A well-informed look at Open Education history

To make sense of our field, every now and then we need to step back and take an historical glimpse at how we’re going. If you don’t already do it, then when you scan the journal contents pages for historical contributions and meta analyses. In terms of the recent history of open education and the emergence of MOOCs, you won’t find a better summary than that by the inimitable Stephen Downes.

downes-chapterStephen recently contributed the opening chapter to New Models of Open and Distance Learning in Open Education: from OERs to MOOCs, Editors: Mohamed Jemni, Kinshuk, Mohamed Koutheair Khribi. 1-22 Aug 18, 2016. Now normally you would be required to fork out a considerable sum ($109.00 / €103.52 / £74.00) for this worthy Springer title, but Stephen has somehow managed to fernangle it and place it for free on his website. Just click on the pic and you’re there.

The trends Stephen traces are:

From Passive to Active

From Formal to Informal

Open and Distributed Learning

Open Licensing

E-Learning 2.0

Social Learning

Personal Learning


Massive Open Online Courses

The MOOC Model

Learning Environments

I’m not the only admirer of this contribution, of course. Our old friend Terry Anderson also spied this gem, but threw in a caveat in his post: he profoundly disagrees with the opening sentence.

Historically most learning that has ever taken place has taken place in a classroom with a teacher giving instruction and students reading books and writing on paper.

As Terry explains, “Stephen’s mistake is to conflate learning with formal education”. This aside, the chapter is praised as a “very clear, precise and knowledgeable argument, illustration and rationale.”

Go on, read all 7572 words.

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