You can access the Spanish version of this post here \ Puedes ver la versión en castellano aqui

During the next few months, I will be working as a Research Fellow of GOGN. I am not exaggerating when expressing that it is one of the greatest honors that I have received in my academic career, given the value and leadership that this wonderful network has in the construction of Open Education at a global level, focused on the doctoral training of human resources, their articulation and integration.

Belonging to GOGN has had a very important impact on the development of my doctoral thesis, providing the space and conditions to be able to connect with an enthusiastic group committed to research and development of open education around the world.

In my doctoral thesis (2019), developed within the Doctoral Program in Equity and Innovation in Education (University of Santiago de Compostela), I have analyzed the dimensions of the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Repositories, leading to the creation of a conceptual model from a critical Latin-American perspective that constitutes a relevant contribution to Open Education in the Global South, locating teachers as the most important agents in the adoption of OER in the context of Higher Education, within the framework of their reflective and situated practice, highlighting the existing links with their personal and professional identities; placing the adoption of OER in the scope of the curriculum, understanding OER not only as content but also as processes, practices and contexts; and contributing to transcending the postcolonial perspective of the universality of OER, facing the challenges for their critical decolonised appropriation in diverse contexts.

This work, and the visibility with which GOGN has contributed, has led me to participate in various spaces that have allowed me to deepen my contribution to Open Education from research, practice and activism. With this opportunity to continue my participation in GOGN as an Alumni and Research Fellow, it constitutes a new challenge, which in my case allows me to continue and expand various works that I have been doing both in my doctoral thesis and with Uruguayan colleagues and global collectives.

The fellowship will be dedicated to deepening understanding related to the adoption of Open Educational Resources and Repositories in overcoming the educational crisis during COVID-19 pandemic by K12 teachers in Uruguay.

Although Uruguay has no laws, recommendations or approved national policies regarding Open Education, there are ongoing policy design initiatives that lay the groundwork for their realization in the near future, and there is also a number of national OER repositories oriented to K12 education. During the COVID19 pivot, these repositories showed an increase in the use and adoption by K12 teachers.

We were able to highlight this in the recent report “Open Education as a game changer – stories from the pandemic” The study presents examples of positive initiatives and changes in education originated as a reaction to the closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and which are part of what is known as Open Educational Practices and Open Educational Resources. We participated with my colleague and friend Patricia Díaz contributing with the Uruguayan chapter, focusing mainly on metrics of the increasing use of repositories, and conducting interviews with 2 school directors about the particular case of use of the two OER repository and OEP initiatives: OER Ceibal RepositoryUruguay Educa Repository , and the RedREA OEP initiative. The interviews were focused on the impact of repositories and the integration of OER into practice during COVID19 crisis.

The narrative of these directors regarding what was happening in these schools and the work being done by the teachers supported by OER and other digital resources was a huge surprise. Aiming to investigate what is related to the agency of teachers in the transformation of the curriculum, the processes of creating and reuse OER, and the sharing practices between colleagues, groups, schools. and how all these processes were taking place within the framework of a situation of the extreme vulnerability of all the educational actors. what emerged led me to think about the need and responsibility to deepen these findings, and I have been fortunate that this can occur within the framework of the GOGN research fellowship.

The Fellowship proposal is aimed at investigating the experiences of teachers from four public primary schools in Uruguay in relation to the creation, use and reuse of OER and national repositories during the COVID19 emergency, identifying the drivers that led to an increase in the adoption in this particular scenario.

We had had a first approach to the adoption of open education K12 teachers, in an exploratory study that we carried out between 2016 and 2017 presented during the IV OER Workshop. Some of the findings and trends identified in this preliminary study seem to be deepened in the context of the COVID 19 emergency, accelerating the adoption of OER.

The national health emergency declaration for COVID-19 pandemic took place on March 13, 2020, this coincided with the start of the school year in Uruguay on March 2. Uruguay has an important technological infrastructure and a wide and strong public and free education sector that has allowed the country to continue education. Schools in Uruguay were in a privileged situation to face the pandemic, due to the investment in infrastructure and national capacities made in the last 15 years. This allowed the country to provide educational continuity based on various digital education strategies. However, many children have been left behind, and that social gaps have widened.

Our objective is to give an account of these processes of change and deepening of open education, but also of the conditions and particularities in which it has occurred in these four public primary schools.

You can watch Virginia’s presentation of her fellowship at our meet the fellows mini seminar recording.

Photo by Matias Reyes on Unsplash