Ten years of open practice: a reflection on the impact of OpenLearn

Patrina Law, Anne Jelfs, Open Praxis, May 29, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The best part of this article (7 page PDF) is the last page, where the author draws a number of interesting conclusions from a ten-year review of OpenLearn, an Open University open educational resources (OER) initiative. The paper itself is a bit loose (possibly because of brevity) so we don't see how these conclusions are established (presumably as results from the survey?) but it is the conclusions themselves that are work looking at:

  • closed environments with a start and finish date i.e. MOOCs, have lower completion rates than open courses with no start and finish date;
  • forced social activity encourages high drop-out;
  • select the most engaging and enticing content within a module, making a key topic accessible;
  • support induction; the OU loses many thousands of learners who have a long wait from registration;

All of these go against traditional practice (and traditional wisdom) in one way or another. But they do so in a way that makes sense to me.

More papers from the current issue of Open Praxis, selected papers presented at the Open Education Consortium Global Conference, held in Krákow (Poland) on April 12-14, 2016.

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