Open Education

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Introduction and Definitions

Introducing Open Education

Open Education (OE) is an umbrella term as Open Science is. It is thus diverse and connected to many fields and domains, all having in common the “Open” aspect.

Understanding "Openness" is an on-going process tackled from many perspectives. Baker (2017) suggests an operational definition of openness as possessing freedom and transparency. The remaining values of sharing, co-creating, responsibility, agency, ubiquitous ownership, access, respect, etc. unfold from these fundamental two.

We deliberately take the position of dissociating Open values from technology: openness far exceeds technology.

Open Education is usually about considering education as a common good, a commons. It is a call to reconsider education as a whole, e.g. the entire formal system from admission to certification, so-called informal education, life-long learning education, etc.

When much has been said about openness in OE, what about education? How should education be understood? To what extent does Open Education offer us an opportunity to actually revisit Education?

Variety of definitions

Some examples of definitions:

  • Open Education Global "envisions a world where everyone, everywhere has access to the high-quality education and training they desire; where education is seen as an essential, shared, and collaborative social good".
  • The European Commission considers OE as going "beyond open educational resources (OER) and open research outputs to embrace strategic decisions, teaching methods, collaboration between individuals and institutions, recognition of non-formal learning and different ways of making content available". "Its aim is to widen access and participation to everyone by removing barriers and making learning accessible, abundant, and customisable for all. It offers multiple ways of teaching and learning, building and sharing knowledge. It also provides a variety of access routes to formal and non-formal education, and connects".
  • The Year of Open lists several definitions.
  • Peters, M. A. (2017): "Open education involves a commitment to openness and is therefore inevitably a political and social project. The concept of openness in regard to education predates the openness movement that begins with free software and open source in the mid 1980s with roots going back to the Enlightenment that are bound up with the philosophical foundations of modern education with its commitments to freedom, citizenship, knowledge for all, social progress, and individual transformation. Yet in another way political, social, and technological developments have taken place in parallel alongside the history of the movement of open education that have heightened certain political and epistemological features and technologically enabled others that emphasize questions of access to knowledge, the coproduction and codesign of educational programs and of knowledge, the sharing, use, reuse, and modification of resources while enhancing the ethics of participation and collaboration. Open education as a movement sits within the broader framework of the history of openness that brings together a number of disciplines and fields to impact directly upon the value of knowledge and learning, their geographic distribution and ownership, and their organization (Peters and Britez 2008; Peters and Roberts 2012; Deimann and Peters 2015)".
  • Scholars working on a roadmap for OE in Swiss HEIs say: "It is neither synonymous of free nor of extractive approaches. It strives to find sustainable models at all levels – epistemic, legal, social, economic, political, ecologic, infrastructure, etc. Open Education represents an alternative approach that exists since the Middle Ages and is at the heart of the establishment of European universities (see for ex. Peter & Deimann, 2013, p. 9). It is a means (Paola Corti, 2022, private communication) to foster knowledge societies by leveraging collective human intelligence".

History of OE

Open Education has been conceptualised in the Global North and the short history presented here is based on articles written in English. Nevertheless, the Wikipedia page, reaching out to different languages, gives a glimpse into the wealth that must exist in other languages. The concept exists in other cultures under a variation of forms and languages but has not reached us yet - the decade of indigenous languages may be a lever to let this knowledge emerge (UNESCO, 2020).

This short history of OE is mainly based on three sources and its aim is to summarise the story of openness in education from the Middle Ages to the present day, focusing on OE values and not on enabling technologies (Baker, 2017; Peter & Deimann, 2013; Weller, 2014).

In 1373, as the population became more literate, in Florence, people asked for public lectures on Dante. The universities of Paris, Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge thus emerged, shaped by their students and their demands for lectures. At this time, openness was driven by internationally mobile students and scholars and was based on a growing curiosity and awareness of the value of education. In addition, in the years 1450, the book was socially perceived as a way to bypass state and religious authority, which allowed the printing press to develop rapidly.

By the late 1500s, access to knowledge and study was quite different and restricted. The pope and the king changed the nature of the university to a controlled institution under their authority. A transfer of power took place in addition to collecting fees from students. Universities became increasingly tied to a permanent location and a state, gradually losing their international scholars and students.

In the 17th century, cafés were places where knowledge was shared and discussions on science, religion, economics and literature took place. In these places, ideas related to the scientific revolution spread, while universities continued to teach the old doctrines. This discrepancy gave rise to a distrust in public institutions.

The 18th century was characterised by men’s increasing literacy. Among the lower social classes, mutual education was established, which gave rise to self-learning associations. It is in this social context that in 1836 the University of London opened its courses to all social classes, without distinction, to disseminate liberal education. From the end of the 19th century until the end of the Second World War, miners established “workmen’s institutes” (Peter & Deimann, 2013, p. 10) in each village, with a library as central place. And “the 20th century continued to see education “open” as the belief in the people’s right to access society’s knowledge grew” (Peter & Deimann, 2013, p. 10).

In the late 1960s, the concept of Open Education surfaced strongly in the United States. Openness and freedom guided discussions about the role of education in society because public school was seen as oppressive and perpetuating racism, elitism and other authoritarian social norms. In the 1960s and 1970s, the classroom was a place under the authority of the teacher who had full power. An open society was called for in which all cultures would be nurtured. The mainstream approach is that learners learn in interaction with others and their environment. In addition, learners' interests should dictate their own education and they should be trusted and encouraged to think by themselves. By the mid-1970s, the open movement had lost momentum for a number of reasons – e.g. confusion about the approach, unaligned research results, scholars promising results beyond reality.

It has lost mementum also because of the emergence of computing and IT synonymous, at that time, of freedom. In education, approaches like constructionism promoted by Papert, boosted the conceptualisation of education in new models, away from an environment under the authority of the teacher.

In the 1980s, technology starts to override values. It is in those years that an acceleration of change has been observed, driven in particular by technological developments. In various reports of leading organisations, e.g. World Bank, OECD, WEF, changes are systematically presented primarily as the product of digital technology and capitalist economy. It is interesting to notice that "free" for example starts to mean "gratis" and no longer refers to the freedom to act and grow.

Throughout these 700 years, we can see periods of freedom and transparency in the dissemination of knowledge animated by empowered learners alternating with periods of public and/or ecclesiastic control on knowledge. Technology, e.g. print, railway, computers, internet, played and currently play a role in both movements – freedom and control.

With regard to scholars who are said to have contributed to the OE paradigm, we can mention (non exhaustive list): Maria Montessori, Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich, Jacques Rancière.


To introduce OE in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), some useful frameworks have been shared (non exhaustive list below). Frameworks address : an overall approach and strategy; policy; quality; educators' OE competencies; OE Practices for social justice; educators' Open values; and Open thinking.

Overall OE implementation framework

Inamorato dos Santos, A., Punie, Y., & Castaño Muñoz, J. (2016). Opening up education. A support framework for higher education institutions.

“The 10 dimensions of the framework are divided into two categories: core dimensions and transversal dimensions. There are 6 core dimensions (access, content, pedagogy, recognition, collaboration and research) and 4 transversal dimensions (strategy, technology, quality and leadership). All dimensions are interrelated; the core dimensions are not more important than the transversal ones. Core dimensions represent the 'what' of open education and transversal dimensions indicate `how’ to achieve it.”(Inamorato dos Santos, 2019, p. 7)

Open Education Framework by Inamorato dos Santos et al. 2016
The 10 dimensions of open education. Inamorato dos Santos, A., Punie, Y., & Castaño Muñoz, J. (2016).

OE Policy framework

Atenas, J., Haverman, L., Cronin, C., Rodés, V., Lesko, I., Stacey, P., Feliu-Torruella, M., Buck, E., Amiel, T., Orlic, D., Stefanelli, C., & Villar, D. (2022). Defining and developing ‘enabling’ Open Education Policies in higher education.

"Key elements of OE policies are identified: capacity building; learning accreditation/credit transfer; access and inclusivity; diverse access to knowledge; platform governance; and fostering a culture of openness. OE policies, whether standalone or incorporated into a wider openness policy, should be designed to cohere with other policies addressing open content and practices. This brief seeks to promote the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in institutional policymaking process via a co-creation approach".

Key elements of OE policies
Key elements of OE policies. Atenas et al. (2022)
Developing an enabling Open Education policy
Developing an enabling Open Education policy. Atenas et al. (2022)

Quality in open, online and flexible learning

Ossiannilsson, E. (2020). Quality Models for Open, Flexible, and Online Learning. Journal of Computer Science Research, 2(4).

"This article is based on research conducted for the European Commission Education & Training 2020 working group on digital and online learning (ET2020 WG-DOL) specifically regarding policy challenges, such as the following: 1) Targeted policy guidance on innovative and open learning environments under outcome; 2) Proposal for a quality assurance model for open and innovative learning environments, its impact on specific assessment frameworks and its implication for EU recognition and transparency instruments. The article aims to define quality in open, flexible, and online learning, particularly in open education, open educational resources (OER), and massive open online courses (MOOC). [...] Finally, the article discusses the rationale and need for a model of quality in open, flexible, and online learning based on three major criteria for quality: excellence, impact, and implementation from the learner’s perspective."

Quality dimensions from the learner’s perspective on the three domains of Open Online Learning (OOL), Open Educational Resources (OER) and MOOC.
Quality dimensions from the learner’s perspective on the three domains of Open Online Learning (OOL), Open Educational Resources (OER) and MOOC. From Ossiannilsson (2020)


Halavais, A. (2012). A genealogy of badges. Information, Communication & Society reminds us the history of badges and the extent to which micro-credentials directly derived from badges. He draws our attention on the fact that basically, there are two types of credentials that exist: on one hand the recognition of a deep learning experience and on the other hand the recognition of the acquistion of a skill. Both require different designs.

Making intention clear when designing a learning sequence is a priority

Currently, several initiatives towards offering and recognising micro-crendentials exist worldwide to offer flexible and lifelong learning opportunities. Two are presented below.

McGreal, R., Mackintosh, W., Cox, G., & Olcott, D. (2022). Bridging the Gap: Micro-credentials for Development: UNESCO Chairs Policy Brief Form - Under the III World Higher Education Conference (WHEC 2021) Type: Collective X. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 23(3), 288-302.

Micro-credentials are important in ensuring the acceptance and stackability of credentials from different institutions, while providing employers with a secure and unalterable, permanent digital record of applicants' abilities to perform skills of high value in the workplace. The OERu (Open Educational Resources universitas) provides an example of how one international consortium implements microcredentials, allowing for maximum transferability among institutions in different countries. The list of recommendations is addressed to institutions (how to adopt, develop, provide and maintain a micro-credentials approach), governments (acreditation agencies, funding, self-managed by learners digital systems), UNESCO and NGOs (policy guidelines, database of international initiatives).

In July 2022, the European Commission has issued recommendations on micro-credentials.

European standard elements to describe a micro-credential
European standard elements to describe a micro-credential. From European Commission

The team of the Open University UK has developed a framework: Iniesto, F., Ferguson, R., Weller, M., Farrow, R., & Pitt, R. (2022). Introducing A Reflective Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Microcredentials. The Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association Journal, 2(2), 1-24.

Educators' OE competencies

Padilla-Zea, N., Burgos, D., García-Holgado, A., García-Peñalvo, F. J., Harquevaux, M. P., de-la-Higuera, C., Brunton, J., & Tlili, A. (2022). Catch the Open! A Gamified Interactive Immersion Into Open Educational Practices for Higher Education Educators. Frontiers in Psychology, 13.

"Catch the Open! targets HE educators who wish to learn, or who wish to deepen their existing knowledge, about OE and Open Educational Practices (OEP). Within the gamified learning experience, the user becomes an educator, Alex, the game character, who receives a task from the Rector: to investigate how to best include OE and OEP in teaching and learning practice bwithin the institution. [...] Catch the Open! targets HE educators who wish to learn, or who wish to deepen their existing knowledge, about OE and Open Educational Practices (OEP). Within the gamified learning experience, the user becomes an educator, Alex, the game character, who receives a task from the Rector: to investigate how to best include OE and OEP in teaching and learning practice within the institution".

Module identification, module title, competences, and learning units.
Module identification, module title, competences, and learning units. From Padilla-Zea et al. (2022)

Value-First framework in Open Pedagogy

Werth, E., & Williams, K. (2022). The why of open pedagogy: a value-first conceptualization for enhancing instructor praxis. Smart Learning Environments, 9(1), 10.

"This article seeks to explore the gap between theory and practice by examining how the use of terms within the open education space may create barriers for instructors new to the concept. The authors of this article argue that the most effective approach to creating momentum toward practices associated with Open Pedagogy is to begin with an alignment of an instructor’s values with the attributes of an open educator.The result is a visual aid useful for an instructor’s self-assessment or in collaboration with curriculum designers to identify a logical start point for an instructor as they begin their movement from a more traditional to an open approach."

Values assessed by Subject Matter Experts to be associated with open pedagogy elements, the value-first framework. Werth et al. 2022

Open Educational Practices for social justice

Bali, M., Cronin, C., & Jhangiani, R. S. (2020). Framing Open Educational Practices from a Social Justice Perspective. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 1.

"This article attempts to build on existing OEP research and practice in two ways. First, we provide a typology of OEP, giving examples of practices across a continuum of openness and along three axes: from content-centric to process-centric, teacher-centric to learner-centric, and practices that are primarily for pedagogical purposes to primarily for social justice (Bali 2017). Second, we employ Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter’s (2018) conceptual framework, which builds on Fraser’s model of social justice, to critically analyse the ways in which the use/impact of OEP might be considered socially just, with a particular focus on expansive, process-centric OEP. We analyze for whom and in which contexts OEP can (i) support social justice along economic, cultural and political dimensions, and (ii) do so in transformative, ameliorative, neutral or even negative ways. We use the typology and framework to analyse specific process-centric forms of OEP including collaborative annotation, Wikipedia editing, open networked courses, Virtually Connecting, public scholarship, and learner-created OER."

Open Thinking scale

Jung, I., & Lee, J. (2022). Open thinking as a learning outcome of open education: scale development and validation. Distance Education, 43(1), 119-138.

"Aim: develop and validate a multidimensional open thinking scale (OTS) in order to measure adult learners’ open thinking as a key learning outcome of open educational practices (OEP) through a three-phase process of item generation, theoretical analysis, and psychometric analysis. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of data from 610 students in 24 countries revealed a clear structure consisting of six constructs of open thinking: openness to multiple perspectives, openness to new learning, openness to collaboration, openness to sharing, openness to change, and openness to diversity and inclusion".

  1. Openness to new perspectives: Reverse of omniscient authority; Reverse of certain knowledge; Reality as dynamic and changing; Reality as multifaceted; Open to revise beliefs if discovered wrong
  2. Openness to different ways of learning: Openness to opportunities; Initiative and independence; Positive future; Less value on academic degree; Diverse sources of learning; Global mind
  3. Openness to collaboration: Collaborative learning style;
  4. Openness to sharing: Attitude toward sharing resources; Openness to change; Adapting to new learning situations; Positive perception of change; Change seeking; Technology acceptance
  5. Openness to change: Adapting to new learning situations; Positive perception of change; Change seeking; Technology acceptance
  6. Openness to diversity and inclusion: Value or appreciation; Learning or knowledge; Intercultural interaction; Social justice; Discipline practice

Reflecting about potential underlying epistemologies of OE

Opening up the knowledge creation process

How academic knowledge was gained and research conducted in the recent past (approximately two centuries) is questioned today (e.g. Framework for Open and Reproducible Research Training, FORTT). Several research domains - e.g. social studies of sciences, history of sciences, decolonising studies – criticise it for conveying “institutional positivism” (Piron, 2019). The gaining interest of epistemic justice as a research and social topic is an example of this movement (e.g. Eve & Gray, 2020; Kidd, Medina & Pohlhaus, 2017) against prevalent scientific knowledge production models.

UNESCO (2021)’s recent Open Science definition is also very insightful in this respect. It stresses the importance of acknowledging the diversity of knowledge: "open science is defined as an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. It comprises all scientific disciplines and aspects of scholarly practices, including basic and applied sciences, natural and social sciences and the humanities, and it builds on the following key pillars: open scientific knowledge, open science infrastructures, science communication, open engagement of societal actors and open dialogue with other knowledge systems".

Epistemologies and conceptual frameworks

Research method textbook commonly cite positivism, constructivism, the transformative view and pragmatism as the main epistemologies (e.g. Creswell & Cresswell, 2018).

The GO-GN research method handbook and their Conceptual Frameworks Guide or the Guide décolonisé de formation à la recherche en sciences sociales et humaines reach out to many more epistemologies and framework (e.g. Critical / Transformational methods; Value Creation Framework; Activity theory; Sociological Theories of Power).

To their long list, we would like to add: actor-network theory / sociomateriality (Latour, 2006), epistemology of the link (Piron, 2019), Ubu-ntu (Ramose, 2015), sociology of absences and emergences (Santos, 2016) and buen vivir (Arauz, 2022).

For a very brief overview of these epistemologies, let us mention that Actor-network theory (ANT) is part of sociomateriality. Sociomaterial approaches share three common components. First, they study the system as one entire entity, composed of entangled human and non-human action and knowledge. Second, they focus on interactions and mediations - not on individuals or artefacts. Third, they consider knowledge and learning as embodied and embedded in actions and interactions (Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuk, 2012). No hierarchy exist and certainly no privileged position for the human over the non-human. Binary categories such as usually discussed - agency-structure; subject-object; theory-practice - are considered not appropriate. The purpose of sociomaterial approaches is related to boundary-making processes and featuring out those which create knowledge. Key technical terms of this approach are assembling / reassembling, dynamics of entities, and, connections, with the aim of tracing how knowledge is produced. ANT in education research addresses flows, connections and interactions between human and material objects enacted for the purpose of learning with the aim of understanding how knowledge is produced (Fenwick, et al., 2012).

Epistemology of the link is inspired from Edgard Morin’s concept of “reliance” (from the French “lier”, linking). It is characterised by thinking in interaction with the human mankind to prevent isolation and considers thinking as an endeavour to make sense in interaction with others. It is on the move, interpretative, connecting, linking and is totally different from dogmas learnt by heart and repeated. It calls upon social and epistemic justice for a humanising science that makes sense in our world and connects ideas and beings (Piron, 2019). It is a call to cease the injunction of separation between the researcher and the object of research that is prevalent in Western epistemic traditions. It is an epistemology in the making that relies on Santos (2016 cited by Piron) call for an ecology of knowledge, an ecosystem in which diverse types of knowledge, without hierarchy, are in dialogue (Piron, 2017, p. 46).

Epistemology of Ubuntu, translated as humanness, “suggests both a condition of being and the state of becoming, of openness or ceaseless unfolding”(Ramose, 2015, p. 69). Ubuntu considers “the universe as a complex wholeness involving the multi-layered and incessant interaction of all entities” (Ramose, 2015, p. 69) – human beings, physical or objective nature. The three driving insights of Ubuntu are: 1) constant motion of “wholes” from generation to death to regeneration; 2) human dignity; 3) mutual care and sharing between human beings and physical nature (Ramose, 2015). See also the course on Ubuntu within the Become an Open Educator Influencer initiative.

The sociology of absences and emergences is an approach suggested by Boaventura de Sousa Santos. “Sociology of absences focuses on social experiments to explore what exists of the South that is independent from the North/South constructed dichotomy. It is about researching, with non-modern mindsets and epistemologies what exists beyond the abyssal line (Santos, 2016, p. 251 and following). Sociology of emergences aims to symbolically increase the importance of knowledge, practices and actors to identify future trends, on which it is possible to increase the probability of hope against the probability of frustration. It acts on possibilities (potentials) and capacities (legitimate authority, power) and focuses on care, without being deterministic” (Class, 2022).

The buen vivir indigenous approach of Latin America is about enabling the permanency of cultural and environmental diversity; it is harmony, equality, equity and solidarity. It is not the quest for opulence or infinite economic growth. It is not extractivist (Arauz 2022).

From epistemologies to theories

From these epistemologies, theories engaging in totally new worldviews and opening new horizons for learning are (re)emerging. The main one is the theory of abundance. It moves away from scarcity and its keyword is “enough”. Enough open and quality networks, resources, institutions, etc. to learn from and be able to grow as a responsible citizen in a knowledge economy in all the places on earth (Caron, 2020; Hoeschele, 2010).

In terms of learning theories, those which are most suited for OE are the following ones (non exhaustive list):

  • connectivism (Siemens, 2005; Downes, 2007)
  • Indigenous learning (Christie, 2020)
  • rhizomatic learning (Cormier, 2010)
  • social theories of learning like communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 2018)
  • multiple approaches to understanding (Gardner, 2018).
  • experiential learning (Usher, 2018)
  • theories that need to emerge or be created...

More theories can be found in emerging repositories of international journals, as for example African Journals Online (AJOL).

Major technological advancements happened in the 1960s-70s-80s-90s, in part thanks to the free software movement.

My conjecture is that technology, such as the creation of the Internet in the 1960s and the world wide web in the 1990s (cf. , permitted to revive essential features of scientific communities, i.e. transparency, freedom, sharing. Indeed, it is hardly known that scientific articles were public goods until the 1900s (Dulong de Rosnay & Langlais, 2017) and that scientific knowledge circulated freely beforehand. Thus, values of the free software movement, making free software a public good, converged with pre-existing values in scientific communities, resulting in open circulation of knowledge.

It is not clear whether Internet is a public good today but originally it was created in that spirit. It is also acknowledged that the web opened a myriad of possibilities, it “became central to public access to the internet and also enabled the creation of a global knowledge network” (Harasim, 2017, p. 26).

Finally, let us keep in mind that it was in the late 90s that the Bologna reform was adopted in European higher education to build the knowledge society and the knowledge economy (Huisman, Adelman, Hsieh, Shams & Wilkins, 2012) as a means towards collective intelligence (Levy, 2015; Innerarity, 2015). It was also in those years that the Creative Commons project was being prepared to offer sustainable legal solutions to openly shared content (Stacey & Pearson, 2017). Finally, it was in those years that the free operating system Ubuntu was created and disseminated worldwide (cf.

Open paradigm in higher education

Today, in higher education, almost any scholar has heard of Open Science or Open Educational Resources.

Contemporary Open Education (OE) is in the making. Several milestones have been set, as for instance, the core underlying principles of education considered as a commons and including design for access, equity, agency, ownership, participation, distribution, innovation and sustainability (Blessinger & Bliss, 2016; Stacey & Hinchliff Pearson, 2017). Its concrete implementation in higher education is on-going and different research projects have experienced some parts of OE or some parts of the framework (e.g. Open book project; OpenMed; Open Game; Encore+; QualiChain).[1]

Bibliographies and reviews are conducted but there is not ONE central place where to find all resources concerning Open Education and related domains. Some examples entail:

  • OER knowledge cloud - a survey and repository of OER research: curated database and repository to identify, collect, preserve and disseminate documents related to open educational resources
  • OER bibliography by Maynooth University Library, Ireland which has 4 topics: OER analysis of impact, OER methods of adoption, OER adoption: partnerships explored, OER review
  • GO-GN Review 2021 with 7 topics: OER theory, OER impact, Open Educational Practices, MOOCs, Open Pedagogy, Innovation, Social justice.
  • GO-GN Review 2022 with topics: accessibility, Open Educational Practices, OER implementation and impact, Open Pedagogy, MOOCs, quality, technology and infrastructure.
  • Weller et al. 2018 with 8 topics: Open education in schools / Open classrooms (1970s), distance education (1980s), e-earning and online education (1990s and 2000s), Open access publishing (1990s, 2000s), OER (2000s), social media (mid 2000s), Moocs (recent), Open practices (recent). Weller, M., Jordan, K., DeVries, I., & Rolfe, V. (2018). Mapping the open education landscape: citation network analysis of historical open and distance education research. Open Praxis, 10(2), 109-126.
  • Study of the growth and pattern of global literature on Open Education published between 2001 and 2020: Shettar, I., & Hadagali, G. (2022). Open Education Research: A Scientometric Analysis. Journal of Indian Library Association 58(1), 172-188.
  • Open science and Openness embedded in research training: Pownall, M., Azevedo, F., König, L. M., Slack, H. R., Evans, T. R., & Etc. (2022). The impact of open and reproducible scholarship on students’ scientific literacy, engagement, and attitudes towards science: A review and synthesis of the evidence.

Open Education and Artificial Intelligence

The topic of AI is gaining growing interest in the OE community. Below are some recent resources on the topic:

The Open Ecosystem

Within the Open Ecosystem, Open Education is closely related to at least Open Science , Open Innovation and Open Source Software Movement .

This section needs to be developped.

Main journals, organisations and conferences

  • International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL): is a refereed, open access e-journal that disseminates original research, theory, and best practice in open and distributed learning worldwide.
  • Open Praxis: is a peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal focusing on research and innovation in open, distance and flexible education. It is published by the International Council for Open and Distance Education - ICDE.  
  • The International Journal of Open Educational Resources (IJOER): The aim of IJOER is to provide a venue for the publication of quality academic research with an emphasis on representing Open Educational Resources in teaching, learning, scholarship and policy.
  • European Journal of Open Education and E-learning: is an international peer reviewed journal that investigates the latest research issues on the area of distributed education studies.
  • Open Education Conference: annual convening for sharing and learning about open educational resources, open pedagogy, and open education initiatives. This dynamic gathering celebrates the core values of open education that strive to realize education ecosystems that are accessible, affordable, equitable and inclusive to everyone, regardless of their background.
  • Open Education Global: Open Education Global is an open education steward within the education ecosystem. OEGlobal’s primary role is as a connector. We foster knowledge exchange, advance sustainable systemic change and open policies, amplify impact, and connect local open education efforts to global ones.
  • International Council for Open and Distance Education: is a truly global association with a proud history for promoting inclusive, affordable, access to quality education.
  • SPARC Europe: is one of Europe’s key and long-standing voices advocating for unfettered access to research and education — for the academic and education community; for the whole of society.
  • Open Education for a Better World: is an international online mentoring program.
  • Regional Leaders of Open Education (RLOE): professional development network to support strategic planning for open education aimed to improve and scale open education as a system reform.
  • Blog by Paul Stacey.

Example of a lifecycle a course within Open Educational Practices

OE can be discussed at different levels of granularity and has the immense advantages of possibly happening outside of academia and being acredited with micro-credentials (; Clements et al. 2020; Ehrenreich, 2020; West et al. 2020). OE can also happen in academia and the diagram below shows one such possibility. The big changes reside in the fact that: i) the teacher does not design the course on his own; and ii) evaluation takes the form of renewable assignements; iii) the topic to be studied starts from a demand of the community addressed to several stakeholders, amongst which teachers; iv) the end of this cycle of the learning journey is not the end of the artefact produced which will be able to take a variation of routes in society. Several scholars research Open Educational Practices (Cronin & Maclaren, 2018; Huang et al., 2020; Werth & Williams, 2022; Paskevicius & Irvine, 2019; Clinton-Lisell, 2021; Bali, Cronin, & Jhangiani, 2020; Cullen & Dill, 2022) that also entail personal learning networks (Neelen & Kirschner, 2018).

OE course lifecycle
OE course lifecycle

"Open Washing"

Openwashing on the basis of "A review of usage of the word "open" in the contexts of open content, open educational resources, open access, open data, open knowledge, open source, and open standards reveals that the community understands "open" to mean two things: (1) Free access to the content, resource, journal article, data, knowledge artifact, software, or standard, and (2) a formal grant of rights and permissions giving back to the user many of the rights and permissions copyright normally reserves exclusively for the rights holder", defines Openwashing as "to spin a product or company as open, although it is not. Derived from 'greenwashing.' Michelle Thorn; having an appearance of open-source and open-licensing for marketing purposes, while continuing proprietary practices. Audrey Watters".

Rajiv S. Jhangiani, in Delivering on the Promise of Open Educational Resources, Pitfalls and Strategies, edited in Zhang, Bonk, Reeves & Reynolds (2020) alerts on "several pitfalls, including inequitable access to the technology and platforms necessary to deliver OER, an overreliance on voluntary academic labor to create OER, a neglect of accessibility requirements when developing OER, disregard for data privacy, and the practices of commercial publishers of “open washing”.

Open Washing has been around for more than 10 years as David Wiley's blog post of 2011 or Alannah Fitzgerald's blog post of 2014 attests. In 2017, Heimstädt, identified 3 ways institutions address transparency expectations strategically: (a) selecting the disclosed information to exclude parts of the data or parts of the audience; (b) bending the information in order to retain some control over its representative value; (c) orchestrating new information for a particular audience. In the domain of Open Data, Open washing (data appear to be open but is not available for unrestricted reuse) and Open wishing (benefits of open data are over-promised) are presented as widely pervasive. 

External links and resources

Open Education on Wikipedia

Introduction to Open Education 2018 course by George Siemens and David Wiley

Open Education, 2018 course by the Open University UK

Open Education Handbook, 2014

What do we mean by ‘open’ in education? 2015, Tony Bates

Trends in open education, 2022, Tony Bates

Using Open Content, 2016, JISC

European Distance and e-Learning Network, Open Education week, 2017-2021

Open Education Global, OE week, 2022

Master in Leadership in Open Education > programme and course contents

Open Education for a Better World,

Becoming an open educator 2016, Open University

Aspects of the Open: The evolution of the meaning of open education 2019, Martin Weller

OER Hub Open University

GO GN (Global OER graduate network) Open University

BOEI course - Become an Open Education Influencer Mandela University, South Africa

Open Education Policy Hub, , project of OER worldmap, , Open University involved.

Chaire UNESCO REL IA (OER and AI), in French,, Université de Nantes

Open Educational Practices whitepaper (work in progress), multilingual,

Zawacki-Richter, O., & Jung, I. (Eds.). (2022). Handbook of Open, Distance and Digital Education Springer.

Center for Open Education Research (COER),

D. Otto, G. Scharnberg, M. Kerres and O. Zawacki-Richter eds. (2023). Distributed Learning Ecosystems. Springer.

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. Bloomsbury Academic.

Wiley, D. (2022). An Open Education Reader.

Neill, J. (2013). Openness and flexibility: How open education can facilitate flexible learning.

van Mourik Broekman, P., Hall, G., Byfield, T., Hides, S., & Worthington, S. (2014). Open education: A study in disruption

  Rowman & Littlefield.

References (cited in this page)

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