Although I’m not attending the Open Education Conference in Virginia this week I’ve made a small contribution to a panel session with the intriguing title FutuOER: Designing the Next Generation of Open Education. The panel, which is being run by Brandon Muramatsu of MIT and Norman Bier of Carnegie Mellon, will explore “possible visions of open education in 2036, using a series of broadly solicited papers as a starting point.” The brief for these solicited papers was to “think about the past and to dream about the future,” and Brandon and Norman assembled an amazing group of thinkers and dreamers including Mary Lou Forward, Martin Weller, TJ Bliss, Paul Stacey, Catherine Casserle, Stephen Downes, Tomohiro Nagashima and others. You can read all these papers and more about FutuOER: The Future of Open Education Resources here http://www.futuoer.org/ And here’s my dream….
Dream a Little
The brief for this short paper was to “envision open education 20 years from now,” to “dream about the future.”
I’m not normally much of a dreamer. If I had to hang a label on myself, I’d say I’m more of a pragmatic realist, not much given to flights of fancy. However, there’s no denying that I’m passionate about open education, and sometimes it’s nice to dream a little…
My dream for open education is for all publicly funded resources to be released under open licence and to be accessible and available to all members of the public. And by resources, I don’t just mean education resources. I mean cultural heritage collections, works of art, and archives, too. Commercial companies that digitise and paywall public archives will be a thing of the past, and our cultural commons will be unenclosed and unencumbered by restrictive copyright legislation and prohibitive access fees.
Copyright legislation will be reformed internationally and harmonised regionally, and new legislation will be designed to protect the creative rights of the individual, rather than the profits of commercial publishing corporations.
Our politicians, legislators, librarians, archivists, teachers, and learners will understand the importance of open licensing and will take great pride in ensuring that any publicly funded resources they create or curate are freely and openly available to all.
Open education resources, open assessment practises, open textbooks, and recognition of prior learning will be employed to develop the potential of all the citizens of the world, particularly those who have been forced to flee persecution, prejudice, war, and instability, as well as those who simply want a better life for themselves and their families. Population movement will be encouraged and supported by an international education framework of transferrable skills and credits.
Any vision of open education for the future must be inclusive and accessible to all. Open education will no longer be the preserve of the global north and the privileged white Western elite. Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, and Bengali open education resources will be as common and as readily available as English ones. Additional support will be provided to develop open education resources in minority and indigenous languages, aimed particularly at the young learners who are key to preserving their language, culture, and heritage.
That may all sound a little far-fetched, but I think we have to dream a little. The alternative is a bit of a nightmare, in which access to high quality education becomes the preserve of the privileged few, open education is dominated by the global north, textbooks are so prohibitively expensive that they are beyond the reach of mere mortals, copyright reform is driven by corporate publishers, our cultural commons is enclosed by paywalls, and we rely on technology entrepreneurs to reform our broken education system. Heaven forbid that should ever happen, right?
Let’s keep on dreaming.
“People used to dream about the future. They thought there was no limit to progress. They dreamed of a clean, bright future, where science would make everything possible, and everybody better off. But somewhere along the line that future got cancelled.”
“We live in the short term and hope for the best”