Month: July 2017

Values in Open Education

There are so many things going wrong these days that I want to talk about something positive, something that gives me hope and energy.

Thanks to the great efforts of Teresa MacKinnon and the open ed community, the ALT Open Education Sig has recently held a webinar where they talked about values in open ed:

I couldn’t join the webinar (recording will be available here) but I went through all the latest #openedsig tweets and got a sense of the nature of the conversation, at least on Twitter. Here is what I celebrate in this convo and where my thoughts are taking me to:

1. Open education isn’t a single thing.

2. There isn’t a single set of values in open education.

I think I mentioned before that open education has an ethos of social justice and transparency in its core, but this doesn’t have to be the case for all organisations and people. Open education communities, people who work in this field, have many interrelated and sometimes controversial values (value for money? doing open ed for business?). There is “plurality of interests” (Michael Apple talks about this in Official Knowledge) in open ed.

3. Open education community should celebrate its divisions and embrace plurality.

Because, as Michael Apple says:

Culture—the way of life of a people, the constant and complex process by which meanings are made and shared—does not grow out of the pregiven unity of a society. Rather, in many ways, it grows out of its divisions. It has to work to construct any unity that it has. The idea of culture should not be used to “celebrate and achieved or natural harmony.” Culture is instead “a producer and reproducer of value systems and power relations.”

4. However, we need [to learn] to recognise the tensions in open ed and respond in a compassionate and considerate way: this is critical literacy in open ed contexts.

5. And critical literacy is only possible by embracing “an ethics of care and listening” and by developing our understanding of the complex social and political systems in which we operate (this I draw from Michael Apple).

It’s evident from the Twitter conversations that there was this ethics of care and listening in the webinar. I’m happy to be part of the education community, the open ed community, which I see and experience as a “caring” and “connected” community, a community which is ready to recognise its limitations as well as its successes and challenge the status quo. That’s a good thought. It’s a happy thought.