Education 2.0: Towards Open Knowledge Society

Adam Pietrzykowski


From its beginning information and communication technologies (ICT) are successively changing the way we are living. The reality of a modern world is filled with technological solutions that shape economic, social, cultural and any other dimension of life. This changes are also present in education. Defined as a process of learning and teaching education obtained new possibilities both in the area of learning environment and creation of learning content.

The role of education in modern societies is indisputably invaluable. From its quality depends the social capital that will constitute economic and cultural living space. Building modern societies where knowledge is a primary production resource require customized education that can follow rapidly changing hi-tech reality. From the perspective of an individual education gives greater chance to realize human potential, which brings more conscious life and an better opportunities in creating one’s own Lebenswelt.

Thanks to possibilities brought by ICT education gain a new perspectives especially in dimensions of knowledge creation and representation. The multimedia effect construct an immerse habitat that gives more complex and rich educational experience than the traditional forms.

But the most important of computer technology is the context of education is the status of information and thus education materials. The digitalization of information enabled creation of infinite amount of lossless and free “copies of knowledge”. Together with communication wonder – Internet – there can be achieved a groundbreaking chance: effective and cheap way of exchanging educational resources and an international community that creates it.

Noticing that chance caused in arising of a world wide Open Education community promoting the idea of sharing and cooperating. Knowledge, ideas, teaching methodology and technological solutions related to eduction are conceived to be open in the sense of availability, changeability and free distribution. Reports made by major organizations, foundations and educational institutions on Open Eduction like OECD’s “Giving knowledge for free”, UNESCO’s “OER: The Way Forward” or MIT’s “Opening Up Education” finds this sort of gift economy crucial for development of Informal Society. In 2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration came into existence. It points the strategy and the field of activity in scope of promoting and later progress of Open Education idea. Apart from bottom-up initiatives it indicates top-down activities of government institutions whose role is to support Open Education by creating friendly law regulations. Financial models, network infrastructure, software technologies and especially copyright law are the key problems that have to be solved.

The clash of digital era reality with copyright regulations from the industrial, analog era leads to a dissonance between the technological possibility of sharing and present restriction of the law. Open licenses like Creative Commons are fixing this gap by laying the foundations for intellectual property sharing. The license give full control of regulating the proportion between own interest and public domain interest to the author. Although open licenses are well known in Internet gift communities there still remain unknown or questionable for lawmakers. Also the lack of suitable software that constitute a technological base for cooperation can cause a problem. However fast growing open source solutions give hope for overcoming this obstacle. Together with open licenses, open source leads to an open ecosystem that is complementary with the idea of Open Education.

Open Education is nowadays something more then a “honorable idea”. Stying at the institutional model of sharing resources (OER, OpenCourseWare) there appears an issue about the characteristic of the exchange. The standard assume is that there is some kind of unwritten reverse principle. An idealistic assumption that knowledge sharing institution will derive advantages from knowledge shared by another institution. In fact, the decision of sharing can be rather dictated by economical calculation. Sharing is automatically a good advertisement for the institution (MIT case) therefore there is always some kind of surplus at the end. A different characteristic is when the institution is funded from public money. In such case, there is a strong ethical (not economical) imperative that every digitalized work of the educators should be shared freely.

For the drawn above global cooperation of teachers, lecturers and students the possible changes it brings can be located in two spheres. The first focus on quantitative and qualitative perspective that can be related to “knowledge production”, “knowledge up-to-date” and “knowledge fixing”. The second is the impact of global oriented community on the shape of locally education structures and teaching traditions. By observing initiatives that already exist (e.g. Connexions) there can be given an answer on possible range and depth of this potential changes.

Open education is not only about people connected with educational institutions. The Internet itself is a cornucopia of knowledge brought in by creative amateurs. In view of social architecture of present-day Internet (Web 2.0) a question arises whether is there’s a place in education for non-authorized knowledge that is an effect of collective collaboration (wisdom of a crowd) and what should be it’s role in our societies?

The paper main aim is to present the Open Education idea; the changes it can cause on global and local scale and the benefits from its realization. Analyzing technological, social, economical and law situation that determine its success would be the second important issue to be presented.