Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Heritage of Open Education Norm Friesen February, 2009 http://wikieducator.org/ Open_Education:_Precursors Overview
What is open education? What is a precursor? Precursor #1: Antonio Gramsci Precursor #2: Walter Benjamin Precursor #3: Paulo Freire
Lessons from the Past What is Open Education? three essential components to Open Education: 1.teaching and learning (educational) processes 2.technology and technological infrastructure 3.open or free access to these processes (entails a political/policy stand) The three are interrelated in complex ways; one affects another
has a history that goes back much further than the Internet and open (free) source software What is relevant to Open Education? Open Policy Anti-copyright DIY Technology &
Infrastructure Teaching, Learning and Educational Processes What is a Precursor? Can be a movement or a person Person or movement combining
technology, education and a political position in a reaction against commercialization, to empower others Part of a heritage that is shared by many faculty members. Antonio Gramsci: 1891 1937
Founding member of Communist Party in Italy Imprisoned by Mussolini; most famous writings from prison (notebooks) Keywords: Ideology Hegemony Organic Intellectuals Ideology/Hegemony as spontaneous, cultural
Culture: exercise of thought, acquisition of general ideas, habit of connecting causes and effects (Gramsci, 1985, 23) Hegemony & Ideology: "shared ideas or beliefs which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups" (A. Giddens 1997) "spontaneous consent" of the populace through intellectual leadership or authority
Knowledge & Culture as Central Intellectual matters, cultural representations as paramount This gives education, teaching and learning a central role Allare intellectuals just not by function or job description "everyone at some time fries a couple of eggs or sews up a tear in a jacket, we do not neces-sarily
say that everyone is a cook or a tailor." Organic intellectuals Everyones potential for intellectual/political engagement Everyone: "carries on some form of intellectual activity participates in a particular conception of the world, has a conscious line of moral conduct, and therefore contributes to sustain a conception of the world or to modify it, that is,
to bring into being new modes of thought" Gramsci & Education The learner as active and creative, not "a passive and mechanical recipient". "to create a single type of formative school (primary-secondary) which would take the child up to the threshold of his choice of job, forming him during this time as a person capable of thinking, studying and ruling - or
controlling those who rule" (Gramsci 1971 p40). And today there is hardly a [person] who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish -somewhere or other-- comments on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing. As a result, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case. At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a
writer.  Walter Benjamin: 1892 - 1940 associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory sociological & cultural critic The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduciblity Keywords: Aura Distraction
The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility Mechanical reproduction of art means that its aura withers: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. This is not bad, but good: "For the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. New forms in film of the late 1920s and 1930s:
Bunuel, Riefenstahl, Eisenstein This kind of art is received in a state of distraction Benjamin sees this distracted reception as enabling a the convergence of educational value and consumer value in a new kind of learning (Eiland, 2005) The distracted person, too, can form habits. More, the ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit. Distraction as provided by art [means
that] new tasks have become soluble by apperception. (W. Benjamin) What is significant Aesthetic characteristics of new technical media can present both potential and challenges for learning This is politically relevant; not as direct emancipation from earlier constraints and limitations, but through the development of
new modes of reception; new sensibilities Technology as cultural in its educational significance Paulo Freire: 1921-1997 Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy (politically engaged) Developed cultural circles for teaching reading and writing; imprisoned for this
Literacy was a requirement for voting. Key terms: Dialogical education codification Freire on Technology The answer does not lie in the rejection of the machine but in the humanization of man.
Im a man of television and man of radio. "It is not the media themselves which I criticize, but the way they are used." Slide courtesy of: Richard A. Kahn Slide Projectors: 35,000 Slide projectors used to display codified pictures at the centre of this instruction
Codified pictures: visual representations of existential situations questions are implicit in the codifications Present elements to be decoded by the participants Literacy ed. is combined with lessons in selfreflection, cultural identity & political agency. (Kahn & Kellner, 2007) Freire on Technology Slide courtesy of: Richard A. Kahn
1960s National Literacy Programme: 1990s Sec. of Ed for Sao Paulo: Buys 35,000 Polish slide projectors In 1973, $13/unit est.
In 1981, $2.50/unit est. Rate of dollar has now increased six-fold. In 1962, Br. Real 4:1 rate of exchange. Established Central Laboratory for Educational Informatics Invested in televisions,
video cassettes, sound machines, slide projectors, tape recorders, and 825 micro-computers. = A LOT OF MONEY!!! = A LOT OF MONEY!!! 90s he faced many children without schools altogether, terrible disrepair, he speaks of missing tens of thousands of desks and chairs. So his investment in technology in this context is significant.
I don't accept [the claim] that the ending of school is inevitable. For me, the challenge is not to end school, but to change it completely and radically and to help it to give birth from a body that doesn't correspond anymore to the technological truth of the world to a new being as actual as technology itself. P. Freire: http://www.papert.org/articles/freire/freirePart2.html
Education is not a Function Is not a neutral set of techniques that are applied to facilitate learning on a given subject matter All of the precursors are clear about the politically-charged nature of learning and its rich interrelationship with technology This needs to be taken into account when understanding the relationship of open education and educational institutions
Technology is not about Function It is not mostly about what the technology can do: if it was, we would have been having these discussions in 1999, not 2009 Just because technology can do it, doesnt mean it will be done (right away) How long will it take for an open alternative (e.g. Linux) to overtake a dominant institution (e.g. Microsoft)?
Open Learning as a important stream Part of an ongoing parallel reality that has been ongoing and important for decades/centuries The relationship with dominant education may change, but will happen very slowly Strength to be gained by looking at connection of this the open content/education movement to ongoing tradition
Precursor T. Friedman? globalization has leveled the competitive playing fields between industrial and emerging market countries historical and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant Inevitable; culture outside of human control Technology as not humanized or humanizing
Lessons from the Past Developments occurring with technology are not pre-set Technology is not destiny; it is a scene of struggle Education is much more than the acquisition of globally competitive skills We should look to experts, not journalists, to understand global trends affecting education Nobel prize better than a Pulitzer!
Sources Benjamin, W. (1936/1979). The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Illuminations. New York: Schocken. http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm Gramsci, A. (1971). An Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916-1935. D. Forgacs (Ed.). New York: Schocken. Freire, P. (1973) Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum. Friedman, T. L. (2007). The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Kahn, R. (2005). Electronic Freire: Technology in the Struggle for Peace? Third Annual CAFE Conference. Available at: http://richardkahn.org/writings/tep/electronicfreire.ppt Kahn, R. & Illich Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich: technology, politics and the reconstruction of education Policy Futures in Education 5(4) 431-448. http://richardkahn.org/writings/tep/freireillich.pdf
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