In this blog post, we will add some of the contributions made to our previous invitation for broader community input for pre-budget recommendations to the Canadian federal government. Please note that these contributions are likely equally applicable to most federal governments, so feel free to bring these back to your respective contexts. All contributions posted with consent for public sharing.
Community Contributions to Recommendations
Laura Czerniewicz, Professor, University of Cape Town, South Africa
That the budget supports research in the form of a survey and focus groups into: 1) the ways that digital practices have permeated the student journey from application right through to graduation 2) the role of private companies in the ecosystem of teaching and learning provision including ownership, control, intellectual property and data rights 3) the role of Canadian organisations in enabling or constraining context-based teaching and learning in the political south 4) the national and international policies and regulatory frameworks which guide and steer postdigital teaching and learning 5) how marginalisation and inequality is morphing and being reformulated in the post pandemic university 6) education business models for the public good.
Rory McGreal, Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada:
That the federal government support a national survey of the effect of the transition to online learning that has occurred due to Covid 19. This survey should include collecting data on the achievement scores of students at all levels of education as well as student and teacher satisfaction levels with online learning as opposed to classroom-based education. Data should also be collected on the students who were left out of this transition either because of no access to the internet, lack of computers in the home, poor connectivity, poor response by the school, lack of teacher training in online learning, etc. etc. The extent of the transition to the use of open educational resources (OER) online should also be an important part of this study, showing the impact (or lack thereof) of OER implementations. A comparison of regional responses across Canada could reveal useful information for positing significant changes in the way we conduct education in the digital age.
Jenni Hayman, Dean, Academic Excellence and Innovation, Cambrian College, Ontario, Canada:
Regular annual funding to create and maintain a national open educational resources (OER) and open education delivery platform, similar to the OpenLearn UK initiative funded as part of the Open University UK. Content and learning opportunities on the OpenLearn platform [Website] are made available at no cost for any interested learner. In addition, pathways are created for OpenLearn participants to pursue post-secondary education at the Open University UK. Most national OER researchers and advocates would agree that Athabasca University, as our Canadian national Open University, has the expertise to manage this project and recruit additional staff to establish high quality national open education services. Funding should also include substantial amounts to support the creation and sharing of Indigenous content developed by Indigenous educators and community members to further the aims of sharing truth and promoting healing and reconciliation. In November 2019, the Canadian Government voted to adopt the United Nations Recommendation on OER – Open Educational Resources [Website], but has yet to invest any meaningful funding toward the Five Areas of Action as follows: Building the capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER; Developing supportive policy for OER; Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER; Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation in OER (UNESCO, 2019). National funding for OER is an important response to the need for fundamental adult education content and additional education strategies required to support economic recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 on employment and small businesses. A national solution, and appropriate funding and oversight for the creation and dissemination of OER for PreK-12, post-secondary, and community education purposes would reduce the redundant creation of core learning resources at the provincial level and provide an opportunity to create teaching and learning materials that visibly and philosophically embody diversity in authorship, language (including and especially Indigenous languages), ways of knowing, and multicultural contexts. The focus on national funding for a solution–an OER platform and repository, and extensive multi-year funding for the creation of Canadian-focused and much-needed open content, provides opportunities for national inclusion from educators and learners from every province and territory without impeding provincial and territorial sovereignty related to PreK-12 and post-secondary curriculum. It is a both/and solution. Establishing a national academic platform for open learning also encourages national collaboration on the systemic challenges of publicly funded education, especially related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. If desired, this multi-year, substantial funding might be framed as a national, open request for proposal (RFP) or grant application. The OTESSA Board of Directors and members, as well as leading national OER Chairs and scholars may provide advice on the needs analysis and criteria for such a call. The recommended scale of preliminary funding would be ~$200 – $400 million over three years with a significant percent of funding for collaborative grants to curate, adopt, adapt (to national contexts and languages), and create OER as needed for the purpose of advancing literacy, preserving and celebrating Indigenous languages, infusing PreK-12 curriculum with national truth and visible representation of diverse perspectives and cultures, and providing no cost experiential and applied learning opportunities that lead to informed 21st century skills and abilities for socio-economic success.
Be sure to provide your input to us on the web form we have posted on our call for input blog post.
We chose this photo because this call and submission represents a very small reflection of the ocean of ideas out there. The more contributions we get from you, the better we can advocate for the needs of a better future as it pertains to open education and educational technology.