How Open is ‘Open’?

Prompted by a MOOC assignment (engage with current provocative ideas about education) I have been reading about (no book yet) David Price’s work on the concept of ‘open’ – in education and in the 21st Century life.

Price presents the notion of disintermediation – the devaluation of the ‘middle man’. A quick search finds the term initially rising from the finance sector, computing sector and now being ascribed to the social sciences by Price. “Giving the user or the consumer direct access to information that otherwise would require a mediator, such as a salesperson, a librarian, or a lawyer.” (what.Is)

Aaron Davis ably shares Price’s S.O.F.T framework of the aspirational open-life in his blog Read,Write,Respond, so I won’t rephrase here.

I am intrigued by the work of Doug Belshaw,  a passionate (leading) thinker and driver in the ‘open’ realm (ex-Mozilla, open badges etc).  I recommend a visit his blog Open Education Thinkery  and his newest venture, the Co-op We Are Doug and fellow podcaster Dai Barnes recently discussed the whole notion and very definition of ‘open’ in TIDE Podcast (#67 Working Open).  Doug and Dai often accompany me to work via iTunes, and this episode made me question the whole box and dice of my professional life, from teaching, planning and assessment to (so called) professional development and that enormous bug bear, the staff meeting! Some erratic driving occurred that morning.

The tie in with the work of Price is the ‘T’ in SOFT – trust. Share and Open should be no-brainers even in the digital world.  Free, in reality,  really depends on a barrel of contexts, and Doug’n’Dai shared a range of examples where free and open have become pricey and closedTrust – well that’s the elephant-in-the-room for me, in the field of education.

As a serial MOOCer and seeker of professional learning that is high-quality and free, I managed to escape staff meetings for the past 18 months, seeking my own professional learning.  My Principal  unofficially approved my 138 hours of CPD, which I can verify in various ways, as an acceptable alternative. Will the ‘trust’ involved in this transaction come back to bite both of us?

Applying at the school student level, are  schools in any way ready for some degree of student-led personal learning choices and the administration involved? As the 2016 Horizon Report  suggests,  personalised learning and badge learning is scratching at the door and schools generally do not have the mindset to make the shift and effectively carry teachers with them.  Can Price’s SOFT ideals help us shift towards a more student-centred and engaging approach to curriculum, planning, delivery and assessment by moving the middle man?


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