Moe (2017) describes the difficulties inherent in developing and teaching critical thinking, especially within standardised education. In the connected age, access to information and control over media narratives are paramount to governance. In the age of ‘post-truth’ we need more than ever educational systems that promote information literacy and critical thinking. There is reason to think that there is a need to reconsider the ideological basis and commitments of open education and its practices, many of which remain wedded to traditional academic structures. This may seem counterintuitive: as Weller (2014) suggests, the ‘battle for open’ is in many senses won, with a growing body of open access publication; open textbook uptake; open source tools for building learning environments; massive open online courses; and open sharing of research data. However, Rolfe (2016) has demonstrated through content analysis a fundamental shift in the discourse around open education. Articles from the 1970s tended to understand openness in terms of widening participation, and with this came a concomitant promotion of humane values, fostering autonomy, facilitating the development of others, and a wider social mission. This approach has in turn been disrupted by the rise of flexible learning in higher education and the wide availability of educational materials. By the time the OER movement had grown to a global force much of the debate had moved on to licensing, technical and implementation issues (Weller, 2016).
A reconsideration of the role of ideology in OER will be framed by elements of Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies (1947). Popper’s approach was hugely influential for Western liberal democracy, and remains arguably the most sustained attempt to develop a vision of society from the idea of openness. Popper’s critical approach to education – which emphasizes the role of learner as so-creator of knowledge– serves as a model for making explicit the connection between critical rationality and openness, and provides tools for systematically reflecting on educational practice (Chitpin, 2016).
Chitpin, S. (2016). Popper’s Approach to Education. London and New York: Routledge.
Knapton, S. (2016). Donald Trump is a ‘vulgar, demented, pig demon’ says Hillary Clinton’s ex adviser. The Telegraph, 30 May 2016.
Moe, R. (2017). All I Know Is What’s on the Internet. Real Life Mag.http://reallifemag.com/all-i-know-is-whats-on-the-internet/
Popper, K. (1947a). The Open Society and its Enemies. Vol. I: The Age of Plato. London: Routledge. Available from https://archive.org/stream/opensocietyandit033120mbp.
Popper, K. (1947b). The Open Society and its Enemies. Vol II: The high tide of prophecy: Hegel, Marx and the Aftermath. London: Routledge. Available from https://archive.org/details/opensocietyandit033064mbp.
Rolfe, V. (2016). Open. But not for criticism? Open Education 2016.http://www.slideshare.net/viv_rolfe/opened16-conference-presentation
Slaughter, A.-M. (2016). How to Succeed in the Networked World: A Grand Strategy for the Digital Age. Foreign Affairs. (Nov/Dec.) https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2016-10-04/how-succeed-networked-world
Weller, M. (2014). The Battle for Open. Ubiquity Press.
Weller, M. (2016). Different Aspects of the Emerging OER Discipline. Revista Educacao e Cultura Contemporanea, 13(31) http://oro.open.ac.uk/4
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