THE MANY FACES OF OPENNESS IN EDUCATION
University of Macedonia (GREECE)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:This paper defines and describes nine meanings of Openness in Education. It then evaluates the Openness as Flexibility (one of these nine meanings) of several Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The results reveal that these MOOCs provide limited Openness as Flexibility.
Article 26 of The United Nations (U.N.) Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free”. This statement supports Open Education for all. Participants in Open Education include learners, creators of educational resources (e.g. authors, learning designers, multimedia designers, game designers, application designers), instructors (e.g. teachers, advisors, tutors, facilitators) as well support staff.
Generally, Openness in Education refers to open entry and easier access to study (McAndrew, 2010; Mulder and Janssen, 2013). This definition has been extended recently to also cover free access and choice of high quality educational content, resources, tools and practices anywhere anytime free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment (Deepwell, et al., 2017). The Cape Town Open Education Declaration also includes open technologies that facilitate collaborative and flexible learning, the open sharing of teaching practices and new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning. Similarly, The Open Education Consortium emphasizes the open sharing. In addition, European Commission supports Open Education in order to widen access and participation to everyone by removing barriers and making learning accessible, abundant, and customizable for all. Open Education offers multiple ways of teaching and learning, building and sharing knowledge. It also provides a variety of access routes to formal and non-formal education, and connects the two (Inamorato dos Santos et al., 2017).
However, the term “Openness” has been used in multiple ways causing confusion on what it really means. Cronin (2017) gave four broad interpretations of openness within the context of higher education: open admission, open as free, open educational resources (OER), and open educational practices (OEP). Pomerantz et al., (2016) proposed seven meanings of Openness: Open means rights; Open means access; Open means use; Open means transparent; Open means participatory; Open means enabling openness; Open means philosophically aligned with open principles. Hug (2016) described openness as: without barriers; allowing for passage; broad-minded; free permeable.
In this paper we propose and define nine meanings of Openness in Education:
• Openness as Freedom,
• Openness as Nondiscrimination,
• Openness as Absence of Barriers, and Negative Consequences.
• Openness as Transparency,
• Openness as Flexibility,
• Openness as Agency, and Autonomy,
• Openness as Easiness,
• Openness as Quality,
• Openness as Tolerance to Different.
After explicitly defining and describing each one of these meanings of Openness in Education, we develop appropriate questionnaires to evaluate the Openness of MOOCs. We use one of these questionnaires to evaluate the Flexibility of several MOOCs on language learning. The results reveal that these MOOCs provide limited Openness as Flexibility.
Keywords: Evaluation, Flexibility, Freedom, Massive Open Online Courses, Language Learning, Open Education, Open Educational Resources, Openness.