Studying forms and borders of Open Education through a topological lens: user interfaces and visualizations as methodological tools
From Claire Sowton
This event took place on Thursday 19th May 2022
Karmijn van de Oudeweetering, KU Leuven, Belgium
Standing in a long tradition of efforts to ‘open up’ education, the Open Education (OE) movement is marked by the promise of unlimited, equal, and free access to online forms of educational content and practice, including Open CourseWare (OCW), Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). This promise, articulated by the statement that online learning can be done by ‘anyone, anywhere at any time’, is already challenged by various theoretical and empirical contributions that highlight how online learning involves specific people, situated in specific places and in specific moments. In other words, OE initiatives do not seem to be free of borders and closures as much as is proclaimed. However, due to the diffuse and heterogeneous nature of OE, it has been difficult to map who and what is (not) involved in OE initiatives, and the kinds of open or closed spaces and times emerge from their participation. This means that there is still a lot to learn about the forms of education that OE inspires, and what openings and what borders they manifest.
In this presentation, I will introduce the theoretical-methodological tools that are developed throughout my PhD research to study the borders and closures that generate forms of Open Education. These tools include concepts and methods that are mainly informed by topology, a surging approach in the field of education that tries to understand how online and digital forms of learning imply new forms of space-time, and new kinds of borders. I will show how I developed and applied the methodological tools throughout empirical case studies of European Open Education initiatives: MOOCs4Inclusion, the European Multiple MOOC Aggregator and a European Virtual Exchange format . I will give an overview of case studies and their findings to explain the central role of the user interface in the topological methodology. Moreover, it will be shown how graphical visualizations supported the analysis of different borders and (open/closed) forms of space-time generated through the interaction with(in) OE initiatives.
Karmijn van de Oudeweetering is a PhD researcher at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her research queries borders of Open Education, especially in relation to Europe(ean) education, through the use of innovative topological approaches.