The open gift

Quarters Only

The second of my OER17 posts. Having come down on the side of a loosely defining OEP, a connected strand was the idea of openness as a gift. In Maha Bali’s keynote she mentioned that gift giving can be problematic, we don’t always know that people want that gift, they feel indebted, and it may be inappropriate. In our panel session later, I wondered whether this was applicable to openness in general – we give the gift of open to people, in the assumption they will want it, or it will do them good. Maybe they don’t want it. In that sense maybe it’s like giving someone a dog – now, if it’s me, great, I love dogs, but others don’t and would feel a sense of burden them or it at least might not be appropriate at that stage in their life.

And to riff off another Maha thought, in our joint session about Virtually Connecting she made the analogy with local and maximum optimum from neural networks. This argues that you may think your at an optimum, but there could be a better one further away, but that it requires energy and resources to get out of your current one and reach that one. So for Virtually Connecting, maybe it’s at or near a local optimum for the people it can reach given the current set up. In order to reach another optimum, it might require a lot of resources (more people, funding etc). I wonder if this is true of openness, and OEP, also. We are not near a local optimum yet, but we might get to one that helps a lot educators do beneficial things with their learners, for learners to take control of aspects of their own educational experience, etc. But we’ve been operating under the assumption (I think) that it’s for everyone. Maybe, like the dog gift, it isn’t, or if it is, that is a whole other level of resource and energy required, and we should concentrate on finding the local optimum first.

PS – don’t actually give me a dog as a gift, this chap says no:



  • tdorey2015

    After OER17 I was also thinking about gifts and Maha’s to objection to “Free, as in beer” and similarly thought that “Free as in puppies” might be more accurate. Brian tells me this analogy is not new in the open community.

    I’ve also been using the puppy analogy at work saying, “No more puppies” every time folks bring in creative, new project ideas from around campus without any resources or plans to support their development and/ or long-term maintenance.
    Taking on these “puppies” has translated into a big, fat pile of unsupported work often at the neglect of our other “pets”. Bruno is no dummy.

    It might be interesting to look at how and when that phrase has been used before I’ll add that to my long list of ideas that have been generated with month which I’m starting to think of as my own litter of puppies.

    • admin

      Yes, I thought of Maha’s comment also (and should have added it in here) – to some free beer is a great gift, but to others, meaningless.

  • denise607

    Wish I could have been at OER17. Great insight – as usual! Really loved your mindmap of Apps last year. tdorey2015 great comment about unfunded projects undermining those already in progress – it is hard to say no when people get excited about innovating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *