Call for Open Action

Fontys School of ICT

Call for Open Action, blog Robert Schuwer

At the opening of the school year, Nienke Meijer made a passionate appeal to get into action and train talent with the right knowledge and skills: a call for action. The details can be found in a simultaneously published essay.

The call for action is close to my heart. Not least because of the focus on bringing balance in a curriculum that trains for professional practice, but, especially in these times, should also pay attention to the necessary Bildung: training to become critical and ethically thinking professionals.

The Call for Action already appealed for open cooperation between knowledge institutions and government investment in open and affordable education and in a digital infrastructure. In this reaction I want to outline how forms of open education can make the ambitions indicated in the essay more concrete.

I’m approaching open education here as broadly as possible. It’s therefore much more than the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that resigning minister Bussemaker mentioned in her speech. I also believe that sharing and reusing open learning material, open data and open access published research results are part of open education. Plus, including open elements in education and learning processes. Here the openness mainly serves to give the outside world a role in the openness of the education process, for instance via open platforms such as twitter, blog or wiki. These types of education are also indicated with the term open pedagogy, although the meaning of this concept hasn’t yet been fully crystallised.

How can open forms of education contribute to the Call for Action? The possibilities of open connections with the outside world enable the implementation of being TEC-proof. As more learning material is available, the customisation needs of the learning individual can be adhered to better. Open parts of learning material and experiences between knowledge institutions can lead to more efficiency (but only after an initial investment) and a higher quality of education (because open sharing is actually a form of peer reviewing learning material).

How can we start? I think many opportunities are already being used. What could be done better is the exchange of experiences; learning from each other. Make use of the current infrastructure in the Netherlands. The current figurehead project at the Nursing study, in which with Fontys School of People and Health Studies acts as the instigator, five colleges in the Netherlands are cooperating on creating shared learning material, don’t have to invest in a joint technical infrastructure. A combination of Wikiwijs (searching for and assessing learning material), Edurep (compiling data about open learning material and making this data searchable), NL-LOM (a standard for describing learning material to make it more findable) and open platforms such as YouTube and SlideShare (where a lot is already being shared by teachers) suffices. Also use already available open learning material, open courses, open data and open tools.

And for the management: create the environment and preconditions. Provide time, see to a safe environment (an experiment can also fail) and organise support (preferably as local as possible).

For sustainability: make sure in the curriculum that students gain the skills to be able to learn independently. In a recently completed study by our lectureship, a lack of this skill is mentioned as one of the obstacles to be able to apply open forms of education in a professional career where lifelong learning is important. This also includes creating familiarity with the existing open and freely accessible forms of education. Integrate knowledge about the possibilities of open education in curricula of teacher training courses, so there will be a generation of teachers for whom open education is the default.

Higher professional education seems, because of this focus on education, a much better environment for starting with forms of open education. A study conducted at the end of last year by our lectureship into the state of affairs related to the adoption of forms of open online education, taught us that the focus on having to publish at universities is a threshold for teachers to start this. Higher professional education can act as a guide for higher education in the Netherlands. This is also the reason for my appeal: Call for Open Action!