The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning has called for papers for a October 2009 theme issue entitled: Openness and the Future of Higher Education. The Guest Editors are Dr. David Wiley and John Hilton.
I can’t very well let this issue go by without submitting something from Otago Polytechnic, so this is an abstract for a paper that will critique Otago Polytechnic’s efforts to use open educational practices in staff training, organisational change, course development, and educational resource production.

Otago Polytechnic has been moving towards open educational practices since 2006 when it established the Educational Development Centre (EDC) in charge of staff and course development. The EDC began educating staff at the Polytechnic on the virtues and benefits of openness – primarily through Internet communications and media such as blogs, RSS and wikis. By 2008 more than 100 staff members had been shown how to professionally network online, with 20 regularly maintaining professional blogs and several more authoring more than 83 open courses and educational resources online.

In October 2007 Otago Polytechnic’s executive staff implemented a long awaited Intellectual Property Policy that explicitly encouraged staff to claim ownership of their work, and to openly publish online with Creative Commons Attribution licenses. Additionally, the policy stipulates that all IP produced and owned by the Polytechnic would start defaulting to that same license. This policy thrust the Polytechnic into the international spotlight with citations from Creative Commons, Commonwealth of Learning, Pennsylvania State University, conference keynotes and numerous educational blogs. In May 2008, the Chief Executive signed the Capetown Declaration on Open Education.

On the surface all this would appear to be good progress in the development of open educational practices at Otago Polytechnic, and on many levels and in many instances it is. However there are a number of areas in need of attention and wider discussion. This paper will interrogate Otago Polytechnic’s efforts: presenting statistical data; surveying staff and student attitudes and awareness – with particular attention to counter voices; analysing the depth of the organisational change – highlighting the status of interdepartmental communication and work flows; and case studying innovations in open educational practices by some of the Polytechnic’s enthusiasts for openness in education.

This paper will attempt to take an all encompassing look at New Zealand’s leading institution for open education and present a balanced and authentic representation of the experience of its staff and students working towards openness. This paper will be complimented by a documentary video funded by AKO Aotearoa New Practices grant. It is hoped that this effort to document, interrogate and critique the Otago Polytechnic experience, free from hype and bias, will shed light on the full picture of open educational development in a New Zealand tertiary education and training institution, giving the national and international movement something to benchmark on and move forward from.