openness competence building through multiple routes (learning design, resources, pedagogy, evaluation) seems to be a successful strategy that allows educators to valorise what they can already do and to improve their skills in other areas. Third, the transition phases that educators have to go through on their way towards “openness as default” seem to be rather independent from the teachers’ characteristics in terms of subject, age and level within the university. These considerations will be guiding the subsequent phase of the project, which will explore the concept of “digital, network and open literacies” as a way to include open approaches in teachers formal and informal professional development schemes.