One of the driving forces of the open education/open educational resources movement has been digitalisation, enabling greater development, sharing and study of intellectual ideas and educational content, ably supported by open licences. The rise and rise of a nearly worldwide telecommunications infrastructure and a burgeoning host of digital devices owned by people with enormous computing power is influencing the political, social and cultural norms, as well as their associated everyday practices, in most, if not all countries and regions of the world. The implications of these developments are wide ranging and sometimes disruptive to existing cultural norms and practices. The interplay between non-digital and digital practices/capabilities and non-digital and digital cultures/contexts is and will be influenced by many factors, not least in the field of open education. These factors include the histories, traditions and experiences of teachers and students within the systems of education prevailing in particular countries or regions alongside the political, social and cultural discourses and practices that support or challenge those systems of education). In this evolving environment, digital openness offers certain public (and private) ‘goods’ for individuals, institutions and countries in terms of educational development (e.g.
Lane, 2016). It also offers certain public ‘bads’ in the form of certain cultures and practices becoming dominant and wiping out local cultures and practices (King et al, 2018). Lastly there can be more ‘ugly’ sides to digitalisation and openness relating to how open (or not so open data) related to open educational practices may be used for controlling rather than emancipatory purposes.
This reflective practice presentation will contrast and compare these notions of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’ around openness and digitalisation using two very different projects as case studies in which both are key factors. The first project, Transformation through Innovation in Distance Education (TIDE), is an international development project that aims to improve the quality of higher education in Myanmar through innovation and international collaboration, focused on underpinning distance education (and developing knowledge and capacity for environmental sciences). Both the systems of education and degree of digitalisation in Myanmar are changing while both open educational resources and online learning are key features of TIDE. The second project is the Open Networking Lab (ONL). This project is developing an online Badged Open Course (BOC) of approximately 24 hours of study over 8 weeks, to provide learning in computer network engineering, one of the supporting drivers of digitalisation. Described colloquially as a ‘zero to hero’ course, this is primarily aimed at post-16 vocational learners. While free and open to all, it is being evaluated in Further Education (FE) Colleges in the UK.
Lane, A. (2016) Emancipation through Open Education: Rhetoric or Reality? In (Eds.) Blessinger, P. and Bliss, T.J., Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education, pp 31-50, Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers
King, M., Pegrum M. and Forsey, M (2018) MOOCs and OER in the Global South: Problems and Potential, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, Volume 19, Number 5