The Battle for Open

RebeccaRiots

<This is how we do protest in Wales>

We have a new issue of JIME out, which is a special issue on the OER 13 conference. There are some excellent papers, so go read them. Then, when you've read all those, read my opinion piece, The Battle for Open.

I'm going to write a book about this over the next few months, so if you think it's an awful idea, please let me know. The article is effectively the first chapter of that book, which sets out the overall argument. My argument goes something like this: Openness has been victorious in many ways, but at this point of victory the real struggle begins. If you look at openness in research, teaching, publication scholarship, then it's hard to argue that openness hasn't been successful over the last few years in establishing itself as a core approach in higher education. It isn't something just a few oddballs bang on about now, it has moved to the centre of discourse (and, more importantly, funding).

And yet it doesn't feel like it should. We aren't seeing David Wiley leading triumphant processions down Wall Street. The MOOC invasion and backlash is the most visible part of all this, but I think that is just representative of a wider story. I try to articulate why I see it as a 'battle', giving three reasons:

1) There is real conflict between different visions

2) There are considerable spoils to be won

3) The victor writes history, so there is a battle for narrative taking place

What I want to do then in the book is explore this victory/battle dilemma for a number of areas, and then come to some conclusions. My main hypothesis is that open education isn't an interesting subset of education now, it is education. And so if you care about education you should care about the direction that openness takes. We have made mistakes in the past by outsourcing issues, such as selling off university presses or buying in LMSs. This meant education no longer controlled or had much of a say in core parts of its key functions. We are repeating this mistake with MOOCs and commercial companies. Openness cuts across all of these and so I see it as the key principle that educators and universities need to engage with.

As you can probably tell, it'll be a struggle to control the polemic, but I hope it will be a reasoned, well argued book with plenty of research and evidence, and I'll keep the spitty, table-thumping to a minimum.

3 Comments

  1. Mark Curcher says:

    Please Martin, plenty of table-thumping. There is not enough of it these days. Seriously, an interesting project, I look forward to reading more and setting that against my experiences of education and living in the Middle East and now Finland.

  2. Holden says:

    If you want to preserve a global perspective on this, you might look at Haklev’s dissertation on OCW in China, which is a fascinating study of how different cultural assumptions shaped the type of openness they got: http://reganmian.net/top-level-courses/Haklev_Stian_201009_MA_thesis.pdf
    I’m excited to read this book, and hope you write it!

  3. Jimgroom says:

    Mrs. Weller,
    Tear down that tollroad!

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