Original Session Description
This paper reports on outcomes so far for one part of a large-scale international development project (Transformation through Innovation in Distance Education or TIDE) working with up to 40 higher education institutions (HEIs) involved in Myanmar’s unique distance education provision (Gregson et al, 2019). This provision accounts for 60% of all higher education students but is based on traditional knowledge focused curricula largely using printed text and broadcast programmes and not using modern pedagogies and educational technologies. The reputation and effectiveness of the distance education system is perceived as being worse than the reputation and effectiveness of ‘campus-based’ education system. The underlying philosophy of TIDE is predicated on facilitating changes at different levels in the system of interest and of using openness to support collaboration and cooperation amongst staff within and between the HEIs involved in order to foster a sustainable open education community (Lane, 2017). At the heart of TIDE is a two-year professional development programme for over 320 academic (and support) staff from nearly 40 higher education institutions, in three overlapping cohorts. This professional development programme has four 5-day residential schools interspersed with webinars, workshops, online courses and activities working with existing open educational resources (OER). Two critical themes in this professional development programme are (1) supporting the development of communities of practice of reflective academic practitioners by writing case studies about their teaching practices (Roberts & Roberts 2012) and (2) exposing them to the value of open educational practices and resources by providing support and access to existing online courses and resources about open educational practices, and, as course developers, review, rework, revise (and hopefully) creating de novo OER (as online or print/AV based courses), mostly focussed on environmental subjects. In both cases the participants in these professional development programmes gain valuable experience in developing and reflecting on their professional skills which they in turn can help colleagues in their own and other HEIs to also develop and reflect on, thus planting the seeds of sustainable communities of sharing open practices. This activity is both aided by existing and developing partnerships between clusters of HEIs and hindered in part by a policy of staff rotation between HEIs. This paper will detail the professional development programme to date and highlight examples of where academic professional practices and openness have led to within institution and cross institution work. It concludes by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of a sector based model that makes open educational practices an integral part of academic professional development, including whether such a model that can promote and sustain an enduring open education community.
Gregson, J., Lane, A. and Foster, M. (2019) Adaptive Project Design: Early insights from working on transformation of the Distance Education System in Myanmar, Paper presented at PCF9, Edinburgh September 9-12 available at http://oasis.col.org/handle/11599/3328
Lane, A. (2017) Open Education and the Sustainable Development Goals: Making Change Happen, Journal of Learning for Development, Vol. 4 (3), pp. 275-286
Roberts, J. and Roberts, C. (2012) ‘Empowering education for sustainable development practitioners by building communities of practice’, in Cotton, D, Sterling, S, Neal, V and Winter, J, Putting the ‘S’ into ED – Education for Sustainable Development in Educational Development London: SEDA (SEDA Special 31)