Open Education Handbook/Access, participation, collaboration

It is possible to regard openness in different ways. One approach is to contrast 'open access' with 'open participation' or 'open contribution'. Open Education has in the past tended to focus on access, but an argument can be made that open participation and contribution is a more important indicator of openness than access to resources.

P2PU offers a course in Designing Collaborative Workshops that explores ideas around open participation.

Within the course it defines the following terms:

  • Participatory - Trying to break down the barriers between the student and the teacher.
  • Collaborative - Collaborative processes help us move away from the dominant theory of single author works, or ownership by one organisation/individual of what is created or the tools used to create it.

Open participation goes beyond the student-teacher relationship; it arguably can embody the student-student relationship, the student-course relationship and possibly more relaltionships. Open participation can involve many different communities, from established education institutions with a wealth of experience, to commercial companies, and individuals who are new to open practices.

The Heartbleed Bug offers a cautionary tale for the Open Education community. It occurred because everyone was using OpenSSL code, but no one was checking the work. Participation is an important part of an open process.

The challenge is for Open Education Practitioners and communities to bring in those from outside. Once people recognized that open knowledge can be enriched by individual academic experience they will feel more motivated to know and participate, not just as an audience member but as a protagonist.

If Open Education is primarily about access to (open) resources then to some extent the burden and responsibility is placed on those with the technical ability to create resources and share them. The balance of power is uneven, resources continue to be designed from a particular perspective and one could argue that to some extent Open Education becomes a form of socio-cultural colonialism. For example, there are still relatively few people currently taking on the dual role of consumer and developer of open education resources (this is often more pronounced in developing countries).

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