Be open

This guest post by Steve Wheeler was previously published in his blog, Learning with ‘e’s.

Photo by Maria Ly, CC-BY 2.0
Photo by Maria Ly, CC-BY 2.0

In Lord of the Rings, the wizard Gandalf deliberated and wrestled long and hard to open the doors to the mines of Moria. In the story of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, the mouth of the cave was opened by uttering the phrase iftaḥ ya simsim – ‘Open Sesame’. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ healed a deaf girl by uttering the word ‘Ephratha’ – meaning ‘be opened’. All through our history and popular culture we hear stories about difficult problems or barriers being solved or overcome. There are many, many problems in the world, some of which are impossible to solve. Others appear to be impossible to solve until someone comes up with a solution, and then we all say – ah yes, I can see the answer now.

One problem we face in the 21st Century is how to educate everyone. If we believe education is a fundamental human right, then we go all out to provide good, affordable, accessible opportunities to learn the important things we will need to survive in an uncertain world. And yet, 500 million children remain outside of education because they cannot afford to attend. We have enough money to make it happen. But it stays the same old problem. In the speech below, which I gave at the Solstice Conference in June 2012 at Edge Hill University, I argue that we need to be more open about our content and tools, ownership of learning, intellectual property and even the very practices we participate in on a daily basis – open scholarship if you will. I talk about Creative Commons, open source software, open access journals, open educational resources, community led initiatives such as MOOCs and the whole idea about being open and sharing your learning. These ideas may not fully address the problem of how to educate everyone, but at least we will make a start by making learning more accessible.

Knowledge is like love. You can give it away as much as you like, but you never lose it. The more we give away our knowledge, the more we are educating our world. So be open. You know you want to.

Creative Commons License
Be open by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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