Open Educational Resources and innovation in higher education (Cable Green)

Open Educational Resources and innovation in higher education (Cable Green)

September 11, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


Open Educational Resources, and open education more generally, certainly is
part of innovation in higher education for a whole bunch of reasons. One is we
can’t unleash the power of the creativity in students minds if students
don’t have access to the educational resources that they need to succeed; and
so today in higher education approximately two thirds of students do
not have access to the educational resources that their faculty have
assigned for their courses, and if students don’t have access to the
resources that they need to learn, the students can’t learn as well in the
class. So to the extent that we want students to be part of innovation, part
of the creativity, part of the energy that happens in universities, we need
them to have access to the resources that have been designed for the class. So
I would say that’s one thing that OER helps with. Another one is even beyond
the university: if you, when universities open up their content, their degree
programmes, their courses, you never know who else in the public might read that
material, might learn something, and might come up with the next solution to global
warming or to clean water or how to build -you know- a better bridge. We’re not
gonna, we’re not going to know where the talent is in society until people have
access: and that’s true of educational resources, and it’s true of of academic
research. And I would say a third reason why open is so critical for innovation
is when faculty get up the courage to share their content, and I say that
because it’s a scary thing to do: I was faculty the first time I shared I
was worried about it, because -oh my gosh!- other people are looking at my work, and
they’re going to critique, it and they might find errors in it. And that’s a
scary thing, if you haven’t shared before, but it’s also
empowering. So when I share other people do find errors in my work, they do
improve it, and that in and of itself is an innovative and creative moment: I
think the way that I think, and I try to improve, and I try to get better over
time, but there are always smarter people than me, and there are people that have
different ideas and different approaches and different ways of solving problems,
and people that have different knowledge than I have; and, if I want to be the best
at solving particular problems, if I want to unleash the innovation of not just me,
but of the broader network of people who work in the field that I work in, then
the only way to really do that is for me to be open with the content that I
produce, but also be open in my practices: for me to actually share my challenges,
share my goals, share the project that I’m working on, because it’s then
when people say: -Oh, I have an idea, I could help with that-
or: -I’ve already solved that problem!- and you don’t have to waste your time or
money doing that. And so, if you think about the big challenges of the day, I
would say that the United Nations’ sustainable development goals are
probably a pretty good list: so it’s education for everybody,
taking poverty to zero, reducing gender inequality, making sure that everybody
has clean water. These are big challenges that most of
the Countries of the world face, and if we’re going to solve those, if we’re
going to come up with creative and innovative solutions to those, we’ve got
to have access to all of the research on those topics, and not just some access:
full access. We’ve got to have access to the educational resources and to the
best minds, and the best way to do that is to be open in our education and in
our research.