Topic 2 Openness

How open are you? Truly open? Alastair asked. How much do you share?

I am not. I do not. I realize that after this topic. It is not a very gratifying position especially not after David Whiley (2014) made the flattering metaphor of the self-focused three-year-old. However, it is quite overwhelming discovering all that is out there and more than once it feels like you have been overrun by a herd of elephants. Elephants that all of them got the concepts of openness.

At least I know how to license things that I want to share and I know how not to be illegal when using pictures in my presentations (Thanks to the guide on Creative Commons Licenses But I must admit that I seriously considered becoming a photographer just for the sake of not having to make references to others. Trying it a few times now, I am not always sure I put the right link to it, but at least I acknowledge the source. That is a step already. As well as knowing what OER and MOOCS stand for. I am deeply grateful to the introducing quotation to chapter 4 in “the Battle for open”: To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it (Donna Tartt) Weller, M. (2014,). I think that one picked me up after the elephant-attack…

Actually, the book is my preferred reading during these weeks: it was a fresh breeze of balance in a somewhat extreme message during this topic 2, Veronika in my PBL group referred to it as the openness-gospel ( It addressed the difficulties going open and the reluctance from educators to adopt OER’s arising from difficulty to find suitable resources, the time taken to adapt them and their context (Wiley’s reusability paradox). 70% do think it is important but only 56% publish and 5% under CC license. But the barriers to sharing content has lowered considerably. This was part of chapter 7 that I did not have time to read yet.

Ever since I first heard about the open resources I was wondering about the financing, the hours of work that lie behind the end-product, and I understand now that it is not always about creating new learning objects and course design but primarily about making open what already exist – but still remains the question about content accuracy and keeping resources up-to-date? In the chapter they refer to as sustainability. Most often a non profit organisation or such initially makes a donation, then there are three ways:

  • The MIT model: OER’s created and released by dedicated centralized paid project team
  • The USU model: OER are created by a hybrid of centralized team and decentralized staff (each new course is scrubbed, formated and made context independent by a central team, cost covered by requirement value of open material, student go on to sign up for formal course.
  • The Rice model: decentralized model around a community of contributors.

Not to forget in the equation is the Universities’ interest in marketing themselves, creating brand awareness and attracting students and researchers. So there are still commercial interests – A number of companies use OER’s as support or core product to for example adapt to national standards, offer LMS and API to intergrate with, collaborate with teachers to create OER for teachers, or like OpenClass from Pearson Education where they use OER to promote their own platform. In this way they can tie users in paid for services at a later date. Or try to establish a monopoly. My concern is that blurred boundaries between commercial interest and open interest might be a great hinder if one of the main purposes of openness is to enhance democracy and that nonprofit organization just do not have the economical mean to compete with marketing budgets of educational companies.

But there are some elements that are really convincing:

  • The comparison between the revolution of word press and the internet in speeding up and making information accessible to “the masses” and how other previously privileged actors feel the loss of control and make attempts to prevent the process. Just like copyright laws do today and the church did in the 15th century (Whiley, 2014).
  • I also acknowledge the fact that there are more creativity and possibilities in interacting via the open web. LMS to fulfill our official requirement of documentation and legal processes but in combination with the open web seems to be the golden solution (Watson, 2014) Learning management system or the open web? Cofa Videos,
  • It does seem a bit useless reinventing the wheel over and over again in all these introductory courses in Higher Education. It is going to be interesting to see more of collaborations between universities, this ONL is a great example!
  • In relation to this something very interesting happens to the role of the teacher – first with the access of all the online information and in a plural world where knowledge moves very fast forward – it became something else than being “the knowledgeable” and now with the access to learning resources, the teacher become something else than “creator of content”. Alastair Creelman put it quite well in the Padlet preceding our webinar: “Isn’t your value as a teacher your ability to teach, guide, mentor and inspire rather than just creating content that in most cases already exists? It also seems to have an impact on course design. In the EdTech Conference in Stockholm, 2016 ( they talked about that if we are to educate more people with more knowledge and in less time we have to “Target the dollars”: really weigh what should be face2face activities”. Most of the speakers agreed on that these activities are those that develop empathy, curiosity and innovative ability – these can not for the moment be replaced by digital tools or robots.


As for the moment I am happy if I can detox from openness for a while and focus on these very human aspects and in my very close surrounding. Maybe just knocking on the door to a colleague for a cup of coffee, and not even bringing the phone to the cafeteria 😉

focusing on a tiny bit of the world!


Watson, (2014) Learning management system or the open web? Cofa Videos,

Whiley, D. (2010) Open education and the future, Ted Talk

Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.


4 thoughts on “Topic 2 Openness

  1. I recognized myself so much in your description and I too am happy that I know how not to be “illegal” anymore ☺. Regarding the teacher being the motivator and not just creator of presentations, I think we need to change a lot of people’s minds before that can happen and also allow ourselves to be criticized by others. And that’s something that will take time.


  2. This was an informative read… such a nice summary of major discussion points. In our group, we kind of came to the conclusion that with openness, there is nothing to loose if we are not too self-centered. If there is a system in place to get the feedback that we get by other people using our resources, we learn so much about our own practice.


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