Activity 3: The playpen versus the open digital waves of knowledge

by Inger-Marie Christensen

I’ve been looking at the different representations of open education that have already been posted on blogs and in the discussion forum. Coming from quite a formal educational setting at the University of Southern Denmark, I wonder how open education will work in practice. How do you drive learning forward without fixed structures and (perhaps strict) guidelines and deadlines?

But already at this point, only a week into the open education course, I can see how the fixed structures that our students are exposed to might also be perceived as a  playpen: a fixed framework that you need to act and learn within. It may be fun for a while, but there also seems to be issues concerning how best to motivate and engage students within the existing framework. I was quite struck by the Open Education Image posted by  with the simple but very provocative caption “The difference between choice and spoonfeeding”. I do see the point of this comparison; formal education is well-prepared and cut into pieces so that it can be “fed” to students. However, they don’t always like the flavour. And it happens that the piece is too big, and students choke on it.

What is the added benefit then of open education? Escape from the playpen and freedom of choice to find and ride the open digital wave of knowledge that fits your current needs and interests? But beware of sharks!


Have a closer look via this link:

2 thoughts on “Activity 3: The playpen versus the open digital waves of knowledge

  1. Very nice! I like the image of riding the waves. That’s how I feel in an open educational environment (in my limited experience with such things so far). I feel like I’m alternatively engaged, excited, moving along rapidly, and then sometimes in the doldrums, stagnant–depending on the topics/activities at hand. But that’s okay IF the situation is one where being engaged in all the content and activities is not necessary, if the course is one you can dip into and out of without penalty. If not, then yes, these issues can bite you. Thanks for this nice way of thinking about the issues.

    • Hi Christina
      Thanks for your comment. I’m happy to hear that you found my visualisation useful. I think that I was quite preoccupied with the digital skills needed to participate in an open, online course. Much like surfing. It takes skill to ride the waves and not just sink to the bottom of the ocean 🙂 And yes, fortunately there is the exitement and also the possibility to withdraw for a short period of time to catch your breath,

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