Friday, August 28, 2009

International developments in open education

I met with Stian Håklev from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education this morning, after watching his talk about Chinese Open Education at Open Education Vancouver, and listening to an older talk he made at Ontario Institute' called Open Education Around the World. We recorded our hour long conversation stemming from those presentations, and I've published it on the Archive.

Stian's work provides us in the English speaking world a rare glimpse and interpretation of the open educational work being done in other countries, which to me is a very valuable opportunity to hear things outside our unavoidable English speaking echo chamber. Listening to his talks gave me many new ways for considering my own work at Otago Polytechnic, and new ways I might approach future work. I especially liked the ideas drawn from how the Chinese Ministry of Education has been encouraging open education, intentionally (or not) giving a lot of freedom for the concept to evolve among practitioners, resulting it what appears to be a very eclectic array of initial work that could give rise to innovation in the future (in China or not!). Unlike our classic references in the "West" such as MIT and other institutions, where they each maintain a heavily branded, single platform approach that tends to over ride what the individual lecturers might have done otherwise, and dilute what we might achieve if we were to pool resources on popular platforms as they exist at each moment in time.

At Otago, we have elected to go the individual and independent route, focusing our efforts in building digital literacy across many popular Internet platforms, encouraging a few over others, but generally accepting whichever methods the teachers decide to use, hoping fundamentally that they decide to use an open copyright licenses. Sadly this human derived mish mash has resulted in some shallow internal criticism around notions of quality, and most teachers opting for closed education because they don't have time to fully consider the issues. But we have enough successes in terms of increased awareness, professional development, critical incites, open courses and resources, and ideas and discussion brewing that would suggest (all things being equal) that the approach is efficient, sustainable and cost effective in a multi dimensional way of accounting for it. What that means I hope to be posting about within the month :)

Anyway, here is just over an hour of what we think is interesting conversion between Stian and I. We hope to do this again, this time Stian questioning me more about Otago's work.

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