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“He who receives ideas from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine, as he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me” Thomas Jefferson

David Wiley , who is considered by Martin Weller as one of the three pioneers of modern Open Education along with Stephen Downes and Georges Siemens (Weller,2014) used this quote by Thomas Jefferson in a Ted Talk (2010) in which he advocates for openness in Education.

In this talk Wiley stated that ” Openness is the only mean of doing education, if there is no sharing , giving feedback, engaging in give and take , there is no education” and ” the more open we are the better education will be improved”

As Wiley, many other scholars have been advocating for openness in education for different reasons : accessibility of knowledge to anyone who wants to learn, sharing of knowledge and expertise, engaging in communities to improve educational material and resources etc. Likewise, many scholars have been involved and engaged in different forms of openness such as MOOCs ( Massive Open Online Courses), OERs ( Open Educational Resources) or O.A.P ( Open Access Publishing) etc

Openness offers many opportunities for educators, students and institutions . Students have free access to knowledge. Institutions have increased reputation and therefore more students . Educators have the opportunity to network, improve their pedagogy and increase their reputation etc

But what are the limitations of Openness ? and how open are MOOCs, OERs and OAP?

MOOCs : Moocs aren’t 100% free , when someone wants to get a certificate he/she has to pay for it . Moreover according to Weller (2014) ” Their contents are not openly licensed…enrolment is often restricted to limited periods, so content can not be accessed without enrolling; and many MOOCs providers are limiting the universities they partner with to elite institutions” . Weller raised 2 other problems related to MOOCs which are their low completion rate and their sustainability given the costs of creating a MOOC and their low return on investment .

OERs: Sustainability is a major concern . Many OER projects are generally funded by foundations and the question about maintaining these projects when the original funding ends arises ( Weller, 2014) . Another limitation to OERs is the reluctance of educators to adopt them for many reasons : difficulty to find OERs , time taken to adapt and contextualize them , reluctance to reuse other’s materials … ( Weller,2014) . Moreover, Creators of OER should ensure that OER are designed in such a way that users will have access to editing tools, that the tools needed to will not require a prohibitive level of expertise, and that the OER are meaningfully editable and self-sourced ( Hilton et al.2010)

OAP: Some publishers charge fees to make articles openly available and new researches or small universities may not have funds to pay these fees . leading to a situation in which ironically openness may lead to elitism ( Weller,2014)

In general, many barriers such as access to technology , language, computer literacy , fears and reluctance of educators, cultural barriers may result in Open Education serving only the privileged or those with high expertise and / or isn’t reaching the people it claims to which compromises its claim to inclusiveness.


Weller, M 2014 The Battle For Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI:

Hilton, John L. III; Johnson, Aaron; Stein, Jared; and Wiley, David, “The Four R’s of Openness and ALMS Analysis: Frameworks for Open Educational Resources” (2010). All Faculty Publications. 822.

How open is Open Education ?