Exploring how to transform teachers into open educators
The Open Educators Factory project stems from the assumption that true progress in open education requires changes in practice and policy which is grounded on a change in education culture, and considers that teachers are the cornerstones for any cultural change in education. University teachers (meant as professors, lecturers and tutors) represent in fact the biggest “resistance” to the Open Education revolution – mainly because they typically fear that their role might be undermined by open approaches and because they do not have a full understanding of the potential of Open Education – and at the same time are the ones that could contribute the most to the adoption of Open Education practices from a genuine bottom up perspective. The project will explore how to transform university educators from “agents of resistence” into “agents of change” for Open Education. The idea is that if teachers would drive the Open Education change, the whole process would be more inclusive, creative and rooted to the real needs of learners. On the other hand, if teachers will not mobilise becoming advocates of Open Education approaches, marketization and privatisation will most probably become the norm in Higher Education across the world, at the expenses of academic freedom and access to education.
Sources of funding
- Reflect on the change process that is needed within HE institutions to empower teachers to become agents of change towards the adoption of Open Education practices
- Reach a working definition of "Open Educator"
- Develop a multidimensional framework (tackling learning design, content, pedagogy and research) able to guide educators in embracing openness in their daily practice
- Test and validate the framework among a number of universities in Europe and worldwide
The project is focussing on reaching a shared definition of “Open Educator” and on developing a conceptual framework able to show the different transformation dimensions that Openness can bring to the daily work of educators in universities. This is being done based on an analysis of the critical points of the Open Education movement, on a set of practices that have proven to make a change, on a reflections on barriers and incentives that can foster the visibility and usability of Open Education tools and practices among teachers.
In line with the connectivist theory, the research considers teachers as active components of their institutional ecosystem, and will therefore focus on the relations between them and the other Higher Education stakeholders, such as the institutional leaders who are setting the university policies, the ICT decision makers, who drive the way ICT is perceived in the institution, and the students, who influence the way teachers approach the change process towards openness of education. We do not focus on technology as the main driving force, but we consider how new ICT solutions are changing the way teachers behave and the way they interact with their ecosystem, especially with research peers and with students.
In the upcoming field research phase, the conceptual framework will be tested within diverse typologies of universities, representing the different approaches towards openness in education, and based on this a set of recommended actions to strengthen the transformative potential of Open Education among teachers will be provided.
Finally, the research will engage – through all its phases – with the major networks in the field of Open Education and post-secondary education, multiplying outreach and impact.