Playing at the margins in open education
David Wiley recently articulated again a model I’ve heard elsewhere in the OCW community and (as David mentions) in the Cape Town Declaration. This model identifies three elements of open education: open content, open learning support, and open credentialing.
Before the digital age, these three components had been not only closed, but also generally tightly integrated. The key insight of OCW was that in a digital age, it was possible to disaggregate content and make it widely available without harming the integrated experience. Others in the open educational field are exploring the disaggregation of the other two components.
This is probably not that new a model, all things considered, but what interests me in this is not the components themselves, but the margins between them. As our project and the OCW effort overall has picked up, we’ve seen increasing numbers of attempts by other projects, companies and individuals to “plug into” OCW content in various ways to connect the content to credentialing or learning support.
Many of these don’t work because the models just don’t draw usage, or they attempt to leverage institutional reputation rather than content, or (occasionally) are commercial uses inappropriate to the intent of the authors in sharing the content. But increasingly, I’ve been seeing models emerging that do work, and these interfaces between the silos of open education are of great interest to me. It’s an incredibly complicated and context-specific undertaking, but I do think that appropriate and effective interfaces between content, learning support and credentialing (some open, some not) will continue to emerge, and this will be one path through which open projects will begin to leverage one another.