We’ve been renovating around here, so the facilities folks pulled all the front faces of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen.
In a sense, the results that you see below are similar to what happens when you release your work under an open license. Previously, there was only a ‘public’ view of the counter top with the sink, coffee makers, kettle, microwave and such.
But simply removing the barriers, it is a little jarring to see what is hidden by the doors. The first thing that I noticed was that there is a Keurig ‘coffee maker’ in the cupboard above the microwave. Nobody knew it was there. Not even the administrator who purchased a Tassimo machine for the floor for Christmas (it’s hidden behind the kettle in the image).
One of the benefits of ‘Open’ is that we can drastically reduce redundant efforts by repurposing materials that have already been designed, edited, and vetted.
Another thing that I noticed (again) is the bag of hibiscus tea leaves right behind the Tetley bin. I’m pretty sure that bag of tea leaves predates my 5-year tenure here. It has a ‘help-yourself’ label on it, but since it is behind closed doors, no one uses it (or possibly nobody likes hibiscus tea…).
Similarly, opening education can be an effective way to reduce or eliminate the detritus that accumulates in our teaching materials and practices. It also reminds me of the days gone by when learning object repositories were all the rage. Seems to me that repositories are kinda like Tupperware in that they are both places to store learning objects/food until they go bad.
A few weeks ago Brian Lamb wondered on his blog
Would the cause of open be better served if we … stop talking about “open” as a goal and instead focus on using it as a tactic to support allies who care about authentic, engaged, accessible, sustainable, and relevant public education?
I suppose that this post is my inarticulate attempt to speak to Brian’s question.
There are many who can demonstrate the benefits of ‘open’,
Brian’s list of adjectives there really do describe what I want to work for in k-life public education. It’s that ‘authenticity’ that is the real kicker in my mind, and it represents the strongest reaction against open that I have encountered.
Like that ugly picture of our kitchen, which I used somewhat flippantly to illustrate some of the benefits of open, actually being open in our practices and pedagogy is sometimes a very vulnerable position. When we open our practice, we necessarily include all of our warts, zombie ideas, redundancies, and inadequacies. We are so accustomed to seeing everything in all its polished finality that we forget that behind the doors is usually a mess.
Few people like to be vulnerable, and just like few people would want to entertain guests with all their laundry strewn about the living room, few people want to put their work out there for all to dissect and criticize. Even though we might tout the benefits of open and have adequate data to back up our ideas, we have many allies who also want to work towards ‘authentic, engaged, accessible, sustainable, and relevant public education’ who are intimidated by the thought of actually sharing.
Fortunately, I truly think that the open education crowd is pretty good at the ‘support’ ethic that Brian mentions, and I think that is key.
Supporting ‘open’ by Colin Madland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.