Illustration Created by Jessica Duensing for opensource.com
Patrik’s reflections on Topic 2: Open learning – Sharing and Openness
Topic 2: Open Learning Sharing and Openness is coming to an end and it is time for some reflections. The concept of open learning is appealing and something that feels right, but when you dig deeper into the subject you soon become aware that sharing and openness is something that is rather complex with both pros and cons.
The scenario for topic 2 of the ONL191 course was based on an educator that would like to offer a course openly, i.e. wishing to go open. The discussions in PBL group 4 resulted in this Coggle mindmap illustrating the complexities of going open.
There are several aspects to consider but in this reflection I focus on only two, the definition of Open Learning and some pros and cons related to OL compared to traditional forms of learning, something that in this context may be referred to as Closed Learning.
The discussions with the group members concluded that OL is learning for all and information available to all, as well as life long learning. The main differens compared to ‘closed learning’ seems to be that information materials are made freely available to anyone, often on-line, without requiring and qualifications. Dr. David Wiley describes this very well in his Tedx Talk where he says that modern digital technology (New media/tech) has given us an unprecedented ability to share information and knowledge without giving anything away, e.g. an online book or lecture can be read and attended by millions of people at the same time.
On the positive side
From the perspective of a university the number of potential students increase manyfold compared to a traditional campus course.
This form of education is free and the definition of success and failure is in the hands of the student. Regardless of a student taking the entire course or just some parts of it, the approach contributes to lifelong learning and a general awareness raising of the public (attending the courses), even if no degree of diploma is awarded.
This suggests that bigger is better, i.e. we reach more potential students and contribute to increased awareness and lifelong learning, which is building on the concluding remark by Dr David Wiley in his Tedx Talk who said: the more open we are the better education will be.
On the negative side
Free means no income, so how will we sustain the development and upkeep of open freely available resources? One model is to make information free but charge for assessment and diplomas (the MOOC approach). The success of MOOCs is now being questioned by some authors. For instance A. Kovacevic elaborated on the Post-MOOC era, stating that the lack of income has forced several MOOC platforms to restructure and aim towards enterprise customers instead. A major reason for this seems to be the low completion rate, as low as 5,5% according to Kovacevic.
Another aspect that can complicate matters when going open is the protection of intellectual property, e.g. course material. How do I protect the material I develop and make openly available to anyone? This requires some thinking and luckily the Creative Commons licensing is there, which is well described by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. This is a great approach, but after looking into this I still wonder how this will protect my stuff from being used in a way that I don’t want to, and how it will be controlled…
- There are issues related to the business model of open learning as access to information is for free. In the MOOC approach you only pay for assessments and grading. However, with extremely few participants completing MOOCs there is little income and therefore the sustainability of open learning is often poor.
- Risks related to protection of intellectual property rights have to be taken into consideration.
- Even so, the philosophy of open learning is great. It makes information freely available to the public, and by doing so contributes to life long learning and increased awareness.
- Sharing a course openly on a digital platform is likely to increase the number of potential students that can learn from the course compared to the same course only being offered at campus –> Bigger is better (some times).
This became a long reflection, I hope you made it to the end and that it was worth the effort!