Sydney School of Education and Social Work events - 2013 Archive

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Forging futures

18 September 2013

Forging futures: how the concept of the social imaginary can help make open access education a movement worth supporting

Join us on September 18 for a CoCo Seminar by Sandra Peter and Lesley Farrell titled “Forging futures: how the concept of the social imaginary can help make open access education a movement worth supporting”

Starting with MIT’s OpenCourseWare, OERs have been the major open education movement of the past decade. However, since Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence course gained public attention at the end of 2011, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have emerged as the new trend.

Commercial start-ups (e.g. Coursera) have entered the scene, promising free access to anyone, anywhere at any time. The New York Times called 2012 “The Year of the MOOC” and many commentators claim that we are in midst of an unparalleled revolution in education.

Media coverage and public discourse of open education provide a particular challenge to research as the new ‘education revolution’ is in the process of transforming, fragmenting, and reorganising itself.

If we wish to influence the way this trend develops we need to understand what kinds of phenomena we are dealing with, and where the points of productive intervention might be. We argue that the juggernaut of Open Access is at least as much a social phenomenon as a technological one and that we need to employ appropriate conceptual resources to engage with it.

In this presentation we explore how the notion of social imaginary can provide a useful metaphor/framework for examining this newest manifestation of emerging open access. We sketch out the imaginaries around open access and examine how they are currently being shaped in the media in conversations around MOOCs, ongoing debates around the meaning, role, value and future of higher education as well as ideas of openness and globalisation.

We analyse the unsettling paradox that current developments have the potential to on the one hand to greatly increase access by forming and informing the imaginings and life practices of potential learners, on the other to put us on a path to a more closed education system.

This seminar will be available live online at

Event details

  • When: 11.00am - 12.30pm
  • Where:

    Education Building (A35)

    Room 230

  • Cost: Free
  • Contact:

    Patricia Thibaut Paez


  • More info: Arrive 10.45am for refreshments
  • Speaker/ Performer:

    Sandra Peter is a lecturer at the University of Sydney Business School. Her research focus is on access to education, focusing particularly on the potential opening up of access to higher education that open educational initiatives (e.g. OERs, MOOCs) seem to offer, in the context of an ambiguously bounded, emerging, global education.

    Lesley Farrell is professor and Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her research focus is on the impacts of globalisation on local workforces and work practices and on knowledge mobilisation across spatial and temporal domains.

Forging futures


Education Building (A35)

Room 230


18 September 2013

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