5. Open education


The move towards ‘openness’ in education has accelerated in recent years with a number of high profile institutional initiatives such as the MIT OpenCourseware project and  there is now a growing body of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) offered by a number of institutions around the globe which not only give access to free educational courseware, such as images, video, audio and other assets to educators and learners worldwide, without an accompanying need to pay royalties or licence fees but also provide opportunities for open access participation and learning in course settings via for example Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) which often attract large numbers of participants. The OER and OEP have emerged as a concept with great potential to support educational transformation as well as provide extended opportunities for learning in non-formal settings. In this topic we explore the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning more generally and looks at ways in which educators and learners can harness and benefit from a plethora of open opportunities to engage and re-engage in learning but also to explore how OER and OEP can be re-purposed, adapted and contextualised for specific learning and teaching situations.

Scenario (as an animation, text and audio)

“I spend a lot of time preparing resources for my sessions and my students and they find them really useful. Many times I thought to share them with colleagues but nobody came to me and gave me anything for free. So, why should I? I had to work hard, and am still working hard to create these resources. Increasingly I hear that we should share more and while I share openly with my students, I feel extremely uncomfortable letting others use my materials. Should they not create their own?” I don’t really understand what the benefits of Open Educational Resources are? It looks to me as if OERs are becoming an easy solution, or quick fix for teachers. Really not sure what this is all about… and then this fascinating with doing everything in the open? What is this all about?”

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  1. discuss open educational resources and open educational practices
  2. reflect on open educational resources/open educational practices and how these relate to your own practice
  3. discuss some of the literature about open education.

Pick ‘n’ mix activities

Definitely do one of the following activities! If you are learning within a group consider carrying out one of the below as a collaborative task. Remember to share on Twitter and in the other community spaces.

1. Responding: Create a response to the scenario on your own or with others based on the discoveries you made through investigating this. Remember, you could use FISh. (ilo-1)

2. Reflecting: Think about open educational resources and/or open educational practices and reflect on your current situation. Where are the challenges and opportunities? What could you do and what difference could this potentially make to your students? (ilo-2)

3. Making: Create a digital story after you have read an article/chapter of the suggested materials (see below). You can do this on your own or with others. (ilo-3)

Suggested readings

1. Open. The philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science, edited by Rajiv S. Jhangiani & Robert Biswas-Diener, available here

2. The battle for open by Martin Weller, available here

3. Using an ‘open approach’ to create a new, innovative higher education model by Susan Huggins and Peter Smith, available here

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