Contributed by Robert Schuwer, Program Chair OE Global Conference
The current conference theme, Transforming Education Through Open Approaches, is the result of a discussion with the program committee earlier this year. However, the large variation in topics from the more than 200 proposals received is an indication that analysis of this theme leads to many interpretations.
My interpretation of the theme is mainly determined by my interpretation of “transforming”. The Cambridge Dictionary provides the following description of transform “to change completely the appearance or character of something or someone, especially so that that thing or person is improved”. For me, the goal “is improved” is key. The change can be completely (e.g. from 100% campus-based to a mixture of campus-based and online education or even 100% online education, from teacher-centered approaches to learner-centered approaches), but at the end of the day these changes should have led to a situation for the learner which is better than it was before: better results and a nicer learning experience.
Openness in all kinds of forms can help to achieve this improvement. Depending on the start situation of the learner, openness can reach from improved access to quality learning materials because these materials are openly shared, to improved learning results because of a pedagogy better suited to achieve the outcomes and made possible by forms of open education. Achieving these improvements through openness is what motivates me to be active in this field, hopefully for many years to come.