USP marks Open Education week

University of the South Pacific held the Open Education Showcase and Forum to celebrate the global open education movement and its impact on learning and teaching.

The forum was organised by Centre for Flexible Learning on 29 March, 2017 at the Laucala Campus in Suva.

The forum also focused on progress on Open Education initiatives and opportunities and ways to enhance OER use an application.

Open education is about access to educational opportunities, the practice of open learning and engagement with open scholarship, said Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International.

According to Professor Armstrong, open access to learning is about inclusive and equal access to educational opportunities without barriers, such as lack of prior knowledge and entry qualifications.

“At the operational level, this means not just equal but equitable access to educational opportunities,” he said.

Open learning he added, is about the ability to study and learn at anytime, anywhere and at any place irrespective of one’s physical location or condition.

As for open scholarship, he said it involves engagement with a culture of sharing which incorporates the release of education resources under an open license scheme that permits no-cost access and permissions to adopt, adapt, retain and redistribute such resources openly and freely.

Professor Armstrong explained that while the case for access to educational opportunity and approaches to various modes of open learning are now widely recognised and accepted, the case for engagement with open scholarship is somewhat misunderstood.

“This forum is designed to help shed light on the ethical and moral issues surrounding engagement with open educational practices, the implications of these practices for the roles, responsibilities and commitments of universities, as well as other educational institutions in society, and the framing of a values-driven and future-proofed curriculum,” he remarked.

He stated that education is a public good, for without it there is no freedom to make informed decisions, to take advantage of learning opportunities and make meaningful choices that impact one’s daily life.

“Education can be the greatest leveler, for it affords the wherewithal to be able to compete equitably. And without being able to compete openly and fairly, there can be no real justice.

“So the more widely and openly accessible education is, the better are our chances for meeting our goals and aspirations,” he stated.
Professor Armstrong also mentioned that the adoption of open educational practices is integral to meeting this agenda.

“It includes access to learning opportunities anytime anywhere and at any pace, as well as the release of educational resources at no cost to the user, and with permissions for adaptation to local conditions,” he added.

Presentations were also done by representatives from several sections including the Library, Teacher Education Resource Centre (TEREC), School of Accounting and Finance, PACFOLD, CFL, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment and the Fiji Higher Education Commission.



Photo: Forum participants at The OER Showcase and Forum at Laucala