In line with the adage that “Sharing is caring”, someone needs your actions to inspire his actions. With reference to Caliskan (2012) who identifies the term “openness” as a reference to any teaching organisation or institution that offers a variety of choices to learners by giving them the opportunity to study and learn in ways that are independent of time and place.

Although there are multitude of definitions, in a nutshell I summarised openness in education to correlate to exploring, creating, teaching and learning in any medium. Educational Openness is sharing or collaborating whereby participants have full access to the resources. Open learning can be viewed as an educational approach which combines the principles of learner-centredness, lifelong learning, flexibility of learning provision, the removal of barriers to access learning, the recognition for credit of prior learning experience. Open learning is fundamentally about access and success.

In terms of accessibility anyone who wants to learn may have access to the material but the bigger question is do they really learn in the process or merely just have access. In South Africa, a large part of the population still do not have access to the internet. In addition, data is still expensive compared to international standards. Thus, even though it is expected that technology will play an increasingly significant role in higher education, in South Africa the technology adoption is much slower than internationally.

There are countless advantages of Open Educational Practices. The one that jumps is that of flexibility as it enables the students to study at their own pace. Further to this OERs can be improved quickly through direct editing by users thus incorporating user feedback. With the introduction of Creative commons guidelines with the rational to enable sharing and re use of and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Allowing everyone from individual creators to major companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to pre-clear copyrights to their creative work.

During our robust PBL group discussions, it was red flagged that with openness comes the question over the quality inferiority of the material. Lack of any clear quality assurance mechanism, which may result in unclear standards and by consequence, poor quality. Open Educational Resources (OER) creators generally do not receive any type of payment for their OER, thus little incentive for them to update their OER.

I view knowledge as a global public good. My knowledge of a fact or idea does not impede the knowledge of another.

Openness in Education & Learning