Open Education

A few new resources and commentary on open learning and education – a topic we’ve briefly touched upon in the past.

The first is a project called Siyavula that’s run by the Shuttleworth Foundation in South Africa and looks to:

…make Open and Collaborative Resources (OCRs) a firm and sustainable reality in the South African education system and, in the process, make a massive contribution to improving the current crisis (just one short article but many exist). We will make contributions which cover the entire curriculum, from grades 1 through 12, for all learning areas in grades 1 through 9 and the majority of subjects in grades 10 through 12.

Mark, the program manager, explains that the project does not seek to put publishers out of business and explains thus:

…they form an integral part of the education ecosystem. These open projects leave the door open for publishers to build-on and adapt the material they develop. This will ultimately lead to higher-quality materials which can be constructed faster and more cost-effectively than is currently possible. We expect the formation of a symbiotic relationship between publishers and projects producing openly-licensed materials to the benefit of all.

Take a look at the Cape Town Open Education Declaration and the associated FAQ pages too.

I agree with Mark. Publishers will form an important link between an existing model and these new, open models and there is enough space for both to co-exist, symbiotically and thrive. Existing publishers serve markets that may not have access to these open educational repositories because of economic or technical barriers and they will play a vital role in distributing these knowledge repositories to such markets using a for-profit model.

And while on the subject of education, there’s a book that holds much promise being released in October this year.

Given the abundance of open education initiatives that aim to make educational assets freely available online, the time seems ripe to explore the potential of open education to transform the economics and ecology of education. Despite the diversity of tools and resources already available–from well-packaged course materials to simple games, for students, self-learners, faculty, and educational institutions–we have yet to take full advantage of shared knowledge about how these are being used, what local innovations are emerging, and how to learn from and build on the experiences of others. Opening Up Education argues that we must develop not only the technical capability but also the intellectual capacity for transforming tacit pedagogical knowledge into commonly usable and visible knowledge: by providing incentives for faculty to use (and contribute to) open education goods, and by looking beyond institutional boundaries to connect a variety of settings and open source entrepreneurs.

Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge; Edited by Toru Iiyoshi and M. S. Vijay Kumar

Through the support of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, an electronic version of this book will be openly available under a Creative Commons license on The MIT Press website when released.

Lastly, an excellent article on Open Education:

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0 by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler.

The world has become increasingly “flat,” as Tom Friedman has shown. Thanks to massive improvements in communications and transportation, virtually any place on earth can be connected to markets anywhere else on earth and can become globally competitive. But at the same time that the world has become flatter, it has also become “spikier”: the places that are globally competitive are those that have robust local ecosystems of resources supporting innovation and productiveness. A key part of any such ecosystem is a well-educated workforce with the requisite competitive skills. And in a rapidly changing world, these ecosystems must not only supply this workforce but also provide support for continuous learning and for the ongoing creation of new ideas and skills.

If access to higher education is a necessary element in expanding economic prosperity and improving the quality of life, then we need to address the problem of the growing global demand for education, as identified by Sir John Daniel. Compounding this challenge of demand from college-age students is the fact that the world is changing at an ever-faster pace. Few of us today will have a fixed, single career; instead, we are likely to follow a trajectory that encompasses multiple careers. As we move from career to career, much of what we will need to know will not be what we learned in school decades earlier. We are entering a world in which we all will have to acquire new knowledge and skills on an almost continuous basis.

It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to build enough new campuses to meet the growing global demand for higher education—at least not the sort of campuses that we have traditionally built for colleges and universities. Nor is it likely that the current methods of teaching and learning will suffice to prepare students for the lives that they will lead in the twenty-first century.

Read the article in it’s entirety. It’ll change the way you think.


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