Sunday, October 7, 2012

Considerations in Open Learning

My plan for an Open PhD is focusing on acquiring some tools to develop Open Popular University , taking some open courses to fulfill some personal learning objectives and publish some work in the form of books, papers, blog posts on Open learning. This blog post is a part of my publication on Open learning.

Open means wide access and this access can be free or not. For example some universities offer online courses that can be accessed anytime, anywhere by the student. However unless it’s an opencourseware it is not free. Using opencourseware some universities put some of their courses to access for free. Other organizations offer some college courses for free. In the second case the access is wider because more people can have access to these courses. A kind of online open course that is commonly run these days is called MOOC (Massive Online Open Course). It is a kind of open online course that draws thousands of people to the portal where it takes place.

Traditional learning is not open. There are multiple barriers in this type of learning. First the access is restricted in various ways. The doors of physical schools are open at a certain time to let learners and teachers to come in. Learners are accepted to come in these schools based on criteria of admissions. Even though these learners have access to these buildings they can’t show up before or after school hours.

Physical libraries and study groups offer some restricted open learning . Access to libraries is limited. Libraries open at certain hours and learning is almost personal there. Many people come to do their stuff individually. There is no interaction. Social learning doesn't take place there. A home personal library offers a wider access to open learning. One can open and read a book any time. Physical study groups are not popular and they seem to be closed.

Technology offers a wider access to open learning. One can open a radio or TV at any time for access to educational content with minimal barriers to access. Computers and various computing devices allows people to learn openly anytime and anywhere. The access to these devices is contingent upon the good functioning of the hardware and software used. To access to a wide content the use of the internet is necessary. Software can malfunction and electronics materials inside the devices can break down. The life of these devices is also limited. In this sense books appear to be safer. They last a long time and can survive the wearing down of time.

"Open learning is an approach to education that seeks to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning while aiming to provide students with a reasonable chance of success in an education and training system centered on their specific needs and located in multiple arenas of learning" (Neil Butcher). Taking into account multiple ways of learning open learning can be organized into systems that facilitate it. Open learning seeks to eliminate or lower barriers to the use, extraction or reuse of knowledge. It is purposeful. Learners identify the reasons why they have to learn a particular subject. Open learning environments are used according to the user’s particular needs. The varieties of web tools available make open learning more customizable.

Open learning systems make resources available to learners that would be inaccessible to traditional learning environments. A less open learning system started with some online universities providing courses to thousands of students worldwide. Today with the development of information technology learning becomes more open and is facilitated by various tech tools. The web went through a rich story that makes open learning possible.


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