Disclaimer. I have nothing but utmost respect and admiration for the people who are stretching (literally) the concepts of what is a “course” by experimenting with the form of an “open course”, one with a set of students taking it for traditional credit,. but potentially more, maybe thousands (?) who can participate by the generosity (or interests) of people running the course.
It is so much Dave-like to read Dave Cormier saying why he does it:
I freely contribute my time to some courses, and am paid to teach others. I “˜believe’ that working in the open makes my own work better, gives me broader access to other people’s idea and, well, i find it fun.
It tears at the silo-ed nature of courses, it aims to melt the walls enough to leverage the power of networked learning. The latest issue of EDUCAUSE Review has a fantastic buffet of articles on the Open theme (I am still bellying up to the table to read these).
So it’s all good stuff. I have some quibbles (hence the barking) in some ways people are looking at open courses that seem to fall back on traditionalist views of courses. It’s mainly when people talk about “drop-outs” or “why people don’t stay in open courses” (recently well summarized among other points by Dave Cormier).
I’m one of those people. I’ve signed up for every Connectivism course run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes and a few more… and I am also one who falls off the edge of participation. The notion of “drop out” seems to assume that the measure of success is people doing all the assignments/activities from start to finish, filling the forums and blog space with their activity.
But that negates the possibility that people pick and choose what they want to participate in.
The openness door ought to swing both ways, right?
I already wrote my thoughts in a comment to Dave’s post:
What is wrong with choosing some minimal or micro level to be in an open course? Is the only way to get something out of such a course is to be an active over-achiever in the forums? Why am I a no good drop out if I choose to pick the parts that interest me and leave the rest? Is it open or not, cause I smell a wee bit of hypocrisy if the assumption is I have to have a high attendance rate in an open course.
Or maybe I really am a loser drop out, someone who does not stick to the pace of the course, a lazy dog if you will.
As previously blogged, the motivation to do what it takes to be a DIY type student is, to me, a place where there is a wide open gap of understanding.
And I am a bit saddened if really the best motivator is the pursuit of credit as Lisa Lane suggests — there is nothing wrong with credit for open courses, in fact, there ought to be more of it to legitimize the concept. Yes, wouldn’t it be sad if that was the only successful motivator?
But I really want to know more about people who end being highly motivated or active in open courses who are not doing it for the carrot of credit. I want to know more of what makes those people tick.
The other thing is that the majority of open courses I have come across (and I do not claim to know them all) are about open education or education technology. I’m not really ready to put the victory dance out on open courses, until we see some examples in say, poetry, history, math.
And frankly, the open courses, marched to the beat of a fixed time length syllabus, might be seen as an incremental step from (I guess they would be called) closed courses? Non open courses? Are there other models than attaching the open network to a fixed course?
Believe me, I’m all over the joy of openness- but it really ought to swing wide open