Open Courses

This is in addition to the discussion on the Open Courses Educause article by George and Dave.

Interestingly, being one of the 18 students who sought accreditation, I sought it because I believed that I needed to get personal attention and direct mentoring from an expert. The concepts I networked with were (and are) serious areas of work for me and so is the feedback and evaluation. Both are part of my learning.

As Chris Anderson suggests in his new book, Free, commodities can be free. And I would assert that “open” does cost.

Different people may have their own take on what they do as “open” or as “free” – some for the market, some in the pursuit of knowledge or altruism, maybe both. To each, his or her own. If I can learn something from them that I want to, that is where I derive value. If that “service” has an economic value that is affordable for me, I will invest in it. If there is a conflict of interest or if I have any other issues with it, I will not.

CCK08 and edFutures are experiments in dealing with scale (and many other dimensions). Personal attention does not scale too well (even in traditional education) and therefore, learner responsibility has to reign supreme. Unlike traditional assessment, which has formal well researched assessment frameworks, the new medium does not lend itself to easily to assessment.

It is, as Network Singularity pointed out, an environment where “intention triumphs perfection” each time (actually, if we were to look at assessment deeper at the classroom level, we would uncover the same or similar imperfections).

I am not sure that we may not want to find ways to accredit such courses or certify people in open courses. I think accreditation and certification are both processes that are important for people and organizations, both for themselves and for a network that values their achievements and expertise. They act as quick references that simplify a host of other related processes such as recruitment.

I think they should be overhauled or adjusted for the new medium, not sure how yet, and this I believe would result in far greater efficiency in processes like recruitment. Maybe we are over-amplifying the imperfections and need to keep it simple & let it evolve.

As far as I am concerned, I would say this is great work and thinking in practice by these experts. Rather than denigrate these efforts, it would be more constructive to either contribute to the discussion or to propose alternative ideas that could be more effective. I am sure the same experts would willingly offer their time and energy to help validate new ideas or respond to critique.

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