OEPS, (Open Educational Practices Scotland) is coming to an end, it was a 3 year project funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and operated by the Open University in Scotland – see . It was a refreshing departure from the norm of ed-tech projects in that set out to work with ‘not the usual suspects’, i.e. not the ed-tech scene, much to the ire of some faces in that scene. Instead it concentrated on working with community and third sector groups. I attended some of the meetings and found them useful and encouraging. The SFC is to be commended on funding the initiative and should engage in a longer term, more sustained funding and intervention activities in the area of open education. For reasons why, read on.
The OEPS project did not really impact much on the FE scene, which was a shame as further education has a lot to gain from open educational methods. I was discussing this with the OEPs team at one meeting and one of the useful metaphors that we came up was the notion of our educational institutions being ‘digital gated communities’. With FE being the most locked down and isolated, especially after the recent ‘reforms’ that have cut funding and left largely traditional approaches to vocational in place with the odd gesture to using technology. It’s much the same in HE (except with more money), with a democratic deficit in accountability in how these publicly funded institutions work. Open education could, and should, challenge their existing pedagogical, epistemological and economic models – might as well be ambitious! It could be used as an ‘educational design laboratory’ for Scottish education to experiment in. Without such civic and democratic initiatives from outside our educational systems will never change and improve. Indeed, if we look at history we can see that it was such actions that moved education forwards in the 19th and 20th century. Without such initiatives, we are in danger of falling prey to the perfidious discourse that permeates much of the ed-tech scene – presented as a kind of super shiny Ted Talk on a loop – which seems to fill a local and national policy vacuum and paves the way for privatisation. Here is a link to an excellent takedown of these ideas.