I have so many thoughts on open education. I’m trying to get them in order so that I sound somewhat coherent.
I am conflicted about the idea of open education.
On one hand, open education is just that. Open, free. No holds barred. Places like Harvard have open courses available online. But, something tells me that if I turned up at the STF with a certificate I printed out at home saying I now have a degree from Harvard I would be laughed out of the building.
However, this goes against what I stand for we we discuss democratization of education . I believe education should be open and available to everyone. Having education as a paid concept is a very capitalist movement that goes against the Marxist that lurks beneath the surface of my heart.
I’m all for education that’s open, which is why I’m a public school teacher. This article by the Independent has a whole list of universities which offer free (or almost free) education to their students.
But, the conundrum I run into is am I legally allowed to offer free education? Can I offer or post something to the internet in the name of open education within my ethical limitations?
I am paid by the Regina Board of Education, who in turn derives money from taxpayers. By allowing someone else to use something I created using taxpayer money, am I violating some kind of ethics? The person using my work may be half way across the world and have no connection to me.
This concept really hit home with Larry Lessig’s video on Laws that Choke Creativity and then with Everything is a Remix. Is my creativity being stifled? Is my students? How do I balance my obligations to my employer while still honouring my desire for a free, open education? Who are these laws really protecting in the end? The trespassers (to borrow a phrase from the video) or the people on the ground? How original is my work in the end? As a teacher, you’re always told “don’t reinvent the wheel” in terms of creating new material.
These thoughts led me to this declaration:
If education is then framed like this, money doesn’t matter. Respecting human rights becomes the most important thing.
Education belongs to all and I’ll end with a quote (which speaks to me as an English teacher):