Open Education Experience Block 2 Activity 1

Open Education or Open Learning is defined a number of different ways. In the context of this activity, I believe it is referring to the openness of educational resources provided by formal learning institutions such as Open University, or MIT. 

I don’t count ‘Open University’ courses such as this one as ‘open’ in this sense, because actually there is a heavy financial cost that bars many people from taking it. 

I’ve never really engaged in open learning or open education. I’ve reviewed some of the material such as that by Coursera. I have however, downloaded many open educational resources mainly final drafts of papers that authors have submitted prior to the publication in a formal journal. 

And yet there are ‘open courses’ that I’ve engaged in a lot and then tends to be private sites or YouTube of a much more vocational and/or skilled professional nature.

Most of the ‘learning’ that I’m talking about is related to the fact that I live in the middle of the Pacific and there are few places to go to get computers repaired. This is isn’t related to being the middle of the Pacific either, because when I was studying for my second degree in the UK, I was on a restricted student budget that did not allow me much scope to have my computer repaired. The result was that I am a self taught (Apple Mac) computer repair man particularly for machines that were built between the 1990s- 2010.

This is a typical site that I would go to repair a hard drive in a computer that wasn’t designed to easily have it’s hard drive replaced.

Here is a YouTube video of a similar machine that is having it’s hard drive replaced. Pause the video, and/or rewind etc. Of course videos (VHS) tear downs and repair manuals existed before but (i) you’d have to pay for them and (ii) you’d have to wait for it to come to you in the post and (iii) finally, you often didn’t have the opportunity to repair the machine next to your VHS deck and television set. The internet changed all of that.

I recognise that I tend to access learning resources when I think I need to learn something specific. I haven’t quite got to the stage in life (which might be never) that I enrol in a course because I am just intellectually curious about the subject. So most of the educational resources that I’m aiming for have a specific skill set I’m looking for.

Why did I pay an Emperor’s ransom (- that’s another story regarding OU’s fee paying structure to overseas students even if the are UK citizens) to get a qualification in online and distance education when (with the benefit of hindsight) I could have squirreled around and probably found much of the information in open learning forums, or today in MOOCs?

I think the answer is that I am aiming for a few things at the same time. One of which is that I don’t currently have the time to squirrel around. I am in our 9th year of operation and almost a decade later from originally setting up our primary and secondary school. I am looking for solutions and answers to help guide me in helping our school take on some of the ‘flexible’ components of online and distance education. Prior to this, I was involved in tertiary education and was involved in setting up a distance course and always thought that if I returned to the tertiary educational field, I would probably enter into the distance and flexible mode, so getting a qualification specifically in this educational field is also part of the reason I joined. In other words, it is about the learning but, for the potential future employer that I had in mind then, it’s about the qualification to get a job.

There is one open learning / education programme however that I am exploring a lot which is to enable me to help my senior students understand maths, physics calculations and chemistry equations. That is Khan Academy. Simply put - astounding but I’m going to leave that for another post.

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant