Students, Computer, Young Boy, Education
Students, Computer, Young Boy, Education

As a lifelong learner, it is my first exposure with open education.  After spending 2 weeks, I am still at the discovery stage in understanding more about open learning. With the open COVID Pledge (Creative Commons, 2020)  for organisations around the world to make patents and copyrights freely available in the fight against the pandemic; should universities worldwide embrace open learning more holistically for students and learners to access quality contents and learning opportunity?

From an adult educator perspective, my initial sensing on key factors underlying an effective and successful open education are Openness, Accessibility and Collaborative Learning.  Why do educators need to adopt an open mindset for open education? Simply put it, an open educator is by nature a networked educator (Weller, 2015) and in control of content sharing, release teaching materials and engaging learners to collaborate with one another and support their learning journey.

Even with readily available learning contents, the feasibility to access content is another major challenge to open education. From the disruption to the education sector observed in the COVID pandemic, many learning management systems and significant technological gaps surfaced, as universities struggled to ensure students have access to online classes and learning materials remotely. According to UN estimates, nearly 500 million students from pre-primary to upper secondary school did not have any form of access to remote learning (Sobhi, 2020). These students were deprived from learning primarily due to a lack of learning platforms and internet connectivity to support remote learning.

Finally, open education should leverage the immense benefits of collaborative learning.  Research shown that educational experience that are active, social, contextual, engaging and students-owned lead to deeper learning. Inculcating the values of collaborative spirit will also develop students better for workplace as they will need to understand a variety of perspectives, manage priorities and meet expectations as a reliable member of a team.

Despite the initial success of many open universities, open universities often lack the status of a campus-based institution. The degree of completion rates are often very low (Bates, 2019). With 90% of the world’s students out of school and (some) learning online as reported by United Nation, open education is urgently needed to ensure everyone has access to quality, effective learning opportunities. Therefore, universities and educators have an important role to play in open education. Collective effort and sound initiatives are required starting from learning design and content development, building learning management system, ensuring ease of access and promoting strong sense of collaborative learning for open education to be viable and sustainable.

Building A Viable Open Education