PAUL BOND: I want to talk about why Open matters to me, or why Open has mattered in my own educational journey. When I began finding my way through graduate education in a distance education program, I realized that all the tools and all the materials that we were using were openly available online. What I was paying for, paying over $200 a week for, was some occasional feedback and the selection and organization of the information. Then it occurred to me that in an environment of information abundance, learning about finding, evaluating, selecting, and organizing information just might be a more productive path.
So my career took a turn, and I became interested in the area of online learning. I subscribed to an open access journal of online education, and that introduced me to the work of people like Downes, Cormier, Wiley. And that led me into open online courses from Siemens and Downes, and others. And eventually into ds106. And there Jim Groom was open to letting me participate in his courses in a greater way, and that opened a lot of doors for me. It made me what I am today.
These days, a lot of the talk around Open focuses on educational resources. But it's the Open Education aspect that's really interesting and really empowering. It can give the learner a voice, a choice, a sense of agency and control in education. Things that much of our current system, I think, with its focus on pre-determined curricula and standards and tests really discourages. Open education helps us learn to find our way to navigate and discover rather than to jump through hoops to get a grade to move onto the next stage of the game. And finding our way, way finding and sense making, that exercises a different set of skills than learning how to play the game. It's a set of skills that I see as embodied in information literacy. When we learn how to learn and take charge of our own education, we develop ourselves as lifelong learners. We can learn anything, not so much on her own. As through our own initiative. So we don't know what tomorrow may bring, but we can be prepared to meet its challenges. And that's why Open matters.