Open Education – Part 1 – Motivation

As part of my EDCI 338 course, I was to partake in some Open Education opportunities and then reflect on the experience in the form of blog post or other. I was going to go with other but as marking piles up and report cards loom, time has grown short and I find myself defaulting to what I do best…ish

For those who aren’t quite sure what Open Education / Open Learning is, it can be loosely defined as

Activities that either enhance learning opportunities within formal education systems or broaden learning opportunities beyond formal education systems.[1]

With this rather broad definition in mind, We were given a bare canvas of options to choose from… (Bit of an oxymoron there I think) Choose anything online that involves learning in an open forum and so I chose to attend some Adobe Training Tutorials in an effort to kill two birds with one stone. I needed to gain some knowledge of a couple Adobe products for teaching purposes and I could use it for this assignment. A win-win all round.

This practical approach to the task at hand, immediately brings me to the first and perhaps most important point about Open Learning.  In order for any kind of open learning to work or be meaningful, the learner needs to have the motivation to be there. In my case my motivations were three-fold.

  • Personal interest
  • Professional need
  • Academic requirement

First and perhaps most importantly, I had a Personal Interest that could be served by Open Learning. I love using Adobe products and frequently wish I knew how to use them better but even though I have an interest, I am lazy. After a hard day at work, I want to sit on my butt and watch Duck Dynasty, not sit in on a live tutorial about the latest version of Adobe Photoshop CS6.

What this tells me is that personal interest isn’t necessarily enough to motivate someone to take advantage of an Open Learning opportunity. It certainly wasn’t enough for me and I know dozens of other people who would tell you the same.

What eventually pushed me to partake was a Professional Need for more knowledge about how to use Adobe products. Standing in front of thirty 16 year olds without any idea what you are talking about, is a humbling if not  scary experience. I learned this early on in my teaching career and try to avoid this situation at all costs. Fortunately for me Adobe has some great online tutorials and live web events for the likes of me and they top-notch productions.

So Open Learning had me in its clutches, I had the internal motivation and an external motivation to attend The Adobe’s Open Learning Tutorials and then along came another, the Academic Requirement for EDCI 338. With this trio of motivators in hand, I attended live sessions on Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Elements and a one on demand session on Adobe Premier. I also stumbled upon a session called Is it Possible to Predict & Enhance Learning with Big Data , which I am hoping to attend.

So what is the point of this blog post you are asking?

Well the first conclusion I have come to about Open Education, is that in order for this type of learning to work there has to be the motivation to partake and it may require more than just a personal interest. In my case it took an external kick in the pants to get me to sit down and actually engage with an Open Learning opportunity.

Unlike the field of dreams: If we build it, people won’t necessarily come. I think this is something we need to take into account as we begin to build this 21 Century Education system. If we build it entirely around the notion that if kids are interested in what they are studying, they will engage. I have had an interest in Adobe products for years and have been meaning to sit down and learn more but it wasn’t until I had an external motivator, that I actually did something about it.

I feel my experience and that of countless others should be seen as a cautionary tale. Open Learning is undoubtedly here to stay and I am glad of it but I remain unconvinced that Open Learning is a viable alternative to our traditional grade school system. I think the key is in the definition I offered earlier. Open Education should  continue to be… activities that either enhance learning opportunities within formal education systems or broaden learning opportunities beyond formal education systems


^ D’Antoni, Susan (2009). “Open Educational Resources: reviewing initiatives and issues”Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning 24 (1 (Special Issue)): 4.doi:10.1080/02680510802625443.

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