Having returned home from the #OER18 conference where I presented this session I have decided to clarify some points which I may not have made clearly on the day as time was short and I had to rush to run another session elsewhere.
I shared the experience of running a small staff and student investigation into open educational practice at Warwick. I believe there are aspects of the way this was done which were exemplary and effective. There were also aspects which could have been improved were it not for internal tensions and confusion over roles, responsibilities and mission. I am not blaming anyone, just looking to surface the points where barriers appear which can prevent us from achieving our aims.
What went well:
- the bringing together of people from different parts of the institution over coffee to share our perspectives
- the freedom for participants to choose which project aims they wanted to contribute to and when to do that
- the agreement to create a metaphor and communication channels we could all embrace and understand
- the open validation and publishing of contributions, leaving a legacy which can be built on by all.
What could have been better:
- the insecurity of some participants due to job changes and political climate (Brexit, funding etc).
- the lack of shared understanding of open education and evident suspicion of a hidden agenda.
- confusion over whether the project's internal communication should also be cleared by our external communications as it would be openly available.
- Delays in funding had a knock on effect on spending, staff and student time is limited and when funding is delayed and time limited it can prevent the possibilities which we had planned being realised.
- internal alignments of this project were clearly with agendas such as those of academic technology, skills development and research support and yet there is little evidence of follow up from those areas.
I can see that the emphasis on compliance in institutional discourse creates fear and lowers confidence, it cripples innovation, makes individuals afraid to take risks. If we are to realise the win-win that is open educational practice we must bridge the gaps of understanding, sharing and mainstreaming (as identified by Nacimbeni et al, 2014) at the most basic of grassroots levels to align practice with a clearer confidence in our mission and greater understanding of our values.