Knowledge, learning and openness

Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

Dalai Lama (1357-1419)

The idea of openness and sharing knowledge is not a new phenomenon. In ancient Athens, philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) presented their ideas and initiated discussions about life, soul, God and society in direct conversations with their students and city inhabitants: “The truth is born in
argument” (Russian saying). The air of openness and thirst for knowledge had prevailed among young people over the centuries.

There is no doubt that digital revolution gave impetus/rise to development digital tools and various networks which in their turn had impact/influenced on all aspects of research and education (e.g. teaching, examination, administration). Free, open education has been offered before, but there have always been constraints both physical and geographical: only limited number of people could attend courses/lectures, the necessary information could be acquired from books, journals and mail correspondence. Open online courses are available to everyone with an internet connection, and MOOCs are a good example of a new practice in education using networking and digital context (Weller & Anderson, 2013).

It is quite exciting to speculate about openness in general and what it means for my own practice. Cormier (2013) outlines four important issues relevant for openness in education. As teacher, I like to share knowledge and experiences with my students, independently how many of them are participating in the course, ten or hundred.
It is of utmost importance to create stimulating and positive learning environment, engage students in their learning during a whole educational process helping them to develop responsibility for self-education. Yet, digital tools, open learning environments, various apps for demonstration of different phenomena (concepts) offer a great help for teachers and students to achieve their goals. Online communication, when properly organized, can strengthen the contact between teacher and students, and among students. Today, I am using a “closed-form” online system for communication with students attending the course. The only problem to open it to broader audience is the risk of increase in demand for various types of feedback. I hope to learn from the colleagues how one can organize online communication in a smart and effective way, and definitely to improve my competence in using openly licensed resources. The ONL-course is my second experience of participating in an online course, and I can surely use this experience for my teaching: our group discussions, effective collaboration, feedback, flexibility, encouragement, support, advice, positive attitude, courage to learn and try new things.

The need to expand access to higher education became something many governments recognized (Weller, 2014). The availability of high-quality teaching material and good learning experience/practice make online-approach to education very appealing. Are MOOCs representing nowadays a complicated challenge and/or a great opportunity? What are implications of different open course and MOOC formats? For me, this is a great opportunity to learn and organize my teaching in the most effective way using various digital tools and available technologies. It would be interesting to discuss with students the issues, visions, expectations and their experiences with open courses. It is quite timely to start dialog and discussion many important issues about contemporary forms of education with colleagues, university leadership, etc. For example, Can open education, fully or partly online based, replace the traditional forms of education? Is open = free? Who should pay for administration, feedback, maintenance? How to guarantee the quality of students’ learning? Who should assess student’s individual study results concerning the learning outcomes? What about continuity in education? How to help students to acquire systematically knowledge, skills and experiences?


So many ideas, questions, doubts… I better stop here and continue working on myself to become more open…
P.S. Education and knowledge without hard work do not necessarily guarantee success, and imprudence, indiscipline and emotional impulsivity contribute to failure.– Dr Chia Thye Poh



2 reaktioner till “Knowledge, learning and openness

  1. You raise many important issues in your reflections here. I’m especially interested in the one concerning feedback and the teacher’s workload. When we give feedback (no matter through what channel), what is our purpose? Is it to ”sign” a student’s contribution and give an ok? Is it to stimulate further thought, is it to point towards the learning outcomes of the course? In an open course with perhaps hundreds of participants (and with irregular activity patters) it is virtually impossible to give individual comments unless they are highly formalized and standardized. But perhaps the teacher’s/facilitator’s role could also be redefined in this open digital context?


    1. Hi, nice issues for a discussion. I like to give feedback to students and unfortunately it demands a lot of time. I realize that I need to find a good strategy for doing it. For a relatively small group of students it is manegable to give a constructive feedback (e.g. via examination, office hours). I usually want to encourage students, guide them through mistakes to find the right way to learn and enhance their learning process. I would like students to get a positive experience from the course about the subject independently their score on the exam. How to do it in case of an open course? maybe make some summary of common questions, mistakes, experiences… Teaching assistant would be here of great help identifying issues connected to misunderstanding of concepts, etc. maybe some kind of quizz /test now then would pick up some patternsconnected to study material, social learning, etc…



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