Week Two: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

Open learning has promise and will contribute to education in the future. To me, that is not the essential question.  The question should be how profound an effect will it have on education?  Educators and Hypesters (a pun on hipsters) are always looking for the next new tool that will take over education to make it easy and flawless.  The actual reality is tools do come out that have a profound effect on changing education, but nothing has risen to the level of revolutionizing education.  It is still and messy and difficult business.  Once you realize that truth you can take all the hype and put in perspective.  When a new technology comes out, I look to see how it might help me with my job and how it might help students learn.

The second educational truth is that one size does not fit all!  I am a Principal in a small school with declining enrollment, but I am eternally grateful that our students have access to online, alternative schools, charter schools, blended learning, flipped learning, GED, home schools and open source learning.  I would like to be able to meet the needs of all students, but the structure of a traditional school doesn’t allow me to do that.  I end up referring many student each year to these other options and I enjoy seeing these students be successful in a different location.

The point of that paragraph above is that Open Source Learning has its place like all the other options listed above.  With how education is structure now, it won’t be taking over the world any time soon, but it will still have an impact.  Unfortunately, you still need a diploma or some credential to do a job and that will be a large limiting factor to Open Source Learning.  I do see this as a very powerful tool for people who need more training in a job they are already doing.  They can get the education they need to move up or out.

For those people who don’t know what Open Learning is, it is a (mostly) free online learning environment for both college and professional development. (2015, https://www.openlearning.com/About)  Some courses are provided or you can create your own course. The most famous version of Open Source Learning  is provided by MIT.  They offer all of their courses for free online.  If you need to learn or are just interested this is a great opportunity.  If you need a degree you will still have to pay to get the credential.  You can find out more information on this at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm.

Here is  short video on Open Learning if you are interested. This video was found at https://youtu.be/cmixkhEkQp4.


MIT Open Courseware. (2016). Retrieved on 5-25-16 at 8:50 am. Found at http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm.

Open Learning Welcome Video. Retrieved on 5-25-16 at 8:40 am.  Found at https://youtu.be/cmixkhEkQp4.

Graham, L., LaBonte, R, Et. Al. (2016). Open learning in k-12 Online and blended learning environments.  Chapter 19.  Retrieved at 8:59 am on 5-25-16. Found at http://www.academia.edu/10311797/Open_Learning_in_K-12_Online_and_Blended_Learning_Environments.


By waclawskid

6 comments on “Week Two: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

  1. I agree that there are many hypes in education, and especially technological hypes these days. I love the reference to the benefits of non-traditional learning that technology enables us to give students, but the reality that we live in a system that still embraces old school values and methods. I remember the day that computers were entering my high school in 1980, I thought that they would change the face of education with all of it’s possibilities. It’s 2016 and we (generally) teach the same way, and have not fully embraced the possibilities of technology. I thought that math teachers would embrace technology and lead the way, but I feel I am the minority that thinks that technology should be mainstreamed in math education. Not necessarily a blended learning environment, but fully integrated with the teacher as a facilitator, not the center of learning. Maybe some day…

  2. Thank you, Douglas. It is good to take a step back and have some perspective. I’m glad to hear that it fits in well with what your school needs, that is what all tools should do. I think the problem is, like a lot of emerging technology, we get caught up in the hype and miss the big picture: what is the function of this technology? What purpose does it serve? If educators can be critical in where they apply it, and use it where it is needed and relevant, it is a great tool.

  3. For small, rural schools open learning does provide a lot of opportunity. Staff numbers are limited and open learning can help both staff and students learn together. With such a small number of teachers students are limited in what they can learn within the walls of the school. But I do see the dilemma. You can take all the free courses you want but that will not get you any credentials. It opens a lot of realms for what can be taught to high schoolers but after that they are on their own. I wonder if any changes will come to allow some credit to those who take some of these classes?

  4. Hi Sara and All-

    A bigger question may be – will society evolve to the point that we only have to demonstrate that we have skills/understanding rather than an actual credential. Many are predicting that we are in the first throes of this societal change. (Friedman, 2013)


    Friedman, T. (2013). Revolution hits the universities. New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.oakland.edu/upload/docs/Clips/2013/130128%20-%20universities.pdf Accessed on: May 30, 2016

    • My assistant superintendent was telling me about an engines class. The task of the class was to demonstrate the skill in repairing and building an engine. The students in the class were each given a beat up smashed old engine to repair. At the end of the class the instructor would go to each group and turn on their engine. If it worked they demonstrated their skill in repairing an engine and would pass the class. If it did not work then they could keep working until the engine does run.

  5. I agree that “you still need a diploma or some credential to do a job and that will be a large limiting factor to Open Source Learning” I don’t think that someone could make open source learning the only way for students to earn their diploma. I think it needs to be a blend between open source and regular classroom learning.

    Some teachers that I work with use Open source learning in their assignments they have the students complete. The students are tasked to find 2 or more resources that deal with the topic covered. This could be: an article, interactive game, worksheet, video, ect

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