The cascade project is slowly gaining momentum as we are setting up meetings with project partners, talking to our project consultant, trying to finalise the project plan. At the same time, as the conversations about the cascade framework are opening up, we are trying to revisit the earlier conversations which took place during the OER pilot programme. Now that the synthesis and evaluation report is out, we can get more of an insight into issues raised by other projects and we are quite keen to engage with is the concept of public teaching as it relates to OERs and the cascade framework.
The ChemistryFM project released OERs within the Teaching in Public Framework: a concept which involves progressive curricula design, with students as an academic’s ‘first public’ (Burawoy, 2005), the promotion of teaching as a ‘public good’ (Deem et al, 2007) and the role of university lecturers as ‘public intellectuals’ (Fuller, 2005). In the initial proposal, the project team argue that their interest in the project stemmed from a vision of higher education of public good, where the creation and sharing of Open Educational Resources might act as an effective method of countering the neo-liberalisation of higher education. The commitment to a participatory pedagogy and the principle of education as a basic ‘human right’ has quite significant implications for institutional policies:
Why should an academic or their institution offer their educational resources for free? Advocates argue that such altruism has always been part of the academic tradition and that by sharing and reusing educational content, the quality of those resources is improved and the speed of educational innovation increases. It is also argued that education is often provided at tax-payer’s expense and so it is right that these resources be made available to the public and there is prestige to be gained by an individual or institution seen to be giving their work away.
What could this vision of OERs mean for the cascade framework? Definitely some food for thought for the coming months as we revisit the pilot OER programme in more detail and engage in further conversations.