#openedMOOC Week 1: The value of ‘open’

Link to source of image

Why Does Open Matter? This is the key question for Week 1 of the Introduction to Open Education MOOC, being offered on edX by David Wiley and George Siemens.

This question has been asked of participants, but since David Wiley and George Siemens have both fully answered the question in a two-part video, I suppose the question for participants should really be, Why does open matter to you?  And the assumption seems to be that we are talking about openness online as opposed to offline.

David Wiley believes open to be a value, like diversity and that openness is imperative for increasing access to, affordability and effectiveness of, engagement and vibrancy in education. He writes that “To be true to the deeper ethic of open we must be generous and open-hearted, feeling a sense of love, care, and responsibility for all humanity.”

George Siemens talks of the benefits of quick, frenzied, open knowledge generation.

Neither of these responses work particularly well for me. I have personally experienced the opposite of ‘love, care and responsibility for all humanity’ in the open environment. Openness online can encourage an ‘anything can be said’ attitude, presumably because the recipient of the comments cannot be seen. As Lisa Lane has written “…. we now have an appalling acceptance of unacceptable behavior and uncivil conduct, which in my country has now reached the highest levels of power.”

And quick, frenzied knowledge generation doesn’t work for me in terms of learning. I can understand the excitement generated which I acknowledge can be motivating, but for learning and knowledge production I personally need slow, quieter interaction, where everyone has an opportunity to be heard, not just the loudest voices.

But like Lisa, I am an advocate of open education and I am grateful to all those like David, George and Stephen Downes, who have done so much to promote it. As David said in one of the videos, open is beyond free. Even in countries, such as Germany, where education is free, open can unlock new pedagogies. David also said open matters because if we learn by ‘doing’ then anything that constrains that ‘doing’, e.g. copyright restrictions, prevents learning. For me that is a powerful argument in support of open education, but I would add, as mentioned above, that some online behaviours can be equally restrictive. This is the aspect of open education in which I am most interested, i.e. I am interested in both the rhetoric and the reality for individual learners, although I suspect, as Andy Lane (2016) has argued, that currently the reality does not measure up to the rhetoric.

However, in the meantime, I continue to benefit from open education; in fact my work as an independent researcher depends on it. In return, as I have written about before,  I try to be an open practitioner, within the constraints of my own capabilities and personality!


Lane, A. (2016). Emancipation through Open Education: Rhetoric or Reality? In T. eds. Blessinger, Patrick and Bliss (Ed.), Open Education: International perspectives in higher education (pp. 31–50). Open Book Publishers ,. http://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0103.02 Retrieved from: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/531/open-education–international-perspectives-in-higher-education

#NRC01PL Personal Learning MOOC Week 1

personal learning

I have registered for Stephen Downes’ 7 week Personal Learning MOOC – Here is the text, advertising the course, from the first part of Stephen Downes’ Half an Hour blog.

This course explores the topic of learning in three ways: first, through an examination of research and development issues related to the topic; second, through interaction with a personal learning environment (specifically: LPSS) to take the course; and third, through activities supporting the development of a personal learning environment at a conceptual level.

Course objectives: participants will develop an appreciation of different models of online course delivery, ranging from the traditional LMS through connectivist MOOCs to potential future models of personal learning and performance support.

Course environment: NRC01 Personal Learning will be delivered using OpenEdX and will include text-based content, videos, discussion, and exercises. Participants will be also invited to explore additional learning environments, including the gRSShopper, LPSS.me and Arke prototypes developed by NRC. In addition, participants will be encouraged to explore and work in online environments related to the topics covered in the course and report their findings in the discussion area or their own website. Participants may also be subscribed to a daily newsletter for the duration of the course.

Course Tag: #NRC01PL

Course Registration: https://openedx.lpss.me

Week 1 is coming to a close and has been simply an introduction to the EdX environment. This is the first time I have participated in an EdX course. We have been asked to comment on the environment in terms of ease of use. Yes, it is easy to use, but I did need Stephen’s video to ‘open my eyes’ to a few things. I am not interested in technology for technology’s sake, so I don’t naturally click every button to find out what’s what. For me, a short video pointing me in the right direction always helps. So for example, I ignored the tab ‘Courseware’ because it sounds like ‘software’ and I incorrectly thought ‘that’s not for me’. But in fact the Courseware tab is where the course content is – including the video (a further layer down), whereas I was expecting it to be in Course Info and was wondering where the course content was. I wasn’t worried, because I have participated in enough online learning and MOOCs to know that I would find it on Twitter or via the Daily Newsletter, or via a participant.

I think if I had designed the site I might have had a Home page link above the Week 1 ‘Learning through Practice’ link and had the video there and immediately visible. I would also have the links in a different colour, so that they can be easily identified as live links – but that’s just me.

Otherwise the site is very easy. Some people have questioned the day by day drip feed approach, but it’s fine by me. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly I get a sense of feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t even managed to watch the three videos mentioned on OLDaily yet . Here are the links below.

Beyond Instructional Design: Open Spaces and Learning Places

The MOOC Ecosystem

Design Elements in a Personal Learning Environment

….. or read the recommended article

Downes, S. (2001) Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwide. 2(1) IRRODL

although I have read Stephen’s helpful blog post – Personal and Personalized Learning

There are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. But again, I am not worried about this and I’m certainly not rushing around from city to city like Stephen himself is doing. I’ll just pick and choose, as and when. I know that this MOOC is really for research purposes (the first survey has already been conducted and the results posted Personal Learning MOOC Survey 1) but my interest is to see what I can learn about recent developments in how learners experience and manage their own online learning spaces. I’m not sure how active I’ll be, but I’ll be tagging along.

One final thing about the Edx Environment – and this is a personal observation. Although it’s very straightforward to use, I found myself immediately wanting some more colour, i.e. I wanted it to be more aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps we’re not supposed to be attracted to it, and we’ll be encouraged to move somewhere else. Time will tell!