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Conference Proposal

Conference Proposal—30% The format for this assignment is roughly similar to the Conference Abstract assignment, except that it offers you more space and hence the opportunity to provide a degree of greater detail regarding what you imagine you might present. Length: 3 pages double-spaced (maximum), excluding works cited

As submitted.

Audrey Watters (Watters, n.d.) often reminds her readers that we ignore the history of educational technology at our own peril. Her point is that the historical foundations of ideas and artifacts are important in interrogating modern trends. I argue that the same is true when thinking about open education. Lack of clarity or precision about what is meant by open education leads to difficulty for researchers and educators, and we might be well served to explore both the historical and current understandings of the concept.

Educators who have surveyed the literature on the history of open education (Hendricks, 2017; Morgan, 2016) have found that early conceptions of open education were primarily focused on creating student-centred learning environments in K-12 (Cuban, 2004) and "autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation" (Paquette, 2005). Morgan (2016) notes that there are distinct similarities between what Paquette advocated and that to which open educators currently aspire.

In 2007, a small group of open educators met in Cape Town, South Africa and published the Cape Town Open Education Declaration which argues that open education can increase access to education and also "nourish [a] participatory culture of learning" and that it should lead to "new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning" ("The Cape Town Open Education Declaration," n.d. para. 3-4). The Cape Town Declaration has become one of the most important documents in the open education movement, but it seems that government funding decisions have sometimes distracted educators from those ideals.

The defining characteristic of OER is that they are released under an open license, usually a Creative Commons license which empowers end users to engage in five activities with materials (retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute), collectively known as the "5R permissions" or "the 5Rs" (Wiley, ND). OER projects like the Open Textbook Repository in BC ("Open.bccampus.ca," n.d.) have received significant amounts of funding from the BC provincial government, which initially may have led to an over-emphasis on reducing costs for students by using 'free' materials at the expense of other pedagogical considerations in using OER. Other high profile initiatives in North America include the OpenStax project at Rice University ("Openstax.org," n.d.), Saylor Academy ("saylor.org," n.d.), Lumen Learning ("LumenLearning.com," n.d.) and several institutions who have partnered with the Open Education Resources universitas ("OERu.org," n.d.).

David Wiley (2017) noticed that there were many instances of people using the term "open education" to mean different things and it was becoming difficult to speak or write meaningfully about it without causing confusion. Wiley's response to this was to coin a term that he hadn't previously seen in the literature so that he could be clear about what he meant. He chose to use the term "OER-enabled pedagogy" to refer to what he called: "the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which are characteristic of OER." (Wiley & Hilton, 2018). Wiley's definition serves to move the emphasis from cost-savings for students to the unique ways that OER can be used by educators to engage their students. He is clear that his focus is only on those activities that are enabled by open licenses and the 5R permissions. Consequently, OER-enabled pedagogies may be considered as a subset of open education practices.

Open education practice (OEP) is a more recent construct than open education, with early descriptions beginning to appear in the literature in 2007 (Cronin & MacLaren, 2018). Cronin and MacLaren argue for an "expansive view" of OEP based on the history of the concept in the literature. They describe open education as "resources, tools and practices to improve educational access, effectiveness, and equality worldwide" (2018, p. 127).

Paskevicius (2017) used the framework of constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996) to suggest a working definition of OEP as:

Teaching and learning practices where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice ... OEP engage both faculty and students with the use and creation of OER, draw attention to the potential afforded by open licences (sic), facilitate open peer-review, and support participatory student-directed projects. (p. 127)

It should be noted that Cronin & McLaren's definition does not specifically mention OER either as a necessary condition or an output of OEP, whereas Paskevicius' definition specifies that the use and creation of OER is included in the definition. It seems that a definition that is too expansive may lead to the term open education being applied to any initiative that seeks to improve educational access or effectiveness, thereby rendering the term relatively meaningless.

It seems clear from both historical and contemporary literature that open education is a broad enterprise that may include OER, OER-enabled pedagogies, and open educational practices as artifacts and practices of openness in education. Also under the umbrella of open education, but beyond the scope of this review are the use of open source software, open research, open data, interoperable technologies, and policies that reduce barriers to access.

In summary, openness in education invites and empowers participation in high quality learning environments through the implementation of policies that reduce barriers to participation such as the use of open education resources, open educational practices, interoperable technology systems and tools, and which maximize student voice and participation.


Audrey Watters. (n.d.). Hack Education. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from http://hackeducation.com/

Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing Teaching through Constructive Alignment. Higher Education, 32(3), 347–364.

Cronin, C., & MacLaren, I. (2018). Conceptualising OEP: A review of theoretical and empirical literature in Open Educational Practices. Open Praxis, 10(2), 127–143.

Cuban, L. (2004). The Open Classroom. Education Next, 4(2). Retrieved from https://www.educationnext.org/theopenclassroom/

Hendricks, C. (2017). Open Education in the 60s and 70s – You're the Teacher. Retrieved October 20, 2018, from http://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2017/10/21/open-education-in-the-60s-and-70s/

OERu.org. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://oeru.org/

LumenLearning.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://www.lumenlearning.com/

Open.bccampus.ca. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://open.bccampus.ca/open-textbook-stats/

Openstax.org. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://openstax.org/

Paquette, C. (2005). La pédagogie ouverte et interactive. Retrieved from http://arc-en-ciel.csdm.ca/files/Pedagogie-ouverte-et-interactive.pdf

Paskevicius, M. (2017). Conceptualizing Open Educational Practices through the Lens of Constructive Alignment. Open Praxis, 9(2), 125–140. Retrieved from https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/519

saylor.org. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from https://www.saylor.org/

Morgan, T. (2016, December 21). Open pedagogy and a very brief history of the concept. Retrieved October 15, 2018, from https://homonym.ca/uncategorized/open-pedagogy-and-a-very-brief-history-of-the-concept/

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from https://www.capetowndeclaration.org/read-the-declaration

Wiley, D. (ND). Defining the 'open' in open content. Retrieved September 23, 2018, from http://www.opencontent.org/definition/

Wiley, D. (2017, May 2). OER-Enabled Pedagogy. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/5009

Wiley, D., & Hilton, J. (2018). Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(4). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v19i4.3601