Openness craze and open educational practices

A difficult thing, this openness craze. I see my kids, and their friends, sharing material on social media I would never even consider sharing, let alone openly. On Facebook people write about and share humongous amounts of quite personal and incredibly uninteresting things. At the same time people seem increasingly secretive about some things and kids at school shower wearing  underpants or don’t shower at all. Makes me think of a line from “Sound of Music” (a great film from 1965): “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window” except I think here it may be the other way around: When God opens a window, somewhere he closes a door. A need to preserve some aspects in a tiny private corner?

Where I work there has always been an openness in the sense that if you are going to teach something for the first time and somebody else has done it before, you are welcome to borrow files and use any material you like. Among teachers attending our courses the question of ownership and copyright is brought up intermittently. I’ve never heard it the other way around “imagine what I would be able to gain if I used and developed existing material and shared it openly” – largely I think because you have to experience for yourself real benefits of open practices and still many of the colleagues haven’t.

Weller & Anderson (2013) refer to Holling’s definition of resilience from his paper on the stability of ecological systems:  ‘a measure of the persistance of systems and their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables’. On a great many levels open educational practices clash not only with personal convictions but also with existing rock-steady structures in HE; financing, assessment and orientation towards fixed “outcome sums” to name a few, as mentioned by Kop et al (2011). The shift in educational practices and delivery of education of any kind that will be necessary  is bound to be a tough nut to crack, but as more and more people see the advantages it will eventually come about, sluggishness or not on the part of HE institutions.

One web-based course that I’m presently involved in, LATHE – Learning And Teaching in Higher Education, is run through LUVIT, one of the fourteen (yes, fourteen) different LMS’s presently in use at Lund University. LUVIT was created at LU and has been around for quite some time. We have had problems retaining LATHE participants with drop-out rates around 30%, but lately a real effort has been made to improve support from facilitators. This seems to have made a real difference, judging from course evaluation and decreasing drop-outs. However, certain functionalities are not available in LUVIT, like notifications when someone comments on a post, and the whole layout is unfriendly and unintuitive. So, in the end we may be migrating the whole course to something completely different to increase the sense of openness and better the conditions for collaboration.

The lonely bird perched on a telephone wire makes me think that a few weeks ago I had never taken part in a flexible online open course (and hardly knew they even were out there more than as distant concept, like MOOC), where as now I have earned a first set of wings and can fly whereever I like…

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8 thoughts on “Openness craze and open educational practices

  1. Hi Lotta,

    Loved your post! 14???? That is one of the huge problems with ODL, openness taking off inside of HE. Each department has their own thing and there isn’t a cohesive, systemic, organizational learning strategy…

  2. your writing style is very straight forward and entertaining. loved reading your posts. regarding kids, internet, and their bodies… maybe sharing thoughts so much makes us less and less accustomed to our physical beings. and I think this process will eventually become even more extreme. telephathy is the new frontier 🙂
    I would also like to use modern technologies to limit drop-outs in the courses I am involved in as a teacher. I believe e-learning tools are extremely powerful and may truly act as facilitators for students who have problems getting engaged, congratulations for all your progress in digital literacy!

  3. We have been discussing the LATHE course and the need for even more change;
    Perhaps the course would (inspired by your ecosystem terms) flourish in a more open context? Our teacher colleagues could in a more informal environment share, and discuss their own findings of content , contributing to the development of the course. I would be very interesting to do a pilot on this!!!

  4. I agree with you that the role of the facilitator is of greatest importance.when starting up an online course or project- especially if you are a novis struggeling and spending time with the tools in the first place ! Somehow the struggeling gives you a bit of experience enough to feel happy and continue!

  5. Love your post. Yes there is a down side to freedom. And trying to find the best LMS you need to know your needs… and they probably vary, right? I know I wrote about different needs in my book, but it was in 2006, and so many more tools are available today. Maybe we don’t need one tool – maybe we need a combination of tools? Something for storing, something for keeping track and something for optimizing the community experience? Not really sure myself, but I’m beginning to think that there isn’t ONE solution but several. Look at where your kids go for information… Facebook is for oldies (past 45 :), kids (under 25 🙂 are using Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Kakao, Pintrest… not one, but several channels. All at once.
    So the question remains – what do you need to do, what’s your purpose and what’s your goal. Start there.
    And welcome to my world!!

  6. Pingback: Supporting learners | Åbjörn

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