Weeks 2, 3, 4: Background Readings in Open Education

octubre 11, 2007

What do these overviews of the field have in common? What do they emphasize differently? What are the aims of the authors of each report? Do you see a bias toward or against any ideas, organizations, or approaches in any of the reports? Which report spoke the most clearly to you, and why do you think it did? Based on where the field is now, and these initial ideas about where it might go, what part of the open education movement is most interesting to you? Why?

These texts have in common the same conception of openness as a breath of life for education. This idea comes from the United Nations Human Rights Declaration (“Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free”) and is probably the main argument for institutions to engage in OER projects. In this way, the Hewlett Foundation Open Educational Resources Initiative seeks to use information technology to help equalize access to knowledge and educational opportunities across the world.

Giving Knowledge for Free examines the benefits and barriers with respect to the production and use of open educational resources. There is a very controversial incentive for free and open sharing when we talk about individual researchers and teachers: the altruistic conception of sharing as a good thing. I think that the most important challenge for OER initiatives is to make deal people in the globalisation age, when individualism reign, that sharing offers personal satisfaction to know that one´s materials are available all over the world. The pleasure to develop things together is, in my opinion, the greatest advantage of Open Education, and the main strength for the OER movement.

OLCOS emphasises that it is crucial to promote innovation and change in educational practices, and Giving Knowledge for Free, the clearest report from my point of view, also contains this idea, bearing in mind the legal barrier of copyright. The question of intellectual property and Open Licences is for me the most interesting thing for the future of OER phenomenon and the development of digital content in higher education, bearing in mind that free sharing of software and education resources reinforces societal development and diminishes social inequality.

Week 1: Why Open Education?

septiembre 7, 2007

Of course, the right to education is a basic human right, and if there is something I can´t understand is why this basic human right is still a privilege for so many people. Obviously, there are a lot of economy interests behind this unfair reality. The millions of children who cannot go to school because of poverty would be the most important problem for any government. That´s why I feel ashamed when I hear mass media talking about stupid questions like fashion tendences, new fragances or another invented needs. The real need we all must feel is the need to live in a world without human rights violations. Yes, is a difficult work because there is an economic structure really powerful and finally we are broaching a political problem. Incurable optimism is an essential prerequisite for any difficult work, and human rights work is a really difficult work, but in my opinion is the most urgent work in this moment, in this world.  As Tomasevski writes, “without education, people are impeded from access to employment”, so we can say that education is the root for other human rights. It means that if we can seriously protect the right to education it could be possible to protect other human rights that are suffering the same violations. Obviously, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund could change this situation easily, but how can WE change the current negative domino-effect for the opposite kind of domino-effect? Maybe Open Education can help us to resolve this question. If the key to progress is the identification and elimination of obstacles, Open Education could be the solution for one of the main obstacles to the realization of the right to education: the obstacle that means living in developing countries. Free access to educational resources seems the perfect solution, but information and communication technology is not yet a global phenomenon (only 5% of people in the world have access to it). OLPC is trying to solve this shortage and is one of the most important challenge in Open Education. 

We must recognize with David Wiley that education is changing because of new technologies. Now teaching and learning at university are experiences always linked with digital resources. “Higher education must continue its efforts to become digital and mobile, while working to become significantly more open, connected, personal, and participatory”, writes Wiley, and I hope that these efforts could also help the human rights work.

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septiembre 6, 2007

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