Openness and innovation in online higher education:A historical review of the two discourses

Lee, Kyungmee (2020) Openness and innovation in online higher education:A historical review of the two discourses. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning. ISSN 0268-0513

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This article tackles a critical question of “to what extent can online higher education (HE) be open and innovative at the same time?” To provide a more comprehensive answer to the question, the author takes up a notion of discourse and situates the analysis in a specific online HE setting: Athabasca University (AU). In this article, the author first unpacks how the openness and innovation discourses originally emerged in AU throughout its early years and how the original conceptualization of the two and their relationships have shifted in the more recent years. The results demonstrate that there has been an increasing level of discontinuity between the conceptualization of openness and innovation as independent principles and the operationalization of the two as competing principles in course design practices in AU. Being fully open to diverse student groups and being technologically innovative by integrating a state-of-the-art technology cannot be achieved in a single online course. In addition, being pedagogically innovative by increasing interactivity among students while maintaining the same level of flexibility provided by the independent study model seems very challenging. This article also discusses the institutional conditions that make teaching-oriented innovation more difficult to be achieved.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Open Learning on 14/01/2020, available online:
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05 Dec 2019 13:30
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 08:29