Notable interventions (e.g., the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2007, and Andrade et al, 2011) have prompted the open education community to refocus on ‘Open Educational Practices’. But what are the different effects of emphasising open education as practice rather than as a collection of resources? In some references to OEP, it appears that the term is being used to ‘rebadge’ OER, to emphasise the activities surrounding resources rather than the resources themselves. Instead I wish to argue that it is vitally important for our open education community that we think critically about the usefulness of OEP beyond OER. This means confronting the vexed question of what we mean by invoking the term open.
While most OER definitions place licensing for reuse at the core of openness, an openness of practices suggests a wider and more nebulous remit, with roots in OER but also in networked, participatory scholarship and learning communities (Cronin, 2016). There is perhaps a consensus emerging in the open education community and literature around the meaning of the term OEP, but where or whether one can draw the line between open and closed practices remains an open question, and perhaps, the wrong question. Instead I suggest we consider the value of OEP as a lens through which we can study and make sense of our practices, and therefore evaluate the usefulness of various ways of ‘being open’ while taking account of the context and purpose of the activity (Havemann, in press).
Assuming that OEP are, as Andrade et al (2011) suggest, “practices which support the (re)use and production of OER through institutional policies, promote innovative pedagogical models, and respect and empower learners as co-producers on their lifelong learning path” (p.12), it is therefore relevant to consider the application of those concepts in a case of a module that may not be considered open in the traditional sense, but which has been developed and delivered using open elements.
The module used as a case study here is taught at a university which might indeed be thought of as an open university, although its primary delivery mode is face-to-face, and is designed for ‘almost-students’ who are ‘stepping up’ to postgraduate study in Arts, a range of disciplines that are arguably ‘in crisis’ due to perceived lack of utility in neoliberal times. It is blended, rather than completely online, and consequently is not open to enrolment by the public at large. It has also been developed and taught by a team who have voluntarily given their time rather than been assigned the task. This can be compared and contrasted with forms of education often seen as open, but also ‘closed’ in certain senses, such as MOOCs. In this discussion I will consider how attempting a foreclosure of the meaning of open in the context of educational practice is a losing game.
Andrade, A., Caine, A., & Carneiro, R. (2011). Beyond OER: Shifting Focus to Open Educational Practices: OPAL Report 2011. Due-Publico, Essen. Retrieved from http://duepublico.uni-duisburg-essen.de/servlets/DerivateServlet/Derivate-25907/OPALReport2011_Beyond_OER.pdf
Cape Town Open Education Declaration (2007) http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-the-declaration
Cronin, C. (2016). Open, networked and connected learning : Bridging the formal / informal learning divide in higher education. In Cranmer S, Dohn NB, de Laat M, Ryberg T, & Sime JA (Eds.), 10th International Conference on Networked Learning, 2016 (pp. 76–84). Retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/pdf/S3_Paper2.pdf
Havemann, L (in press) Open Educational Resources. Encyclopedia of Educatonal Theory and Philosophy. Springer reference.