A few months ago, I was perusing the web and ran across an article titled “Online Course Construction Gets a 'Do-It-Yourself' Web Site.” Hook. The first line was, “A new player entered the field of open online education last week: NIXTY, a Web site that allows any user to take and create courses for free.” Line. Then came a quote from David Wiley:
“Other sites exist that put together the open-source educational materials available, said David Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University... NIXTY is unique, though, in also offering ways for students and instructors to connect with one another, he said.” Sinker.
In my mind NIXTY has the potential to truly contribute to the open education movement. So I contacted Glen Moriarty, CEO of NIXTY, and asked if he’d be interested in doing an interview. His answers will be posted in a three-part series. The first question he addresses:
Why is open education important?
Open education is hugely important for a variety of reasons. There are several writers who have covered this space much better than I can; a couple of key people in this space include David Wiley and George Siemens. Rather than attempt to cover the full range of this question, I’ll highlight a few reasons why we think it is important and especially relevant to what we are doing with NIXTY.
Reason #1: Education is too expensive
In the United States, house prices have dropped 30-40%, gas has decreased from $4.00 to $2.44, and for those with children (yes, I have 3), a gallon of milk has dropped from $4.00 to $3.19. What has happened to education? It has gone up! It goes up no matter what. When inflation is up, education goes up even more. When we are in a deflationary environment, as we are now, education still goes up. It is simply not sustainable. I won’t bore you with details about the “education bubble.” The interested reader can check out Anya Kamenetz’s DIY U for more details. The primary point here is just that education is too expensive and open education is a brilliant way of dramatically decreasing educational costs.
Reason #2: The US approach to higher education doesn’t scale
David Wiley astutely observed several years ago that educators have limited bandwidth. They simply do not scale. We need to find ways to harness non-educators and technology to meet the needs of people across America and around the globe. Our current system of closed education cannot meet the goals of the Obama administration, nor can it meet the demands of a growing globalized economy. Open education can help solve these problems because it scales.
Reason #3: Copyrighted materials are limited and decrease educational progress
Educational materials that are protected, top-down, and static are limited and hinder educational progress. Open educational materials are the opposite: they can be remixed, altered, and tailored to meet the needs of a variety of people.