There were a number of interesting viewpoints expressed by the speakers in the Virtual Symposium recordings (2017-2019) posted by Royal Roads University (RRU). In particular, Dave Cormier, who originally coined the term MOOC (massive open online course), posed the question of what the term ‘open’ means in education (2017). He explained that the word open can be viewed as a “…value system as much as it is a technical process” (2017). Another speaker at the symposium, Catherine Cronin, shared that one of her biggest concerns is, “…balancing privacy and openness” (2017). The intriguing question that emerged from my perspective was: How do educators support an open platform of learning, while protecting the privacy and rights of participants?
During the symposium Cormier asked the participants to think about this question: “What do you mean…open?” (2017). The participants’ responses included words such as, “…access by all, sharing, resources, free, partnerships between teachers and students, not a parent/child relationship and public” (2017). Cormier encouraged dialogue utilizing Blackboard Collaborate live slides that invited participants to engage in real-time, which created an opportunity for me as the listener to the recorded version, to imagine participating, to think about how I would have responded, while also observing the actual responses. As a result, the experience of observing someone else’s thoughts further demonstrated to me the importance of privacy issues as they relate to open educational platforms, of which the symposium recordings are part of. “It can’t be your job to make the Internet safe for everybody, ‘cause it’s not gonna be, but it’s still something we have to consider” (2017).
One of the better known open educational platforms, Udemy, which, according to Techradar, “…is [a] well-recognised name in the world of online learning and now boasts over 15 million students, poring over more than 65,000 available courses” (Dalton, Turner, July 2019) addresses the issue of privacy with serious consideration. Udemy’s policies cover an extensive range, including the area of intellectual property, stating:
Our marketplace model means we do not review or edit the courses for legal issues, and we are not in a position to determine the legality of course content. However, it is important to us that instructors posting courses on Udemy respect the intellectual property of others. When instructors post courses on our marketplace, they make the promise that they have the necessary authorization or rights to use all the content contained in their courses. (Udemy, 2019).
Cronin makes a correlation between her work as an open educator with that of Cormier’s, illustrated by this quote from Martin Weller’s blog post “It has never been more risky to operate in the open, it has never been more vital to operate in the open” (Weller, 2016).
Ultimately, as educators, there is a responsibility to be aware, to create awareness, to be mindful of the risks of open educational platforms while enabling learners to benefit from the rewards. As Cronin states, “to try and negotiate that tension, not just for ourselves, but for our students…” (2017).
Cormier, D. (2017). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Video]. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Y5SINl
Cronin, C. (2017). Open culture, open education, open questions [Video]. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Su9Ivj
Dalton, W, Turner, B. (July 2019). Best online learning platforms of 2019. Retrieved from