What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

Hannafin describes this theory as ‘to provide a wide variety of methods and tools to engage student in divergent thinking, heuristics-based learning, and exploring fuzzy, ill-defined, and ill-structured problems. The theory offers a huge model with respect to enabling contexts, resources, tools, and scaffolds. The designer needs to figure out when to use different methods and resources’ (1999). Hannafin goes on to say that the learning context is experience-based problem solving tasks involving realistic, relevant problem posed through OLEs.

The model assumes extensive use of available resources and contextual manipulation for supporting learning. This model reminds me of the inquiry method because it enables the use of a student’s interests in order to build motivation and creation of ownership in their learning. Another key component in open learning is described as learning in a shared and transparent manner in which others can reuse, revise, remix, and/or redistribute the evidence of learning with others (Graham, 2014).

At first, I didn’t quiet understand this terminology until I read about the Open Education Resources that are licensed materials that are shared under a Creative Commons Copyright license Graham, 2014). This copyright allows a learner to be able to access a document, learn from it, and then change it to meet the new information or learning that occurred on the topic. It led me to follow my own train of thought in this process as I also envision this as a group learning environment where a student uses multimedia to access information and collaborates in the classroom as well as other classrooms using the internet as a mode of “transportation”. Open learning encourages collaboration, connections, networked learning, and interdependence between educators and learners (Graham, 2014).

These are great promises of learning. This seems to lend itself to a classroom of learners with their own set of goals, and motivations. The teacher doesn’t follow the lead role any longer, and the students have a plan of action for what they are learning about. With the proper training, it would fit what my school district is trying to implement with project based/inquiry based approaches in some of our subject matter. I think that a blended approach is a very great idea, but I am at the same time hesitant to look into it more closely, so I did some research at some classrooms using technology to open their classrooms to learning.

In my hunt for a technology based school district, I found Digital Promise (Reed). It tells about a school district with little funding that turned to technology to meet the needs of their students when they didn’t have the budget to buy textbooks, and materials. They took on a blended approach in their education of children. The school understood that technology is a mainstay in our society, and students needed to be equipt with the technology skills to achieve success. The direct example of student and teacher interactions were impressive, with direct quotes of students not wanting to put away their materials to start another lesson. Another said that students were self directed and worked through individual goals. The main push was to get teacher leaders and people who could get the kind of programs running to inspire student success. It to me would require a lot of innovation and thinking outside the box. Open learning has many promises, and it might come to a school near you.


Graham, L., LaBonte, R., Roberts, V., O’Byrne, I., & Osterhout, C. (2014). Open learning in K-12 online and blended learning environments. In HandBook of Research on K-12 Online and Blended Learning. ETC Press.

Hannafin M., Land, S., & Olver, K. (1999). Open learning environments: Foundations, methods, and models. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (pp. 115-140). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Stevens, Reed. Innovation Starts in the Classroom. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.digitalpromise.org/blog/entry/a-teacher-driven-approach-to-21st-century-learning-in-meridian



5 thoughts on “What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

  1. Tristan Leiter says:

    As I read through the different articles Dr. Graham posted this week and did my personal research, I like how so many articles related Open Learning to differentiation and project based learning. Differentiation and project based learning are something I can relate too and with a new pedagogy added to the locker of teaching methods was getting a little overwhelming. It was nice to be able to relate something new to something “old.” Technology is definitely something that needs to be used in the classroom as we try and prepare our students for the future, none of their jobs will be without it (at least I can’t think of a job right now), and it is important that they can start their job with a solid foundation of technological skills. Combining technology and open learning with traditional teaching methods can only help students become global citizens and well prepared for their futures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If open learning has many promises, what do you see as the major challenges? I’d go with financial support, administrative support, policy support, and parent support….


    • Those points are well taken. I would also include classroom structure, protocol, and procedures in place to monitor learning. Not only would we need support from our district, we’d need to educate our communities on the kind of learning we are embarking on. In my small bit of research, these promises I explored answered the prompt. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rockislandtechie says:

    In reading more about open learning, I was also thinking about PBL, differentiation, and other learner-centered, inquiry-based approaches to learning. You wrote that convincing educators and other stakeholders to support a blended learning approach seemed to be an emphasis of efforts by that school you read about. Sometimes I think, as teachers, we have so many urgent priorities that we are not as receptive to big-picture ideas because we are too close to the issues and have difficulty integrating new concepts and strategies that are not immediately usable in our practice. The Digital Promise article you referenced really highlights the importance of teachers being the ones to innovate and create positive change in their classrooms and thereby their schools. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara- I agree with you that this type of classroom would be a classroom full of learners with their own set of goals and motivations. That is the key word “training” because it sounds great but if you don’t know how to do it then it will not work or benefit the students. Open learning does have a lot of benefits but also at the same time I think a lot of work.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s