Experts' insights at 2nd Regional OER Symposium at WOU

(June 24-27, 2014)

Participants listening to a keynote address.

Participants listening to a keynote address.

Three keynote speakers spoke on the sub-themes of Impact, Content and Innovation - Prof M.M. Pant, former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University; Prof Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, Director, Centre for Educational Technology, University of Cape Town; and Prof. Toru Iiyoshi, Director, Centre for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education, Kyoto University – at the 2nd Regional Symposium on Open Educational Resources (OER) held at the WOU main campus.

Below are their responses to three pertinent questions:

Q1: What do you hope participants will take back from your keynote address?

Pant: That a new educational movement and a new educational model are around the corner. The open system, and of course the OER system is the one more likely to fulfil the ambitions and expectations of learners worldwide. The shift I want to suggest is that instead of trying to become an alternative of the existing system at a lower cost, try to become superior to the existing system in terms of looking at what are the limitations and what is not being done, and then do that, and make it available as open educational opportunities.

Hodgkinson-Williams: I think if I have offered people a language of description, a way of understanding these complicated processes in a way that is easy enough but still well-described and to give them a tool they would be able to use in their own context to refine their OER and to be able to use this framework to teach other people how OER is used and developed, then I would be happy.

Prof Iiyoshi

Prof Iiyoshi

Iiyoshi: I hope participants would learn that innovation is not easy and we are building on each other’s inner wisdom and knowledge, which is really the heart of the OER movement. But is not just about sharing and building upon each other’s OER but also learning from each other’s best practice in mixing, and adopting OER and we really need to create a new mode of innovation and education, teaching and learning, taking full advantage of OER. Because simply replacing the existing materials, text books and videos, which are of the open kind, wouldn’t be enough. We need to convince people this is worth doing because as we all know it takes a lot of effort and time to adopt. So I like to encourage people to look into new pedagogies and way of re-inventing education, taking full advantage of OERs.

Q2: What is your own take-home message from the Symposium?

Pant: The first was the potential of looking at Asia as a significant part to transform because if we do it properly, the next decade belongs to Asia. Asia can become a driving force. The other thing is that many people had very interesting ideas about learner-centred and the uniqueness of learner-centred and things that are done around the learner. That is something worth developing because the next step of a successful educational system will be something which is not only personalised but creates a completely new learning experience.

Prof Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams.

Prof Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams.

Hodgkinson-Williams: The attention people are paying to pedagogy is a real benefit because at other OER conferences, people often talk about legal issues, technical issues, financial issues, but this is probably the conference where we’ve had the most rigorous pedagogical debate around pedagogic strategies, comments from the audience around pedagogy, the presentations that focus on pedagogy. People certainly understand the pedagogic challenges, but they also understand some pedagogic strategies they can use in developing OER.

Iiyoshi: I am interested in all the case studies done by people from many regions and institutions. I try to see some of the differences, and how we could together overcome those challenges by learning from each other’s practice. We could acknowledge some common challenges also but it is not easy to think about some possible solutions to those problems. It’s at a venue like this in person that we discuss, exchange ideas.

Q3: What would you like the theme of the 3rd Symposium to be?

Prof Pant.

Prof Pant.

Pant: We share the developments that have happened, the unanswered questions from this conference. So the issues that we raise here which have not been dealt with should be pursued over the next two years. We gather again, and the elements would still be content, impact, etc but it would be a review of further progress.

Hodgkinson-Williams: We’ve got to look very carefully at undertaking research, on exactly how people are adopting OER; OER by the teachers and the students and how the institutions are supporting or not supporting. So that is one theme, around OER Adoption. The other is impact. Are there changes being made as a result of OER intervention? I think research on the impact of OER on student performance, on teacher professional development, on the promises that are made, i.e. improving quality, reducing costs, decreasing time, would be good.

Iiyoshi: A new pedagogy that can only be possible using OERs. Another is a kind of data-driven pedagogy, which means, even if we come up with new ways of teaching and learning, if we cannot prove those are effective, better than before, then it’ll just be a novelty effect. So to focus on innovative pedagogy and data analytics, or how we could wisely use data to prove the new pedagogies are indeed effective.