Open Education and Open Science
What is Open Education (OE)
Open Education is an umbrella term as Open Science is. It is thus diverse and connected to many fields and domains (government, policy, science etc.), all having in common the “Open” aspect. According to Opensource.com, Open education is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge. Proponents of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they work to eliminate barriers to this goal. Such barriers might include high monetary costs, outdated or obsolete materials, and legal mechanisms that prevent collaboration among scholars and educators. Promoting collaboration is central to open education and according to the Open Education Consortium, "sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built."
The History of Open Education
Open Education has been conceptualized in the Global North. It may exist in indigenous cultures under a variation of forms but we are not aware of any source that goes in that direction yet. Being in the decade of indigenous languages, which slogan reads “Nothing for us without us”, interesting knowledge in this regard may emerge (UNESCO, 2020). At present, we are restricted to Western-centered writings on OE history. It is principally on the basis of three sources that we summarize the story of openness in education from the Middle Ages to the present day, focusing on values and not on enabling technologies (Baker, 2017; Peter & Deimann, 2013; Weller, 2014).
In ancient Africa, public informal education practices existed with semblance to Open Learning, Through oral tradition, we have heard from many cultures across the continent, instances of deliberate Openness though not in a formal manner like it was done in the West. Community members met in open community arenas such as play grounds and under sacred trees to debate and educate themselves on pertinent issues. Sometimes it was to publicly recite poems and riddles. I believe these were attempts to Open Education.
In the 17th century, cafés became places where knowledge was shared and discussions on science, religion, economics and literature took place. In these places, ideas related to the scientific revolution spread, while universities continued to teach the old doctrines dictated by the Church and States.
According to (Peter & Deimann, 2013), there was emergency of education among the lower social classes in the 18th century which gave rise to self-learning associations. In 1836, the University of London opened its courses to all social classes, without distinction, to disseminate liberal education. From the end of the 19th century until the end of the Second World War, miners established “workmen’s institutes” (Peter & Deimann, 2013), in each village, with a library as central place. And “the 20th century continued to see education “open” as the belief in the people’s right to access society’s knowledge grew” (Peter & Deimann, 2013). It is said that in the late 1960s, the concept of Open Education surfaced strongly in the United States. Openness and freedom guided discussions about the role of education in society because public school was seen as oppressive and perpetuating racism, elitism and other authoritarian social norms. With the advancement in technology in the 1980s, there was an accelerated change in Open Education.
"The term ‘science’ signifies the enterprise whereby humankind, acting individually or in small or large groups, makes an organized attempt, in cooperation and in competition, by means of the objective study of observed phenomena and its validation through sharing of findings and data and through peer review, to discover and master the chain of causalities, relations or interactions; brings together in a coordinated form subsystems of knowledge by means of systematic reflection and conceptualization; and thereby furnishes itself with the opportunity of using, to its own advantage, understanding of the processes and phenomena occurring in nature and society" UNESCO
Further more, "Open Science is an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. It comprises all scientific disciplines and aspects of scholarly practices, including basic and applied sciences, natural and social sciences and the humanities, and it builds on the key pillars of open scientific knowledge, open science infrastructures, science communication, open engagement of societal actors and open dialogue with other knowledge systems" UNESCO.
It is a movement to make scientific research (including publications, data, physical samples, and software) and its dissemination accessible to all levels of society, amateur or professional. Open science is transparent and accessible knowledge that is shared and developed through collaborative networks. (Wikipedia). Open science;
- Increases scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society.
- Makes multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone
- Opens the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community.
UNESCO RECOMMENDATION ON OPEN SCIENCE
The Recommendation on Open Science was adopted on 23.11.2021, by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meeting in Paris, from 9 to 24 November 2021, at its 41st session. The Recommendation was expected to define shared values and principles for Open Science, and identify concrete measures on Open Access and Open Data, with proposals to bring citizens closer to science and commitments to facilitate the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge around the world. The Recommendation was developed through a regionally balanced, multi stakeholder, inclusive and transparent consultation process. The Recommendation complements the 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Research. It also builds upon the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research and the new UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources.
AIM OF THE RECOMMENDATION
- To provide an international framework for open science policy and practice that recognizes disciplinary and regional differences in open science perspectives, takes into account academic freedom, gender-transformative approaches and the specific challenges of scientists and other open science actors in different countries and in particular in developing countries, and contributes to reducing the digital, technological and knowledge divides existing between and within countries
.Objectives of the Recommendation
To achieve the aim, the following objectives/areas of action are suggested by the Recommendation:
- Promoting a common understanding of open science, associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science
- Developing an enabling policy environment for open science
- Investing in open science infrastructures and services
- Investing in human resources, training, education, digital literacy and capacity building for open science
- Fostering a culture of open science and aligning incentives for open science
- Promoting innovative approaches for open science at different stages of the scientific process
- Promoting international and multi-stakeholder cooperation in the context of open science and with view to reducing digital, technological and knowledge gaps.
The Recommendation talks about;
Open Scientific Knowledge, which entails: Scientific publications, Open research data, Open educational resources, Open-source software and source code and Open hardware
Open science infrastructures: Virtual and Physical
Open engagement of societal actors: Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing, Scientific volunteering, Citizen and participatory science
Open dialogue with other knowledge systems: Indigenous peoples, Marginalized scholars, Local communities
OPEN SCIENCE CORE VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The core values of open science stem from the rights-based, ethical, epistemological, economic, legal, political, social, multi-stakeholder and technological implications of opening science to society and broadening the principles of openness to the whole cycle of scientific research.
- Quality and integrity
- Collective benefit
- Equity and fairness
- Diversity and inclusiveness
Guiding Principles of Open Science
The following guiding principles for open science provide a framework for enabling conditions and practices within which the above values are upheld, and the ideals of open science are made a reality.
- Transparency, scrutiny, critique and reproducibility
- quality of opportunities
- Responsibility, respect and accountability
- Collaboration, participation and inclusion
AREAS OF ACTION IN THE RECOMMENDATION
To achieve the objectives of this Recommendation, Member States are recommended to take concurrent action in the following seven areas, in accordance with international law and taking into account their individual political, administrative and legal frameworks.
- Promoting a common understanding of open science, associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science.
- Developing an enabling policy environment for open science.
- Investing in open science infrastructures and services.
- Investing in human resources, training, education, digital literacy and capacity building for open science.
- Fostering a culture of open science and aligning incentives for open science.
- Promoting innovative approaches for open science at different stages of the scientific process.
- Promoting international and multi-stakeholder cooperation in the context of open science and with a view to reducing digital, technological and knowledge gaps.
According to the Recommendation, Member States should, according to their specific conditions, governing structures and constitutional provisions, monitor policies and mechanisms related to open science using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, as appropriate.
UNESCO RECOMMENDATION ON OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
The Recommendation on Open Educational Resources was adopted unanimously by UNESCO’s General Conference at its 40th session in November 2019.
DEFINITION AND SCOPE OF THE RECOMMENDATION
According to the Recommendation, Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning, teaching and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license, that permit no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.
OBJECTIVES OF THE RECOMMENDATION
- Capacity building
- Developing supportive policy
- Effective, inclusive and equitable access to quality OER
- Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER
- Fostering and facilitating international cooperation
AREAS OF ACTION
This Recommendation addresses five Areas of Action, namely:
- Building capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER
- Developing supportive policy
- Encouraging effective, inclusive and equitable access to quality OER
- Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER
- Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation
Member States should according to their specific conditions, governing structures and constitutional provisions, monitor policies and mechanisms related to OER using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches as appropriate. In my opinion, this needs a constant reminder to political leaders some of whom have found it hard to comprehend the value of openness in education.
Why OER are present in both recommendations
In order to realize the two Recommendations, it must involve the use of Open Educational Resources. Therefore, this is the reason why Open Educational Resources are present in both Recommendations. This is why for instance Open Science advocates for Open Scientific Knowledge which is part of OER, such as scientific publications, open research data, open educational resources and open-source software and source code.
My Comment and contribution
I want to make a comment on Open Science particularly on the Action Area of Investing in open science infrastructures and services to facilitate the growth and development of Open Science. According to the Recommendation, Open science both requires and merits systematic and long-term strategic investment in science technology and innovation, with emphasis on investment in technical and digital infrastructures and related services, including their long-term maintenance through: Science, technology and innovation, and make an effort to contribute at least 1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dedicated to research and development expenditure, as a guide. Reliable Internet connectivity and bandwidth for use by scientists and science users across the world. Funding for the necessary costs associated with transformation towards and maintaining open science practices, as well as the promotion of open licensing schemes. ETC. Despite the desire and recognition of the value Open Science is associated with, many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Uganda may not be able to invest adequately in Open Science by establishing the supporting infrastructures majorly because of poverty amidst other pressing requirements like food and health among other needs. In many of these non-democratic economies, the political Will is always low when it comes to science and innovations and therefore OS may not receive the adequate support required.
However, I feel that establishment of regional economic integrations and federations across Africa can go a long way to facilitate the growth of Open Science as it enables countries to make joint investment in technical and digital infrastructures and related services and their maintenance.
- What is open education? https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-education
- UNESCO recommendations on Open Science and OER: http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Open_Education
- UNESCO. (2021). Recommendation on Open Science. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000379949.locale=en
- Benefits of OERs: https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-education
- UNESCO. (2019). Recommendation on Open Educational Resources. http://portal.unesco.org/en.ev.php-URL_ID=49556&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html