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Sir John Daniel comments on open education

Ahrash Bissell, March 17th, 2008

Carnegie Mellon University hosted a symposium last week titled, Opening Learning Interplay, focused on the relationship of learning sciences and open education. At a reception towards the end of the symposium, those of us who were present were treated to an excellent speech by Sir John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). Sir John specifically mentions the new education division for Creative Commons (ccLearn), and he admonished the broader open education community to not forget the big picture of our efforts even as we debate the legal and technical details that entail “openness”.

And he paints a brilliant picture of the promise of open education. He states,

“Open education broke open the iron triangle of access, cost and quality that had constrained education throughout history and had created the insidious assumption, still prevalent today, that in education you cannot have quality without exclusivity.

Each subsequent technology has made those economies of scale even more impressive and recast even more radically the iron triangle. Web distribution of learning materials is almost cost free. Electronic communication between students and institutions means that feedback, a vital part of learning, is faster and cheaper.

The result is that today the major obstacle to open education, because it is the major cost factor, is the creation of good learning materials. Here there are fewer technological short cuts, because the design of courses that are academically current, intellectually attractive and pedagogically efficient will always require serious investment of human brainpower. The answer is not to skimp on the brainpower, but to make the products of that brainpower more widely available.”

Read the full text of the speech on the COL site.

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