Real Punks Ship

So that was the title I was tempted to throw on the recent post over at OCWBlog. It seemed impolitic over there, but if you are stopping by here, you know me and the spirit it’s offered in.

The heart of the OCWBlog post is this graph:

I’ve been frankly a little surprised, since signing on at OCWC, at the rift between the edubloggers and the OCW community. A lot of edubloggers seem to think that people in the OCW community just don’t get the larger picture. And a lot of people in the OCW community think the edubloggers talk too much and produce too little.

I can say with  confidence that both of those perceptions are completely wrong. The edubloggers I know have slogged long and hard to get real things done. And people in the OCW community don’t claim OCW is the be-all/end-all of open education. Sometimes dedication to an idea requires analysis, sometimes just blood, sweat, and tears. The people I have met doing OCW implementations at their institutions are some of the brightest, most self-analytical, big picture people I have had the pleasure of knowing — they’ve just decided, for the moment, to channel that energy into production and institutional change.

And yes, some people are great at the grassroots piece, some are great at the institutional piece. But we’re insane if we believe that only the grassroots piece of that equation is producing “real change”.  Which is what I’ve been hearing lately, in exactly those terms, in twitters, blogs, the comments on blogs (particularly the comments, actually), and emails.

As the graph shows, that claim is probably verifiably false. Most of that big swath of red there is not grant-funded, most of that red swath does not represent rich institutions, and most of it represents initiatives committed to continuing even in the face of this economic downturn. And all of it is accomplished by people who turned at least part of their attention to aligning the institution with open education goals.

If that’s not real change, what is?

We’re lucky, as a movement, to have people approaching this issue from both the bottom-up and top-down. In my experience it’s the combination of those two approaches that gets change done.  So let’s rejoice in that, and not see it as a burden.

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2 Comments on “Real Punks Ship”

  1. Alan Levine says:

    Definitely the better title here and even in looking at two blog posts by the same person in an “institutional” space and a personal space is kind of telling.

    I’ve missed out on this “rift” or claims of who is making change, but I like your balanced view of two forces at work.

    I doubt we’d even see a red spike, or even much of a red line were it not for the bold move of that blue foundation in the beginning. MIT was a catalyst.

    However, I’m a wee cautious on looking at a course or content count; and I would gather Blackboard could do a similar graphic showing a steep growth in the total number of Bb courses starting from their innovation years of the late 1990s– its a measure of there being more activity in the space, more people doing X– which, yes says “something”.

    In the end, maybe it is a positive trend that OCW gets a little “dull” because so many are engaging in it.

    Rejoice, indeed!

  2. Mike says:

    I never really noticed the rift until I started working here. I suppose it’s like having a headlight out, and then you suddenly notice how many cars have headlights out. Hypersensitivity. Or egocentrism? Maybe both.

    In any case I think you mentioned something I found interesting myself which is how *bad* an institutional writer I am in some respects ;) Institutional writing takes forever and has too many long, qualified sentences.

    Regarding Bb — yeah, I was going to answer that argument in this post — that activity is not de facto progress — but it seemed better to save that for another day as it’s a rather complex argument to present. I think what you would have to look at is in what ways has this changed how teachers approach their profession. And I don’t know that the change would be earth-shattering, I think it would be pronounced, but not overwhelming, which is what would make it hard to present. But soon, either here, OCWBlog, or both.


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