As I’ve been saying, the real risk of the On the Fence MOOCs (aka xMOOCs) is that they confuse people about “open.” “Open” does not “mean free to access but copyrighted,” like Udacity and Coursera are. Open means free access plus free 4R permissions. The On the Fence MOOCs are drawing energy and attention away from where the real battle is happening – in open educational resources. OER is the only space where everyone has permission to make and redistribute the changes necessary to best support learning in their local context.
I share the opinion of Ariel Diaz quoted here by Inside Higher Ed (Disclaimer, I proudly do work for Boundless):
Ariel Diaz, co-founder and CEO of Boundless, said he did not see Flat World’s strategy shift as a sign that “free and open” can’t work for anyone.
“This reinforces the notion that sustainable biz models are hard to find, and I don’t think that’s a surprise,” said Diaz. “We still see the opportunity to make the case that we’re better because we’re free and open, in that we can leverage the eyeballs and error-finding that we get from our community to lead to a better product as a result.”
Bloggers coming out of the open content world have accordingly been raising concernsabout everything from the fine print of Coursera’s licensing agreements to the pedagogical soundness of multiple choice quizzes and peer grading to the term MOOC itself. MOOCs were pioneered, and the term coined, seven or eight years ago by ed-tech figures like George Siemens and Stephen Downes who were consciously committed to free and open-source content and software, and a new wiki-style of learning enabled by the web where everyone teaches everyone else, dubbed “connectivism”; the corporate MOOC is not only much bigger but far more conventional and commercial. Is openness dead, or will it come back to fight another round?
I am here to say Openness is not dead, and that if Wikipedia has taught us anything the best way to make a useful, robust Educational resource is by making it Open.
Just finished watching Gardner Campbell’s “Ecologies of Yearning and the Future of Open Education” Open Ed 2012 Conference Keynote (Watch via Microsoft Silverlight here) and it was quite the mindspinner.
Recommended audio for this post, Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” (as mentioned by Gardner in the speech):
He goes through a lot in an hour and a half, and I can’t say I had 1 key takeaway, but it really got to me. Seemed to me he wanted listeners to think more critically about Open Education not just as the opening up of courses (to millions or billions), but as literally “Opening” up Education. That’s not to say opening up courses isn’t important, it’s just for him:
when he uses the term. He wants us to critically examine our own attitudes and biases about learning/education/academia in a way to more fully realize knowledge. Along that perilous journey we should join our peers via the World Wide Web and other mediums to explore this dangerous territory (as it can lead to a lot of scary self-analyses and awareness of our own contradictions) together in an open manner.
There is so much more we all have to learn and, not just learn, but comprehend in a way that we can actually act upon said learning and the best current way to do that is extending ongoing initiatives within Open Ed.
Within my own work, I think this means considering critically not just making more resources for English Language Teachers and EFL/ESL students, but why I’m making them, what their goal is, how I should be using them with my own students and so on
Anyway, apologies for butchering his ideas and wording, just wanted to get a quick response published while it was still fresh in my head.
The idea that learning at one’s own rate as opposed to a structured four year period where you get some grades then stop and go into the workforce is intriguing.
Although the degree of regulation regarding qualifications and the weight such qualifications carry for employment varies between sectors and countries, in general we might expect that increasingly employers will look to a person’s digital identity and digital record of learning, rather than accepting qualifications as the basis for employment.
The writer acknowledges Universities still have a future place in learning, but that it’s one that needs to change -
“institutions may have a role in motivating and supporting the learning of students at particular phases in their (lifelong) learning. But this requires far more flexibility than our present (higher) education systems provide.”
Personally I think learning outside the classroom is far more important than learning inside, but that doesn’t mean university is not extremely important. Indeed, university gives many people intellectual outlets they’d not otherwise have, and gives teenagers a chance to grow into adults  with less pressure than they’d find entering the workforce directly.
That is to say, I only wanted to look for a minute or two and stayed for over ten times that long.
This is probably where I learned the most in college.