A Tremor in the Force: Building an Open Education Culture

Open education and open initiatives require an all-encompassing cultural shift for most of higher education.   Christopher Mackie’s chapter got my attention with this statement:  “Every credible vision of OEC [Open Educational Content] sustainability that I have seen relies in some significant part on the hope or expectation that higher education institutions and their faculties will adopt OEC production as a core value.”

Teaching resources and content are only a part of what will need to shift.  It makes me think about whether we value publishing outside of traditional circles in tenure and promotion actions (institutional policy).  And to wonder if expectations of influence in the field are tied to the values that lock publications behind publisher copyrights and fees (higher education and learned society culture).   These areas, among many, are highlighted by Yuan, MacNeill and Kraan as issues that need resolution to enable the success of open initiatives.

Open creation and access to content is another part of a culture shift that is required, which have further implications in the traditional domains of scholarship, teaching.  However, as Verena Roberts suggests there need to be shifts in our views of how learning can occur and the environments in which learning takes place.    She includes Anderson and Garrison (2004) ideas of the shifting in interactions to student-student and student-content rather than teacher-student and teacher-content in her presentation.  This shifting of interaction is significant cultural shift.

Picking up some ideas from Chris Dede, perhaps the most important shift is in how knowledge is created, moving from a hierarchical meritocracy to a collective democracy.  This of course dramatically changes the power-base in who creates, approves and owns knowledge. In fact, if fully realized there would be no base or center.

I’m sure there are other implications for higher education, but this is a start.

I wonder if this must be a seismic shift or if it can ripple out and build from a small disturbance.  When does the old higher education model break or become inconsequential?