Right now there is a heated debate going on about what Open Education is and should be. Mark Weller, George Siemens, David Wiley, Jim Groom, Graham Atwell, Frances Bell, Dave Cormier, Darren Draper and Stephen Downes have all weighed in on the issue. I mention them and the discussion here not in order to fully engage in the debate that is raging, but to simply acknowledge that quite a number of people are putting a lot of time and energy into hashing out exactly what a single word should mean and whether the word is something that we should aspire to.
However, my question is not so specific as to think through only Open Education, but rather to think through the word itself. I know that many of the proponents of more radical definitions of “open” would say that Open cannot be co-opted, that it is a conscious choice that both limits and frees a person who subscribes to the ideal. It limits in the ways that profit off of what is Open is strictly forbidden, and it frees because you can truly create a network of shared work.
Coming further away from those definitions, I would like to propose that Open simply means “having the space between”.
My “Open” is about having the space between commercial and personal to do with what you need. My “Open” means having the space between schools and learning to figure out exactly how real people fit in. My “Open” means designing and working on projects that require collaboration but that do not obsess on FOSS or Free-ness. My “open” is open enough to allow spaces for distraction, toiling away on things that are private, and pride in a single contribution.
The give and the take of “Open” needs to always be there. We need to have a “closed” to combat against. We need to have someone who believes they have a better way of sharing information to make sure that Open really is in the best interests of everyone involved.
If Open means the space between, then these are the spaces I want to concentrate on. These are the spaces that I want to be a part of designing. These are the spaces that will bring about the greatest change.