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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.

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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.

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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:

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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):

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6 thoughts on “Education for All

  1. This comes back to our obligations to our employer and how much power we actually have on account of this! In the last couple weeks we had spoken about how much we are allowed to voice our personal views in our classroom if they differ or are not focused on as much in our division…I feel like this is ringing true again! You feel like offering free and open education is the RIGHT thing to do, but work for a traditional system that is only offering it to those who can “pay”. And I don’t mean pay in the literal sense, I mean pay as in can get their child to school in a condition in which in they can learn, who have enough understanding about the benefits of being educated to get themselves or their children to school, etc. I know in Canada education is a right and families are legally obligated to send their children, however our system doesn’t work for everyone and therefore kids are falling through the cracks. Maybe offering different approaches to education would help get some of those lost kids and adults back. I mentioned on someone else’s blog this week that choice is a gift – maybe we don’t a full plunge into open education but start testing the waters on what it can do for someone who struggles with our conventional system.

    I do agree though….with open education, what certifications would be accredited??? If a degree becomes obsolete on account of more open education structures, who polices knowledge and ensures that those whom are “in charge” are aiding students and other learners in finding relevant, accurate info? If there is no one in charge, how do make sure kids are learning and not just hopelessly surfing the web? Is a curriculum still necessary??? There are so many questions to ask and answers to find!

    Thanks for the post! Lots to consider.

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  2. Great post Kelsi! There has been discussions at our school about posting or making too much course content available online for students. The concern was that we are not teaching “online” classes and students need to be present. Although our system has an attendance practice where students may be withdrawn from a course after 15 absences, the conversation was not about that. Simply that we are expected to teach face to face and make everything available for students online. Sometimes it feels like twice the work.

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  3. Thanks for the post Kelsi! Like my own, there is definite emotion tied into your post, and I appreciate it. Open Access certainly entails children’s right to education, and how we may be falling short in so many ways.

    -Like Dani mentioned, our entire system is currently predicated on being present, and students who are not able to be physically present are disadvantaged from the get-go.
    -Does our curriculum adequately address the learning styles and needs of students who rely on kinesthetic, visual (or other) means?
    -How do we reconcile money being made to supply our educational system, when so many do not actually have access? (both in Canada, and throughout the world)

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  4. Amy, interesting comment in regards to attendance. High school perspective is very interesting and different from the elementary school perspective. But attendance matters at all levels, and by posting lessons and making things available online, are we losing the important aspect of teaching which is human contact, relationship building and trust.
    Lots to ponder. Thanks Kelsi for bringing these ideas to the forefront.

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