Revolutions in Higher Education: How Many Dimensions of Openness?
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Empire State College, State University of New York “All College” "Open Learning: Reflecting on the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Creating the Future" The Ernest Boyer Lecture, 23 March 2011, Revolutions in higher education: how many dimensions of openness? Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning // Ernest Boyer was that unusual combination in higher education: an impeccably establishment figure who was also a consistent innovator. He joined SUNY in 1965 as winds of change began to blow open the doors to higher education, and as its Chancellor he created Empire State College (ESC) in 1971 so that people could take degree courses without attending classes. That same year, in Britain, the Open University (UKOU) inaugurated its distance learning system with a first cohort of 25,000 students. // Both ESC and the UKOU were revolutionary. ESC opened up the curriculum so that people could design their own programs, whereas the UKOU abolished all academic prerequisites for entry. These initiatives sparked a wave of innovation around the world, although the emergence of the blanket term ‘open and distance learning’ conflated two essentially different concepts and obscured the variety of ways in which higher education could become more open. // The Internet has further increased the dimensions of openness. The ideal of a global intellectual commons is becoming reality as the licensing of content as Open Educational Resources (OER) makes it possible for students and faculty to find and adapt quality learning materials on almost any subject. Social media are creating a movement toward open educational practices where assessment and credentialing can be collaborative endeavors. // Is what is possible always desirable? Drawing on his experience as an academic and university president in North America and Europe, as well as his leadership roles in international educational organizations (UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning) the author will distinguish between revolutions and fads. What are the dimensions of openness that must be combined to provide sustainable and credible higher education in the 21st century?
- 2011-2015 
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