(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/)
Tomorrow’s seminar ‘Widening Participation, Open Educational Resources and MOOCs:In Research and In Practice’ looks to be a really busy event with colleagues from across Open University joining up with a wide range of universities and colleges. The popularity of this event tells me that we are looking at a range of interesting issues here.
At the Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships, we hold Widening Participation at the core of what we do, but we are not in any way unique. From my perspective, I see a higher education sector which in some ways appears to be closing down what it accepts as widening participation, or widening access, and potentially shutting the door on under-represented groups ; and in other senses opening up to a whole world of potential. Open and free resources – including OERs and MOOCs – sit centre stage in this ‘opening up’. They are of interest and hold promise. But, OERs are a recent phenomena, MOOCs even more so, and so questions around how they can be used to widen participation have relatively few answers, as yet.
I am hoping that the seminar will be a creative and reflective space – to discuss some of the issues, consider both the local and the global scale, to look at some specific projects, but most importantly to identify what questions we will need to address going forward.
- What does participation with open and free resources or courses mean for learners, institutions and governments?
- Do open and free resources or courses remove or reinforce educational inequalities and if so for whom, for what subjects and in which countries?
- What might ‘supported open teaching’ look like for open and free resources and courses?
- Will we have new ways of recognising educational achievement?
- How should policy makers respond to open and free resources and courses?
I hope that the debate is lively. I hope also we can get thoughts and contributions from outside the event via twitter, using #WPOER.