Richard Hall, who I collaborate with, has just posted our submission to the Open Education 2010 conference. It has been accepted and will be the last of a few ‘resilient education’ presentations and workshops that we are running over the summer. Hopefully, by the end of this process, we’ll have a decent idea about what people working in Higher Education think to the scenarios we are proposing and the challenges and opportunities that arise.
Here are the slides from a workshop we did at De Montfort University yesterday. We’ll be running a similar workshop at the HEA Conference next week and at the ALT Conference in September. The OpenEd10 abstract follows these slides.
OpenEd10 Conference Submission
HE faces complex disruptions. Can open education and social media enable individuals-in-communities to develop resilience and overcome dislocation?
Higher Education faces complex disruptions, from the growing threat of peak oil (The Oil Drum, 2010) and the impact that will have on our ability to consume/produce (Natural Environment Research Council, 2009), and from our need to own the carbon and energy we emit/use, in order to combat climate change. These problems are being amplified by energy availability and costs (The Guardian, 2009), public sector debt and the effects of a zero growth economy (new economics foundation, 2010).
One focus for response is the use of technology and its impact upon approaches to open education, in developing resilience. The Horizon Report 2010 (New Media Consortium, 2010) highlights the importance of openness but argues that learning and teaching practices need to be seen in light of civic engagement and complexity. Facer and Sandford (2010) ask critical questions of inevitable and universal futures, focused upon always-on technology, and participative, inclusive, democratic change. There is an ethical imperative to discuss the impacts of our use of technology on our wider communities and environment, and to define possible solutions.
Educational technology might be used to address some of these issues through the development of shared, humane values that are amplified by specific qualities of open education, including: relationships and power; anxiety and hope; and social enterprise and community-up provision. These areas are impacted by resilience, which is socially- and environmentally-situated, and denotes the ability of individuals and communities to learn and adapt, to mitigate risks, prepare for solutions to problems, respond to risks that are realised, and to recover from dislocations (Hopkins, 2009). This focuses upon defining problems and framing solutions contextually, around our abilities to develop adaptability to work virally and in ways that are open source and self-reliant. This means working at appropriate scale to take civil action, through diversity, modularity and feedback within communities.
The key for any debate on resilience linked to open education is in defining a curriculum that requires institutions to become less managerial and more open to the formation of devolved social enterprises. This demands the encouragement of what Gramsci (1971) called organic intellectuals, who can emerge from within communities to lead action. Learners and tutors may emerge as such organic intellectuals, working openly with communities in light of disruption. An important element here is what Davis (2007) terms “democratic ‘co-governance’” within civil action, but which might usefully be applied to education, in the form of co-governance of educational outputs. One key issue is how open education is (re)claimed by users and communities within specific contexts and curricula, in-line with personal integration and enquiry, within an uncertain world (Futurelab, 2009).
The following questions emerge, catalysed by open education.
1. What sorts of literacies of resilience do people as social agents need?
2. What sorts of knowledge/understanding do these learners need to be effective agents in society?
3. Are our extant modes of designing and delivering curricula meaningful or relevant?
This paper will address these questions by examining whether open education can enable individuals-in-communities to recover from dislocations.
- Davis, J. 2007. The Limits of Partnership: An Exit-Action Strategy for Local Democratic Inclusion. Political Studies, 55(4): 779-900.
- Facer, K. and Sandford. R. 2010. The next 25 years?: future scenarios and future directions for education and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 26, no.1: 74–93.
- FutureLab. 2009. Enquiring Minds: Year 4 report: Innovative approaches to curriculum reform. Futurelab report.
- Gramsci, A. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: Lawrence and Wishart.
- The Guardian. 2009. UK energy availability and costs. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jun/22/gas-electricity-energy-bills-rise
- The Guardian. 2010. University teaching budgets slashed. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/feb/01/university-teaching-budgets-slashed
- Hopkins, R. 2009. Resilience Thinking: an article for the latest ‘Resurgence’.
- Natural Environment Research Council. 2009. “Significant risk” of oil production peaking in ten years. http://www.nerc.ac.uk/press/briefings/2009/08-oil.asp
- New Media Consortium. 2010. Horizon Report 2010. http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2010-Horizon-Report.pdf
- The Oil Drum 2010. http://www.theoildrum.com/