The Unbounded World of Learning – Tip #73

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This is the second installment of of my five-part blog series on helping members of TrainingMagNetwork understand their expertise better.

We believe in unshackling our thinking and providing learners as much access to content and this is what this post is about.

Trainers and content developers can no longer hold back learners from using other sources of knowledge. There is a breaking away from control as these new discoveries continue to sprout like mushrooms. This allows them to accelerate learning. It is in this openness that we encourage the learners to explore, create and develop.

The Proliferation of Open Learning

We have witnessed the dramatic increase in open learning. If you have been following the online trends, you will have noticed the popularity of sites like Coursera, edX and other spinoffs. The dramatic decrease in cost of producing learning materials contributes to the proliferation of open learning.
According to Caswell, Henson, Jensen, and David Wiley, “This marked decrease in costs has significant implications and allows distance educators to play an important role in the fulfillment of the promise of the right to universal education. At relatively little additional cost, universities can make their content available to millions. This content has the potential to substantially improve the quality of life of learners around the world.”
But the cost is just one aspect. While technology made open learning easy, it is the current attitude requiring more flexibility and collaboration in learning that made this possible. Rigid and traditional approach to learning is a thing of the past.  
According to Liyanagunawardena, Adams, and Williams, “Connectivity is usually provided through social networking, and a set of freely accessible online resources provides the content or the study material… For example, MOOC participants may create their own blog posts discussing aspects of the MOOC in different spaces and/or may use microblogs such as Twitter to express themselves.”
eLearning pioneers like Jay Cross are advocating informal learning wherein unofficial and impromptu encounters between learners and people in the know take place. Jay posts that “formal training and workshops account for only 5% to 20% of what people learn from experience and interactions.”
If you are a lifelong learner, you can find free and open courses at Harvard Open Learning. Are you looking for a new recipe to cook for lunch? You can just head to Youtube, watch a video and turn yourself into an instant chef.

We haven’t witnessed this level of openness before and this is just the tip of the iceberg. With technological development mostly done in the open, the high level of interactivity required to respond to modern challenges and the attitude of modern learners all converge to spice up Open Learning. The concept of Open learning is far more vast than what we have witnessed and I believe the best is yet to come.
The Philosophy Behind TrainingMagNetwork’s Open Learning 

Richard Baraniuk shares his vision of open learning which led to the creation of OpenStax, an open-source, online education system which allows teachers to share and modify course materials freely and globally.
Different programs have varied degrees of openness and diverse implementations of the concept of Open Learning.
At TrainingMagNetwork, we allow the members to search over 50,000 blogs and resources (growing each day). We believe we can only serve the learners by enabling them to access quickly, assist them to search with prompt questions and discover what they want in the abundance of content. They drive the learning, not us or the designers or any form of formal structure. In fact, we don’t have a hierarchical learning design that is typical of other associations and learning providers. We want to free our learners to follow their own passion and help them track their own studies.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”