From Openness to Permeability: Reframing Open Education… An Article Précis

open_walnutHaving taken some time off from my #5Papers summaries (though still reading in the background!), I was moved by Martin Oliver’s thoughtful work on Open Education, and related to my recent attendance at the 2016 Networked Learning Conference where open learning was one of my own take-away points, I wanted to share this in case others may not have seen this work.

1/ I read Martin Oliver (2015) From openness to permeability: Reframing open education in terms of positive liberty in the enactment of academic practices #5Papers

2/ Oliver’s premise is that the concept of openness is under-developed within learning technology

3/ This study explores the many frames in the open education debates as each being value-laden and polarizing

4/ Open education often lacks consideration for how learning may occur once the obstacles are removed

5/ and “learners are more commonly spoken for than carefully attended to” in the open education debates

6/ While highly theoretical and summarative of the recent literature, some empirical data are presented to substantiate concerns

7/ Oliver concludes with openness in educational technology’s failure to engage with wider discourses in contemporary academic practice

8/ and he urges a reframing of openness via relational, networked, and sociomaterial theories in discussions of permeability in education #5Papers

Interested in learning more about this approach to #5Papers and the related article summaries? See here.


16 thoughts on “From Openness to Permeability: Reframing Open Education… An Article Précis

  1. Hi Jeffrey – many thanks for including us in this discussion! We have certainly read and discussed Martin Oliver’s paper — as we have explored most of the papers in that special issue of Learning, Media & Technology (2015, v40, n3) with the theme “Critical Approaches to Openness”. It is an important journal issue for all interested in this theme – it also contains papers by Richard Edwards and Lesley Gourlay which we mentioned in our NLC2016 workshop.

    Frances has begun some research to try to find out the extent to which these papers are referenced in the Networked Learning and Open Education fields. I’ve just searched for Frances’s post about this but cannot put my finger on it just now – perhaps Frances might add the link here.

    We drew on much of this critical work in our own NLC2016 papers and tried to extend it in specific ways. For example, Oliver and other authors in this LMT issue highlight many important issues regarding openness. In my NLC2016 paper, I address some of the concerns that Gourlay raises, for example, and note that they are particular critiques of OER, but do not necessarily apply to OEP or open pedagogy. “Open” is a broad construct; any claims for or critiques of openness must make very clear the particular definition(s) of open education being used.

    There is so much more critical work to be done — delighted to be doing this alongside you, Jeffrey 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Catherine. I agree, there is a lot more work to do here, and I agree that beginning with an unpacking of these terms and acknowledgement that some progress has been made and, partially as a result, we have more potential areas of inquiry, results in new opportunities.

      Hmm, the next #NLConf is in 2 years, so we better get cracking!

      Let me know if you want to explore this in more detail, and perhaps we can consider pulling something together . . .


  2. HI Jeffrey – thanks for copying me into your tweet – I have had a quick look at Martin Oliver’s paper, which ironically is in a closed journal 😉 But despite that I agree that openness is more complex than the open/closed binary implies.

    Roy Williams and I wrote about this in a paper we published in 2013 –

    Williams, R., & Mackness, J. (2013). Open Research and Open Learning. Scientific Journal of Educational Technology, 2(1).

    – where we were exploring our own shift from closed to open researchers and practitioners.

    In line with our work on the Footprints of Emergence, we see openness as being on a continuum from closed to open and from prescribed to emergent. Our own development as open researchers has been emergent. This is what we wrote at the end of our paper (p.20/21)

    >>>>> Openness is clearly a complicated issue. There are issues of sustainability which have been around in Open Source debates for many years. There are also a whole range of ethical issues on ‘digital rights’, both social and personal, e.g. the questions of privacy and individual’s rights to their own data.

    Openness does not mean handing over all your thoughts and writing, co-constructed knowledge etc. for free to some previously unknown private institution – it means a change of attitude (spirit, psychology, becoming, being) at an individual level and a change of culture at an institutional level. Openness therefore needs much more research to fully understand it and this research in itself needs to be more open. In other words, openness and emergence are linked to agency, to developing capabilities, and contributing to a sustainable learning ecology for learning and research.

    The development of open learning to be open is an emergent process. <<<<<

    This seems to align with Martin Oliver's thinking but is expressed in different terms, I think.

    1. Jenny, this is a great way of framing this, and thanks for your suggestions. I agree that the open / closed nature of the journal itself is somewhat representative of the issues he is raising (not that he frames them in this way, however). Let me find a way to get you a copy of this article, as I think it may be interesting to see how varied the notions of openness (of what, to whom, through what means, and based on whose needs / wants) is an increasingly contested area.

  3. Hi Jeffrey -the reason Catherine couldn’t find a post at my blog is because l was ‘between blogs’ and posted a blog-length comment on David kernohan’s blog – you have to scroll through/ read quite a few pingbacks and other Comments to get to my comment. Since then, Catherine,Laura and l have had a brief chat about how we might explore the links (or lack of) between this SI on Openness and the 2 2016 Conferences for OER and Networked learning . It’s all a bit difficult for me to connect via flaky Campsite wifi so this is a project for after my trip away -back 18 June. l hope we can chat then.

Comments are closed.