Dr. Robert Farrow
Dr. Robert Farrow is a philosopher, interdisciplinary researcher and educational technologist at Institute of
Educational Technology (IET), The Open University, UK. He started out in IET as a research assistant for a project
on mobile and lifelong learning. This led to working on a range of projects around the Institute, allowing to
develop expertise in accessibility, evaluation, mobile learning, using technology to support research communities,
and most recently, open education. In addition to his research and editorial work, he have acted as a referee for a
number of academic journals, including International Education Studies, British Journal of Educational Technology,
Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice and Inquiry:
An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. He is an associate editor of JIME.
||Constellations of Open
This keynote presentation will review the state of the art in open education, identifying the key achievements and challenges facing the open education movement. The notion of 'constellation' is adapted from the critical tradition in modern European philosophy. Here is it used as a framework for understanding what differentiates and unifies elements of open education, including OER, MOOC, open access publication, open policy, and related open educational practices.
The wider context for this discussion is the bifurcated sense of progress that faces open education. Much progress has been made in some aspects while others lag behind. The history of open education will be briefly reviewed, starting with the industrialization of education in Europe and moving through the public university systems and the rise of distance learning. The central argument made is that attention needs to be paid to the importance of authenticity for open education. Openness calls into question some of our most deeply held assumptions about educational institutions and practice. What is needed, therefore, is a kind of critical pedagogy: constant re-engagement with our own practice and values as well as the world around us.
The method of constellation is intimately related to how we use language, and how language influences thought (Adorno, 1974). We need to move on from thinking of openness as a binary value, and appreciate the complexity that accompanies openness. We need to interrogate the ways we use language to organize education, and the kinds of assumptions we make about what is valid and be wary of differentiating authentic and non-authentic forms of openness on the basis of any one axiom.