University of Leeds (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 208-217
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
In an age of economic, social and democratic austerity, educationalists have been invited to rethink the way they foster learners’ self-reliance, critical thinking and social co-operation and belonging at all levels. Radical political thinkers, such as Neary, and student groups advocate for universities to play a leading role in confronting the plights brought about by “the crisis”. In parallel to this, although with no apparent connection, the Open Education Movement has been actively promoting the transformation of the current intellectual property system globally. In the work of some of its theorists, such as Benkler, clear links between the aspiration to open-up knowledge and the inevitability of an alternative to market-based production can be seen.
The OpenLIVES project was conceived as a way of enabling students, academics and the public to access Life Stories of Spanish migrants, who have left Spain during the Civil War or during the Franco regime. These were recorded as part of an earlier project led by Pozo-Gutiérrez. Thanks to the project, funded by JISC and led by the University of Southampton, the stories have been digitised and published as Open Educational Resources (OER) in the HumBox, the Arts and Humanities OER repository in the UK. OpenLIVES also envisaged the embedding of those Digitised Life Stories in the academic curriculum of the three participating universities (Leeds, Portsmouth and Southampton) and the open sharing of any resources created as part of those pedagogical initiatives.
The main teaching contribution of the University of Leeds to OpenLIVES is new module called “Discovering Spanish Voices Abroad in a Digital World” in which Final Year Students of the BAs in Spanish learn about Migration, Spanish Economy and Society, Life Stories, Ethics and Methodology in Oral History and Language as well as Audio Documentaries and OER Production. One of the key ingredients of this module is the research carried out by students themselves, who plan, conduct and process their own Oral History interviews with Spanish economic migrants recently arrived in the UK. At the end of the course, the Life Story interviews as well as the documentaries produced by students, can be published, as OER, in the HumBox and JORUM UK. That way, the global community will have access to the work and research of the students and the personal stories of some of the victims of “the crisis”, as an alternative to the reporting in mass media and the explanations given in mainstream academic and political circles.
A pattern of collaboration and independence has been generated amongst the students as an essential part of their course. Decision-making in key aspects of the course, such as the content and logistics of the research, has been devolved as much as possible to the students, respecting the institutionally established parameters of quality assurance but challenging the perverse cultural representations of “the lecturer” as the owner of any worthy critical knowledge and the master of the educational experience.
The experience has been very fulfilling, but for students to become substantially more self-reliant, critical-thinking and transformative actors in society as a result of initiatives like OpenLIVES, academics have to end the effortless resistance to change, under all sorts of pretexts including discontent with “the system”, and transform critically and independently their role as educators and their work as public researchers.
Austerity, Student as Producer, Open Educational Resources, OER, HumBox, OpenLIVES, migration, Spain, Oral History, Life Stories, research, crisis.