The open education movement must put the next generation at its core.
Why is this important?
Students are integral to open education, but the importance is not only about the present, it is about the future. Those sitting in classrooms ten years ago are leading classrooms today and will be the tenured professors, senior teachers, and education policymakers of tomorrow. Shifting the culture of our educational institutions toward openness needs to start with the next generation, those who are still learning the practices and habits that will inform the rest of their careers. How we engage with and support today’s students and young educators will help shape the movement—and our educational systems at large—for decades to come.
What is the opportunity?
The next generation has a central role to play in the success of the open education movement—both in the short term as creators and powerful advocates for change, and in the long term as the leaders who will shape the educational systems of the future. Established leaders must commit to actively bring students and early career educators into the movement as users, advocates, and creators of OER motivated to build a culture of openness for years to come.
We have already seen students drive local change, such as student advocates in North America, who have pushed their institutions to establish OER pilot programs. Students have also contributed as creators through the practice of open pedagogy—tens of thousands of students have helped improve Wikipedia as part of their coursework. If the next generation enters their careers committed to the values of openness, the possibilities for education are limitless.
How can you get involved?
- Join OpenCon, the conference and community empowering students and early career academic professionals to advance openness in research and education.
- Add a student or early career position to your organization’s board, advisory body, or leadership team. Provide them with the support and resources necessary to be a successful contributor to your efforts.
- Consider providing scholarships to ensure students and young professionals can attend open education conferences, events or trainings, as they are less likely to have access to funding of their own.
- Look for other ways to support students and young professionals interested in open education with opportunities to learn, lead, and have their voices heard. Be sure to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.