Open Education is known to remove barriers to learning for a range of disadvantaged learners. Recently, free online versions of Open Education were hailed by UNESCO as having great potential to reach masses of marginalised learners, particularly in developing regions where Open Education Initiatives are framed to support Education as a human right, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Similar hopes were expressed for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
However, the first generation of MOOCs rarely hit the “education for all” mark and were predominantly taken by the already educated, including young males seeking to advance their careers. Despite this, institutions from all parts of the world have continued to develop MOOCs designed with an equity or inclusion mission.
This presentation discusses the many ways that contemporary open education – that is free and online courses, can be considered social justice for marginalised cohorts and those typically excluded from higher education. The scope is adult, further and higher education rather than compulsory education, however teacher-training initiatives are included.
Cases from Australia, Europe, South Africa and Asia are presented showing progress in addressing gender, regional and linguistic justice. Examples are taken from a systematic review of 2014-2017 literature – reviewed through the lens of a definition of open education aligned to social justice principles (Lambert, 2018). The systematic review included free online programs with an aim to contribute to improvements in student equity or social inclusion. A total of 48 studies and reports were examined, representing diverse global programs reaching over 200,000 disadvantaged learners in both distance and blended learning settings.
The presentation reflects on this major piece of research work, and explicates different forms and outcomes that designing with redistributive, recognitive and representational justice can take. It shows that online technologies can be used to give a bit more to those who have less. It provides some empirically grounded possibilities to discuss with participants the critical questions about “why open?” and “open for whom?”
Hodgkinson-Williams, C. A., & Trotter, H. (2018). A Social Justice Framework for Understanding Open Educational Resources and Practices in the Global South. Journal of Learning for Development – JL4D, 5(3). Retrieved from http://www.jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/312
Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(3), 225–244. Retrieved from http://www.jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/290