Last Friday I was present at the Open Science seminar, organized by the TU Delft as an event in the Open Education Week. The intended audience were the people at the TU Delft, but also some attendants from other institutions (among myself) were present. Through this seminar we were informed about developments in both Open Education and Open Science, in general and more specific at the TU Delft.
After an introduction by Anka Mulder about openness in general, in two presentations the fields of Open Education and Open Science were introduced. A more detailed report about these presentations and the discussions afterwards is made by Pim Bellinga.
The lively discussions between the attendants were based on several dilemmas on both open education and open science. To get an impression of these dilemmas: “If I share my education resources openly, I give away my complete education” and “If anyone can use my measurement data, then I did all the work and had the costs, and someone else might get the success” are two examples.
Afterwards, I was reflecting on the seminar. I had hoped to hear more about cross-overs, examples where approaching open education and open science simultaneously would make a difference that would not be possible when they are considered two separate fields. Obvious examples of cross-overs are Open Access papers becoming OER when used in an educational setting or using MOOCs as a means to collect research data or as a means to disseminate results of research to a wider audience. Examples of the latter two were presented at the seminar. A less obvious example comes from Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann, using open data as OER.
But (to quote Peggy Lee) “Is that all there is?” Does that justify an integrated approach, e.g. in policy making, at an institution? Reality is still that in many institutions education and research are two separate branches with different processes and different stakeholders. And although some descriptions of Open Science includes OER (example), other do not mention them (as in this interactive example from the website of the European Union, presented at the seminar).
Discussing this with Martijn Ouwehand from the TU Delft, I realized that the dilemmas both fields are facing are similar:
- Fear of commercial use of openly available resources
- Fear of free riding
- Uncertainty about copyright issues
- Fear of harming your career when involved in openness, because of possible quality flaws. The latter can also be looked at from a broader perspective, where being involved in education is considered harmful for a scientific career. Last week in his inaugural speech, professor Jan-Willem van Groenigen (Wageningen University & Research) pronounced ambitious researchers to minimize educational activities, because these activities do not count when applying for important research grants in the Netherlands (see interview (in Dutch) in the Volkskrant)
Also, the current focus in open education is to go beyond just publishing and reuse resources and have more attention for Open Educational Practices and Open Pedagogy. One way to realize this is to have students performing research activities in projects with stakeholders outside of the institution as a means to acquire certain knowledge and skills: a perfect example of intertwining education and research in an open way. One of the attendants pointed at the phenomenon of Citizen Science, where connections with educational projects under the umbrella of Open Pedagogy seem rather straightforward.
So the cross-over is not only determined by examples like I mentioned (and I am hoping to find out about more types of examples), but also by the dilemmas and comparable challenges both fields are facing and the opportunities that intertwining education and research in an open way can bring. We can learn from each other about how to overcome those challenges and cooperate in realizing the intertwining.
For me, this is sufficient justification for an approach where policy making, creating awareness and activities to adopt openness will be integrated for both research and education, with an open eye for the differences in both fields that also exist. And, by the way, let’s not forget to learn from the field of open source software, with a much longer history than at least OER.