It’s an hour for me to be one of first authors of the brand new journal Open Praxis with the paper “On the role of openness in education” that I have written together with my colleague Sandra Peters (University of Technology Sydney). It covers much of her PHD work on the historical research in education. Based on this we go on to argue
After a period of open movements many times there have been slight but important shifts from “pure” openness towards “pretended” openness, i.e. some aspects have been modified to offer more control for producers and other stakeholders. For instance, the historic culture of the coffeehouses had been transformed to private clubs and closed, exclusive societies. The original MOOC concept has been utilised for the development of platforms like Udacity or Coursera both of which are providing free courses containing material that cannot be adapted according to the 4Rs (see above). Similarly, Open Study is a for profit platform. History emphasizes the risk in failing to preserve the openness that made initiatives successful in the first place. The development of free but not entirely open courses needs to be examined more closely. While not immediately altering public perception, the shift from humanistic values to more “efficient” and “productive” educational opportunities can undermine the significance of openness.
Full text is available here. Looking for your comments.
I was pointed to the above info graphic and asked for a brief review, so I am happy to share my thoughts. It starts with a well-known transformation in higher ed, the rise of the (tuition) costs worldwide, but in particular in the U.S. This initial position is then boiled down to mere economical factors which are like this: You have to pay a certain amount of money to attend a prestigious college and after graduation you will (like an automatism) be given a job that refinances all your investments. And this equation is not “true” any longer? And is there really a solution coming our way that is called MOOC?
I am not an economist, so I can not properly talk about financial aspects. However, since MOOC is invoked I think it is important to stress some educational aspects. It is a pity that in this graphic MOOCs are only referred to as the Coursera platform and not as an educational movement that has a much larger and broader history than the media hype tries to claim. It is based on some fundamental assumptions and beliefs (education for all, education as a common goods) which roots in the philosophy of Rousseau and Froebel. For a more detailed account on that see here.
This idealist philosophical positions are undermined when, as this graphic does, MOOCs are used to promote an economical perspective on education (“elite schools”) that neglects the core educational beliefs (e.g. self-realization of the person). So, perhaps there is any chance to include more educational thinking in this graphic.
This global conference took place during last week in the beautiful city of Cambridge. The venue was not so historic as it may be anticipated but it was a nice place to gather and chat with many people on the latest developments of OER. Just outside the building was the famous Mathematical Bridge.
The conference theme was Innovation and Impact: Openly collaborating to enhance education and was organized jointly by the Support Center for Open Resources in Education and the Open Courseware Consortium.
The conferences main topic open collaboration was also a big part of the first keynote: Developing the Open Education Ecosystem by Eko Indrajit from the ABFI Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was an informative and entertaining speech also I am skeptical towards the overuse of the term “open”. Or do you know what an Open Professor might be or look like?
Openness has certainly become a catchword not only in the realm of education (e.g. Open Innovation) and as long as it serves the purpose of education one should not bother.
Collaboration was also the goal of other projects that have been presented such as “Bridge to Success” which attempts to share open resources to help students acquire skills needed when entering a college. Materials are provided from the Open University UK and then modified to fit the context of community college.
On the last day, I had the opportunity to present my ideas on sustaining Open Education with the help of the theory of Bildung. Before and during my presentation (see slides below) I was not quite sure how the participants who came all from countries not familiar with the specific notion of Bildung would react. So I was excited when Patrick McAndrew who chaired my sessions invited people to ask questions or make comments. The first reaction was: “Do you have anything written on this subject?”. Then, other people joined in and an inspiring discussion evolved.
One of the things that emerged was the mismatch between the humanistic philosophy of Open Education and the current practices to convince, for instance, teachers to utilize OER. This is a transmission without acknowledging the person’s individual beliefs, motives and attitudes towards OER. In this regard, Bildung might step in as a reflective tool. Thus, questions such as how do OER change my teaching can be reconsidered.
Overall I was impressed by the positive and encouraging feedback to my presentation. Please feel free to add any comments you have so we can keep this interesting discussion ongoing.
Rory McGreal asks in this week’s MOOC #change11 if his description represents an accurate view of a typical situation in a Higher Education environment.
I would like to share my perception of the circumstances at a large distance teaching university in Germany. I have recently encountered the following situation. I wanted to take a week off and went online to use our new workflow system. After logging on I saw this
I contacted our helpdesk and got the suggestion to use Internet Explorer instead of Firefox. As a matter of fact, Firefox browser is not supported and you are forced to use proprietary software.
This is just a small example of the non awareness of the changed reality that is more an more using open source applications. Why don’t they support Firefox? Is it because of restricted DRM or because of just not knowing the benefits of open source? I am not sure. Also many tools provided on our Intranet are proprietary software. When I use a stylesheet for grading the papers of my students which is in doc-format and open it with LibreOffice I have to manually change some elements.
On the other side, I am following the strategy of sending documents in open source format and when people reply that they cannot open it then I send them a link to the download of the software.
This an other small things may change the mindsets and behaviours of people.
Do you have similar experiences??
What I most like about David Wiley’s ambitions to promote openness in education is his great talent to bring arguments to the bottom line. In presentation like this, he clearly points out the role of openness in education. Despite other implicit meanings of that, David Wiley goes on to postulate that openness is the only means of doing education. That means without being open towards sharing my thoughts and materials there will be no education.
This leads me to a classical construct in education and pedagogy, the didactic triangle. Most of you are familiar with that as it describes the basic relationships between teacher, student and content. Now throughout the advancement of Openness which is reflected in many writings such as here by Michael Peters new insight into the specific meanings and benefits for educational processes have emerged.
With reference to the didactic triangle, openness has several impacts which can be elaborated on as illustrated in the following figure.
First, access to content is no longer a big deal for teachers as well as for learners. Thus, a much more diverse body of information is available for learning and teaching.
Second, support can be received in broader forms such as peer support via new technologies like ResearchGate and can so enhance the quality of the research process.
Third, we are currently witnessing new forms of open teaching such as this MOOC #change11. Despite the classical teaching approach with a fixed and pre-defined curriculum, Open Courses do not require you to cover and process all the materials and subjects and to pass an exam after a certain period. In fact, it is totally up to you what you make out of it.
Surely there a many more options around the classic triangle triggered by Openness. And in keeping with David Wiley, the open didactic triangle can be a tool to communicate the core meanings of Openness in Education as it is directed to the bottom line.
Taking part in two Open Online Courses (MOOC #change11 and P2PU) demands a lot of attention and effort. Sometimes it may feel like you have to carry a big backpack or rucksack as we in Germany call it.
Does anybody feel the same??
I have to come up with a learning plan and I have to cover some of the recent stuff on the MOOC #change11. Receiving feedback from other people increases my motivation. I also try to provide feedback to other contributions. And I am experimenting with various social media tools but on the other hand they are time-consuming. Although you can utilize RSS feeds to scan blogs quickly but if you have a big list of blogs than the scanning itself takes some time.But I think all these tools have value for particular purposes which will evolve as you use them.
So I am confident for the next week but still want to know:
What are you strategies to overcome feelings of being overloaded?
I have been attending another (here is the other one) inspiring SCORE Workshop with presentations from some of the recent Fellows reporting on their projects.
Then, we were engaged in a group work setting to discuss four major issues of OER:
1) Discovery: Is it ture that there is a wealth of good quality OER out there? How easy is finding the OER you need?
2) Costs: What are the true costs of OER? Who meets them? Are they justified?
3) Users: What do we know about users of OER?
4) New Models: What are the new models?
It became clear that these issues more or less interrelated. So much more work is needed in this area.-))
Following the group work, I gave a short presentation about my research project. I got very helpful and supportive feedback, so I am confidence to master the further challenges along the road….
As part of my research fellowship at the OLNet I am investigating how people make use of OER and how that is affecting their learning process. I have set up a little survey for this with 16 questions. So it will not take much of your time.
The survey is open for everyone interested in Open Education and Open educational Resources. Your participation will help to better understand the potentials of OER, especially its impact on education. The current transformations towards more Openness in education provide new possibilities but also new challenges to current educational practices. In order to understand and reflect the dynamics inherent in these changes, we definitely need more empirical evidence.
I would be very happy if you could participate in this survey.
Results will be discussed here in my Blog but also in the context of the MOOC #change11.
This week’s topic in the MOOC #change11 is about the digital scholar, a concept thoroughly researched by one of my colleagues in the OlNet team, Martin Weller. He just published a book with the same title which can be accessed here. I found the parallels between Open Education and the music or newspaper industry interesting and helpful to engage other people in discussions.
However, when we consider digital scholarship from an individual perspective, I think that the abilities to manage your own digital learning process (which then leads to scholarship) are different from the abilities for traditional learning. Rita Kop has published a paper in IRRODL which elaborates a little bit on that with regard to MOOC.
Last year and before even knowing about MOOC, I published an article, coincidently also in IRRODL, that describes the concept of volition as a helpful theory to provide a new dimension to explain learning in informal settings. My perspective at this time was Distance Education with its long tradition of using innovative media to bridge the gap between teacher and learner. However, the more “innovative” or complex these media are, the more challenging are the tasks learner have to do. I have focused primarily on motivation as a key for goal-directed learning and have provided some cases that can endanger motivation when learning at a distance. Then I have introduced the concept of volition that can compensate decreased motivation, for instance with specific action control strategies. These strategies are crucial for self-regulated learning which put a lot of pressure on the learner (e.g., control of attention when facing distractions, monitoring your learning progress).
It seems reasonable to assume that volition is also of importance for learning in open learning networks such as the MOOC #change11. I will follow my line of research as outlined in the aforementioned paper.
The recently raised question concerning cooperation and collaboration in settings of change such as the MOOC #change11 is surely an important issue. Here is an interesting blog post with a related discussion.
I have been involved in a large EU project where we attempt to build a model for team-based development in Higher Education to promote use and resuse of OER. We have analysed different forms of groups and networks, including more loosely structured forms such as the Humanities Network with its new international Course Exchange project. Their work mode can be perceived as somewhat of a connectivist approach, i.e. without clear goals or shared agreements of the partners that should cooperate. On the other side, we have investigated the Mediterranean Network of Universities which is based on clearly defined structure. They have a predefined mission and based on that an agenda of their activities.
Now when it comes to the assessment of the efficiency of these two approaches, we discovered that the more rigid approach seem to be more conducive for the utilization of innovations such as the adoption of OER in current learning and teaching practices. The rather open approach on complementary course production was seen as to be too unstructured to take full advantage of the potentials of OER.
I will provide the full report of this project as soon as it is finalised.
Meanwhile, I am adding the slides from a recent presentation at the EDULEARN Conference in Barcelona with some of our findings.