Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist, EdNews.org, An Interview with Morten Flate Paulsen: Transparency in Online Education
To start my research on transparency in online education, I began to read the interview of Professor Morten Paulsen on the subject. The professor argues that transparency improves quality in online education with the following three effects:
1. Preventive quality improvement because we are prone to provide better quality when we know that others have access to our work;
2. Constructive quality improvement because we may learn from others when we have access to their work;
3. Reactive quality improvement because we may receive feedback from others when they have access to our work.
To answer the question about transparency promoted cooperation in online education, Professor Paulsen argues that people feel more inclined to cooperate if they have access to information of each other. Also reports cases of education in NKI and at Universidade Aberta. In this last one, students have public blogs in which publish their work, which can be seen not only by colleagues in the course but also by all who visit the page. Finally, the professor admits that there is a moral and ethical challenge to find the balance between transparency and privacy.
Transparency in Cooperative Online Education
Dalsgaard, Christian; Paulsen, Morten Flate
June – 2009
This is one of the articles pointed by Professor Paulsen in his interview. It was written by him and Christian Dalsgaard. This article gives us a perception about the importance of transparency in cooperative education and how it can improve the quality of online education through specific examples like the case of NKI. The authors begin by distinguishing between individual learning, collaborative and cooperative. Assuming that the networking does not necessarily involve dialogue and collaboration, Dalsgaard and Paulsen argue that "information transparent could be a huge cooperative resource" because it makes communication possible since those involved in not known each other in most cases but follow the work of each other.
One of the processes that can promote the existence of transparency is to create profiles where students describe and show their interests whether as personal, professional or as students.
They also states "Transparency may reduce the number of low quality contributions and may make high quality work more accessible as paragons for others. In transparent online learning environments, poor contributions from teachers and course designers cannot be hidden easily behind closed doors. It is important to realize that transparency must be handled carefully with regard to privacy issues. The users must be confident that their privacy is assured. They should be able to choose their preferred privacy level and understand how this choice controls how much of their personal data and contributions will be available to others".
In conclusion the authors affirm that “the potential of social networking lies within transparency and the ability to create awareness among students”.
October 20, 2009
Christopher Hill presented the draft Transparency by Design, an initiative that is based on the premise that an informed student brings benefits to everyone. He presents the conclusions of Merle Harris, president of Charter Oaks State College, about the existence of a few basic principles for institutions that really want to be transparent. They are: make distance education a central element of your mission; accountability to stakeholders and responsiveness.
We can also find information about Transparency by Design on the interview about quality, access and transparency in higher education with Dr. Mike Offerman Vice-Chairman and President Emeritus of Capella University and author of the highly regarded blog, The Other 85 Percent.
In this article, the author presents the experience that he had on CCK08 and how the value of transparent learning became more apparent to him. He argues that “the real value of the course was in fostering connections between learners and concepts. We haven’t follow up to see if the networks formed during the course continue to exist. I’m aware of several clusters of learners that are still involved in dialogue on Twitter, some who are conducting research on the course, and others who are active in commenting on the blogs of learners they met in the course. For each of these learners, CCK08 was important not only for the content discussed, but for the relationships and connections that were formed and continue to provide a source of inspiration”.
“Transparency in expressing our understanding, our frustrations, and our insights helps others who are at a similar stage. Yes, we’ll participate in the broader discussions held by experts in time, but lurking is no excuse to deny others (who are also new to the field) our progressive insights”.
I cannot agree more with him. People can learn a lot from more skilled and knowledgeable partners but they can also learn by sharing thoughts ideas, doubts and frustrations with their peers.
I had never reflected on transparency in education and in the case of Online Education, strikes me as extremely important. Know some information of our colleagues and also be able to monitor their learning process helps us as students in our own process. The sharing of resources, experiences, tastes, fears, information, questions or work with colleagues promotes the quality of learning and thus education.