With mostly excitement and some anxiety, I’ve been thinking ahead to the OpenEd 2009 conference this August at UBC and have been working with Stephen to think about the focus we want to take with our presentation. Most conference time slots are frustrating in that they really only let you breeze through the surface of your presentation, and hopefully elicit some good questions from the audience who hopefully got something out of your drive-by. But we’re at a stage with our topic on Open Models where we want to be challenged and pressed to think differently about the topic and what potential might lie with the model. I think this requires greater articulation of the rationale for this model, and some concrete examples where it has the most potential. If time allows, we’re going to go in this direction:
1. In our presentation and paper at the ICDE 2009 conference I mentioned (Bourdieu’s) notion of English (and higher ed in English) as social/cultural capital, but I think this needs more explanation in relation to the importance of allowing access for global participation (with credits) in our bricks and mortar institutions. This is also related to a need for models where barriers such as institutional bureaucracies and TOEFL scores can be by-passed to make this happen.
2. We made the point that the OER movement to date has largely focussed on content and distribution of this content, but needs to move into the development of new models for education that allow for greater participation (with credits) to a more global population. We feel it is timely to be reminded that in some constructivist views of formal education, content is actually not the most important piece of the education puzzle, but the interactions and engagement that take place in the learning space (broadly defined) and the multiple perspectives that are encountered in those interactions are where learning occurs. Therefore, a model that embraces open access needs to account for this, which is why our model creates access for global participation with credits, and doesn’t spend much time on how OER content is being used.
3. Our model evolved out of a desire create more opportunity to bring in local (globally dispersed) perspectives into a global forum in order to provide multiple perspectives on a topic in an authentic manner. We’ve described this in terms of making the “local knowledge global” and the “global knowledge local”). Stephen has since come up with the term “ecology of knowledge” but we have now discovered there is a well established discipline of “knowledge ecology“. We’re going to tie in with this idea if appropriate.
3. Stephen has a mild horror/fascination with global pandemics (he wouldn’t agree:)) and in his last few presentations has expressed the value of the model for disciplines such as the health sciences. Specifically, a PBL medicine course would have students from geographically dispersed locations working together on cases, again making the local global and vice versa. The urgency and the interest that has been expressed in ensuring that the developing world has access to current medical publications and up to date information has obviously influenced this example, coupled with Stephen’s observation that with any global health crisis there is no one solution or strategy that can be applied to any local context, while at the same time there is a need for global cooperation and collaboration. It’s an interesting tension, and obviously one that applies to other disciplines such as international development.
The crux of our argument is that we feel that open course models integrated into traditional bricks and mortar institutions are critical in not only expanding the internationalisation agendas of these institutions, but in expanding the boundaries that these institutions have come to place on access, pedagogy, and knowledge. One model is admittedly a micro step, but if it succeeds in altering the current course-based paradigm that we are in, then perhaps there will be more innovation of the educational experience these institutions currently provide.