In the build up to the final date of submissions for the Widening Participation Conference 2014 (30 April – 1 May 2014, Milton Keynes, UK), theme leaders from the conference’s steering group have been fleshing out their theme in more detail, outlining potential areas of interest and raising questions.

In this post, Ronnie MacIntyre, Learning & Teaching Co-ordinator, The Open University in Scotland, provides some detail on the ‘curriculum openness’ theme.

Curriculum Openness

What do we mean by Openness? Openness is slippery, and our understanding of openness is changing. Openness has moved from the ability to access curriculum content through the broadening of the socio-economic base of education and later the creation of “Open Universities”, that was all about formal education, to opening up content – Open Educational Resources – for informal learning or the sharing of resources between educators. Recently open content has become “massive”, swollen by large numbers of students and political interest.

Alongside the rhetoric of mass openness questions arise:

  • It may be mass education, but is it for “the masses”?
  • It is open content but is it opening up curriculum?
  • Are recent shifts in openness evolution, or a schism?
  • If Openness means free, what are factors that constrain those freedoms?

The conference would welcome papers submitted under this theme that consider these kinds of questions. In particular we would welcome researchers and practitioners who are exploring: the relationship between open curriculum and widening participation; the degree to which openness is about opening up content rather than opening up curriculum to new kinds authors; and the factors that might constrain access to open curriculum and how these might be overcome.


Poster and paper submissions are being welcomed which speak to one or more of the conference themes:

  • Innovation in Design and Pedagogy
  • Impact of Curriculum Reform
  • Curriculum Openness
  • Flexibility and modes of Delivery
  • Measuring and Demonstrating Impact
  • Revisiting Theory

Full details about making your submission can be found on the the conference website. The final date for submissions is 1 November 2014.

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