The OU H818 ‘The Networked Practitioner’ Online Conference 2020 – Presentation Comments and Answers

(Abstract and Poster of my Project)

My Presentation

It was an excellent experience for me to be a presenter in an online conference (The OU H818 ‘The Networked Practitioner’ Online Conference 2020) first time in my life. The comments and inspirations which I have received from the audience motivated me to continue my project with high expectations. Please find my explanation under each comment which were made at my presentation session in H818 conference.

Really interesting to have the cultural context

The project which I presented with the titled “Breaking with tradition: Sri Lankan academic perspectives on adopting Open Educational Practices (OEP) for formal education” is completely designed for the local context. Therefore, the audience may have had a chance to sense the Sri Lankan academic culture through my presentation.

Rigidity-So do our practice here in Bangladesh

I think rigidity is a problem in every country, specially in the countries which the government pays very little attention to introducing innovative approaches in education. That may be the reason Bangladesh also experience similar educational practices as Sri Lanka.

UGCs are sometimes with the top-down approach, but they don’t provide the required funding

Exactly correct. They always come up with various proposals but no proper planning to implant a sustainable solution. We, as academic face lot of difficulties to raise funding and required expert knowledge, but there are limitations that we also can’t overcome.

Understanding peoples’ perspectives, before implementing change, is so important

Yes, most of the project was failed after establishing in the universities, since they haven’t done a pre-investigation on the stakeholder perspective and consents. The academics are hard to change and be convinced. Therefore, it is vital to understand their perspectives and educate them on the plus side of OEP. The most important thing is to address their questions and build their trust in the new technology.

Sometimes you get a short change, and then folks return to older ways of working – trying to find some early adopters is key

It happens, if there’s no policy decision is made at the faculty level. Also, the academic should be rewarded, and the Faculty should force them to continue the new policy. Otherwise, slowly they will take it off if there’s more work to do with the new practice.

I think this is more bureaucratic procedure problem than funding

Yes, it is true in the Sri Lankan context. As an example, e-learning systems are set up in all the faculties for academic staff to use. But only a few faculties are using it, and most of the academic does not show any interest in using it or deviating from their old way of teaching. But all the required facilities are there, and the students are ready to use it. But heads of the faculties also do not intend to establish a faculty level mechanism to popular it among the staff. None of these processes requires money but the enthusiasm and motivation which are lacking in higher authority people.  

Can you say more about how colleagues understood OEP?

OEP concept was very new to the majority people in the university. Even though most of them have been using free educational materials for there are teaching and learning only 1% from the 40 respondent knew about creative common licence. 

In general, what is the level of computerising of the universities of SL?

In Sri Lanka, there are two types of state universities; which are established more than 20 years ago and which are recently established. In most of the newly established universities, there’s a shortage of the staff as well as the facilities.  The Lanka Education And Research Network (LEARN) provides networking facilities and training to the universities as the network service providers to the state universities in Sri Lanka. Most of the universities are having free Wi-Fi for the staff and students. All the staff members are having their computer or Laptop while large computing centres and computer labs are setups by the university level/ faculty level/ department level for students. Most of the students have their laptops and since they can easily connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi access.

Would be good to know why they like to publish OER that way

They mostly like to publish their work only within the university. Mostly because of the competition between the universities and fear of getting steel by others for their teaching. 

Resources are an issue and access for Faculty and learners

Initially, when I started having a workshop to introduce the e-learning system, our staff members had a doubt, when they upload material whether someone from other universities can download it. Still, I am trying to convince them, no one can cheat with the assignments and marks available in the e-learning system. Other than such mental issues, there are no technical issues to access resources for the faculty member and the learners. We have a high-speed and reliable Internet connection in the Universities. Mobile data is much cheaper in Sri Lanka compared to other countries. (https://economynext.com/sri-lankas-data-prices-are-low-but-it-is-still-expensive-for-low-income-earners-due-to-tax-13211/)

What do you think you will recommend to the university admin?

I hope to write an article for the university bulletin about my research results and what are the benefits we can get by adopting OEP. Then I will propose the relevant committees to conduct awareness programmes on OEP in all the faculties. Since the UGC program review manual has already mentioned on establishing a policy to adopt OER for teaching and learning, I will propose it to our faculty board by referring the document and my research. If I get succeeded by establishing a policy in our Faculty, I will request out Dean to make the recommendation to the Deans in other faculties. That is my overall plan.

Do other staff members feel the way as you?

There may be few others who are eagerly adopting the technology for their teaching. But the majority is not. They think it is an extra burden to them and can’t trust the technology always.

Lovely to see how you got networking support for your research project – great idea to list it in the slide

The success of my whole project depends on the ability to expand my networking. 

You have some ingrained practices to overcome to integrate OEP into their current teaching approaches

I am presently adopted OEP in my first year teaching and develop mock courses to show the other staff as an example. Now I am designing a MOOC course on “Introduction to C programming for beginners”, writing the blog post related to Sri Lankan context and planning to develop OER repository with the help of the students to match with the Faculty course curriculum. 

What kind of examples are you sharing with administrators to help them understand why it could be helpful?

I will not be able to reach the higher administration directly without the support of my Faculty. Therefore, I will develop the MOOC course and OER repository, as mentioned in the above question. Then I will collect some evidence to prove how the OEP can reduce the cost, time how it is benefitted to the institution, teachers and students. Then, I will reach the higher administration with the help of the Dean in my Faculty.

 So potentially using OA publishing route to get them to buy into OEP

Firstly, I have to get them using OER for their teaching and should give them the chance to be impressed with available OER. Then it is required to change their mind to open their materials to others. When they are ready to be open and ready to be network practitioners, then it is worthwhile to establish OA publishing rout to get them to buy into OEP.

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