Notes & Sketches

The Porous University Event – Taking Care of Business Part 2

This is a short presentation we are giving at the event at the UHI next week. #porousuni

PowerPoint, PDF

John Casey, City of Glasgow College, UK

Wolfgang Greller, Vienna University of Education, Austria

As Scotland ponders whether to leave the neoliberal theme park formerly known as the UK, we invite participants to try a thought experiment unhindered by TINA (There Is No Alternative). Here, we continue a discussion about redesigning higher and open education begun in 2012 at Central Saint Martin’s art college, London, during the height of the MOOC ‘bubble’. To do so, we argue that we need to understand the ‘Political Economy’ of Higher Education and treat this as a classic ‘Wicked Design’ problem – where pleasing everyone will most definitely not be possible. Although the discipline of Service Design is often recruited to facilitate the redesign of public services in order to implement austerity – here it is used as instrument of opposition and resistance.

http://digitalpresent.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2012/12/12/taking-care-of-business-the-political-economy-of-moocs-and-open-education/

With Brexit set to dismantle the last remnants of the post war settlement in Britain (education, health, welfare, housing) and Scotland, possibly, embarking on a path towards a more progressive, just, and inclusive society, this is a good time to ask what could and should higher education be like?

In particular, we ask what might open education look like if we were starting over again? And what would be the relationship with traditional ‘closed’ higher education? And what things should change to support open education ideals?

The UK government has explicitly signalled its intent to continue driving change in the university sector, specifically linked to so-called new ‘challenger’ commercial providers with the intent of disrupting the existing higher education market. We anticipate the Scottish border being no barrier to these ideas.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-success-as-a-knowledge-economy-white-paper

Remember, in this thought experiment (as in pivotal periods of history), everything is up for grabs. Tradition, continuity, and institutional interest groups are no guarantor of what comes next. For those in any doubt about the possibility of rapid and widespread change we invite participants to consider the reorganisation of Scottish further education in recent years.

In your thought experiment, you can be as utopian, or dystopian, as you like. Here are some ideas to consider – to use as a starter catalyst for your ideas:

  • What might open assessment look like? (Walk up examinations etc. gaining a qualification by exam only)
  • HEIs receiving public funds are mandated to publishing their curricula and learning materials
  • Open Textbooks and mandating their use (c.f. USA)
  • Open Educational Resources and Services (Digital and Physical)
  • Open Research and Open Education
  • Studying at / with different institutions to receive a ‘Scottish’ Degree (national curricula)
  • Educational standards
  • Policy requirements to drive open education
  • Political manifestos / platforms for open education
  • Open Education / Research as resistance
  • Open nationally, but no free access internationally (cf. BBC) – or all open
  • Philosophical and epistemological implications of open education and research
  • Barriers to open education
  • Support for learners, student centredness
  • Public libraries and study centres
  • Community Education and HE
  • Open education as a tool for implementing austerity
  • Open education and political power (Friere and beyond)
  • Implications for HE professional working cultures, practices and rewards
  • Teachers employment terms and conditions
  • Orientation towards student employability
  • Trade Unions
  • Legal issues – IPR / Copyright – Copy-left licences
  • Institutional Leadership
  • Funding
  • Competition vs. standardisation and unification
  • Comparability of degrees
  • International collaboration
  • Technology tools and services for lifelong learning
  • Learning from the democratic radicals of the 19th century (formation of Art Colleges, University of London External Programme, the Ragged Schools and Hedgerow Schools)