For Argument

Open Education is democratising and personalised

Opening statements from Neil Selwyn:

much of the inherent ‘fairness’ of digital education is seen to stem from the ever-increasing openness of digital technology development, where content is freely distributed and left open to alteration and reuse in the spirit of ‘creative commons’ and ‘open source’. … there are numerous examples of this democratising potential in action.

Digital technologies constitute what Rainie and Wellman term an alternative ‘operating system’ through which people connect, communicate, work together, create and share content and exchange information. These are all highly personal arrangements with the individual ‘at the autonomous center’.

Witness one: Dave Cormier

… the values that underpin the word ‘open’. … In examining these values i have found two strands: one openness that speaks of valuing the creator/teacher/artifact, and another sense of openness that speaks of the user/learner. Most of us, I would imagine, borrow from both sides.” (Cormier, 2013).

The module teaching was based around core readings and the learning was subsequently built around them openly by the students. The objectives were open, the reading list was open, feedback provided was open and the majority of interactions between students were open. In this manner, an online community developed along the timeline proposed by Kozinets, whereby community participation went from initial curiosity to cultural cohesion (Kozinets, 2010).

Second witness: Bronwyn Hegarty

participants choose and create the environment and resources most optimal for them. … Learning is facilitated not only by teachers but more often than not by peers. … when participants engage in open and collaborative networks, communities, and openly shared repositories of information in a structured way to create their own culture of learning.” (Hegarty, 2015).

In order to fulfil this, eight attributes can be associated with open pedagogy which speaks to David Wiley’s original 4Rs, later revised to 5Rs for Open Education Resource (OER) creation (Wiley, 2014). Figure 1 summarises the key elements of the module experience.

Figure 1: Summary of evidence against each of Hegarty’s attributes (Hegarty, 2015)

Third witness: Simon Thomson

What I like about the IFTTT approach is that it recognises that individually we select tools and “platforms” depending on many personal factors. … we don’t seek to build a new box of edtech, we seek to integrate our digital learning platforms more effectively into students existing digital experiences.” (Thomson, 2016).

This pragmatic approach naturally exploits technologies that students are already comfortable with and lends itself to personalised learning with no additional burden on the institution or teacher.

Fourth witness: Jim Groom, Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) Project

The DoOO project at the University of Mary Washington arose from the fact “You need both the domain and the web hosting to fully understand and engage the deeper possibilities of the web”.

Objection: this terminology has been called into question by Maha Bali and Audrey Watters, if the domain is on a server belonging to an institution or being rented from a business then it cannot be called a domain of one’s own, it is rented. They both raise bigger questions about open and ownership, access and equity.

The continued openness of my work is dependent on the University of Edinburgh and thus future benefits such as linking to professional development, sharing with colleagues, or referring back to the many rich bookmarked posts rely on the institution.

Fifth witness Bonnie Stewart:

The capacity for networked interaction may itself be subject to network effects and, therefore, scale and encourage a digital literacies ethos of distributed expertise, increased peer-to-peer participation, collaboration, and knowledge generation.” (Stewart, 2013).

This testimony echoes that of the previous witnesses who draw on the additional benefits of networked, open learning of gaining crucial digital literacies. New technologies were explored that may not have otherwise and new connections made.

Against Argument >