This week I went to my first academic conference, OER17, to present my MSc research.

Having never been before, I wasn’t sure what to expect- I’d only been told “this is a bunch of people who want to change the world”. That didn’t help me prepare, but it did sound interesting.

After attending, I can fairly confidently say that expression was not hyperbole – everyone was incredibly motivated about their projects, and equally supportive of each others’ projects. While presentations aren’t a comfortable experience for me,  the experience was valuable: I’m glad I was encouraged to apply in the first place, and that I listened.

Now, to process the ideas I learned about over the last two days.

For anyone who is curious about what I did, a link to my presentation slides is above. I’ve also put the questionnaire and interview questions I created onto my Figshare account under a Creative Commons License, so that people can freely adapt and reuse them for similar projects.

Why “Building Schools for the Future” couldn’t learn from the past.


In the last 24 hours I’ve discovered two interesting articles in the Guardian, which together show one of the flaws I’ve noticed in education reform attempts.

The first article is a retrospective about how the Merseyside borough of Knowsley was failed by an attempt to innovate educationally and instead developed educational deficits so deep that it had to sacrifice its A-Level education entirely. The second article is an optimistic piece focusing on the XP school in Doncaster, which is adopting a project-based curriculum similar to successful schools in Finland.

The link here is that despite opposing perspectives, these articles are about the same idea; both the “Building Schools for the Future” program used in Knowsley and the project-based curriculum used at XP are repeats of the 1970’s Open Classroom movement (OCM). In the table below the left column describes the Knowsley schools (as told in the Guardian), while the right column describes Open Classrooms and their issues.

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