Club-Admiralty

v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Open is not so open anymore

A while back there was a fascinating article titled "Open Isn't so Open Anymore". It lingered in my starred items folder for quite some time, but I finally was able to read it. I think the blog post does deserve a reading (or even a re-reading!)

My two cents on the issue: In order to really have open education, we really do need some radicals to step up to the plate and take command of the field. As is written in the article

Open source is often presented as a methodology, not an ideology [...] But openness is not a methodology. Openness is an ideology along the lines of democracy. It is worthy of theoretical discussion. And various modes of implementation should be subject to debate and criticism.

and I agree. Of course the problem with Openness is that...well it's open! If you look at some efforts to liberate knowledge (see my Instructional Design Wiki for example), it's not a process that is easy or quick. It does take time to liberate knowledge and to develop meaningful representations, articles, examples of that online. The big question here is where is the motivation to accomplish this truly open education model?

There are three types of educators: the tenure track, the tenured, and the adjuncts. The adjuncts and the tenure track faculty don't really have much incentive (other than altruism) to contribute to an open education system. If they do so they are showing the ace up their sleeves - the thing that will get them tenure or the thing that will get them hired back next semester as an adjunct. For adjuncts, participating in open education can truly mean loss of employment and therefore a state of not being able to support themselves. The adjuncts that have jobs and teach just for the fun of it might participate in Open Education initiatives, but those who string along several adjunct position to pay the bills may not.

As far as tenured faculty go, the way status and promotion is achieved is through publishing, lectures and presentations (and to some degree teaching). I would say that the current system does not reward these types of out of the box thinkers which is precisely why we need some radicals to help the process along (preferably some radicals with tenure).

Given the current conditions, I can see why the author says:

People are trying to make a living off of being open – i.e. openness as a utility to advance a career, gain recognition from peers, or make money. This is fine. But it’s not what I’d expect in the early stage of a movement. Ideological purity in open education had a very short existence. Instead of building a future foundation, we see instead a foundation to serve for career advancement.

Of course, personally, I don't see a problem with people trying to promote or advance their career, gain recognition or make money from being open. Being open does not necessarily conflict with profit. If you, for example, create an OE course and provide would be learners with a bibliography, why not link the books to amazon and if people buy books from there, you get a small kickback (peanuts, but it's something). If you like what you read, or find it useful - even if you did not like it, why not donate to the community? Or if it's just one person providing the courses, why not given him or her a tip (let's say some money for an espresso)?

If you are a college professor, why not gain recognition from your peers for creating a great educational resource? Heck, even if you aren't a professor, if you are a subject matter expert, why not gain some recognition? We all have intrinsic motivation factors that lead us to do what we do. Does it matter that people do it for altruistic purposes (provide free knowledge and educate the people) or for borderline narcissistic purposes (like get accolades and recognition)? Isn't it the end result that's important?

I do understand that products are influenced by the process by which they were conceived and implemented, but that's why you have community in the end - they can take a work that was borne of the need to gain recognition and improve upon it. thus mitigating some of the potentially bad parts.

I don't just - just a thought...
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