In Topic 5 we will explore the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning, focusing especially on open educational resources (OERs), open and closed technologies and open access participation in courses.

The move towards ‘openness’ in education has accelerated in recent years and open educational resources have emerged with great potential to support educational transformation, giving access to free educational material to educators and learners worldwide. Another aspect of openness is in the choice of tools and learning environment. In this course, for instance, we are using a distributed open learning environment with open technology and tools such as Google Plus, Twitter and WordPress whereas other courses and target groups may benefit from an institutional supported learning environment, often a closed Learning Management System. Thirdly, institutions provide opportunities for open access participation and learning in course settings via for example Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which often attract large numbers of participants.

You will be encouraged to reflect on what openness means for your own practice, the advantages and disadvantages with open and closed technologies as well as the implications of different open course and MOOC formats in relation to your learning experiences in this ONL course.

Activities for all learners

Check out the suggested resources below and in Diigo. You may also conduct your own search and share resources you find useful.

Watch and Discuss: This week we have done an interview (see resources below) with Marita Ljungqvist, project manager for the MOOCs-project at Lund University. In the interview she explains the MOOC concept and elaborates on how the participants relate to students in our regular online courses here in Sweden. Please reflect and post any questions you may have in the ONL Google + Community (in the category MOOC-questions); Marita will answer and discuss with you on 9th and 10th of November.

You can also, during the entire week, share your thoughts in the ONL google + community about your own professional experiences of open resources, tools and open courses.

Get that experience! If you have no experience of a MOOC you may want to enrol in one, just to have a look. You can find free courses online on any of the platforms such as edX, Coursera or FutureLearn! Browse the different courses, and make sure you sign up for one that has started (in order to see the activity).

Tweet OERs: During this fifth topic you are encouraged to continue to use your Twitter account. Are there any open resources, OERs that you have found useful that you can share? Remember to use the hashtag #ONL152 when tweeting.

Learning (b)log

Reflect on your current practice and identify how you could provide opportunities to your students to connect with individuals, groups and resources beyond the course, module and programme boundaries. How could you include openness in your practice? What would be the benefits and challenges? A reminder: If you are aiming for a certificate you need to both write reflective posts within a blog and comment on others (see how to participate).

PBL – work

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities. Choose one of the scenarios below:

Scenario 1

“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’ve 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 other teachers 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 on the one hand, OERs are becoming an easy solution, a quick fix for teachers, but on the other hand, there is some copyright thing – CC, Creative Commons I think it is – regulating how you are allowed to use these open resources. Really not sure what this is all about… and then this fascination with doing everything in the open? What is this all about?”

Scenario 2

“We have a limited amount of contact time in the course where I am teaching and I really want my students to be prepared for in depth discussions when we meet face to face. When I give them simple reading assignments I am still not sure they have prepared. Therefore, as a complement, I have decided to take a blended approach. I have learned that a small formative quiz and a discussion forum online will let them test their knowledge and they will have aired their thoughts before our f2f-session. But, which digital tools could support my students’ learning experience? I know that our institution has some kind of learning management system (LMS), but is it not for administrative purposes only? Perhaps I should rely on tools the students already are familiar with, like for instance Facebook? My colleague used a system called Peerwise, that sounded fun! But what if they run into problems? Who can help then? I want my students tasks outside of the classroom to be engaging, but at the same time – safe”.

Suggested readings and resources

To watch

What is a MOOC?  Marita Ljungqvist & Maria Hedberg (2015). Available here.

MOOCs – from hype to opportunity. Alastair Creelman (2014). Available here.

Learning management system or the open web? Cofa Videos, Learning to teach online UNSW. Karin Watson (2014). Available here, with a related pdf here.

To read

1. Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53. Available here.

2. Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. Available here

3. Bates, T. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. Available here

The above suggested readings for this topic are tagged with “ONL152 Topic 5 Open Educational Practices – suggested resource” in the ONL Diigo group.

Additional resources

ONL diigo group at

Please check this learners’ generated collection and add further resources you find useful and link well with this topic. Remember to use tags and comment on resources shared by others.


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

1. discuss open resources, open/closed tools and open participation courses

2. reflect on different aspects of openness in your own context

3. review in groups open features of the chosen activity/resource

4. inquire into open educational practices related to a specific scenario