In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and also at projects being undertaken within the wider HE sector. Our first looked at the process of Feedback and our second looks at Open Education.

The term ‘Open Education’ refers to the ethos and practices of removing barriers to, and providing and promoting new opportunities for learning. It is more about an approach and a mindset than a set of technologies or a way of teaching and is focussed around the learning community rather than the didactic teacher-student relationship. Catherine Cronin’s excellent presentation, Navigating The Marvellous which presents openness within the context of higher education and the social and technological practices of modern learners and educators.

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The last few years have seen the rise of ‘Open’ on the educational agenda, in part due to the buzz around MOOCs being a disruptor to education. However, most mainstream MOOCs have been institutionalised and bent to fit existing educational practices, so we’re seeing the buzzword become less relevant. Open Education and Open Educational Resources in contrast are becoming more so, as the worldwide Open Education Week site conveys . The affordances that technology offer Open Learning have been seized around the fringes by Open Educators that seek to exploit technology and challenge educational paradigms.

Open Educational initiatives like #PHONAR, Creativity for Learning in Higher Education, #RHIZO15 and the ability to remix other open courses on P2PU are examples of community or learner centred curriculums. These approaches put the web to use as it was originally intended, for the sharing of information.

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The conversation around Open Education is active in Scotland, with practitioners who have instigated Open Badges projects and in Wales where this years #OER15 conference is being hosted. The DigiLit Leicester project, who we talked about in our ET trends for 2015, also hosted the first OER Schools conference earlier this year, helping schools and colleges to further understand the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and how to create and promote their own resources.Cable Green’s keynote from #OER15 addresses the current and future state of OER and the benefits to education and society.

Whilst researching this post, I came across a previous project that took place at Falmouth a few years back called Openspace, which promoted sharing of Open Educational Resources and corroborates existing research into the field. It states that OER use can aid recruitment, enhance institutional reputation and catalyse collaboration and uptake of new technologies. The Openspace website is no longer active, but if anyone at the institution is interested in how technology can support Open Educational practice, get in touch with the team.

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