Unwritten History Open Education

I read a post on All MOOCs, All the Time by the unnamed doctoral student asking if we were examining the open education history in a biased way.  I guess it depends on the definition of open education, which we are still writing.  What is included in that definition in turm depends on what we include in the history.

For a start, what I would like to superimpose on the history of open education timeline are the dates of the establishment of certain institutions dedicated to open education.  I can see some convergence with the open source movement, but open education is not so recent.


“The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) was started in 1878 to provide those who could not afford the time or money to attend college the opportunity of acquiring the skills and essential knowledge of a College education. The four-year, correspondence course was one of the first attempts at distance learning.” Chautauqua History

I bet some more stuff happened in between, but I’ll fast foward to the 20th century…


The Open University was estblished and it opened to its first students – 25,000 of them – in January 1971


Athabasca University was established and in 1972 piloted an open distance course that set it on its open path


SUNY Empire State College was established in and modeled on the OU

Over time open universities have been established in other countries and new models have evolved, but we can’t assume that open education began with us whether we be boomers or millenials.  The Chautauqua Movement never resulted in the credentialling offered by colleges and univerities but it was certainly influential and those who participated developed expertise.  Maybe it was more about learning than credentialling.

Our bias is living in our own time and a history that still needs to be written.  Even the Wikipedia entry for open education starts with a bare mention of the OU and starts the history in 2002.  Are there folks out there who can fill in the gaps?


4 thoughts on “Unwritten History Open Education

  1. I kind of like being the unnamed doctoral student, but the name is Rolin Moe…the blog is new, and while the name is in the About section, I haven’t figured out how to byline each article. As for bias, I wonder why we seem to ignore greater confluences of history and keep such an acute perspective on topics. Part of it deals with knowledge gaps, such as Chautauqua Movement for me. And while I appreciate the open movement, I have reservations whether or not cMOOCs can fill those gaps, or just make them more noticeable.

    • Nice to meet you Rolin. I wonder if cMOOCs simply reproduce the intellectual hierarchy that we have now. I look around and see educated folks.

      • I was wondering the same thing. Where is the corporate voice? Where is k-12? Where is the massive correspondence voice? Where is informal ed? I spent a lot of time looking at museum ed while in school, and there is a huge open movement in museum curation; how come none of those folks have crossed over? Also, why are the museum ed folks uninvolved in both openness discussions?

      • I’m just now getting into the Chautauqua movement, and it seems that the history purported by the historical institution is a bit different from what the movement actually did…I’m seeing some push into correspondence courses, but finding a lot of resistance when I get to accreditation and certification. But the parallels between Chautauqua and what we are seeing today between xMOOCs and TED are undeniable.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s