Strengthening democracy through open education

Strengthening democracy through open education Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   Open education is the policy and practice of broadening access to allow greater participation in lifelong learning and tertiary education. It is based on the principle that everyone has a right to benefit from educational resources. The term 'open' is a term that implies the reduction or elimination of barriers (cost, distance, access) that allows for greater participation in high-quality educational processes, and ideally, the re-use and re-purposing of educational resources. Thus, the two main criteria of open education are that they are open and free. TJ Bliss and I, together with several educational scholars from around the world, examine these and other issues in the book, Open Education: International perspectives in higher education. Democratising knowledge In the modern era, the Printing Revolution marked the first major step towards democratising knowledge and enabling mass learning....

Higher education as a multi-purpose enterprise

Higher education as a multi-purpose enterprise Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Globalisation is a socio-politico-economic phenomenon that, some would argue, has eclipsed post-modernism and post-structuralism as a framework for explaining the development of the modern world over the past several decades. Whereas post-structuralism stresses the instability and complexity of human relations within a historical interpretive framework, the closely related framework of post-modernism stresses the uncertainty and subjectivity associated with interpreting social reality. Globalisation, with its emphasis on increased integration, interaction and connectivity, also provides a plausible framework for explaining the development of global higher education. Globalisation’s impact on the world A nation is a socio-cultural construct and a state is a geo-political construct. Thus, a nation-state is formed when these two constructs overlap. As such, a nation-state can be viewed as a country consisting of a largely homogenous culture under a single government, that is, a state...

Towards an inclusive global knowledge society

Towards an inclusive global knowledge society Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association The second half of the 20th century was characterised as a period of enormous expansion of higher education worldwide, especially through opening access by removing long-standing ethnic, gender and class barriers. As a result, the first half of the 21st century of higher education will most likely be characterised by its remarkable heterogeneity in terms of student diversity and institutional diversification. Higher education today reflects a system that has not only emerged into a more democratised system but also into a global power system. Core issues in democratisation The principles of democratisation impact on every part of higher education at both the macro and micro levels – not just access issues but also governance, management, policies, structures, processes and other core functions of higher education. The process of democratisation has led to a diversification of institutional...

Why global higher education must be democratised

Why Global Higher Education must be Democratised Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association In the broadest sense of the word, democratization is the application of democratic principles and the process of transitioning to a system based on such principles. Thus, the principles of democracy can be applied to any structure or system, not strictly governmental or political systems. The core universal principles of democracy include freedom, responsibility, and the equality and protection of universal human rights. Individual freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin known as personal agency – the extent to which agency is allowed to develop is the degree to which self-determination is afforded to people. A human right is a birthright that every human being is entitled to by virtue of being human – the extent to which rights are protected determines the degree to which justice is afforded to people....

Lifelong Education as an Equalizer

Lifelong Education as an Equalizer Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Throughout much of human history hereditary privilege was often used as a means of organising society (for example, politically, economically and socially) and allocating resources. Hereditary privilege was not determined by one’s talents or skills or motivation or any other self-determining factor but rather by the class, gender and race one was born into. In other words, throughout much of human history, one’s status within society and one’s lot in life, to a large degree, was determined primarily by factors beyond one’s own control. Revolutions upset the established order The hereditary systems of power and privilege tended to create a system wherein the ruling class benefited by maintaining the status quo and by maintaining a monopoly over how resources were allocated within society. This is not surprising since established orders have a vested interest in maintaining...

The World Needs More International Higher Education

The World Needs More International Higher Education Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Internationalisation is the adaptive strategic response of an institution or nation to the forces of globalisation, which itself is a process of increasing interdependence and interconnectedness between countries. No country or sector or institution is immune from the process of globalisation, including higher education. More internationalisation naturally leads to more globalisation, thus creating a virtuous cycle, which helps explain the increasing pace of change of the two phenomena. Internationalisation involves both push and pull factors and, as such, it is both a planned response and a reactive process by institutions (ie, both a cause and effect). Internationalisation can also be viewed as the integration of globalisation into the tripartite mission – teaching, research, service – of the university. This response is operationalised through an institution’s formal internationalisation strategy – an institutional plan with specific...

Why Universal and Life-Long Higher Education is the Next Step in Advancing the Social Contract

Why Universal and Life-Long Higher Education is the Next Step in Advancing the Social Contract Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Nearly a century after John Dewey published the landmark book Democracy and Education, the principles of learning he espoused for democratic societies are applicable to higher education. He saw education as the primary vehicle through which democracies develop socially responsible citizens, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to become full participants in the economy and democratic social order. By now it is clear that, in an increasingly complex and risk-filled world, all citizens require increasingly prolonged periods of learning beyond basic schooling. Higher education for all becomes a gateway to lifetimes of learning. The Rapid Transformation of Higher Education For most of its 800 year history, higher education has progressed at an evolutionary pace, but changes have come at a faster pace in the past...

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