Multiplying the Benefit: Open Teaching

In Olympics speak … I think I’m on the home stretch now with the #ioe12 Introduction to Openness in Education MOOC.

Getting your courses from iTunes…

The Open Teaching module is a strange one in that it reflects on the process of open teaching (and learning) – something that I am participating in by taking part in this MOOC and writing this post. It starts out with a Keynote given by David Wiley at 2009 Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology. Wiley starts off with a story that highlights the challenges posed by the move to teaching and learning online (comparing water polo and horse riding polo). There are different tactics and challenges for each, caused in part by the rate of change.

The six key changes are:

Analog > digital
Tethered > mobile
Isolated > connected
Generic > personal
Consuming > creating
Closed > open

Wiley introduces the idea of book-ification of TV, originally coined by Lawrence Lessig, basically TV on demand. This can obviously be applied to our on campus courses – “why do I have to be in a room at 10am to hear you give that lecture” (see my recent post on flipping lectures). All this applies to education because the historic monopoly institutions have had is being challenged on almost every front. Students can now go to other places for their content: Opencourseware, Wikipedia, Public Library of Science,, Google Scholar, Flat World Knowledge etc. and for their support services: ChaCha, Yahoo Answers, RateMyProfessor, email, IM, Twitter etc. and for their social life: Facebook etc. However institutions believe they are the only place students can get degrees, but what about technical credentials – MCSE, RHCE, CCNA?

It seems that everything that a University provides is being offered by someone else. Institutions aren’t even cheaper. Institutions have to innovate and change. E-learning is not enough – it may be digital and mobile but isn’t necessarily connected, personal, creating or open. Openness underpins many of the values that e-learning is missing, need to be able to access courses and be able to modify them, you need to be able to be creative. Wiley goes on to advocate MIT Open Courseware and other open projects he’s been involved with (such as getting students to write on blogs). He explains that there is a role for OER in the classroom. By being open you hope certain things will happen but in reality different things happen that you don’t even expect. Wiley is making moves to be even more open and this course ‘Introduction to Open Education’ is one example of this. He talks about the self-management process of getting students to comment on each other’s writing. [Personally I haven’t found that that has happened much but I’ll talk more about that when I reassess the course at the end]. He also mentions that students were keen to get certificates at the end (which led to a newspaper writing that “professors print their own diplomas, who needs Universities”!). Wiley has also explored using gaming in teaching

The keynote was given in 2009 so a little dated but Wiley sees the future as being disaggregation, while people will consider what is the value of integration (through institutions). HE needs to move away from using policy to defend tradition (as the music industry are doing) and to change. “Don’t innovate to avoid the Doomsday scenario, do it for the students”. It still seems a pertinent warning given the current climate in HE here in the UK.

Other notable resources on the module are Wiley’s article Open Teaching Multiplies the Benefit but Not the Effort which looks at practices like encouraging student blogs and their effect on the quality of outputs. The article concludes with an interesting question, one that may split the academic community

Do we professors, who live rather privileged lives relative to the vast majority of the planet’s population, have a moral obligation to make our teaching efforts as broadly impactful as possible, reaching out to bless the lives of as many people as we can? Especially when participatory technologies make it so inexpensive (almost free) for us to do so?
I believe the answer is yes. —David Wiley

Graham, Hilton, Rich, and Wiley’s paper on Using Online Technologies to Extend a Classroom to Learners at a Distance analyses the Introduction to Open Education online course (this course) originally given in 2009 through a survey conducted on students.

The MOOC Guide and MOOC YouTube video introduce the idea of MOOCS (an area I’ve already covered in some detail). Fini’s The Technological Dimension of a Massive Open Online Course: The Case of the CCK08 Course Tools and the MOOC Model for Digital Practice are more in depth looks at the role MOOCs have to play in learning.

The MOOC model takes a look at research gaps and future directions explaining that the model is so new that it has been subjected to little research so far. oherent research agenda would help assess both the overall viability of the model and the conditions under which it might achieve its potential. Some specific pedagogical issues and questions given are:

  • How can a MOOC support deep enquiry and the creation of sophisticated knowledge;
  • What is the breadth versus the depth of participation;
  • Can participation extend beyond those with 
broadband access and sophisticated social networking skills;
  • What are the processes and practices that might encourage lurkers, or “legitimate pe
ripheral participants”, to take on more active and central roles;
  • What is the impact or value of even peripheral participation, specifically the extent to which it 
might contribute to participation in the digital economy in extra-MOOC practices;
  • What strategies can maximize the effective contribution of facilitators in particular and 
more advanced participants in general;
  • Is there a role for accreditation, if any, and how it might be implemented.

I’d like to reflect on these questions more after I’ve finished the course.


4 thoughts on “Multiplying the Benefit: Open Teaching

  1. Pingback: Self Learning Secrets « Rashid's Blog

  2. Marieke, just a quick note to compliment you on your continuous effort to work through these topics in a rather lonely environment by now! Keep it up 🙂

  3. Thanks Jeroen, most of the IOE12 scholars do seem to have dropped off the edge…
    My intention is to finish the course and then do some analysis of how it went, how people interacted etc. Not sure there will be much to work with!!

  4. Yeah, and it looks like David is somewhat behind on awarding badges, or else it doesn’t look like anyone got a passing grade. I know I declared having completed one more. I have my participation in a ‘what shall I do with it’ mode. Might complete a couple more assignments, but I got most of what I wanted out of it already.
    Have fun!

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