Open Education and Student Agency at USNH

Open Education and Student Agency at USNH

January 29, 2019

On Friday, January 18, 2019, the University System of New Hampshire hosted the Academic Technology Institute (ATI) January Event, the second component of a two-part conference. Fifty-four faculty, students, and staff members gathered at UNH at Manchester to share and discuss the Open Education (OE) projects being developed and used at USNH, and learn about leading tools, technologies and strategies used in OE. Open Education is an educational philosophy and initiative that emphasizes the need for students to have free access to the tools and knowledge necessary to obtain a college education. This involves open educational resources (the use and development of free, openly-licensed educational materials in courses,) broad sharing through open access, and open pedagogy (focusing on learners as contributors, not consumers of knowledge.)

The keynote speaker was Jess Mitchell, senior manager of research and design at the Inclusive Design Research Center at The Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U), Toronto, Canada. Mitchell spoke about Open Education and student agency, and the need for empowering the student voice and facilitating access. She stressed that the “absence of strict structures in syllabi/rubrics is not nothingness, but instead opens space for developing skills that are not numerically assessed.” A tweet from an attendee reflected on her thought-provoking question, “How do you measure? Do you measure a sense of urgency, creativity, team commitment, critical thinking, humility, active listening, optimism…?”

Faculty and staff were able to share their own experiences in OE with interactive breakout sessions and learn about some cutting-edge technologies, including H5P, a free and open-source content collaboration framework for creating richer online content. The event also included a student panel with representatives from each of the four USNH institutions. The students shared their experiences with OE and Open Pedagogy in the classroom and told what it was like to be involved in this innovative movement in education.

The student panel was moderated by Carolyn Cormier, associate Dean of the School of Education at Granite State College. She asked thought-provoking questions such as “What three words come to mind when you think of Open Education” and reflected in a tweet: “I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed teaching when I included students in the journey.”

Robin DeRosa, a professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Director of the Open Teaching and Learning Lab at Plymouth State University moderated the faculty panel at the event. She tweeted, “I went from the CCSNH Board meeting this morning directly to the USNH Open Ed event; every single public college in NH is now working in organized, inventive, student-oriented, and collaborative ways on open education! So many of our students on the open pedagogy panel talking about the value of humility in learning. I think this is so compelling and will be one of my big takeaways from today.”

To learn more about USNH Academic Technology, the Open Education Initiative, or ATI 2018-19, visit the Academic Technology website. Follow @USNHopened on Twitter and join the conversation using #USNHshare.

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