Open learning opens doors!
They say knowledge is power. If learning leads to knowledge, then learning is one route to achieving power.
But there's more than one type of power: there's power over others and over resources, and there's the power to make the most of your skills and achieve what you want.
If you're after the first type of power – control of people and resources – then it makes sense to close down learning and keep it to yourself. A classic example of this is the kerfuffle that was caused when they translated the Bible into everyday language, thereby opening it up to ordinary people. Nowadays, we still see organisations trying to keep control of learning by charging large sums of money for access to academic papers.
But if you're more interested in the power to exploit your own talents and achieve freedom, then the aim should be to open up learning.
This week is Open Education Week. The organisers of this series of events define open education like this:
Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs.
One thing that immediately jumps out of this definition is the emphasis on the learner rather than the teacher. This is revolutionary: twenty years ago, the focus was firmly on the instructor and the knowledge locked up in institutions. Nowadays, thanks to a change in attitudes combined with IT and the internet, learners are centre stage.
Our products and philosophy at Coracle are closely aligned with this philosophy. For example, we have a mentoring system in place that allows people to get advice and help from experts willing to devote their time to sharing their skills and knowledge. This is built around the Learning Line, which we designed for sharing, communication and collaboration. And the 'I Learnt This' button is an easy way to share content you find online – whether it's a YouTube video, some research, a useful web page or a podcast.
Open learning is clearly the future, and we're already working on new ways to make it happen. Watch this space for announcements over the coming months!