Open Conference on Open Education/Suggestions to La trobe University's "Funding Future Ready"

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Background[edit | edit source]

La Trobe University invited feedback on its Future Ready strategy. The Open Education Working Group made a submission on the pedagogical and financial benefits of adopting widespread open educational practices. The full submission can be read online: OEWG submission to Funding Future Ready. A summary of the submission follows below.

Increase university revenue and achieve efficiencies by adopting open educational practices[edit | edit source]

The Open Education Working Group (OEWG) provides the following discussion points about the ways that an open educational approach across a range of university activities can assist in both generating more revenue for the university as well as reducing costs.

  1. Sustaining revenue through student retention. There is a range of evidence to suggest that the adoption of open educational practices improves student engagement and reduces costs for students - both factors contribute to student retention. The Future Ready strategy provides an opportunity to match investment in student recruitment activities with student retention activities, in order to get the greatest value out of student recruitment investments. The opportunity should be taken to invest in open education pilot programs within faculties/colleges, the benefits of which would be cost-effective over the long term following an initial investment. By their very nature, open education practices are more sustainable than current resource practices.
  2. Identifying efficiencies that will lead to cost reductions. Open education practices present an opportunity to reduce media production and licensing costs and move away from expensive processes of negotiating access to licensed teaching resources. They also present an opportunity to improve teaching practice and reduce professional development costs. Activities such as collaborative authoring of resources in conjunction with students provide an opportunity to reduce costs of resource development/acquisition and improve assessment practices. Adopting OER-based textbook models such as that demonstrated by Boundless - or engaging in partnership with Boundless - provides a cost-effective and high-quality solution to the issue of expensive textbook prescription, a cost which is shifted onto students and which negatively affects their learning outcomes and willingness to continue their studies.
  3. Foster partnerships with wider community to reduce subject development burden. Drawing on the expertise in communities outside the university can reduce cost of subject development and also ensure authenticity of course content. Successful examples of such practice can be found in Indigenous health units developed by the Faculty of Health Sciences in conjunction with Indigenous communities.
  4. Align university goals to existing goals and infrastructure focused on sustainable practice. The university library's resource strategy is more sustainable than those developed in faculties. Greater alignment with such sustainable strategies should be a concern for all faculties/colleges, through greater collaboration with the library. Similarly the university's marketing goals could be better aligned with the university's educational goals, resulting in marketing messages being focused on education and complement education and research activity at La Trobe University. There are cost savings to be found in greater collaboration between educators and marketers within the university.

Response[edit | edit source]

A response was not offered by the university consultation team, but an opportunity arose to remind of the submission and the following was offered:

References[edit | edit source]

Open Education Working Group (2013). Discussion paper on open education. La Trobe University May. Retrieved 20 September 2013.

Wiley, D. & Thanos, K. 2013. Getting Started with OER? Lumen Can Help! Webinar 18 April 2013 last accessed 31 May 2013.