The scenario for this week was: The blending of in-person with online teaching and learning is taking centre stage in the higher education transformation. This is likely to further widen the expansion of online education. How do you think this will cause an increased interest to shift towards open education and sharing of open educational resources? Do consider how the emergence of AI tools will impact your course design. If you decide to open up your courses, what levels of openness would be appropriate from your own and from your institution’s perspectives? Does your university learning management system (LMS, e.g. Moodle, Canvas, etc) offer opportunities for openness? What support would colleagues need from the leadership? How would you introduce the idea of openness to your students? How would you engage students as partners in this open initiative?
The discussion in the groups during the first week of topic 2 circled around if the level of prerequisites made a difference in online courses with open learning and if education is fair. Culture, governmental matters etc. play a crucial role. The matter of democracy also was discussed. AI and other digital tools were not so much discussed because it is out of our hands; the University, in my case, decide what tools we can use.
I was thinking about human cantered open online learning – as opposed to the technological driven open online learning (now we have the technology and just use it because of that). This made me think that openness and learning is not just to learn different tools and having certain didactic skills that engage people in the learning encounters. Openness is also about layers of orderings of power and perspectives beyond that. I was thinking about a recently published book in Sweden, Riggat [Eng. Rigged] (2023), by Petter Larsson about how the belief in the meritocracy lessens the chance of making an educational ’class trip’. Social mobility in Sweden haven’t increased the last 70 years. Higher educated parents’ children have 900% [Sic!] percentage higher chance to study at universities compared to children with low educated parents. Openness and learning, in my mind then, is something more complicated than learning digital tools as a student and having an energetic pedagogical repertoire as a lecturer. I therefore wanted to know more about what the concept ’openness’ was used for in the literature.
I found “Interrogating the concept ’openness’ in open distance learning”, European Journal of Open Education and E-learning Studies, Vol. 5, Issue 2, by Maphosa and Bhebhe, and they studied the literature on the topic. The authors found ’openness’ understood as targeting potential students and entry requirements, affordability, communication, flexible curricula, assessment (as well as teaching and learning methods and technological integration). The matters brought up are indeed great, since they do problematize what ’openness’ is and focus on the accessibility and flexibility in the learning possibilities in parts of the world where there is much less access to education at large compared to Sweden. The democratic potentiality of technology is clearer under these circumstances. Something Bianca, one of our facilitators, brought forth as a first-hand experience during our discussions in the group.
After having listening to the podcast, about perspectives of openness, by Kiruthika Ragupathi and with educators from around the world discussing openness, I reflected on connectivity, breaking barriers through sharing in online open learning. One thing that was brogh up in the pod was the encouragement of intentionality, as I interpreted as an enhancing of humans own strength and direction in learning. Yet a comment in the pod mentioned that open learning is the base of development. Breaking barriers and development, change, became important for my understanding of the openness and sharing in open learning.
Concerning the development aspect, and openness being a basis of this, I started to reflect on life-long learning and how that clash with ideas of formative and summative comments to students’ assignment during a course. Also, the discussion in the group was about how students so often think about the credits and finality instead of the continuous ongoing learning.
In the group discussion, we started to speak about ’bubbles’, ’comfort zones’ and that which is ’uncomfortable’ in relation to openness and structure along with and sharing. I’m not sure that we had a consensus about the bubbles. In my thinking the ’bubbles’ of openness and sharing both related to the concept ’discourse’ in Michel Foucault’s thinking and also cut through the concept. We live in an ordering of things that also separate minor discourses from others. Who is allowed to speak were etc., is decided by the ordering based on power in a discourse. It is hence not an inherent quality of that which is spoken that is praised or not, but the discourse actuality produces the person allowed to speak. Open online learning and sharing, however, can cut through these discourses. This is e.g., seen when accessibility is enhancing the possibility of learning in parts of the world and the technology and open online learning networks hence functions as a democratisation of education. In my own part of the world, though, living in a democracy with free higher education, accessibility to education do not seem to help if Larsson (2023) is right. But maybe the difference between learning and higher education, as well as campus or online learning, must be made clearer in this analysis. People might learn new other things in open online networks than in higher education curriculums (either on campus or online). New spaces are opened up for different online communities for people to create or join and share in, parallel with Sweden’s educational systems. Not necessarily bringing people to higher education, but into ongoing life-long learnings. That is a hypothesis. In higher education in Sweden, we need to struggle with the issue of ownership.
Back to ’bubbles’ in the sense of a cluster of peoples in open online learning through sharing, if cutting through discourses, being in the bubbles includes a mix of comfort and of the feeling of being uncomfortably in the continuous negotiation with others. How could otherwise development take place? Something needs to give in for something new; an old understanding or value replaced by something new. Ownership and responsibility of that which is to be learn is crucial after having access to learning through technology. Ownership and responsibility were also discussed in the group sessions. Suggestions concerning higher education could be peer reviewing, or the Jigsaw model of a course where students teach each other. The value of ownership is for me illustrated in the feeling I got when I stressed my opinion about something the class had read, during one of my first courses at Uppsala University. When the teacher listened and commented affirmative, I understood that I had brought a perspective to the learning moment. Coming from a non-academic background I could almost hear the heavy and large door creak in my head, while opening up for all kinds of possibilities after this small participation. Taking care then, as a facilitator or lecturer/educator (caring for certain structure), is also as important as sharing in the openness of online learning.
Narrowing down the groups thinking to a couple of words, we found Bubbles, Motivation/Ownership and Democracy that would be the basis for an image we wanted to present in the larger group. Instead of a bubble, we decided that several bubbles were pictured as online learning gatherings (as I understood it), along with keys representing ownership and a group of people representing democracy. These images were placed on a Möbius strip illustrating the movement of the equipage.
Larsson, Petter (2023), Riggat: hur tron på meritokratin minskar chansen till en klassresa. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Atlas
Maphosa C. & Bhebhe S. (2020), “Interrogating the concept ’openness’ in open distance learning”, European Journal of Open Education and E-learning Studies, Vol. 5, Issue 2.
“Perspectives of openness”s (Audio), https://blog.nus.edu.sg/openeducation/audio-podcast/
This is truly an elaborative and interesting reflection of topic 2. You bring some interesting references into your text, which I must now read (thanks for that!). I noticed some things that we as facilitators also discussed at our previous team meeting, the fact about openness and democracy, maturity and life long learning. We talked about open networked learning as probably being “appropriate” to learners who are mature, who are life long learners, who know how to learn. Being new to higher education, maybe coming from non-academic environments will make open learning very challenging. In open lerning, you as a learner must be responsible for your own learning – hence it is probably not for all (even if it’s available to all).
Thank you for an interesting comment!