This post was written by Viviane Vladimirschi and first published on her blog on May 10th, 2018.

 

Yay, I became a Dr and now what?

First off,  I would like to note that I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend three GO-GN Seminars and three OE Global Conferences to this date. This year was particularly special for me as I passed my Viva about two weeks before participating and presenting my study in Delft to this amazing, collaborative and open community of researchers.

Yes, I am now officially a Dr in Education and this fact in itself bears an impact on how people perceive you and what they expect from you from now on.  I do often wonder if they expect me now to be some kind of “open” genius with incredible ideas on how my research or future projects in this field will contribute towards meeting UN’s Sustainable Development Goals numbers 4 and 10? Undoubtedly, these are very important goals to achieve and as an educator, researcher and instructional designer, there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think how the findings of my study can positively impact  the pedagogical practices of  K-12 public school teachers in Brazil so as to achieve at least one of these goals. The point being that I would very much like to see the professional development guidelines for OER for Brazilian public school teachers I developed based on the findings of my study put into practice. Yet, I still need to figure out to how to get this done.  There are no easy answers so another journey has begun.

OE Global Conference 2018: from OER and OEP to open approaches

The theme of this year’s OEGlobalConference2018 : “Transforming Education Through Open Approaches” appears to be aligned with the achievement of  the above mentioned goals through the use of OER, OEP and the shift now towards the concept of openness or ‘open’ as an important means for individuals, governments, private sector and society as whole to collectively undertake actions that will ensure a more sustainable future for us all, specifically in terms of  ensuring quality, accessible and equitable education for all.  I feel that as a movement we are maturing. We appear to be somewhat less caught up with  the semantics of the concept of ‘open’ and more open to embracing openness  in whatever form it presents itself.

While the use of open approaches may not solve all the educational problems in the world, they certainly do hold the potential to mitigate  problems by providing innovative, relatively low-cost teaching and learning opportunities at all levels, which ultimately will benefit all stakeholders. As Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Netherland’s Minister of Education, Culture and Science, stated during the opening of the conference “the decision not to share is a decision to stagnate”, and I could not agree with her more.  Her very touching statement resonates with the UNESCO (2017a) argument for knowledge and education being considered a common and public good, which emphasizes not only the possibility of each citizen to access high-quality available teaching, learning and research resources but also to freely use and repurpose these resources so as to add value to the knowledge chain.  It is worth noting that the concept of  the Commons ties back nicely to Freire’s (1970) work and UNESCO’s sustainable development goal number four, which aims “to ensure inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (UNESCO, 2017b, para. 1).

Yet, there are distinct differences between the concepts of the Commons and public goods (Bollier, 2011).  Bollier (2011) upholds that the term commons is “a set of of ongoing practices, not an inert physical resource” (para. 1), which suggests that “the commons is really more of a verb” (para. 1) as opposed to public goods, which can be considered a noun to describe “inert physical resources” (para.1).  Bollier (2011) summarizes the commons as: “as a general concept describing durable, dynamic sets of social relationships for managing resources — all sorts of resources:  digital, urban, natural, indigenous, rural, cultural, scientific, to use some crude categories” (para. 1).  In essence, each Commons has its own unique character as it is “shaped by its particular location, history, culture and social practices” (Bollier, 2011, para. 2).  This helps explain why commoners (actual people) in Brazil have a different view or perspective of the Commons than  North Americans or Europeans (Bollier, 2011).  Thus, it is up to the commoners of a particular country to determine and decide what set of practices according to their geographical, historical, cultural and social norms should be implemented, managed and shared.

Additionally, I was very happy to learn during the conference that there has been a commitment to action to focus more efforts on the K-12 sector. In fact, this not only highlights the relevance and contribution of my study in this sector but also shows how the OE movement has progressed. In order to meet UN’s Sustainable Development Goals numbers 4 and 10, it is imperative that we start implementing reform at this level.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if by the time students gained entry into Higher Education they would all be naturally and effortlessly using OER and OEPs? But in order for this happen the K-12 public sector will need some kind of funding from NGOs or from HE institutions to raise awareness, build capacity, disseminate open practices and eventually mainstream OE, OER, OEPs and Open Approaches.

Finally, while all sessions I participated in provided me with new learning opportunities and excellent food for thought, one panel session I participated in is worth highlighting: How can we destroy the open education movement: Conversation about ethics.  This session was rather disturbing and extremely thought-provoking but so timely and invaluable because it afforded participants an opportunity to critically reflect on and debate issues, which are rather uncomfortable and nobody seems to really want to engage in such discussions. However, such debates enable a broader understanding of the inherent differences between the Global North and the Global South. If we are to move forward as a united and cohesive OE movement then it is necessary for us to engage in such conversations.

Presenting my Study to a Broader Audience

During the GO-GN seminar and the OEGlobalConference2018, I presented my study, its methodology and findings, and the professional development guidelines for OER I developed based on an intervention I undertook in one Brazilian fundamental education public school. Naturally, as a case study its findings cannot be generalized but its findings  may be transferable. Below are pictures of two distinct moments presenting my study and my guidelines (clap, clap, clap).  This was undoubtedly a high point in my career as a researcher. A real Milestone (yes, with a capital M) in my life and indeed the reception was warm even though there are great technological disparities between the Global North and the Global South. For example, in Brazil many K-12 public schools still suffer from limited or poor Wi-Fi connectivity, which is why some of my guidelines may not be more generally applicable.

The Guidelines are also available in table format. Please see:  Professional Development Guidelines for OER

The GO-GN Seminar

About the GO-GN seminar. It was incredible to learn how diverse and how much this community and network has grown since 2015. Over the past two years, these seminars have enabled us to establish close ties with former participants and colleagues, who have been of central importance in providing rich information exchanges, collaborative learning opportunities and support during my own research process. The GO-GN seminar this year brought me new friends; exciting and innovative ongoing research knowledge and information; and invaluable opportunities for exchange and for providing support to those researchers who are either beginning their PhD journey or are in the middle of the process. There were certainly many informal exchanges during our “free” time, which are highly indicative that we tend to bond towards achieving our aspirations and goals. The PhD journey is indeed a lonely journey and we all highly benefit from this warm and welcoming network. My kudos also goes to @catherinecronin and @chrissinerantzi for a very useful and fun design thinking activity aimed at exploring PhD issues and brainstorming solutions.

Thanks to GO-GN, we are all afforded this unique opportunity to reflect upon our own core values, beliefs and practices and by doing so continoulsly refine our own work by exchanging ideas, concerns, doubts, challenges and even fears with regards to our research work in this field. I have certainly reaped countless benefits from participating in this network and now in the role of alumni I hope that I can continue contributing with my knowledge and tiny weeny expertise.

An enormous thank you also goes to @Nat_Kitkat for the impeccable organization of this event and to Drs. Bea, Martin, Beck and Rob for their patience, guidance and expertise during this terrific two-day learning and teaching opportunity.

References

Bollier, D. (2011, July 15). The commons, short and sweet [Web log post]. News and Perspectives on the Commons. Retrieved from http://www.bollier.org/commons-short-and-sweet

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

UNESCO (2017a). Open educational resources. ICT in education [Web site]. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/open-educational-resources/

UNESCO (2017b). UNESCO and sustainable development goals. Leading education 2030 [Web site]. Retrieved from https://en.unesco.org/education2030-sdg4

Written by Bea de los Arcos

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