Role of Openness in Education: Article Summary

In the spirit of open learning, I'm sharing the notes I take while preparing for a research paper on Distance Learning. This post is about the article: On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction. by Sandra Peter and Markus Deimann made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License 

On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction

Peter & Deimann seek to better define the “open” concept in education. Starting with a history of open forms of education, the authors

Learning communities emerged in the late middle ages but, not having a central facility, they met when and where resources and space were available. Local cathedrals provided space and organizational support until religious and political influence tightened conditions and imposed fees on participants.

Renaissance coffee houses emerged as a common space to gather, read and discuss the news. Many locations had their own libraries providing very affordable access to books. Increasing literacy, mail service, and the railway in the industrial age combined to enable correspondence education allowing students far and wide to complete courses of study from London University. In the 20th century, labour groups and local communities created libraries to serve their members. Regional efforts to educate the citizenry included providing easily accessible, affordable education to all citizens in both urban and rural areas.

Openness, say the authors, is “not only a technological, but also a social, cultural and economic phenomenon, not bound by institutional or national boundaries. They identify the use of technological innovations to provide increased access to information and learning opportunities. They also caution against overemphasing social or connectivist elements in open education recommending sensitivity to the learner’s social engagement preferences. Historically, many open systems eventually close as notions of increasing efficiency and productivity trump the notions of providing access.

Peter, S., & Deimann, M. (2013). On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction. Open Praxis, 5(1), 7-14. doi:10.5944/openpraxis.5.1.23

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