Now think about it: How can teaching be closed? If one teaches another they have to open up, don’t they? If you close yourself up, there is no teaching and no learning. It is a bit like Watzlawick’s “One cannot not communicate.” You cannot teach and be all closed. If you are not closed, openness is a question of gradual adaptation.
The question therefore is: For whom else do you want to be open besides your (inscribed) students and why? Open in your role as a teacher and open for people watching you teach and forming an opinion concerning your teaching or not, which they may or may not let you know about. And open for others to use materials that you have generated and provide for sharing.
If it is not motivated by an altruistic urge to provide others with materials to spare them from generating it themselves, or the rather great and only half altruistic idea that sharing both ways will save everyone time and provide inspiration, the desire for greater openness towards more students could be related to a message that you have to distribute. Or else it could be related to the desire to receive broader feedback.
Let’s look at the distribution of a message or thought or idea, using a historical example:
I would here like to draw a comparison to the young university of Wittenberg, when  Melanchthon (1518) was appointed as professor at age 28 and participated in the reformation of the christian religion.


But Melanchthon was mainly a teacher and information disseminator. We have heard a lot about the analogy between the advent of bookprint and the digital revolution and I was struck by the following story last year when visiting Wittenberg.Melanchthon was a very aggressive reformer of education, trying to open up education for poor people and to assure that people would be able to learn the teaching language (Latin), to remove barriers to access information. He structured for the first time the schooling system and founded several schools in different German cities himself. He wrote, printed and distributed books of grammar for several languages and his Greek grammar book was used as the school standard until the 18th century.  The driver for his activities was for one his mindset that knowledge and more specifically his knowledge should be accessible for everyone interested. His lectures were followed at times by more than 2000 people. Amazing. And for two he employed the advent of new technology: Bookprint. Melanchthon (and Luther a little later) worked at a rather young university with a lot of very modern (todays translation: out of the box) thinking people around them and they had access to some of the best printers in the world back then.

Melanchthon turned into a Guru, his title was Praeceptor Germaniae (teacher of Germany), because of his openness but also because of the message(s) he conveyed. People, for the first time in history, did not necessarily need to travel to Wittenberg to understand his thinking and to further disseminate it, because his books were distributed widely. WIde enough to have international impact: Scandinavia and Corea and Eastern Europe were all reached by Melanchthons teaching. But of course still knowledge and information was restricted to those with access to books.

The digital revolution, is in my mind therefore the major leap in information dissemination after bookprint, makes information accessible for everyone everywhere in principle. But it also makes it much easier to share information with everyone by anyone. This is the next level of information distribution and access and it demands openness. Responsible openness. But “closedness” will for that very reason not be an option for most types of educational content. But importantly we need to regain control over the infrastructure of information distribution. As Jaron Lanier puts it in one of his TED-talks that I first saw on Kay Oddones blog: Why would two people who want to communicate with each other need a third person to do so?

But as in the 16th century there are many reasons to be aware of risks and abuse, but there is no reason to think that use of the new media and technology will be mainly harmful. It will not, if we take the responsibility to work with it. It may if we do not. The most risky way toi deal with this is to not work with it und to negate the need to develop digital literacies for everyone.

Gregor-PBL3 – #ONL181 –  topic 2


Openness in education – What the heck does that mean?