Content or human – Equality of opportunity or intervention?

This is a note to remember to come back to the topic at some point. So, do not expect anything very elaborated. I’ll still start with a quotation from Foucault (Michel Foucault from Wikiquote):

There are more ideas on earth than intellectuals imagine. And these ideas are more active, stronger, more resistant, more passionate than “politicians” think. We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them.

I feel that there is an ideological divide in the Open Educational Resources community. I see that there are two major Parties. I call them (1) content-people and (2) human-people.

The content-people believe that Open Educational Resources should primary be some kind of independent “courses” people study. Studying the OER courses will then lead to enlightenment. This approach can be compared to reading a religious text leading to deep religious belief and certainty.

The content-people are relying on non-questioning epistemology and to social philosophy of “equality of opportunity”. These two things are very much interconnected.

The non-questioning epistemology leads to action where people are aiming to create non-bias OERs that are representing universal truth. When you hold the universal truth it is fair to offer everyone an equal opportunity to access the truth. Take a course and the test: you made it!

The human-people see that the Open Educational Resources should primary be only reference materials that are used in a human-centered teaching and learning process. The OERs are never “courses” and one should never “take them”.

The human-people’s hold social epistemology where different interpretations of the world and the truth are in a continuous conflict. To promote equality people should be empowered to be active subjects in the process of defining the “truth” of their time. Because of this providing people with an access to the OERs is not enough. One must empower people to create their own OERs, modify them, break them, dishonor them. I call this intervention.

I also see some kind of difference in the two parties’ way of seeing tradition.

Same time when the content-people believe on universal truth, they do not give a lot of weight to tradition. At least I haven’t heard about any great OER projects focusing on classical philosophy or national epics.

The human-people who are more or less critical on everything are still more open to build on tradition and native wisdom. The fact that someone before found some content valuable is seen as a sign of the content’s high quality.

This is a blog, so I can’t help to make more conceptual pairs, which can be or then not, related to the OER Parties:

North America – (New) Europe, Catholic – Protestant, Federal – Networked, Religious – Secular, Material – Spiritual.

Heh. 🙂 Which Party you belong to? Which Party I belong to?

One thought on “Content or human – Equality of opportunity or intervention?

  1. Very good observation Teemu.I would say I go to both parties. I believe that OER's can contain universal truths and these should be the root, the content party. I then believe that people should take these root OER's and "subclass" them and make them thier own, put them into a localized context best suited to them. And build on the root OER to create their own knowledge, the people party. As an example; 200+200=400 is at the root OER. 200 snowballs + 200 snowballs=a snow fort or 200 white stones + 200 black stones = the game of go… are both context sensitive OERs.
    I just think joining the party is the most important!


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