Visiting the newly opened Orchidetum in S’pore Botanic Gardens – free access for Singaporeans!

what is opening learning?

I learnt that there are two paths to define open learning: Open Access and Open Pedagogy.

Open Access: the materials/resources are made available on a public platform, usually free of charge or at a nominal fee. Open access has the advantage of wider reach and reputation building.

I am familiar with researchers sharing their research papers on ssrn, which is a platform researchers to disseminate their early stage research, prior to their publication in academic journals. SSRN is a searchable online library that enables authors to post their papers and abstracts free of charge. With the exceptions of papers whose copyright is held by third parties that require a download fee, most of the papers can also be downloaded free of charge. The downloads and citations metrics are used by authors for promotion and tenure and by institutions for hiring and ranking purpose.

In the recent years, there has also been a proliferation of open access journals. I have not paid much attention to them due to quality control and certification issues. Other open access platforms I am familiar with are wikipedia and MOOCs.

I hope to apply what I have learnt from ONL to start an online course on my field of expertise, namely real estate finance, investment and development on the MOOC platform. The shared material, primarily recording of short snippets of my lectures, can be more easily accessed by a wider audience. I could also adopt blended learning by asking the students to watch the lectures asynchronously (in their own time prior to class), so that valuable and limited teaching time can be channeled towards discussions and answering their questions.

However, my group highlighted that openness in the digital public domain is curtailed by our obsessions about privacy and private intellectual property. Who owns the material? What images/songs can or cannot be used in my slides and presentations?

Open Pedagogy: I am less familiar with teaching and learning via open pedagogy, which tend to be more experiential, student- and process-centric. This pedagogy would require the teacher to be open to teaching in an “unstructured” manner. Humility and patience are important virtues for both the teacher and the students. In particular, teachers may need to deliberately hold back some information for the students to self discover those knowledge.

The teacher’s role in an open learning environment becomes more of a facilitator, rather than knowledge provided. One of my team mates rightly mentioned that students don’t learn from experience, but they learn from reflecting on the experiences.

Open Learning!