In my practice as a teacher I wanted to have as much of my material in open spaces as possible. That was party because I wanted my students and their parents to be able to take part of it anytime and anywhere, but also because I wanted other teachers to be able to use my material if they wanted. As teachers we tend to invent the wheel over and over again, and I know first-hand how much easier your job gets when you can get inspired by how others have done, or just plain use someone else’s material. By sharing my work it became part of other teachers’ personal learning environment and I became part of their personal learning network, as Kay Oddone puts it in her blog post about PNE PLN, LMS and ONL. Funnily enough, this has led to my children sometimes hearing my voice on their iPad when doing homework by watching a video their teachers assigned.
Universities are opening up course after course, and people are taking them! As Martin Weller states in chapter 1 in The Battle for Open, as early as 2011 a course on AI attracted 160 000 learners. Since I’m not teaching anymore, but instead producing e-learning for companies and organisations, I’ve learned that they have very different approaches to sharing the productions online. A.W. Bates discusses openness in education in Teaching in a Digital Age, and one of the trends we see in the EdTech business as well is in fact openness – and the reasons for this seem to be different for different companies.
Sometimes sharing is about attracting employees, because if a company makes some of their e-learning public it shows potential employees that they care about employee development and learning. It also enables employees to take part in company learning from basically anywhere, which as you may recall was one of my reasons for making my content as a teacher open to everyone.
Now, when a company e-learning is open for everyone, the LMS gets another type of functionality. Some companies solves this by putting e-learning outside the LMS, and tests and certifications inside the LMS. That way they still know which employees have the knowledge they need.
Some companies seem to view openness as an issue of goodwill. In making knowledge accessible to everyone they simply look good.
And of course there are companies which are driven by a moral view of knowledge as something that should be accessible to everyone regardless of economical or geographical preconditions. If more people have more knowledge, the world becomes a better place.
Open courses in higher education is indeed different than the open courses companies publish. When it comes to the courses I produce I never have any interaction with the learners, only with the stakeholders and subject matter experts. Even the blended learning courses I produce leaves the learner interactions to a teacher, I simply produce the material they use.
In some ways I miss learner interaction, and I hope that eventually I will find an employer where I can do both!