FLANZ webinar recording: Open Educational Resources (OER)

Join Wayne Mackintosh, the founding director of the OER Foundation, Otago Polytechnic, in this rich discussion about how OERs could widen access to more affordable education.

Webinar recording

The first FLANZ Conversation for 2021 saw Wayne Mackintosh in conversation with Simon Atkinson. Wayne is the UNESCO Chair in OER, and leads the work of the work of the OER Foundation in widening access to more affordable education in support of the UNESCO OER Recommendation.

The conversation revolved around the fact that tax payers have already paid for the vast majority of the academic output generated by educators. 

The OER movement believe that asking people to purchase those resources again is wasteful and morally questionable. 

Simon and Wayne discussed the quality issues that often undermine the reuse and repurposing arguments, agreeing that having open systems of peer review, quality badging and professional development all play a part. They both shared anecdotes of working with different subjects and contexts, on the lessons learnt and the challenges that remain.

Wayne finished the conversation by inviting educators from higher education institutions in Aotearoa to join a national collaborative pilot to roll out the ‘Extend’ professional learning suite as an academic development initiative using OER. Details are below.

Capacity building for professional learning

During the session, Wayne, on behalf of the OER Foundation and in partnership with the New Zealand Centre for Open Education Practice (COEP) and Otago Polytechnic, shared an open call to action inviting volunteers from the sector to join in preparing a national pilot of the New Zealand ‘Extend’ capacity-building model for professional learning. 

Volunteers are required to assist with developing quizzes for participation badges and to support New Zealand educators on their digital learning experience during the pilot. This initiative provides a unique opportunity to take part in an innovative collaborative project, while developing participants own knowledge of open educational resources and practices.

If you would like to join our first open planning session to explore opportunities and discuss next steps, please register your interest by completing this online form:

Link: https://survey.oeru.org/index.php/251556

New Zealand Extend

The idea for New Zealand Extend was sparked at the 2019 inaugural OER Symposium of the New Zealand Centre for Open Education Practice, when Keynote speaker Dr David Porter, then CEO of eCampusOntario, talked about the ‘Ontario Extend’ professional development suite. This was developed to build capacity in digital fluency for educators and the ability to make informed choices about the use of technology-enabled learning tools. The EXTEND model is grounded in the belief that learning to teach effectively with technology requires an experiential learning approach.

Leveraging the open nature of Ontario Extend, Otago Polytechnic successfully completed a small internal pilot and feedback from the first New Zealand Extend badge awardee, Graham Philps, speaks for itself:

The content is simple, but leads to complex thought; the themes are familiar but the scope for self-enquiry huge; the activities are fun but serve the serious purpose of reminding why we do what we do. What’s not to love!

Through this national collaboration, we hope to expand options for earning badges for participation, and promote wider reuse and adoption of this open professional development opportunity, hence the call for volunteers.   

FLANZ webinar conversation: Open educational resources (OER)

Join Wayne Mackintosh, the founding director of the OER Foundation, Otago Polytechnic, for a rich discussion about how OERs could widen access to more affordable education.

Open Education Resources

Open educational resources (OER) are widely defined as freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that can be used for teaching, learning, assessing and research purposes. OER are publicly accessible resources that anyone can use, re-mix, improve and redistribute under a range of licences. The OER movement has been historically motivated by supporting alternate approaches to extending access to education.

Introducing Wayne Mackintosh: Director, OER Foundation

This FLANZ webinar conversation will be with Wayne Mackintosh, the founding director of the OER Foundation headquartered at Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand. He is coordinating the establishment of the OERu, an international innovation partnership which aims to widen access to more affordable education for all. Wayne holds the UNESCO / ICDE Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the OER Foundation. He is a strategy innovator with a passion for open sourcing education.

Join us for a conversation with Wayne on Friday 26 March from 10:30-11:15 on ZOOM 

Wayne will be supported in this conversation by Dr Simon Paul Atkinson (Open Polytechnic). Please email any specific questions you would like Simon to ask Wayne  Simon.Atkinson@openpolytechnic.ac.nz

ZOOM link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85676533585

No registration is required.

FLANZ panel discussion recording: ‘Is the Future of Education Inevitably Going to be Digital First?’

The FLANZ panel discussion, held 6th November 2020, was a conversation about how the world of higher education has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and whether the future looks different as a result.

Duncan O’Hara, FLANZ Vice-President and Director, Learning and Teaching, at Massey, University led contributors, Australian-based Professor Neil Selwyn of Murdoch University, and New Zealand-based Professor Giselle Byrne of Massey University, and Dr Simon Paul Atkinson of the Open Polytechnic, through a series of questions.


All contributors agreed that the response of higher education institutions across the globe was nothing short of remarkable. A huge effort had been made, not least by technology-support and academic development units, alongside faculty, to serve students’ needs during pandemic restrictions. 

Caution needed

There was a note of caution, however, that having moved so much learning online in haste, that management might perceive it as ‘job done’, a cheaper option or, indeed, a satisfactory learning experience for the majority of learners. The reality is that while some institutions may have seized the opportunity to build from solid foundations and provided an enriched digital experience for their learners, others may have supplied the bare minimal.

The panel largely agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all to learning. So, any decisions by institutions and policymakers need to be context-specific, putting the learner at the heart of any technology choice.

A healthy debate was had around the issue of digital equity, ranging from access to devices, the appropriateness of those devices for the nature of the learning, network access and the disparity in digital literacy that has been emphasised in the Remote Emergency Teaching context resulting from Covid-19. 

The importance of design

The conversation turned to the Principles of the Design Justice Network (https://designjustice.org/) advocating that those impacted by design decisions need to be enabled to share their voices. This is as true for the technology tools and platforms in use as it is for the curricula that we curate.

A positive outlook

The struggle to ensure that the learner remains at the centre of institutional policy-making decisions was evident in the discourse. However, the openness of the dialogue, and the questions and comments shared by participants, show great promise for the Australasian region, with all of its heterogeneity, that positive solutions are at hand.

Thank you

FLANZ thanks the presenters, facilitators and attendees for their involvement. FLANZ encourages you to share this discussion and continue the conversations that shift the sector to quality outcomes for learners, regardless of their situation.

FLANZ webinar recording: Towards understanding student engagement in online and blended learning.

Join Dr Cheryl Brown as she unpacks some of the contradictions and complexities in the way engagement is conceptualised by students in an online and blended learning context.

Join Dr Cheryl Brown as she unpacks some of the contradictions and complexities in the way engagement is conceptualised by students in an online and blended learning context.

In this FLANZ Conversation webinar, Dr Cheryl Brown, Associate Professor of e-Learning & co-Director e-Learning Lab at the University of Canterbury,  reports on a research project conducted in the College of Education, Health and Human Development at the UC’s College of Education exploring undergraduate distance students’ experiences of engagement in a context that is blended with on-campus peers and incorporates work-based learning. Drawing on a survey and focus groups with students Cheryl explores some of the contradictions and complexities in the way engagement is conceptualised by students in this online and blended learning context. Findings suggest that for students, flexibility is paramount and that digital tools did support students’ engagement through helping develop understanding, independence of learning and enjoyment. Students also emphasised other less visible engagement strategies and the importance of peer support outside of the classroom. There was also a link between students’ sense of wellbeing, inclusion and/or belonging (related to their feelings and emotions) and digital tools.

About Dr Brown

Dr Cheryl Brown is Associate Professor of e-Learning & co-Director e-Learning Lab. School of Educational Studies and Leadership (EDSL), (Te) Kura Mātauranga me te Rangatiratanga. The College of Education, Health and Human Development, Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora.

Background reading

Those wishing to read more of the background to this presentation might refer to the recent ASCILITE paper:

Brown, C., Davis, N., Sotardi, V. & Vidal, W. (2018). Towards understanding of student engagement in blended learning: A conceptualization of learning without borders. Open Oceans: Learning without borders. Proceedings ASCILITE 2018 Geelong (pp. 318-323). Available from http://ascilite.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ASCILITE-2018-Proceedings.pdf

Webinar recording: Fostering self-directed learning in MOOCs.

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Watch Curt Bonk and Meina Zhu, from Indiana University, discuss how to create a learning environment to facilitate learners’ self directed learning in this webinar recording.

More than 100 million learners enroll annually in over 11,400 MOOCs from some 900+ universities around the world. However, most MOOC participants do not complete the course of study.

Indiana University’s study of MOOC research indicates that MOOC instructors believe that they can create a learning environment to facilitate students’ self directed learning. To help students with self-management, self-monitoring, and motivation, MOOC instructors use a variety of strategies such as helping students set their own learning goals, building learning communities, offering immediate feedback, embedding quizzes for self-assessment, providing progress indicators, inserting reflection questions, designing short learning units, offering flexible timelines, highlighting estimated time frames, and making available optional learning materials. 

In the future, adaptive learning systems, artificial intelligent systems, and learning analytics are expected to support self directed learning. Several suggestions for instructors, instructional designers, and MOOC providers will be offered in this session.

You can find more information on Professor Curt Bonk here. Curt is joined by his colleague, Meina Zhu, an Associate Instructor & Ph.D. Candidate in Instructional Systems Technology.

MOOC/muːk/Noun: a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.


Webinar recording: Does physical space still matter for flexible learning?

Dr Brett Bligh, Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, leads a conversation in understanding the ways physical spaces matter to learning.

People commonly talk as though space doesn’t matter. Learning happens in the head; higher education is moving online; learners can study anytime, anywhere. And research on physical learning spaces  has not reached anything like consensus. 

Read more here.