The DiFD funded, 4 year Transformation by Innovation in Distance Education (TIDE) project is working collaboratively with Higher Education institutions across Myanmar to develop capacity and improve learning opportunities through the development of open educational resources (OER) on environmental science topics (1).
This presentation draws on our own, and project participant, explorations of the current and potential impact, insights and challenges of the notion and practice of openness in Myanmar. In an emerging democracy, where the past six years has seen a sharp increase in the number of people with access to the internet, ownership of mobile devices has soared and over a third of the population can be described as “active social media users” (2 & 3) what does this mean for openness? In a country which currently has copyright laws that are over 100 years old (4) and an education system that is undergoing reform (5), what role and relevance does open have? Moreover, how does the work of the TIDE project and the unique context of Myanmar enable us to critically challenge our conceptions and the privileges of Global North narratives of openness?
We focus particularly on the need to “recentre” openness in contexts that have multiple barriers to engagement (6) and to reflect the impact that digital literacy and capability has on the ability to engage in open discourse and enable a truly open approach to learning. In turn we seek to understand how the development of digital capabilities that focus on open approaches can circumvent the ‘unlearning’ of bad practice that can often be found within global north institutions.
1) Department for International Development (n.d.) Transformation by Innovation in Distance Education (TIDE) Available at: https://www.spheir.org.uk/partnership-profiles/transformation-innovation-distance-education Accessed 1 December 2018
2) Kyaw Nyunt, A. (2016) Ministry puts mobile penetration at 90 percent. Myanmar Times. Available at: https://www.mmtimes.com/business/technology/21466-ministry-puts-mobile-penetration-at-90-percent.html Accessed 1 December 2018
3) We Are Social, Hootsuite. (n.d.) Active social media users as percentage of the total population in Myanmar from 2016 to 2018. Statista. Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/883751/myanmar-social-media-penetration/ Accessed 29 November 2018
(4) The Copyright Act of 1911. (n.d.). Available at: https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/legislation/details/5934 Accessed 18 January 2019
(5) British Council. ‘EMPOWERING HIGHER EDUCATION A Vision for Myanmar’s Universities’ avaialbe at https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/report_empowering_higher_education_dialogue.pdf Accessed 18 January 2019
(6) Hodgkinson-Williams, C. Arinto, P. Cartmill, T. & King, T. (2017). Factors influencing Open Educational Practices and OER in the Global South: Meta-synthesis of the ROER4D project. In Adoption and Impact of OER in the Global South. Cape Town & Ottawa: African Minds, International Development Research Centre & Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1094833 Accessed 18 January 2019