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book-stack-Public_Domain_Image_from_Pixabay.pngJoin us on Monday 27 Nov from 10.00-11.00 (AEST) and contribute to planning this Fishbowl.  Read on for more details, and then join us via Zoom

2017 is being celebrated as the International Year of Open, but what do we really have to celebrate in Australia?

Our team will be participating in a Fishbowl session at ASCILITE2017, held in Toowoomba, Australia.  The session encourages participants to reflect on the actual progress of openness in Australia.  The tone of the Fishbowl is one of constructive critique, examining whether open education in particular has a robust enough following, and evidence of outcomes to become part of mainstream education.  In the lead up to the conference, we’ll be offering the different viewpoints of the initial session chairs, and inviting you to post comments that can be incorporated into our content - essentially we’re openly developing the structure of our Fishbowl (which are transparent by nature, of course).


The second post is from Dr Tamara Heck, exploring attitudes to openness related to competitiveness.

Are learning resources are one's competitive advantage, should we make them open?

Open educational resources (OER) are resources of any kind - slides, books, articles, notes, code, a 12 week course - that can be retained, reused, revised, remixed and redistributed (the five “r’s” of OER). Creating open learning resources is fostered and supported by many Australian Higher Education Institutions. Just this week, USQ had its first workshop on “open textbooks” which was led by the Director of the Open Textbook Network Dr David Ernst from the University of Minnesota.

As USQ builds its capacity in this space, hundreds of other open textbooks have been developed from around the world .

Despite these developments and a greater awareness of OER, Australia has not yet fully exploited the affordances and opportunities of OER. One reason mentioned is competitiveness and job security.

Thus, two aspects seem particularly pertinent:

  • Educators give their knowledge and skills to teach students. One physical manifestation of this are the lecture notes, which can be as fulsome as a whole textbook.  The value of the lecturer is in their role of being an ‘expert curator’ and guide who can help navigate the disciplinary knowledge and provide feedback.  A commonly cited perception of OER is that educators are ‘giving away their intellectual property’ - and thus their ability to ‘compete’ in the higher education ‘marketplace’. To summarise: Concerns arise that OER may replace educators.
  • OER can mean more workload, that is not reflected in Faculty work allocation models, and not rewarded in the same way as research. Creating OER means that academics (most of them researcher and educator at the same time) will have less time to build on their reputation (publishing, grant writing). Creating OER is not valued in the same way; there are limited or no incentives to undertake their development.

These apprehensions  may be part of the reason why - despite much positive reception on OER - only a few educators are actually creating open resources.

The Goucher College Library in the United States also refers to sustainability issues: “Since OER creators generally do not receive any type of payment for their OER, there may be little incentive for them to update their OER or to ensure that it will continue to be available.” (http://libraryguides.goucher.edu/c.php?g=242548&p=1612887).  This concern also relates to perceptions of OER quality, and the challenge for some faster-evolving disciplines to access the most recent information.


So, what do you think?

Do you fear OER will replace you as educator?

What other concerns do you have?

How do you think creating OER should be rewarded and recognised to be more “attractive”?


Tell us you opinion on Twitter #OEPfishbowl or comment below.

This series of blog posts will introduce some of the barriers to the adoption of Open Educational Practice in Australia we have identified. We value your voice in these discussions - join us by tweeting your thoughts #OEPfishbowl or by attending our live Open Fishbowl at the 2017 ASCILITE Conference at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Campus on the 5th December 2017.


van Damme, D. (2017). Open educational resources: A catalyst for innovation in education. https://www.open-science-conference.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/vanDamme_Open-Educational-Resources-A-Catalyst-for-Innovation-in-Education-Berlin-Open-Science-Conference-22-March-2017.pdf.