“Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children!?” This famous outcry by The Simpsons character Helen Lovejoy has become emblematic for situations in which adults pretend to think not OF the children but FOR them, i.e. patronizing them. There is also a Helen Lovejoy Syndrome in Open Education: We tend to think not only OF the learners but we intend to think FOR them. ( “We” refers to educators and educational institutions that design and provide OER.)
We think of learners as “target groups”, of learning as “usage scenarios”, and of motivation and interest as “demands“. That is probably okay and inevitable. It is quite impossible to think of concrete instances of learning and types of learners when we design Open Educational Resources. Even the best designers and providers of OER simply cannot think of every possible learning situation in which their OER might be used. This would be a form of perversion of the idea of open which means: It is up to the learners how to utilise OER and thus they might know more and know better than the providers. Nescience about the learning contexts of OER is not a bug, it is the core feature of Open Education.
Consequently, there is a paradox for us in designing and providing OER: We cannot not think of concrete usage of our materials. But we should also constantly remind ourselves that this is only a small representation of real world learning situations. This leads us to two questions concerning “untargeted openness”:
1. How to cope with the situation of the unknowns of real world learning?
2. How can we provide openness also to those unknowns (individuals, situations, institutions, contexts …)?
Questions of untargeted openness clearly refer to the basics of open education which is about empowering learners to take responsibility for their own education. For instance in the Late Middle Ages learners self-organised private lectures by inviting teachers into their houses and providing them with food and a small salary. This movement eventually led to student universities governed by informal rules, and were in large part attended by working class or poor background individuals. Another telling example pertains to the European settlers who during their westward movement developed and cultivated a sophisticated process of self-teaching.
In our session we want to taggle questions of untargeted openness with explorative discussions and a collection of concrete examples/activities.
(We are describing a table in the Open Space. But this might as well be a workshop.)
We imagine a table, a wall and some sticky notes in the Open Space Setting. Conference participants can sit down with us, get to know and discuss the questions described above. Additionally we provide our thoughts as a YouTube video in the run-up to the conference. For those that have not watched the video we will explain our ideas and questions.
There are two objectives in the center of our session: 1. Discuss and explore the problem. 2. Gathering a collection of concrete measures for untargeted openness.
The results of the session will be provided as 1. a revised version of our thoughts (video/article under CC BY) and 2. a transcript of the sticky-notes for concrete measures (under CC 0).
We are aware of ethical implications as they are part of any educational setting, in particular in Open Education. Therefore, we provide a diskursive format in which participants can freely articulate and express themselves. This will also be reflected in our opening video statement as well as in the follow-up documentation.
Muuß-Merholz, J. (2018). „Kann denn nicht ein einziges Mal jemand an die Lernenden denken?!“ [online] OERinfo Informationsstelle OER. Available at: https://open-educational-resources.de/kann-denn-nicht-ein-einziges-mal-jemand-an-die-lernenden-denken/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018]
Deimann, M. (2016). Open Education – die ewig Unvollendete. Synergie. Fachmagazin für Digitalisierung in der Lehre | #02, 14-19. Available at https://www.synergie.uni-hamburg.de/de/media/ausgabe02/synergie02.pdf
Deimann, M. & Farrow, R. (2013). Rethinking OER and their use: Open education as Bildung. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14(3), 344-360. Available at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1370
Peter, S. & Deimann, M. (2013). On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction. Open Praxis, 5(1), 1-8. Available at: https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/23