23 October 2011

Open Education

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face with a colleague at Wikieducator (in fact, the founder of the site), Wayne Mackintosh. He had been invited to come from New Zealand to be part of a panel on distance education at TRU. His presentation, a challenge towards openness in education, struck several chords with me. The most important of these is the foundational right of all humanity to access to information.
Information is not the same thing as education, but it is a pre-requisite to the latter. Right now, there are reams of information that will not be released to people affected by the information, information on health studies done by governments and government-funded clinical studies, where the very people who are afflicted with maladies--and their physicians--cannot get unfiltered results from the governments and drug companies who control the study results. I can appreciate that information can be a sensitive thing, and that release of security information can be dangerous to citizens of countries and to the security agents involved in obtaining the information. However, the control of information is not primarily limited to such situations. We appear to be in an age where information is deemed to be under the exclusive control of the gatherers, as if the information was not owned by the people about whom the information refers.
If we lived in a society where only our optometrists knew our eyeglass prescriptions, only our doctors knew what illnesses we had, and only our banks knew how much money we had (or lacked!), we would not allow such exclusion of access. Why do we believe that other sorts of information about us is rightly privileged and not available to us? Clearly something important needs to change.
With the interconnectedness of each of us to the world about us, we need access to more information. The origins of copyright law in the Western world was not intended for the protection of authors' rights over information. It was a law intended to further free education and access to information. The intent was to protect authors and readers from the exclusionary possession of information by the powerful. We need to return to an understanding that information should not be owned by those who would keep it from classes of people on the basis of citizenship, race, religion, wealth, or privilege.
Our universities have begun the process of making more information available to those who cannot afford tuition and fees to attend their institutions, but more can be done. More educators can learn to use the tools available at Wikieducator (WikiEducator.org) and make their classroom materials available to their students and to others without restriction. For more details, please point your browser to wikieducator.org/jrradney

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Williams Lake

1 comment:

  1. Needless to say obtaining a degree online is much better than getting it in a conventional way. However, the final decision is still yours. Attempt to consider points and think real hard which of the two will match your budget as well as your way of life. Check This Out for more details.