Student leaders often become involved in advocacy because they are passionate about improving the lives of those around them. Still, they often find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of their role, including time, institutional power dynamics, and other cultural stressors that are prevalent throughout higher education. With varying priorities across all platforms, it can become increasingly difficult to engage in advocacy throughout their tenure. Additionally, financial barriers to access have become increasingly relevant for more students who choose post-secondary education. While this reality has become normative across higher education, student leaders are continuing to seek solutions to reducing financial burdens.
Open Education, in particular, is an area in which student advocacy is slowly gaining traction, but can be threatened by the short turnover of elected student leaders and the competing priorities that arise as a result. However, with institutional support from libraries, teaching & learning centres, bookstores, faculty and other campus allies, sustainable success can be achieved with long-term planning in mind.
The purpose of our session is to equip leaders across all stakeholder groups engaged in Open Education with the tools to directly engage students in raising awareness, inspiring grassroots mobilization, and take an active role their own advocacy in a localized context at their respective academic institutions.
Student leaders are key to building and sustaining support for open pedagogy within their institutions, and when unified, have consistently proven to be highly effective in encouraging government and administrative stakeholders to adopt meaningful policy changes that support access to open education.
Our session supports the theme of “Back to Basics”, as the premise of open pedagogy is to increase access to information, resources, and encourage lifelong learning. By encouraging and involving students to actively participate in reducing barriers to education, we hope to expand advocacy strategies that include those who are directly impacted by current limitations.
The session will seek to share successful experiences from the student perspective, facilitate a workshop that encourages information sharing in a creative setting through a “Silent Cafe”, and will include a roundtable conversation to debrief and reflect upon the results of our workshop. The coauthors of this session will utilize their lived experience as student leaders in focused academic portfolios and external stakeholder advocacy to share unique perspectives regarding grassroots, stakeholder, and government focused advocacy.
During the summation period, we hope to encourage reflective discourse that inspires participants to discuss how emerging themes can be implemented at their respective institutions. In addition, session facilitators will summarize findings and circulate this information in a written report following the conference. Contact information for those interested in the report will be collected at the start of the session, and will also be shared online for all conference participants through an openly accessible google drive link.
Session Time: 60 minutes
Introduction (20 minutes)
A brief overview that includes an introduction to grassroots mobilization from the student perspective, examples of successful campaigns and strategies, and will contextualize these experiences through the lens of the session authors and their respective experiences in student advocacy as student leaders.
Workshop: Silent Cafe (20 minutes)
The space will be set up with blank poster boards to reflect themes that are covered in the introduction. Participants will be given a writing utensil and a stack of post-it notes, on which they are encouraged to write down their ideas, comment on others’ ideas, and walk around the room to share in a “silent discussion” until the end of the allotted time frame. This type of facilitated discussion has proven very successful and inclusive in past workshops of a similar nature.
Group discussion (20 minutes)
The session authors will facilitate a roundtable discussion on the content resulting from the workshop, encourage participants to curiously comment on or share their views, and debrief the “Silent Cafe” experience.
McGregor, N. & Waters, R. (2017) “CASA’s Vision for Research & Innovation in Post-Secondary Education” [online] Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Available at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/casaacae/pages/1307/attachments/original/1500482296/Investing_in_Innovators_CASA’s_Vision_for_Research_and_Innovation_in_Post-Secondary_Education.pdf?1500482296 [Accessed 20th November, 2018]
Feldstein, A. et al. (2012) “Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes” [online] European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning Available at: http://www.eurodl.org/?p=current&article=533 [Accessed 20th November, 2018]
Rix, J. (2019) “Educational Materials Beyond Textbooks: Learning in the 21st Century” [online] Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Available at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/casaacae/pages/2887/attachments/original/1547493199/Educational-Materials.pdf?1547493199 [Accessed 14th January, 2019]
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