cck09: How Open is “too open”?

George says:

In order for connections to form, openness is important.

But how open? Is there such a thing as too open?

Should all content and materials be freely available? What value does a university gain from keeping research “closed”? What about teaching? Should that be open as well?

I would argue for materials and research to be open. That’s easy. Yes. Open.

Teaching, though….hmmm, more complex.  In cck09, it seems to work to have it all open (though what goes on between the instructors/facilitators and the students taking the course for credit is closed to me and the rest of the non-paying students. Granted, if I sent George and Stephen a private email, that would be too, but I’m talking about assessment/feedback on assignments, and whatever – if any – other stuff they get).

I think openness in online courses would be a leap for most of the faculty I work with.  They see the online space (in our case, a Moodle course) as equal to the classroom, where they have the right to close the door. And the responsibility to moderate and “take care” of the teaching space, which includes the “walls” of the moodle shell and a very exact headcount.  What’s more, our model is cohort and team-based, and there are lots of closed spaces within closed spaces, for teams to work privately from the rest of the class. Some courses have “open” team spaces within a course (so team 3 people can check out team 2’s stuff), but I’d say the majority are not like that. Part of it is probably competitiveness in some form, part is an assumption that people want/need a private space to work. Do they?

It reminds me of the thinking behind anonymous surveys: we assume people will only give honest feedback if they can do so anonymously. I used to work with a great professor who balked at that, saying that people need to have the guts to say what they have to say and be prepared to defend their views – it was considered part of the learning of the course. I don’t know, I think it’s easier to be anonymous. You can lob your feedback over the fence and forget about it.  Similarly, it feels easier/less risky to be “closed”. But as I said in a recent post, there may be something incredibly valuable in being in that position of  feeling that pressure/risk. It might drive you in useful directions.

4 thoughts on “cck09: How Open is “too open”?

  • November 6, 2009 at 9:04 am
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    Great to learn your views on openness. For research to be open. Yes, I agree.
    “people will only give honest feedback if they can do so anonymously.” I think this assumption has got solid groundings. I had conducted various surveys in the past – in the 90s, in 2003, and this year and it was found to be “valid” in all cases. It would be interesting to verify this assumption using meta-research data though.
    People would generally feel easier/less risky in a “closed” learning or research environment. Why risking ourselves in public if there are implications on what we say, write or express in open space or media? “there may be something incredibly valuable in being in that position of feeling that pressure/risk. It might drive you in useful directions.” Yes, that may be the benefit.

    Frances mentioned in her response to a blog post: “All of us should think very carefully about how we construct our online identities, remembering that this could become part of a future professional identity” So being fully open has a price to pay too.
    What motivate people to become fully open in networks?
    Thanks for your thought provoking post.
    John

    Reply
  • November 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm
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    Last year some of the “for credit” students posted their completed assignments including the mark they received and the comments from George. Students have their right to privacy but it’s up to them whether or not they wish to wave that right and make the course even more transparent.

    Reply
    • November 6, 2009 at 11:14 pm
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      good point – i wonder, too, how instructors feel about that? (in this case, probably fine). I can imagine some instructors feeling uncomfortable with all their feedback out there for anyone to see. It could create a lot more work for them!

      Reply
  • November 10, 2009 at 8:11 am
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    I guess there are some technical discussions which certain professionals would prefer to keep private. The content would be different and maybe more relevant as well?

    I’m involved with a Postgraduate Diploma in Diabetes course and one aspect of that is discussing treatment choice, patient education, barriers to good control of diabetes and so on.

    Reply

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