Openness and Its Inherent Dilemmas - Introduction

Inspired, in part, by a fascinating Educon 2.3 discussion conducted by Alec Couros and Dean Shareski, this is the first in a series of posts that will detail some of the moral, ethical, and other dilemmas of openness in education. All posts will be tagged herein with the Dilemmas of Openness tag to provide consistency and a built-in index of related posts (see also Why Blog and EduBloggerEtiquette).

Having finished my dissertation, I'm no longer required to feel pangs of guilt for researching and writing on topics of personal interest.


Last month, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) published a definition of "openness" that will potentially serve as a reference point for many in future discussions of open knowledge, data, content, and service.
A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike.
While somewhat disappointed that their definition doesn't also allow for the restriction of non-commercial use (hence my staked claim of "mostly open content" in the footer of this blog), I subscribe firmly to the ideal of openness and think that sharing can largely make the world a better place.

With the OKF, I have experienced and come to understand numerous personal and far-reaching societal benefits to life within a culture of openness. In light of recent events occurring within my school district, I think that an open culture's deep-rooted ability to promote and teach tolerance may be its strongest characteristic.  Take note, for example, of the role that tolerance plays in the OKF's vision, being one of their four operating principles. Other benefits to openness and sharing - particularly within public education environments - include transparency, shared workload, stewardship reporting, built-in opportunities to gain public trust while also leveraging public participation, and others.

Mere openness, nevertheless, neither solves every problem nor comes without its share of issues. In fact, there are potential dark sides to openness in education - or at least there exist a number of moral, ethical, and other dilemmas inherent to global sharing and the free exchange of knowledge, data, content, and service.

In this series of posts, I will highlight a number of these dilemmas, and earnestly look forward to your feedback as we grow in understanding the principles of openness together.

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