26 Openness Antonyms. Full list of opposite words of openness.
26 Openness Antonyms. Full list of opposite words of openness.

To open something, it must first be closed” (Mishra (2012). I was thinking about this quote this week. Indeed, we wouldn’t be able to open something that is already open. And how poignant is this quote when we think about how closed education systems have been in the past (some would argue still very much is!). Like many educators, I believe openness is extremely important for everyone in education. Long gone were the days when only the privileged few would get access to learning, schools and education (then again, tragically, there are still parts of the world struggling with basic access). In fact, only in recent years have scholars been beginning to embrace openness to sharing knowledge. Lately, the discussion of the concept of openness has been revolving around the need to increase access to information and knowledge equitably in the society.

Universities are responding to global trends to engage with an increasing number of students by offering free on-line courses. Some criticize such moves as another strategy to generate publicity and a name for the universities. Others perhaps jump on the bandwagon as a business model. Academic staff are also encouraged to collaborate on the reuse of resources because of time and financial pressures. Why reinvent the wheel? However, according to Mossley (2013), at the heart of open education are two key ideas: (i) a belief that through openly sharing the notion of education as a public good, rather than just a private benefit, can be put into action, with a reduction in transaction costs; (ii) and that we all share a commitment to improving the quality of the educational experience of students.

In June 2012, UNESCO convened the World OER Congress. The congress released Open Education Resource (OER) Paris declaration, which defined “OER as teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.” (Paris OER Declaration, 2012) The Declaration endorsed that OERs promote lifelong learning, contribute to social inclusion, gender equity and education for the special needs, and improve cost-efficiency and quality of teaching and learning.

Perhaps I’m unable to engage with the concept of openness and creation of OERs as much as I would like to at an institution level. So, I reflected on my own teaching practice. How open am I as an educator? How open is my teaching? How open is my pedagogy?

The ‘4R Framework’ of reuse, revise, remix and redistribute (Wiley, 2006).

OERs are teaching resources that are created, usable and reusable freely with as few barriers for the end-user as possible. OERs can include e-textbooks, documents, digital images, videos, collections of files, software tools, coherent ‘learning objects’ and whole courses, provided that they are freely available for use, and, importantly, reuse (Mossley, 2013).

Personally, I’ve only had experience developing teaching resources that includes documents, videos, coherent ‘learning objects’ and short courses. For those that I had created for myself and my own teaching, I had never really thought of making them “freely” available for others. On the contrary, for those that I had created for the department and the university, I am open for them to be reuse, revise, remix and redistributed.

This brought me to reflect on the motivations and inertias for my openness.

I thought if given the platform and opportunity to share any of my teaching materials, I would do so with altruistic motivations. Like many, this is inspired by the premise that everyone has a right to education and therefore access to learning should be available to all. Stacey (2007) argues that openness in education will ultimately benefit learners as they will be able to access to more resources which consequently will motivate and spur them to explore further independently. However, there may be those who would work towards more openness in the practice for commercial motivations. Academic staff are either paid or rewarded for their efforts in creating OERs so that they can help to raise the visibility of the institution thereby enhancing its branding (Johnstone, 2005). Indeed there is a strong marketing incentive to creating OERs.

On the other hand, concerns from academic staff who may be experiencing their own set of inertias for not moving towards openness in their practice are just as valid. Personally, I am my worse critique and I tend to think – what is my materials are not good enough or worse any sharing of my materials may result in a tarnishing of my department or institution’s reputation. Perhaps academic staff shudder to think of the sheer amount of effort and time it will take to prepare materials that are to be made open, ie. public. And to make matters worse, will it be worth it – especially when the recognition or acknowledgement is not something that is much to be desired. And more importantly, especially for me, I find it difficult to let go of my teaching without the opportunity to connect with the learners. Sure, there are always quizzes and activities for them to self-assess their learning. But what about my feedback? How can I be certain that learners are benefitting and learning from my materials?

My teaching philosophy stems from a sociocultural perspective. I subscribe to a dialogic pedagogy – an approach where my students and I critically interrogate the topic of study, express and listen to multiple voices and points of view and create respectful and equitable classroom relations. In fact, I believe that with talk, in an effective and sustained way, I will be able to engage students cognitively and scaffold their understanding. As I reflect deeply on the concept of openness, I thought that I’ll have to meaningfully make sense of it while staying true to my teaching philosophy. Easier said than done – but maybe as a start, I have to learn and unlearn and let go.

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McAndrew, P., Santos, A., Lane, A., Godwin, S., Okada, A., Wilson, T., et al. (2009) OpenLearn research report 2006-2008. Milton Keynes, England: The Open University.
Mishra, S. (2012). Openness in Education: Some Reflections on MOOCs, OERs and
ODL. Keynote Presentation International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE)
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Mossley, D. Nov 2013. Open Educational Resources and Open Education, The Higher Education Academy.
OCW Consortium and SCORE Team (2012). Proceedings of Cambridge 2012: Innovation and Impact – Openly Collaborating to Enhance Education. The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
Stacey, P. (2007) Open educational resources in a global context.First Monday, 12(4).
Wiley, D. (2006). On the sustainability of open educational resource initiatives in higher education. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/oer

Open Learning – Sharing and Openness