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The Philosophy of Open Learning

Peer Learning and the Intellectual Commons

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Edited By Markus Deimann and Michael A. Peters

In this book, internationally recognized scholars provide in-depth insight into the emerging field of open education. The Philosophy of Open Learning provides an overview of the current debates and introduces the reader to the overall discourse on open education. The broad range of topics, including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and OERs (Open Educational Resources) is aimed at demonstrating that open education has emerged as a new principle for organizing higher education. Based on this idea, the book covers various issues that are backed up by thorough philosophical reflections that provide orientation for the heated debates. Open education is discussed in its various imbrications to other open movements, such as open access, and its relevance for education over the last fifteen years.
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Chapter One: Constellations of Openness

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CHAPTER ONE

Constellations OF Openness

ROBERT FARROW

 

THE AMBIGUITY OF PROGRESS

There have always been tensions and philosophical questions provoked by the idea of open education. Peter and Deimann (2013) have demonstrated that the history of openness can be understood to stretch back before the institutionalization of education, even if the language of open was not always used. In their reconstruction of the process of widening access to education they trace the gradual expansion of educational opportunity through the cathedral schools of the Middle Ages and Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. With industrialization came the rise of popular literacy and the establishment of public libraries and opportunities for distance education. The 20th century has continued to see an extension of the belief that education was a right that could be extended to all. Yet it is mistaken to think that this represents a linear historical progression. Instead we discern complex patterns of economic and social change in a dialectical relationship with an evolving understanding of openness. The authors make the observation that “historical forms of openness caution us against assuming that particular configurations will prevail, or that social aspects should be assumed as desired by default” (Peter & Deimann, 2013, p. 12).

Increasingly, it is the social and cultural implications of openness that draw the attention of scholars. The American philosopher of education John Dewey ← 11 | 12 → was among the first of the...

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