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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 Eight: Open Access, Freedom and Exclusion


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Open Access, Freedom AND Exclusion



Proponents of open education frequently position it as a radical alternative to existing forms of education. Whether discussed in terms of open access to educational materials “enabling universal education” (Caswell, Henson, Jensen, & Wiley, 2008), the possibility that Google searching will end “the monopoly (or at least hegemony)” lecturers and university libraries once embodied (Barber, Donnelly, & Rizvi, 2013, p. 16), or the proposal that MOOCs will replace the need to study for a programme at a ‘brick and mortar’ campus with a pick and mix selection of “the best online courses from the best professors around the world” (Friedman, 2013), the proposal is that new forms of openness are poised to transform education, sweeping away the constraints of physical sites of learning and solving the problems of educational access for good.

This is hardly a new proposal. As Peter and Deimann (2013) chronicled, sociotechnical developments that affect the ‘openness’ of education can be traced back to the 12th century. However, the effects of such developments are complex, not simply accumulative, and certainly not a deterministic outcome of technological development. Instead, openness is “not only a technological, but also a social, cultural and economic phenomenon, not bound by institutional or national boundaries. [This shows] the danger of emphasising one aspect of openness while backgrounding others and how unrestricted practices can quickly, and repeatedly, become institutionalized” (Peter &...

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