#EDENChat What does openness mean to you?

A few weeks ago I featured an interview with Professor Martin Weller of the Open University. Martin will be keynoting the 20th Anniversary EDEN Conference in Barcelona in June, and is a passionate supporter of openness in education. It is therefore fitting that tonight's relaunch of the Twitter #EDENChat series should focus on the topic of openness in education.

I first heard of the idea of open education when I was working in the National Health Service. The year was 1993. A working group was set up in the School of Nursing where I worked, and I was invited to join the group. We investigated a number of ways in which we could open up education for our nursing students. My own particular research interest at the time was to use audio and video conferencing technology (videoconferencing was very new at the time) as a means of connecting together our remote study centres so that all students could access the same content and hear the same visiting lecturers without missing out on the experience. This was a way of opening up content and also opening up opportunities for wider participation. It worked quite well, and we eventually, with the aid of Plymouth University, were able to access satellite technology to broadcast some of our seminars across the region. Audio and text connections back into the TV studio enabled interactions between the speakers and the remote sites. It eventually became the basis of a £5 million European funded research project RATIO where we set up over 40 open access learning centres across the South West rural areas.

Open education has grown and matured beyond those early days of experimentation into a spectrum of learning experiences, and we now talk about open scholarship, open content and even massive open online courses (MOOCs). But what does openness in education mean to you? Is it a threat or an opportunity? How can we be truly open in today's educational systems and ecologies? Is it possible to be an open scholar and still maintain ownership of your ideas? Or is openness really all about giving everything away because there are people out there who will really benefit from it?

The latest #EDENChat took place on Twitter just after this post was published. The archive of the entire discussion, along with the records of 10 other #EDENChat conversations, can be found at the foot of the NAP EDEN site.

Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk on Flickr

Creative Commons License
What does openness mean to you? by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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