Realising the potential of open education within higher education requires a multifaceted, incremental and sustainable approach, including collaboration and partnership, active support for open practice, and an explicit commitment to open education at programme, institutional and national levels. Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education advocates this approach in its work to advance and support open education in higher education in Ireland. The challenges are many. Understanding of ‘open’ is variable and uneven. And while open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) offer diverse ways of ‘opening up’ higher education to increase access, enhance teaching and learning, and foster learner agency, the use of OER and OEP across higher education faces multiple barriers (Harold & Rolfe, 2019; Hodgkinson-Williams & Arinto, 2017; National Forum, 2015), and thus remains low. In addition, national bodies must balance numerous and competing priorities. Currently, the National Forum supports open education in two main ways, in both cases collaborating closely with students and staff nationally. Firstly, we leverage national and international open resources to enable and support individual open practice in learning and teaching. Secondly, we support the development of enabling polices for digital and open teaching and learning (National Forum, 2018). This session briefly outlines our national approach and activities, positioning this in the context of other national open education initiatives of which we are aware. We will describe our approach to collaborative partnership with students and educators, share open resources we have adapted and developed, and reflect on results and challenges we have faced, particularly in the context of balancing radical optimism (Cangiolosi, 2019) and critical pragmatism (Cronin & Czerniewicz, 2017). Most importantly, we will facilitate group discussion and invite feedback (and hopefully ongoing conversations) with participants. Our aim is to help further our collective understanding of what sustainable approaches to open education can look like -in practice-. We look forward to engaging with individuals and groups engaged in similar national/international initiatives, with educators and students active and/or interested in open education, and with open education researchers.
Cangiolosi, K. (2019). Open pedagogy, radical optimism, and the ideas we haven’t heard yet. Cascadia Summit, Vancouver, B.C. https://www.slideshare.net/kcangial/cascadia-open-ed-summit
Cronin, C. & Czerniewicz, L. (2017). Critical pragmatism and critical advocacy: Addressing the challenges of openness. OER17 Conference, London, UK. https://oer17.oerconf.org/sessions/critical-pragmatism-and-critical-advocacy-addressing-the-challenges-of-openness-1492/
Harold, S. & Rolfe, V. (2019). “I find the whole enterprise daunting”: Staff understanding of open education initiatives within a UK university. Open Praxis, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.11.1.918
Hodgkinson-Williams, C. & Arinto, P. B. (2017). Adoption and impact of OER in the Global South. Cape Town & Ottawa: African Minds, International Development Research Centre & Research on Open Educational Resources. https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/26682/Adoption%20and%20Impact%20of%20OER%20in%20the%20Global%20South.pdf?sequence=6
National Forum. (2015). Learning resources and open access in higher education institutions in Ireland. https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/publication/learning-resources-and-open-access-in-higher-education-institutions-in-ireland/
National Forum. (2018). Guide to developing enabling policies for digital teaching and learning. https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/publication/guide-to-developing-enabling-policies-for-digital-teaching-and-learning/