I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly open person. I’m open to new experiences, learning new things, and exploring new ideas. That said, I am also mindful of being too open – especially when it comes to sharing my personal life and sharing my private thoughts about contentious issues. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for open and intelligent debate, but these must be governed by a set of mutually agreed rules of engagement.
So when faced with the question of where I stand when it comes to open education, I can honestly say I don’t have an easy answer. For the simple reason that open education means different things to different people.
Open education in terms of MOOCs, means offering knowledge to just about anyone who is willing and able to learn. A lofty ideal, which in spirit, allows anyone who wants to learn, the platform to gain knowledge for his or her own benefit or for the benefit of the community at large. Yet almost seven years after MOOCs were first introduced, the numbers aren’t very encouraging. With completion rates hovering just below 5 percent, detractors are quick to declare MOOCs a total bust. But in my humble opinion, MOOCs aren’t about to disappear into oblivion, they will just evolve with time.
In Weller & Anderson’s paper, Digital Resilience in Higher Education, they speak of how technology will disrupt education as much as it has disrupted music and entertainment, (think Spotify and Netflix), journalism, (think citizen reporting) and commerce (think Amazon and AliExpress). Whether at an institutional or individual level, there really is no running away from this digital disruption. We have to ride the waves of change and emerge stronger, more resilient.
As a learning designer for digital learning, be it blended or not, I am excited to be part of this wave of change. My experience is a firm juxtaposition of the state we’re in. Just as I’m searching open sourced material, from open textbooks, to images, I am also searching platforms that will keep our content protected, and secure. Even as we create content, we are learning, exploring, and that to me is an experience that I will not trade for anything.
Ask me again in a few years’ time how open I am with sharing our content, I may have a better answer for you. But for now, we’re all still refining our own processes and building a body of work that may one day be openly shared in varying levels. Till then, we continue engaging with our subject matter experts to create compelling teaching materials to engage learners “spoilt” by the digital disruption. How open this content will be, remains that proverbial million dollar question.