In my new look blog, I have also worked on blog categories to help reframe my involvement in open online education. I put the blog on hold for a while as I reflected on my own motivations and my discomfort with some of what I have observed in the relational dynamics of the people I have come to know since starting to explore open online education 3 years ago.

I want to participate and I have to participate in a way where I am free to say what I notice without fear – this has not been the case of late. Closing comments here is intended to help me say what I want to say.

I also have decided to do a Humpty Dumpty and redefine words a bit. This post is about that.

Today I started to search for ‘open online education’ and realised that the term is now mainly used to mean MOOCs of the c variety. I have ethical concerns about this type of event as a valid educational experience into which to bring my students. The detail of that is for another post. Here I want to refocus my own attention.

I have been so taken by the technology and magic of the web that I have allowed that to overshadow what brought me into this world in the first place,

I was really excited by the altruistic sharing of knowledge and learning behind the idea of ‘openness’, but recently it has seemed to me to be more about narcissism than altruism – about getting noticed and building up ‘numbers’ of followers, tweets etc.

Jenny expressed so clearly what brought me in and what is now making me want to pull out. I came in for openness in education and got diverted into open online education.

Gardner Campbell talks about the edgiest edge: ‘are we open to ourselves?’

David Wiley reminds us that education is sharing and that this is what Openness in Education is about.

We need to learn to rein in the possessive 2 year old inside all of us and learn to change ourselves to enable us to share our knowledge and ourselves with our students. Yet the law enable us in our fit throwing, David Wiley says. If there is no sharing, there is no education, he also says.

Openness in education matters. It matters because as we become open educational resources to more and more learners access to education widens. It matters because as we learn about open licensing and change ourselves to share, access widens. It matters because it means we can use the web and all its magic to learn and teach.

But here is the thing, we can use the web. We do not have to use the web. We do not have to force our students to live and learn on the web, it simply offers an opportunity for us to widen access. If education is a relationship of sharing, this is not inherently about technology. David Wiley in the video above also says: Education is a relationship of sharing between 2 or more people. Read that again. Two or more people. I am not a bad open educator because I choose who I share with, I am not a bad open educator because I choose not to equate education with ‘simply connecting’. Or because I share in the village hall but choose not to weave the web. Or disconnect from social media or Google because I have ethical concerns for my students. There is no inherent acceptance of technology embodied in one’s support for openness in education. I think we are forgetting that.

it is presumptuous thinking that a certain amount of experience with online communication will naturally lead to this mode of communication as a default

Glen further reminds us that openness is not a ‘synonym for goodness’. It implies closed, just as connection implies disconnection; not as something undesirable but as a choice. Glen sums this up well,

Openness is a great and important option to have, as is privacy.

Choices about how to be, not about shall I use WordPress or Google.

Sharing, generosity, willingness to let go of possessiveness of ideas has nothing to do with technology or digital literacies. Or does not have to. It certainly has nothing to do with massiveness or follows or likes or social media at all. I can be an open educator and share only with my students in a village school because that is all I have access to. There is no god-given right to ‘online’ as the provider of openness…or goodness!

So, I will not be talking about open online education any more. I am interested in openness in education as it was originally intended. I am interested in the intersection between education and technology – it could be the web but in a few years it might be something else completely.

A letter is a sharing technology, telegrams were, heck smoke signals too. I often say I can teach anywhere you put me, even in a paper bag. In the spirit of that, I can practice openness in education in the LMS, the lecture room, the web, or in a coffee shop. I am reminded of Sandra Peter and her historical reconstruction of the role of openness in education. She asks: ‘but is technology the only driver for openness in education?’ and shows how we can track back openness to the late middle ages. It was one of the first papers on this whole area I read and I loved it. My blinkers have grown since to only see ‘educational technology’. As of today they are off. I have reconnected with the spirit of openness,

In 1373 as reading spread, the people of Florence petitioned the Signoria of Florence to provide public lectures of Dante’s work, resulting in a year’s course where a lecturer, paid 100 gold florins, spoke every day except holy days (Tuchman, 1987)

Openness in education right there, and not a computer in sight.

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