Open learning and innovation
An open landscape isn't black and white. (Photo by mamanurpics from Pexels)
Open education includes resources, tools and practices openly shared to improve educational access and effectiveness globally. Innovation is significant in understanding open education because of the dynamic relationship between the two. Innovation in open education can be defined as a technology or a practice. Open education, according to Weller (2014) is an umbrella term, because ‘the motivations people have for adopting an open approach’ is identified by the context. Through free and/or open access to education, the innovative possibilities are both challenging and rewarding.
The innovation can be emerging and inform or be informed by learning theories/pedagogy in open educational settings, such as for ‘instructional, social and organisational’ purposes: Veletsianos, 2016. The significance of open education is that many technological innovations or practices support collaboration, so ease of access is pertinent, and this enables and purports openness. Weller, 2014 says open learning is an umbrella term because ‘the motivations people have for adopting an open approach’ is identified by the context. This then leads to concerns about impact - motivation based on needs rather than practicality means that success is defined by perspective.
Innovation is significant in understanding open education because of the multi-faceted opportunities for open education being accessible to all. In many ways, open education is innovative by default due to the collaborative nature of the digital world and the potential for it to revolutionise and moralise education.
One such example is Open Educational Resources (OER). According to UNESCO (2019) OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
The role of the learner and educator has been transformed so that the learner is an equal in the learning process, and the emergent digital scholar uses openness for open access and open publishing, open educational resources and networked participation - learning is located in contexts and relationships rather than the minds of individuals because the open pedagogy emphasizes the need to be transparent.
Open education changes what education and educator aim to achieve. In a climate of test-based learning; learning by doing, inquiry-based learning, play-based learning and authentic learning are fundamental in providing learners with what they need. A resistance against turning the learner into a consumer is the responsibility of every educator. Open education is essentially a movement to bring morality back into education. Innovation is significant in understanding open education because one cannot exist without the other.
Learning is a lifelong experience!
Activity 2 (5 minutes)
Take a few minutes to reflect on the picture above in the context of the learning material you have just read. What does the image represent for you? Thinking about what open learning means for you and for social justice will help frame your thinking around the subject and topics to come.