With my recent thinking about openness, I’ve found myself starting to channel an internal devil’s advocate voice… This post does not represent my personal beliefs, but if we’re going to talk about open education, we need to explore all sides of it…
Is truly open education a desirable goal? Is the eradication of all barriers to access something that would have positive outcomes? If we follow open education in one logical direction – where every individual is able to tailor their own educational experience in breadth, depth, and scope, will we be able to make sense of the products of such experiences? Degrees and diplomas, at least in the conventional sense, would become diluted to the point of being essentially meaningless. If each individual can for all intents and purposes be their own university, how do we properly value this? Can everyone claim to have an open PhD from MeU?
One way to value and make sense of such a truly open education would be to shift from institution-based credentials (degrees, diplomas, certificates) to performance-based credentials (portfolios, professional boards, guilds). That’s not a simple shift, but there are precedents – medicine and law operate in similar ways now.
Then there are the arguments against educational and cultural imperialism. If the primary producers and arbiters of open education are in the West, then promotion of these resources into other contexts is tantamount to (gently) forcing Western philosophy and ideology on other cultures. Those who refuse to adopt the resources are branded as backward, and those who do adopt them are assimilated.