Open Educational Ideas – a New Approach for Open Education
Open Educational Ideas (OEI) are a new concept addressing motivational barriers to OER (re-)use. OEI aims at creating early stage collaborations for Open Education. Bringing people together to develop Open Educational Resources (OER) is the simple idea of the concept – creating “emotional ownership” is the main approach to engage and encourage educators.
How can we overcome the current motivational barriers and lack of trust of users towards Open Educational Resources (OER)? How can we engage users in collaborative processes with simple and intuitive tools? How to create new collaborations in an open idea sharing and innovation process? How to build new forms of open education with high quality, sustainable ways in a cost-effective way? These are key issues around OER for educators, policy & decision makers.
As a starting point, we can state that Open Education has been discussed on many different levels and in different phases. UNESCO defines OER as “open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes”. (UNESCO, 2002). We define OER as “Any digital object which can be freely accessed, (re-)used and adapted for educational purposes”. This broad definition includes a lot of different objects, such as digital learning objects, software tools like wikis or authoring systems, simulations or animations, electronic textbooks, but also lesson plans or experiences shared. The main aspect is that the object is usable and can be modified / adapted to improve education. The main approaches currently discussed are:
- Open Educational Resources (OER): Currently, the main research field is how to make learning objects (specific digital objects created for learning purposes) available and re-usable.
- Open Educational Practices (OEP): Educators are highly dependent on successfully planning and designing their learning experiences – this class of resources includes access to instructional designs, didactical plannings such as lesson plans, case studies or curricula. It also includes one of the most valuable resources: sharing experiences about materials and lessons between colleagues. This class of objects is also called Open Educational Practices.
In educators’ planning and development process, this means that
- OER are used in the late design and development phase (e.g. when developing a new course). When an educator has developed the initial course structure, she might be looking for potentially fitting resources. It is important to note that all of the resources in repositories are already fixed and complete, so they have to be adapted towards 1) curricula, 2) context, 3) design, 4) didactics by educators using them.
- OEP are used in the development phase when looking for potentially good learning designs. In particular, the approach focuses on sharing practices: which resources and practices worked and which did not work.
This means that OER and OEP are mainly applied during or after the planning process. The character of current sharing processes is therefore focused on re-use and adaptation of complete materials, resources or scenarios (e.g. lesson plans). This practice does not allow space for creation and creativity! It is a logical consequence that educators experience difficulties and barriers: especially the lack of creation (“not-invented-here” syndrome).
So which approaches can be used to increase user engagement? Stakeholders need to get strongly involved in the re-use / re-authoring process by different means; for example through co-creation or co-production (OPAL, 2011) aiming at including educators as well as learners in a collaborative development process. Our approach is not to share fixed, contextualized resources but start the exchange in the idea creation process. Therefore, stakeholders do not have to re-use completed resources but they are involved in the development process. A similar approach is discussed from a design perspective by Treviranus (2010) described as the Wabi-Sabi principle. This principle aims at designing resources in an imperfect way that later adopters have certain space to incorporate their own design / pedagogical / technical ideas. Therefore, stakeholders can be involved in an early stage and build new OER.
The main idea of OEI builds on the concept of Emotional Ownership: “the degree that individuals or groups perceive that knowledge or resources belong to them”. This means that a personal relation is established in a creation process (e.g. a family establishing a business, an individual creating an artefact, a group creating an innovation). The importance of the concept is that there is a much stronger binding to the artefact (in our case OERs) than to other resources which are just downloaded and / or used (such as a picture taken from an internet search). We aim at building strong relations to both, collaborators as well as the artefacts they create (such as an OER).
As a summary, we can state that OEI will allow stakeholders to start sharing ideas and innovations before the resources are complete and hard to adapt. OEI will create an affective binding towards resources and practices (“emotional ownership”) by involving educators stronger in an early stage of a participatory, generative and creative process.
 UNESCO (2002): Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries. Paris: UNESCO.
 OPAL (2011): Guidelines for Open Educational Practices in Organizations – OEP Guide, Open Educational Quality Initiative.
 Treviranus, J. (2010): The Value of Imperfection: the Wabi-Sabi Principle in Aesthetics and Learning, Proceedings of Open Ed 2010, United Nations, Barcelona.