De meningen ge-uit door medewerkers en studenten van de TU Delft en de commentaren die zijn gegeven reflecteren niet perse de mening(en) van de TU Delft. De TU Delft is dan ook niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van hetgeen op de TU Delft weblogs zichtbaar is. Wel vindt de TU Delft het belangrijk - en ook waarde toevoegend - dat medewerkers en studenten op deze, door de TU Delft gefaciliteerde, omgeving hun mening kunnen geven.

Posted in March 2015

About the added value of Open Education…

In Open & Online Education we see a constant struggle between ideological perspectives on increasing access and opening up education by lowering boundaries on the one hand and the urge for a sustainable business model on the other. In that sense, I’ve been involved in this discussion for our MOOCs recently and am a firm believer that (passive, singular) content (without added value) cannot be monetised (in most cases) – you must have noticed the nuance ;).

Obviously, the article in Wired got my attention with this title: “Why Free Is Not the Future of Digital Content in Education”. As you might have guessed, I do not agree (and after reading the article I still don’t). But it is good to learn from other points of view.

The article argues that the price asked for content will not go down to zero when digitised, since it will still generate added value (but in other areas than the content itself). I think terms like ‘content’, ‘free’ and ‘added value’ are key here and need more nuance.

Fred Mulder and Ben Janssen (2013, pp. 36-42) developed the 5 Components Open Education model, where content, learning services and teaching effort apposed to learner demands and employability/capabilities development are considered different elements in (open) education. The level of openness on each element provides an open fingerprint, where the levels of openness in different elements can vary.

Another element which plays a part in me disagreeing with the article in Wired is the added value which influences pricing. In my opinion, content as is, has very limited added value, unless it is incredibly good, or unique, etc. I too use Spotify to shuffle through songs, but I also still buy CD’s. Simply because the physical shape, artwork, collection of songs in a certain order, etc have added value to me.

I think the comparison between the music industry and education is in this sense not so very far off. The added value in education does not so much lie in the content, but in the experience, which is the result of a combination of mostly learning services, teaching effort and learner demands. The added value lies in other elements than content – and that’s what is read in the Wired article as well: it’s the experience in the gaming industry which is interesting, not so much the game itself.

So yes, after reading the article on Wired, I still believe content can be offered for free, since the added value is somewhere else. Which might mean that elements in that experience could be monetised. But then we enter a new discussion on open sustainable business models.

This struggle will be part of my presentation at the Open Education Global Conference in April. See you there?

Open Education Week 2015

Last week we organised a number of activities to celebrate Open Education during the global Open Education Week. We organised these activities to increase awareness on Open Education (and inherently also the Open & Online Education program) among mainly our own teaching staff. The activities proved to be a great success in reaching this goal:

Over 130 people registered, resulting in over 200 participants in total for all activities. We’ve seen a lot of new people who got inspired about Open Education on the one hand, but on the other also walked away with very useful insights about course design, support services around video recording and discussion points in Open & Online Education. Obviously the contributions of colleagues of other universities (Leiden University, The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Fontys University of Applied Sciences) have been very useful, supplementing the activities we already undertake at Delft University of technology.

Unfortunately in the Netherlands, I haven’t seen a lot of activities being organised. For the most part, most universities are mostly focussed at online education then open education. Then again, activities which have been organised, like the lunch lectures supported by SURF, haven been very interesting (worth checking out, but some are in Dutch). The low amount of activities and attention given to them provides the Dutch Special Interest Group Open Education with a nice challenge towards next year.

At the same time, internationally, again a lot of activities worldwide have been supported by the Open Education Consortium. Obviously it is great to see so many activities again! But after… has it been 4 years since the first Open Education Week?… and so many presentations shared… I wonder what next year will bring… What would be the next step…

I’m looking forward to 2016!

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