The Deeper Ethics of Education and Open: Generosity, Care, and Relationships

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jan 15, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

So, here's the argument, in a nutshell: education is fundamentally social. Knowing, for example, that the professor cares matters. This manifests itself in education as sharing. The core ethic of open is sharing. "All the work we do in 'open' education is work directed toward figuring out how to share more completely and more effectively." So a couple of key points follow:

  • Authoring and publishing are helpful, but insufficient on their own to rise up to the level of what deserves to be called education.
  • Applying open licenses to copyrightable works is terrific, but insufficient on its own to rise up to the level of what deserves to be called “being open.”

I agree with these points but not the method of getting there. Think about what "being open" really means, in it's broadest sense. Sharing? Yes - but the whole idea of "being open to new experiences" or other concepts of that ilk are equally important. If a person is only social, they will not become educated. They need to engage not only with other people, but with the subject matter. You can form a society out of closed minds - but you cannot educate them.

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