Openness and Praxis: Exploring the Use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education

Catherine Cronin, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, Aug 16, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This article describes (accurately) the domain of open educational practices (OEP) as a kind of academic land-grab. In a couple of paragraphs consisting mostly of references we read of the current work on the subject. But as the results of the survey suggest, "Participants described a wide range of digital and pedagogical practices and values.... It is impossible to draw a clear boundary between educators who do and do not use OEP." So why is this? It doesn't help that there are three competing definitions of 'open'. It doesn't help that the term 'practices' conflates concepts as diverse as 'networking', 'teaching' and 'values'. The author describes four 'dimensions shared by open educators': balancing privacy and openness; developing digital literacies; valuing social learning; and challenging traditional teaching roles. To my mind it goes to show that the concept of open practice, by itself, is too impoverished to describe what open e ducators should practice. That's why I add autonomy, diversity and interactivity. And we have to remember: openness is a means, not an end in itself.

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