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The Philosophy of Open Learning

Peer Learning and the Intellectual Commons


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 Five: Posthuman Openings: Looking Beyond Technology Instrumentalism


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Posthuman Openings: Looking Beyond Technology Instrumentalism



In this chapter I argue that open education is constrained by an underlying adherence to the humanist subject, a framework which separates human beings from technology and establishes them as the exclusive source of intention and agency. I contend that a more productive sense of ‘openness’ might be gained from the perspectives of critical posthumanism and sociomaterial theory, concepts which challenge the dominance of the humanist subject and point to the distributed agencies of entangled human and non-human relational processes. I begin by discussing the deep-rooted relationship between humanism and education, and show how the burgeoning open education movement is drawing on such principles to justify its position. Much of the promotion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) appears to adopt an overtly humanist discourse, where technology purportedly serves to emancipate participants through self-directed study. I highlight two specific examples of MOOC activity, which provide useful ways of discussing instrumental and sociomaterial approaches to technology: firstly, a video tour of a university campus building and its subsequent discussion, and secondly, the algorithmic processes of the social media service YouTube. ← 67 | 68 →


Education and humanism are deeply entangled. While we might understand education as ‘the dutiful child of the Enlightenment’ (Usher & Edwards, 1994, p. 24), we must also then recognise human beings as ‘both the instrument and the end product of...

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