Opportunities, barriers and policy issues

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Key points
Drawing on two national case studies and two international case studies, symposium participants were invited to identify:
  • opportunities
  • barriers and
  • policy issues

for harnessing the potential of open education approaches for the benefit of the formal education sector in New Zealand. The contributions written on sticky notes during the symposium are recorded on this page. Participants and interested New Zealanders are most welcome to add to the list below.


Opportunities identified by the symposium delegates have been grouped as follows:

Teaching and learning for educators and students

Sticky notes for opportunities
  1. Use OER to develop resourcefulness as a core capability, not only for students but for teachers as well. Align with the notion of teacher as curator.
  2. Network for learning
  3. Teacher education via OER
  4. Increase accessibility of education
  5. Learn when you want / can
  6. Learner's customisation of their learning.
  7. Vehicle for increased collaboration
  8. Raising quality in resources and assessment.
  9. Refocus on enhanced teaching/learning, student support and quality assessment
  10. Qualifications by independent study
  11. Working with industry and NZQA to determine how relevance and quality might be assured from their perspectives
  12. Engage students in a non-threatening way in learning areas considered difficult or not normally taken up by their ethnic / gender / socio economic group eg Physics / Calculus and engineering.

Fiscal sustainability and efficiency

  1. Reduce financial cost of education
  2. To "save" cash strapped governments here and worldwide
  3. Access to worldwide quality resources, expertise and knowledge at no cost for learners
  4. For leadership to be ahead of the game and ensure sustainability of the New Zealand tertiary system
  5. Bigger market for ITPs -- Chance to innovate
  6. Lower costs for learners
  7. Redirection of duplicated effort
  8. Cost savings for texts / resources
  9. Offering credential-only services for self-learners -- a different business model
  10. Efficiency gains -- work less hard but do the same.

Open philanthropy and society

  1. "Democratisation of education" presents a challenge to our community to think about who is excluded from education / knowledge. Change society? Build peace?
  2. Foster and promote collaboration
  3. Re-envisage education worldwide
  4. Enabling education to be available to anyone, anywhere -- removing barriers of geography, finance etc.
  5. Crossing subsector and subgrouping boundaries with common good / learner centred focus
  6. To support the courses offered by top institutions worldwide
  7. Greater access for learners
  8. Educators "feel good" about contributing to the education of the world's most disadvantaged

Learning resources

  1. New Zealand open textbook collaboration
  2. Collaboration in open textbooks
  3. Collaborative open textbook creation
  4. Ability to take / tweak/ reuse materials -- educational materials that are continually developing and changing just like our knowledge and learning
  5. At course level the opportunity to pick off some courses as "pathfinders"
  6. Increased diversity and quality of curriculum available to learners

Challenges and barriers

Challenges and barriers identified by the symposium delegates have been grouped as follows:


  1. Institutionally oriented mindsets
  2. Restrictive institute intellectual property policies
  3. Sunk investment in other models eg buildings, infrastructure, people.
  4. Incorporating collaborative development of OERs into teachers everyday workflow
  5. Institutional leadership in general has an interest in institutional ownership of resources -- in effect, many leaders are likely to resist the push to open up because they may fear loss of value.
  6. Changes to assessment practices
  7. Employee organisation fear that growth of OER threatens future employment; probably valid considering the number of past initiatives and changes that have been used as mechanisms for cost cutting.
  8. Absence of an enabling policy framework.
  9. Shifting institutional thinking
  10. Change or hinder academic staff research activity (could be barrier or opportunity)


  1. Tightly prescribed graduate profile and qualifications. Lack of flexibility for learner to design own learning pathway / qualification.
  2. NZGOAL position on open has excluded requirement for open licensing in the tertiary sector.
  3. Ensuring the correct balance between enabling broader participation without compromising institutional viability
  4. TEU not even engaged in thinking about open at the moment.
  5. Convincing government to fund outcomes, not delivery
  6. Current New Zealand funding policy for education
  7. How to shift the focus of front-end quality assurance (coherence, stakeholder acceptability) to an outcomes, output-based model.
  8. Government funding model: Levels dictate
  9. Convincing all to move away from ownership model - letting go, when encouraged to do otherwise by policy-makers / leaders.

Technology and infrastructure

  1. Access to technology especially for online resources namely cost of broadband connectivity and availability in some areas
  2. Common / shared software systems to enable transferability of: learning information, access to OER, cross-credentialing
  3. Common / shared software systems to enable access to OER
  4. New Zealand's "connectivity" is great if you're in a city. Expensive and slow if you are in a small town or region.
  5. Wiki markup is a barrier to novice WikiEducator users
  6. Costing models assume campus internet access is covered in fees. Domestic home access is an additional cost, i.e. internet access and bandwidth in New Zealand is costly

Advocacy, awareness and staff capability

  1. Current low level of awareness (of open practices) among staff and students
  2. Raise teacher awareness of CC licensing and reuse
  3. Awareness of what's being done, successes and non-success in other places etc. So much is happening and staff find it hard to keep up.
  4. Inadequate skill sets of academics
  5. Conventional wisdom regarding valid learning

Social and cultural

  1. Institutional learning has two purposes that are potentially jeopardised by some open pedagogy:
    • Qualifications / credentials are proxies for skills for those who don't have the experience, CV, confidence to demonstrate skills in other ways - essentially young learners
    • Institutional learning has a social capital as well as a human capital function. Can open pedagogies achieve this?
  2. Cultural and generational challenges
  3. Risk for young learners
  4. Government belief / ideology that "investment" in education has the purpose of increasing the material wealth of a nation (or its elite), rather than Commonwealth of Learning objectives.
  5. Ownership pathology: My knowledge, my students, my course, my resources, my classroom versus our staff, our campus, our timetable


  1. Quality assurance and acceptability of credentials for learners
  2. Changing / challenging learner beliefs that learning via OER is as valuable as via institute

Policy issues

Policy issues identified by the symposium delegates have been grouped as follows:

Funding models

  1. Funding models
  2. Funding model which treats study as a package, not separate service components, is still a financial barrier for learners
  3. Funding "self-learn" learners, eg financial support
  4. How do we "liberate" publicly funded research and resources from behind paywalls?
  5. How to get government to fund assessment of qualifications instead of whole qualifications. If funded like this, what would this mean for TEC quality measures?
  6. How can funding system designed around institutions be shifted to one focused on individuals?
  7. Cost of investment in developing teaching and learning resources over the long term.
  8. Funding needed
  9. Government source funding linked to "courses" equals linking funding to "learning", "learners" and "outcomes"
  10. Copyright associations / organisations equals generating revenue for authors and creators.
  11. Free or reduced cost for education / learners.
  12. Central (government) funding arrangements / implications for institutions need to change from current assumptions.
  13. How do we tie this in with the Government's desire to generate $50m of export education over the next few years?
  14. Grants / investment needed for creating OER in resource deficient areas.

Open policy

  1. Regulation verus incentives versus rationalisation approach
  2. Integration of other dimensions of "open" e.g. open access, open source etc.
  3. Creative Commons policies for all New Zealand Schools
  4. Intellectual property in secondary schools by default is owned by Board of Trustees. Need license change to default to Creative Commons.
  5. Intellectual property - How does this impact legal etc.
  6. Education required for some government departments who are not "on board" with the affordances of ICT enabled education

Education system

  1. Disaggregation of the teaching service chain
  2. "Joining up" the tertiary system in New Zealand so, for example, MOE, TEC, NZQA etc. Do it once and do it well. Pay once and use many times.
  3. Incentivising or opening of collaboration in student learning support systems.
  4. Simultaneous institutional enrolment for learners
  5. Getting consensus or at least a critical mass. There are strong opinions on either side, especially given governments push to increase revenue.

Assessment, accreditation and qualifications

  1. NCEA assessment recognising student contribution to OER as evidence of learning (Individual and collaborative)
  2. Recognition of personalised qualifications
  3. Portability of qualifications limited under the current institutional and certification policy.
  4. Clear development of credentialing-only models / policies for institutes.


  1. Maintaining standards of education. "What defines good education?" ; "What is a meaningful qualification?"
  2. Support from elite institutions worldwide
  3. Does "quality" become still more subjective in an open programme model?