#openedMOOC begins October 1st

David Wiley and George Siemens are offering a new 6 week MOOC – Introduction to Open Education – on EdX at the beginning of October.

There is already a Twitter hashtag – #openedMOOC –  and you can enrol on the EdX website where you can also find the course syllabus:

Week 1: Why Open Matters
Week 2: Copyright, The Public Domain, and The Commons
Week 3: The 5R Activities and the Creative Commons Licenses
Week 4: Creating, Finding, and Using OER
Week 5: Research on the Impact of OER Adoption
Week 6: The Next Battles for Openness: Data, Algorithms, and Competency Mapping

I have signed up for the MOOC, mainly out of curiosity. My hope is that it will offer a fresh perspective and rekindle the enthusiasm I had for open education in the early days of the first MOOC in 2008, but which I have found increasingly difficult to sustain in the last couple of years.

Despite this, I remain an advocate of open education in the terms in which it was first offered. It would be difficult not to wish for a global democratic education system which offers free open access to all no matter what their circumstances – or is that an erroneous assumption? I am hoping this course will take a critical approach, encourage diverse perspectives and be willing to surface and challenge assumptions, such as the assumption that ‘open is good’, as implied by the header on the EdX course site.

Source of Image: EdX website 

In 2012 Stephen Brookfield wrote that “critical thinking involves three inter-related phases:

  1. Discovering the assumptions that guide our decisions, actions and choices
  2. Checking the accuracy of these assumptions by exploring as many different perspectives, viewpoints and sources as possible
  3. Taking informed decisions that are based on these researched assumptions 

(Informed decisions are based on evidence we can trust, can be explained to others and have a good chance of achieving the effects we want).”

It is getting increasingly difficult to recognise evidence we can trust. We know that over time ‘open’ has led to as many problems as solutions, not least the pursuit of ‘fame and glory beyond your wildest dreams. Or, at least, a few thousand views’ that David Wiley writes about in his blog post. Is this what we really want from open education? I have recently wondered whether one of the problems of ‘open’ in relation to networks is that it is so often discussed out of context, i.e. out of the context of the principles of networks expounded by Stephen Downes, who believes these to be autonomy, diversity, openness and connectivity. He has written about this many, many times over the years, but here is one reference.

Downes, S. (2010, Oct 26th). What is Democracy in Education?http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/what-is-democracy-in-education.html 

I see these four principles as being interdependent, i.e. they should be thought about in relation to each other and the absence of one will have consequences for the others. For example, openness without diversity simply leads to echo chambers. In addition, autonomy is a key principle. An open network must respect personal autonomy. My perspective is that loss of diversity and lack of respect for autonomy is an increasing problem in open networks. Hopefully we will get to discuss some of these issues in the MOOC.

David and George  on their blogs, have asked that we create a 3-5 minute video sharing our perspectives and experiences regarding one or more of the weekly topics. I have exercised my autonomy by deciding not to do that but to begin my thinking here on this blog. But I will point you to the videos Stephen Downes has created in response to this request. He is always a hard act to follow!

Here is the first one:

And here are the links to the others, one for each week

Week 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPHYAFcUziA
Week 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVVULztlp1s
Week 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKaJNTgwHWc
Week 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3S3xOK6-GA
Week 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ic1sRq46hys
Week 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT_IaZG797


Brookfield, S. (2012). Developing Critical Thinkers. Teachers College, April 20th & 21st. p.14 http://www.stephenbrookfield.com/s/Developing_Critical_Thinkers.pdf

19 thoughts on “#openedMOOC begins October 1st

  1. scottx5 September 12, 2017 / 2:39 am

    Sounds irresistible. Diversity and critical thinking are habits that need feeding for any destination in life. I sometimes wonder about the value of critical thinking though, who cares when BS is the actual coin of the realm? That said, being right has a kind of edge to it when you keep it to yourself.

  2. jennymackness September 12, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    Many thanks Scott for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. I am looking forward to the MOOC and as I mentioned in the post am hoping for fresh insights.

  3. scottx5 September 12, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    Thanks for the preview Jenny. With everything on this side of the Atlantic running backwards or at least in deliberate decline it would be wonderful to in the presence of some forward thinking. Somehow things need to get started again.

  4. francesbell September 13, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Thanks for your post Jenny. A few years ago your first post on a MOOC tempted me to join but I think my autonomy will be exercised by keeping my distance this time 🙂 I did check out this MOOC a few days ago and saw the invitation to share a video but 2 things gave me pause for thought. First I wondered why the course leaders weren’t curating existing as well as soliciting new open content – what price Reuse? Second, the curriculum didn’t flag up the critical thinking that you also hope for which made me wonder whether or not it would be welcomed.
    That said, I hope it’s a great experience and was pleased to hear Stephen Downes final comment that “It’s not about stuff, it’s about what you do with each other”. I’ll be reading your blog posts and learning from a distance.
    Something that has benefited me in recent years is reading and writing about what Open Education means. I have been making sense of my own pre-Internet experience of openness in pedagogy and education, and looking at ideas of open and action learning that influenced my pedagogy in the late 80s, early 90s https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=Open+Active+Learning&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_yhi=1995 For me, Open Education predates 2008.

  5. Benjamin L. Stewart September 13, 2017 / 10:39 am

    What are your thoughts on what appears to be a course about cMOOC principles, being offered as an xMOOC?

  6. jennymackness September 13, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    Hi Frances,

    Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts.

    Re your first pause for thought – “I wondered why the course leaders weren’t curating existing as well as soliciting new open content – what price Reuse?”
    I think it is probably too early to say whether or not the course leaders will be curating existing new open content. At the moment the syllabus is just a list of topics. I’m not sure what will be offered once the course starts.

    And re your second pause for thought – “the curriculum didn’t flag up the critical thinking that you also hope for which made me wonder whether or not it would be welcomed”
    I suppose time will tell. For me the concern was not whether critical thinking would be welcomed but rather whether the issues around open education will be discussed. It’s not possible to know this from the weekly topic titles. If the course is simply about content, then I may not last very long 🙂

    I don’t think anyone would argue that Open Education predates 2008 would they? I don’t know how long public lectures have been offered – at least since the 19th century if not well before that. I would have to look it up. I think what changed in 2008 was the scale and reach of open education, and of course in 2008, we didn’t know what the implications of this might be – or at least I didn’t!

  7. jennymackness September 13, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Thanks Ben for this interesting question:

    What are your thoughts on what appears to be a course about cMOOC principles, being offered as an xMOOC?

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    I don’t think George and David have claimed that this is a cMOOC have they – although from their long association with open education and connectivism, it’s not really surprising that this might be assumed. The interesting thing is that I don’t think cMOOC principles necessarily fully equate with open education. ‘Openness’ is only one of the principles of cMOOCs. I hadn’t thought about this before, but it might be one of the reasons I feel increasingly uneasy about open education. I’ll have to think further about that.

    This course is being offered on a platform that is usually associated with xMOOCs, but this doesn’t mean that it is being offered as an xMOOC. I noticed in a tweet replying to Aras Bozkurt, George wrote “All videos, readings, and resources will be openly accessible (archived outside of edx). We’ll provide a link before the course starts”. This is a bit of a departure from how xMOOCs usually run.

    But I’m not sure who owns the data that will be generated on the Edx site, if data is generated there. I am thinking, e.g. of discussion forum posts. In the cMOOCs that colleagues and I have researched we have been able to use this data for research purposes, but I know that the Coursera platform doesn’t allow this, and I suspect the same applies to EdX.

    It maybe that George and David are simply making use of a ready made platform for structuring their course, in the same way that CCK08 used Moodle, but that the course activity will be distributed across blogs, twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Even the very successful, and in my opinion, exceptionally well run Coursera xMOOC – Modern and Contemporary America Poetry (ModPo) – encourages participation across distributed sites, although most discussion takes place within the Coursera forums.

    For me the two main issues with xMOOcs are pedagogy and ownership of data. I think pedagogy can be worked round as shown by ModPo. It doesn’t have to be lecture transmission in an xMOOC, but ownership of data and the fact that xMOOC platforms are for profit, work against the original intentions of open education.

  8. Brynna Kaulback September 14, 2017 / 3:03 am

    Thanks, Jenny! I signed up – out of curiosity also. Appreciate the notice.

  9. jennymackness September 23, 2017 / 8:29 am

    Hi Ben (not sure if you prefer to be called Ben or Benjamin. Apologies if I have got it wrong).

    I enjoyed your post on your blog which extends this discussion. http://www.benjaminlstewart.org/openness-matters-openedmooc/#comment-32

    Just to let you and anyone else who is reading this know that I have responded on your blog.


  10. BenjaminStewart, PhD (@bnleez) September 23, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    Hello Jenny – Ben’s fine. 🙂 I too have enjoyed our exchange. I look forward to future insights on the topic of open education.

  11. jupidu October 2, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    great Jenny, that your post is learning material in the opened MOOC 🙂
    I love it to read your thoughts and then the comments and then the connected post and to start thinking my own thoughts and commenting. So let’s discuss outside of the edx environment! 🙂

  12. jennymackness October 5, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Hi Jutta – it’s good to know that you will also be following this course. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts too as we work through the course materials; I know you have invested a lot in open practice. Have you seen Lisa Lane’s post – https://lisahistoryblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/open-can-be-bad/ ? She writes of the sorts of issues that I hope the course will address.

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