An Open Practice Manifesto?

Over the last two days I attended #ukoeras11 – the SCORE-led Autumn Symposium for OER in the UK. I worked with a small, fascinating team: Tracey De Beer (SCORE), Tony Coughlan (Open University) , Julian Priddle (Science Training and Education Partnership), and Simon Thompson (head of eLearning at Leeds Met). We produced a manifesto for OER, Open Practice and education more widely which, on re-reading, I think we should all be fairly happy with. Certainly it captures one position within a range concerning one possible future for the OER “Movement” (if such a thing exists), and we’d be interested in comments. This manifesto is in the public domain, under CC-0. [edit: @tore has shared another attempt to build a ten point OER Declaration at Nordlet.]
It is time to reclaim the radical roots of OER.
OER should once again become a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

Ensure that students leaving HE are independent thinkers and analysts, and adaptable to change.
Teach openness – evolve a code of open ethics/conduct that can taught Professional body that recognises openness
Clear promotion of what OER and OEP is to the general public / create a need through marketing OER and OEP to stimulate the ideas behind the moment (the ideas of sharing and openness)

We agree that we must re-focus our activities to achieve societal and cultural goals. We recognise that the nature of education has become contaminated by the assumptions and language of business and commerce, and has lost the ability to meet the needs of learners and educators.

Lobby government that HE is not a commodity that can be sold (students are not customers!)
Change the way institutional success is measured
Change the idea that HE is just another 3 years for school.
Destigmatise the idea of academic failure.
Ensure that students leaving HE are independent thinkers and analysts and adaptable to change.

We propose the concept of Open Practice, to cover the range of practices and ideas that encapsulate the concept of the academic as a public intellectual. We argue that the work of a public intellectual includes open research, open teaching and open scholarship

A percentage of public lecture/outputs a condition of employment – back to proliferation of knowledge. 
Promote a sense of community and support – agreed peer review to support your work.
Change the views of senior management at institutions to show that having our lecture (or outputs) openly available is good for the reputation of the institution: gather evidence and present it to the right people in the right way and at the right time.

We re-assert the primacy of the practitioner as being responsible for the quality and utility of what they offer. The measurement of educational quality is qualitative, not quantitative.

student exit interviews plus follow-up interviews at regular intervals post university.
Entry level student versus exit level student (the journey of improvement) measure.
Increase the quality of the learning experience by forcing lecturers to spend more time on their practice because it will be in the public domain.

The current metrics of education quality are short-term and focussed on immediate satisfaction/gratification, rather than long-term effectiveness. We require a scholarly conception of quality supported by a community of peers and a community of scholars. 

The development of personable metrics for the quality of education, and a managed retreat from the aggregations of learner analytics.
OERs cease to be a select category of resources but become a benchmark for resource quality.
We need to teach openness and demonstrate the benefit to students and communities.
We need to use openness to develop global reputations for our students.

We recognise learners as being co-responsible for their own learning and personal growth.

Accelerate the transition from transmission/accreditation of information to developing learning/analytical skills as the purpose of learning, which has the beneficial side effect of preparing learners for a rapidly changing society/employment market.
Investigate new models of learning, away from the traditional 3 year full time attendance leading to something called a degree.

We assert the right of the learner and the educator to the ownership of the product of their own labour, and we assert the right of the world to access and use these products without financial penalty. We deplore the reification of knowledge into commodity, of insight into profit, of learning into commerce.

Open practice as the norm – closed practice as a specifically argued for exception.

We welcome the implied and tangible support of our allies in the Free Culture movement, the Open Data Movement, the Open Source Movement and the actions of forward-thinking institutions, organisations and governments in supporting our aims. 

We will build links and celebrate notable achievements as a part of a wider community.

7 thoughts on “An Open Practice Manifesto?”

  1. Hi David and allUnfortunately I couldn’t make it to the symposium – seems that I missed alot.I like the idea of an open practice manifesto. I wrote a post a few weeks ago for change11 mooc and included the following definition of open practice”By Open practices I mean a broad range of practices which have an ‘open’ philosophy, intention or approach. Within a learning and teaching context this includes open learning as a separate activity/practice (of learners) to the provision of teaching or formal education which we could describe as open Educational practice (of teachers). Open practices can include both informal and formal learning and teaching and can take place at individual (learner or teacher) or social (group, collective, institutional) contexts. Formal open practice is situated in the wider educational context and is influenced by the cultures and traditional practices of institutions in different educational sectors. Informal and formal open practice takes place within wider societal contexts which are evolving rapidly. Open practices take place in, and are enabled by, a highly connected socially networked environment.”I think it is important to include learners practices as well as academic staff practice in a defintition. Your definition seems to focus on the academic. I wonder if your notion of open scholarship includes informal learning – which is significant in the open movement?The above definition is my own take on open practices which has developed from my work with the ukoer synthesis and evaluation team (Allison Littlejohn, Helen beetham and Isobel Falconer). We have discussed open educational practices on several blog posts are currently working on an open practices paper as part of our outcomes from phase 2 synthesis and will be drawing together a description that we feel reflects the work of projects and our team so your discussions are very timely for our work.

  2. @Lou – you make a very good point. It wasn’t quite captured in the manifesto (time was against us) but we talked a lot about student open practice, drawing on Frances Bell’s excellent recent post about students as reflective practitioners. If anything, I suspect we need to use a more inclusive term (like scholar?) in the text above in place of academic. I suppose an academic is literally “a member of an academy”, which should include students but most often seems not to.

  3. Hi David, this is an excellent start- how will this manifesto be openly and publicly developed now? Obviously it is a snapshot in an ongoing conversations. For example, when I presented at the SCORE fellows meeting in March, I drew on the Capetown Declaration and a pre-event discussion with SCORE fellows on Cloudworks to suggest that emergent open practices include:’embracing educational practices built around collaboration, discovery and the co-creation of knowledge…Open scholarship and research (collaborating openly, open publication and release of data)Using open platforms, open source tools, open corpora, open data sets’ with full acknowledgement and recognition. Also’Open access publishingOpen accreditation to open educational standardsOpen partnerships for content creation and sharing’In concluding I argued that we should aspire to:- collaborative development of content- more inquiry-based learning (‘open curriculum’) – borderless institutions, widening opportunity for independent learners – developing public intellectuals (‘open scholarship’) – developing public institutions of learning- open conversations about learning and teachingI also gave examples of projects that were enabling some of these aspirations to be realised. As you know, we are looking across UK OER funded projects for evidence that these are possible and desirable outcomes for UK HE and FE. So there are many people who could contribute not just ideas but hard evidence to this initiative.… (from slide #17 – sorry that this is a rather poor upload missing several useful graphics)

  4. Lou, as David says your observation is really valuable. Prior to composing the manifesto we’d recognised that users of OER are counted in tens of millions, while academic authors and re-users number hundreds, or maybe thousands. I’ve brought all of our flipchart work away with me and I’ll see if some of our earlier content can be woven in.


  • Lisa Winebrenner
  • Stephen Downes

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