come again?

Hello potcert people,

I realize that I’m probably way over thinking things (such sometimes happens for me about this time in the semester), but I’ve been puzzling over the terms “open” and “platform” and what these terms might mean when you stick ‘em together.

The term “open” seems to me like it’s showing up everywhere these days: “open source,” “open course,” “open resource” (per Ko and Rossen), “open learning,” “open forum,” etc, etc, etc. The meaning of the term seems to vary from “free and freely available for use” to “free-for-all.” What do we mean by it?

The term “platform” shows up in many different ways, too. I think generally it means something that you can build stuff on, a foundation. When I’m thinking about computer technology, I tend to think of an operating system or a programming language as a platform. (Sorry folks. I’m not a techie! Just trying to slog my way through the terminology!). Or perhaps it is more basic, like the general definition. So we might use an LMS, social media, an immersive environment, upon which to build a course or module. Is that what we mean?

So “open platform.” What exactly is that? It seems like it might mean some technology upon which you can build stuff that’s free and available to others to use (and perhaps change as they want, without attribution). On the other hand, it could mean technology (software?) upon which you can build something that allows opportunities for free and open learning.

So given the week’s assignments, I’m thinking maybe it’s the latter: something different, “alternative” (not the typical LMS) that can allow for learning that can take many directions, to allow students to learn in a way that is more open than other methods. Is that right?

“Open.” “Platform.” “Open platform.” Come again?

8 thoughts on “come again?

  1. Yes, that one threw me for a bit too. I thought Moodle was “open platform” since it is open source. But no, that wasn’t it. It seemed “open platform” mainly meant NOT using an LMS (which sounds agreeably open to me). However I did not see the Australian in the video distributing his course across public spaces. Everything seemed to be in WordPress blogs and pages.

    Is it any less an LMS if everything in a course is in one site like WordPress or Google sites? Wouldn’t “open platform” be distributed across the web?

    • Yes, I would have thought of Moodle as open, too.

      I also wondered about the LMS vs WordPress question. What I’ve come think is that maybe it is possible to do traditional online courses (ha!) in both but that blogging is a different “platform” than an LMS. At least that’s what I think I”ve worked out for myself, which could be completely off-base!

  2. The distinctions is not clear cut, and may be more about spaces (platform) and access (open) than anything else. WordPress is an open platform not only because of its source code (I wasn’t even thinking about open source originally) but because the course itself is open to all to view and possibly participate and created in the open. Moodle is open source, but not open to the world automatically, though it can be set this way, sort of (participants would need to not only log in but be enrolled). Our samples (Google sites and blogs) would be about having a space open to access without log in. All LMSs are automatically closed – we’re definitely looking at alternatives to those.

    • Yes, I should have put “open access” in my list of open things. I thought maybe that was generally the idea…meaning that other folks can see whatever’s out there.

      I recently read a Chronicle article about a few LMSs that are adding a more open-access option (to get into the Mooc fray). I think intrastructure, Desire2Learn, and BB. Will be interesting to see what they do with them.

    • Me too, although technically they all have “guest access”. Technologically, how could someone participate without some kind of log in to identify them? Without it, the spam problem could be huge. But at least everyone could “see”.

    • Good points. What I like about the idea though though is that these could give regular folks/faculty a way (platform?) to be open (that’s not strictly social media that is). I’ve been concerned about how close to closed (at least for faculty and for innovative pedagogies) “open” has been leaning lately.

  3. For me “open” refers to a site that is open to the public–as opposed to blackboard–so a course blog would typically be open (but, in fact, you can password protect many of them). The core issue is access.

  4. Hey Jim,
    I’m actually trying to sort out the terms for a chapter I’m working on right now. Am still struggling a bit. There seems to me to be (at least) two issues. The first is open access to students (where students can enroll in the course at will, like many moocs). The other issue is open access to the course as product…I don’t know if I’m saying that right, but what I mean is that anyone (outsiders) could see it. So with our blogs, for example, anyone could stumble upon them and read them. In SL for example, outsiders could stop by and observe (participate?) in an active class session. So open access and open acces??

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