#EDEN14 Interesting work and open education

Alan Tait, keynote speaker day two

Challenges of work in life: context of increasing unemployment across Europe, country average of about 11%, range is between 5 and 27%, particularly bad for 18- 25 year olds.

Threat from unemployment: this is not normal and is deeply shocking. Can we imagine the time bomb of unemployment, impact on families and crime etc. Closely linked to lower educational attainment. The threat and promise of machine intelligence revolution: much routine brain work will be computerised. Middle income jobs could hollow out further. Thee will be a tiny group of winners at the top and a vastly larger group struggling below. (Martin Wolf, Financial Times). The impact of unemployment is vast: anxiety, depression, bad health habits, increased suicide, increased general mortality.

Poor quality work: 40 % of employees are ‘not engaged’, leads to general unhappiness and impacts on productivity and innovation. The best rated components of work are to have authority, a role that supports others, income level, skill and stability. The lowest rated components are lack of autonomy, no care for people, low social respect, lower wages, short contracts, unpleasant working conditions.

The Precariat: the working poor. Low security, low wages, job not career, disposable, flexibility in a negative sense (Guy Standing). This category is increasing across the working population.

More of the same? The moment to rethink.Two core issues, increased routes to livelihood and change the nature of work. Europe as sustainable for employment in the world economy, need skills and knowledge and work that supports health and well being.

The obligations of educators: what is the vision for work in the 21st century, what are the responsibilities of educators to move from work as an unfulfilling process to something more meaningful? From workers as objects to workers as subjects, making decisions about their lives and societies, with lifelong learning and with sense of purpose.

The potential of the open education movement: what can the digital world do to help? Issues around scale are more easily addressed with online learning, more potential for flexibility, from informal to formal learning, from paradigm of short courses to much shorter courses, pedagogic innovation, mobile learning. The open education landscape is values led, anti commodity, ‘free’, inclusive and has the potential for radical disruption. MOOCs and OERs as new models for learning. Set against background of continuing high passion and demand for learning, current HE models as unsustainable, low completion rates, price vs value, technology and online learning could offer different solutions. Expecting significant impact in traditional campus based teaching.
Advantages not disadvantages: learning in life and work, virtual team working, management of online discussion, curating of e-resources, ICT supported presentations. Has radical potential: making learning and work compelling, only education can work at scale, learner success, skills for personal lives.

Can no longer just be about the ‘salariat’ and their children.


About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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