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Anna Greathead

Experiences of the Vaguely Described

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"Describe your experience with open education. Is it just with the OU, or have you studied a MOOC, used open resources, or engaged with open access publications?"

So - a few questions? What is open education exactly? I'm not proud of it but I often start at Wikipedia - it's easy to find, usually understandable, and can give some foundational knowledge before you dive deeper.


And this is the first thing I see! (Note - must click on that blue italicized link later)

So Wikipedia give me these useful starting points:

1. Education

2. Without academic admission requirements

3. Typically online

So my experience of the OU MAODE program would not be included under the open education banner as I needed to submit evidence of my undergraduate degree in order to begin it. 

I did, at the same time as beginning MAODE, also start a basic maths program with OU though which was more in keeping with this definition of 'open education'. I did this because I am continually frustrated with my GCSE grade C maths and feel strongly I could have done more, better and further in maths had I been taught better at school. Also - my husband and at least 3/4 of my children are science-biased (don't want to label the 13 year old yet) and frankly they mock me for my inability to solve differential equations! I did the first two weeks of the lessons but then found it was too much as well as H800. There was no accountability, no sunk cost and no problem in simply stopping. No-one called me, no-one berating me for wasting money, time and effort and no-one apparently noticed. 

If it were not for point 1 I could claim hours of open education (on top of OU) every single week. I am a voracious podcast listener and listen to all sorts of people from whom I learn all kinds of things. However - that does not really qualify as education as it is not linear, directed and purposeful. For this reason I can't even claim they are open educational resources although I imagine there may be educational programs which utilize the podcast medium. 

I do wonder if the 'badge' system may actually motivate me though. I look forward to seeing how Credly works for me. Even the scantest of rewards, recognition or accountability may be exactly what is needed for me to move some of my general curiosity to formal enquiry.  

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strong girls club!

Open learning at the Open University

I was having this debate with my colleagues. I work at a large distance university. We have 50,000 students, most of whom are not UK residents.

I started off by asking whether they thought our work place has ever been a place for open learning.

They argued that open should be accessible to all... I would say that it's more nuanced. For many reasons it wouldn't be approproate to allow someone with no education to enter a post graduate course... but the OU offers many access courses amd so anyone at all can sign up to a course at an appropriate level.

...I say "anyone"... I mean "anyone with means" and that is the rub. To access an OU course a student needs:

course fees, a computer, a headset (if there's online tutorials), a decent broadband connect, to be computer literate, to speak, read and write English.

A shame as the OU got a significant amount of government funding, I suspect some of it would have been spent on supporting disadvanted students.

I feel the same as you by the way about maths (and science)... I too got a grade C at GCSE and now, retrospectively, blame the teaching style at the time. I wonder now, if I was taught in a different way, could improve. My colleagues are very sciencey and I find what they say (usually) interesting, and they often look baffled at some of the things I don't know.

I will defintely be signing up for maths/science once I have this masters out of the way. Also want to pick up my coding- I started on Freecodecademy but stopped as I started on this course. Want to at least learn Java Script.

William Clarke

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Hi Anna,

I was thinking the same thing when writing my blog post.  I completed some CPD courses but I paid £10-15 pound for each of them (for 20 hours worth of training each).  Since I paid what I would call a nominal amount for a certificate with the Cambridge logo on it, it may not be considered open.  

I also love audio-books and podcasts.  I feel that I've learnt so much since I got audible last year and have listened to dozens of audio-books on subjects regarding history, geopolitics, 'self help' and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  I have over 30 audiobooks on my audible account and paid around £2.50 for most of the books as I normally buy special offers.  Does this count as education? Is this open?  The print books would usually cost a lot more than £2.50... I've never heard of Credly but it seems like an interesting concept.

Also in terms of accountability my wife joins virtual co-working groups with other freelancers working from home where she turns on her camera in a web conference with 5-6 other people and they do three 40 minute work sessions with 5 minute breaks in between for rest/chatting.  She told me that this helps her with accountability and does this once or twice a week. My wife also has an accountability buddy.  Basically a couple of times a week they send messages in the morning saying what their goals are and in the evening they need to report if they have managed to achieve their goals.  Perhaps, when you have the time to restart, one of these methods might help motivate you and keep you accountable to your math training?  

And Vicky.  I had a similar terrible experience with Math.  I loved Math in primary school and did so well in my year 6 SAT's that I was placed in set 1 of 5 for High School math.  However I had a teacher who just told us to work from the book, pages 5-9 in a class, didn't really explain anything and for some reason liked to play Harry Potter movies....during class.  I went down to set 3 in 2 years and sat the lower math exam so I could only achieve a C.  My younger brother had the same teacher two years later and had a similar experience.  

image of me running through some woods on a sunny autumnal day.

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Hi Anna,

Your blog inspired me go and have a look at the Wikipedia entry to see who had written it, I couldn’t see where the editors names were but the entry was recently updated -  last edited 3 March 2019. 

I agree with you about the different meanings of the word ‘Open’ in this context. A lecture given recently by Martin Weller, ‘Aspects of open’ discusses openness, the slides are here Aspects of Open


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Anna thanks for sharing. Wikipedia gives an impression open education is informal. As you observe, our MAODE does not fall into the category. However, I came up with different literature that sunk our MAODE in open education based on Nyaberg (2000) features and rules of open education. Scan my blog for details  https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/view.php?user=408590