‘Open washing’. It’s a term that was new to me until earlier this month when Cable Green, director of global learning at Creative Commons, introduced me to it in his keynote at OER15, this year’s conference on open educational resources (OERs).
I believe it was originally coined by Audrey Watters who describes it as ‘having an appearance of open-source and open-licensing for marketing purposes, while continuing proprietary practices’.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘mainstreaming open education’ and Cable’s talk explored the bold aim that publicly-funded resources should be openly licensed resources.
Throughout the conference there was a lot of discussion pointing out that, as our teaching is publicly funded, it should be made available to those who have paid for it - not just to the relatively smaller community who receive the teaching.
Reaching beyond FE and HE
There’s little doubt that now, six years since the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and Jisc-funded UKOER programme was launched, the open education movement is reaching into sectors outside of further and higher education (FE and HE).
Josie Fraser, ICT strategy lead for Leicester City Council and the second keynote, described how schools under the council’s authority have adopted open education practices. A series of open education guidance resources have been created as part of their initiative and these are now available in Jorum, Jisc’s repository for open education resources, by searching LCCOER.
Benefits of open practice
Engaging in open practice brings many benefits and it can actively support learning about digital content and good practice in terms of licensing, accessibility and improving quality. Jorum has an extensive collection of resources dedicated to information and digital literacy skills and use of these is increasing, probably for two main reasons.
The first is that a community of open practice is well established within the library sector, partly born out of DELILA - one of the UKOER-funded projects. This has now evolved into the Co-PILOT project, which is supported by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group.
And secondly, there is a real need for this kind of content within the FE and HE sectors. Becoming a more digitally proficient professional and student is now a necessity rather than just a ‘nice to have’ supplementary skill.
Growing Jorum collections
Jorum’s themed collections continue to grow.
The latest collection for vocational skills will bring together both pre-existing and completely new OER content funded by Jisc especially for the skills sector.
The new content has been created by numerous colleges and organisations. In all, 22 projects have already produced over 90 resources.
During 2015 Jorum is piloting an open badge scheme with the FE and skills sectors. The aim is to encourage more people to share and also to encourage people to tell us how they have reused a resource and then to share their re-purposed resource back with Jorum.
OER16 and beyond...
Next year, the University of Edinburgh will host the OER 16 conference, which will explore the theme of open culture.
It looks likely that the conference will bring together the various strands of open, not just education; one interesting sub-theme is the converging and competing cultures of open knowledge, open source, open content, open practice, open data and open access (OA).
Perhaps Jisc could take on a role here, bringing together its own open developments and highlighting the fact that open can be mainstream. I’d like to think that Jisc could use its influence to pursue a similar policy to that recommended by the Finch Report in making all scientific research free for anyone to read. Either way, I look forward to hearing about all the developments to come in the next year.
In the meantime, all four keynote sessions from OER15 are now available to watch on YouTube.