More on the Three Parts of Open Education

D’Arcy had a great post tonight about the three parts of open education. It validates something I’ve been wondering to myself about for a while. While I use slightly different language, you can me my take on the three toward the end of my Open Ed 2008 General Session presentation (start at slide 100):

Ten Years of Open Content

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: history content)

I’d love to engage in a bit more of a discussion between what I think of as learning support and what D’Arcy calls open access, just to make sure I understand what he’s saying.

I’m thinking about it from the “future of higher education” perspective, as opposed to the “what constitutes open education” perspective (as D’Arcy is). Still, it’s pretty cool that we pick basically the same three – it just means that the future of higher education is open education! In the presentation I basically argued that we can already see the three core functions of higher education starting to pull slowly apart from one another – the OCWs provide access to all the educational content (and now some research content thanks to MIT’s recent deal with Elsevier), places like Yahoo Answers provide the learning support and question/answer function (and RateMyProfessor carries much of the advising load), and Western Governor’s is a fully accredited university that offers no courses – only assessments (in other words, just credentials). This disaggregation is already happening, and higher education will just pull itself apart faster and faster in the future. Whenever a business function can be separated and specialized in, that business function is destined to be either spun off or outsourced. Wither the university then, huh?

In the video D’Arcy refers to open accreditation as the elephant in the room. Well, the elephant certainly stepped on me last week in Jeff Young’s Chronicle of Higher Education article, When Professors Print Their Own Diplomas, Who Needs Universities? After saying I was giving out diplomas a few times, Jeff accurately reports about my Introduction to Open Education class last year, “unofficial students paid no tuition and got no formal credit, but they did end up with something tangible: a homemade certificate signed by Mr. Wiley.” He even interviewed one of the unofficial students from Italy:

That [homemade certificate] was plenty of recognition for Antonio Fini, a doctoral student at the University of Florence, in Italy. “I include it in my CV,” he says.

I wonder if, somehow, we’ve stumbled into part of the answer for open accreditation. Of course, WGU still charges tuition, but D’Arcy’s right. Let’s talk more about this… Maybe instead of hacking WordPress, we should be hacking degrees. Anyone up for a completely informal, completely open, homemade certificate-style diploma? A handful of courses offered by all of us – take intro open ed from me, connectivism from George and Stephen, media studies from Brian (you know you’ve always wished he would teach it), and then complete three cumulative edupunk projects under the tutelage of the Reverend, D’Arcy, and Tony. Maybe D’Arcy will also offer an elective in mobile video production? 😉 Why not? I want my homemade edupunk diploma!!!

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  • David, I’ve been thinking about the future of higher ed as well – it’s kind of the recurring theme in each of the 3 videos I’ve done in the last few days – and I think Openness is going to have to play an important role in how the Institution operates. Lots of stuff to think about – implications on social control, cultural diversity, the nature of education, the role of individuals, collaboration between/among institutions to come to agreements wrt accreditation, etc… No shortage of fun stuff to talk about.

    One thing I’m thinking about – who is the degree/diploma REALLY for. Is it for me, as a student? Is it for my current or future employer, to use as a “he’s good enough” badge? Or is it for someone/something else? Do we even need degrees/diplomas? What would a system of accreditation based on a portfolio system look like, where I had to make assertions as to my own capabilities, and then back them up with evidence?

  • oh, and I _really_ should have gone to Logan for OpenEducation2008. Sounds like I missed some whoppers of conversations. I’m planning on going to OE2009, even if I need to hold a bake sale to get there.

  • Count me in … I want to be a faculty member at Edupunk U!

  • Well. maybe my name is going to become the “paradigmatic case” of academic use of a hand-made (oh, my God..) certificate!
    Anyway, I’m proud of my hacked certificate and ready to gain an Edupunk diploma, too!!

  • lol, great article by Mr. Young. The following thoughts struck me as I was reading through it:

    Why does he say Mr. Wiley instead of Dr. Wiley, like all his students call him?

    The cert was from COSL, if I understood right what he said he was doing, and as director of COSL, who would his “boss” have been that he’d have needed to check with for permission?

    I was in the class, but can I get a cert too, so I can put it on my CV in addition to being on my transcript?

    How many other articles have been or will be written that mention Wiley a full 10 paragraphs before getting around to dropping Britney Spears’ name?

  • A slightly different model has emerged in George’s and my Connectivism course. We have the 20 for-credit students at the University of Manitoba, and the open access students. We’ve published the details of all the assignments. We had a student who signed on as an open access student but who would be submitting her assignments at her home institution, for assessment there. This distributes assessment, allowing for assessment to be basically open-sourced.

  • “Maybe instead of hacking WordPress, we should be hacking degrees. Anyone up for a completely informal, completely open, homemade certificate-style diploma? A handful of courses offered by all of us”

    I think we also need to go beyond this sort of semiformal academic accreditation. Formal qualifications are trusted, third party claims about your academic achievements. They act as a standardised proxy for direct personal knowledge about an individual’s accomplishments.

    But the web is potentially creating new opportunities for demonstrating that other people trust you… and their trust in you is the commodity that’s valuable when you are trying to get other people to trust you.

    The idea of an ‘open achievements’ or ‘open accomplishments’ api, was intended to provide a way in to thinking about this wider sense of third party recognition and e.g. ‘assessment by the crowds’ in the case of Amazon reviewer or ebay buyer/seller trust metrics.

  • YES!

    This is exactly what I want! I came to OpenEd 2008 with an idea of an ad-hoc educational system ( and was surprised to find that Stian Haklev and Philipp Schmidt had similar ideas ( We’ve since joined forces with a few others around the globe. I’ll keep you updated with progress.

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