Dilemmas of Openness - Conclusion

In the spirit of strengthening the weakest link, I've examined six key dilemmas that can accompany openness in education:

  • Imposing on the rights of others
  • Balance
  • Privacy
  • Scope of employment
  • Competition
  • Why?
I continue to feel that an open path is one that will lead to greater productivity, increased collaboration, and even potentially unforeseen (i.e. "unintentional," h/t David Truss) benefits to adoption. As an educator of fortunate circumstance, I do sense a moral obligation to help others to learn and grow, including those outside my immediate sphere of responsibility. Furthermore, because I feel strongly that the motives behind openness should favor altruism and growth over greed and commercialization, I continue to encourage the inclusion of the non-commercial clause in all definitions of openness - and will maintain my firm stance of "mostly open content" until more universally-accepted definitions change.

In spite of these dilemmas, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the OER movement is flawed. Instead, in order to succeed, the OER movement must admit the reality and ultimate necessity of creative tension, so aptly described by Parker Palmer (1998).
Teaching and learning require a higher degree of awareness than we ordinarily possess - and awareness is always heightened when we are caught in a creative tension. Paradox is another name for that tension, a way of holding opposites together that creates an electric charge that keeps us awake. Not all good teachers use the same technique, but whatever technique they use, good teachers always find ways to induce this creative tension. (p. 76)
Palmer then continues to explain, in The Courage to Teach, how he is aware of six paradoxical tensions that he tries to build into the teaching and learning space. Interestingly, three of his six paradoxes tie in nicely with the six dilemmas of openness I've outlined in this series:
  1. The space should be bounded and open.
  2. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
  3. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

When dilemmas force an either/or decision - in this case, usually to share or not to share - the obvious choice for me is most often "to share!" but with caution and careful planning regarding how that sharing is accomplished.  Therefore, in embracing the OER movement and partaking of the goodness that openness can provide, teachers and students should be ever cognizant of the dilemmas inherent to that openness; accepting them for what they are, by welcoming and planning for the creative tension that contributes so essentially to effective learning environments. I know this is a mouth full, but I honestly believe every word.


Update: WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency: Micah Sifry explores the history, successes and failures of online transparency. Should be an interesting read (naturally via Cory Doctorow).

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