shutterstock_80403730_smallThat is the question! It’s a jug containing – let’s say – wine. So in a way it is closed. Otherwise the wine would pour out. But it is also open, because there is no cap on it – so you can pour some wine into your cup if you want.

I began for some posts ago to search for answers on what  the meaning of openness in OER really is. On this post I will continue to reflect on this and to my help I will have some litterature.

It is true that education the last fifty years, or before that, often has been centrally led and imposed, earlier by the church and later on by the state. I think it is also true that recent technologies present new possibilities for a less linear and less centralized education. But my qestion for rhis post is if it is sufficiently open for ”new” pedagogies, such as Dewey(1), Illich(2) and Freire(3), and for the kind of social critique that came from these pedagogies. And the question in focus is, I think, why should we at all trust private companies such as Google if we want to develop courses – and courses wirh non-mainstream pedagogies in particular? Putting these questions led me to exciting answers!

I found that educational attempts to promote open access have clear similarities with the concept of negative liberty, coming from a liberal educational practise and focusing on emancipation from hierarchies of control systems like the state . The OER movement emphasise the liberal model of freedom from, especially ”the removal of ‘unfreedoms'”(4) as the principal aim. Macintosh, McGreal and Taylor, for example, declares in a text that aims to develop a “parallel learning universe”(5) that ”individuals are free to learn from OER”(6). To them it is obvious that learning is best done without an organisation and a structure. It seems that the idea of educational institutions as barriers to knowledge prevents them from seeing other benefits with both structure, organisation and state responsibility for HE. The perceived limits of formal institutions makes them devoted followers of formation of knowledge without the traditional forms of institutions, of structure and organisation. Their efforts to highlight OER producers, persons and companies, and to be independent from ordinary academics makes them dedicated enemies to ordinary academic learning.(7)

At this moment the question arises: does this ideological background of the OER has any implications on the use of different tools? To some extent I think it has. One question to explore could be: In what directions will OER, according to the ideological background, evolve during the next – say – 10 years? Another question could be: what advantages and disadvanteges could be found in this development?

That’s all for this post. But my interest and curiosity for the OER movement has not been appeased!

(1) John Dewey was one of many progressive educational theorists living from 1859-1952. To him knowledge should be useful and have connections to reality.

(2) Ivan Illich wanted to demolish the school as it was known and open it up to the surrounding community. He had a vision of a school where the student (the learner) was in focus, with more responsibility and more independent work with the techer as a tutor.

(3) Paulo Freire’s basic thesis was that poor people would not feed other poor people with knowledge from and about the rich world, but instead giving them the opportunity to come to consciousness and conquer their world to build a new one.

(4) As said by Atkins, Brown, and Hammond, A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities. Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2007, p1.

(5) Abstract on

(6) See Macintosh, McGreal and Taylor, Open Education Resources (OER) for assessment and credit for students project. Towards a logic model and plan for action  2011, p4.

(7) See also Jeremy Knox, Five critiques of the open educational resources movement, Teaching in Higher Education, Volume 18, Issue 8, 2013.



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