Openness is everywhere today, as exemplified by all the free content on different social media platforms. Openness is also supposed to be something obvious in educational settings. Openness has a long history, as classical teaching in the physical room is open, at least at our university. But in a digital setting, this openness is not as self-evident, and in fact quite multi-layered. We are, and have for quite some time already been, surrounded by MOOCs, Open Access movements, and Open Educational Resources (OERs). But for the individual teacher, all this, not only all abbreviations, can be quite confusing, as not all MOOCs are actually open (especially from a licensing perspective), Open Access still has some limitations, and the creation of OERs can be limited by policies.

From a personal perspective, even the first steps for going open are somewhat confusing. Publishing articles that are open access is of course a “no brainer”, as it is usually set before publishing or as tick in a box procedure. But when it comes to opening up courses, or even parts of a course, the questions marks start to pile up. As I see it, the problem is not that I wouldn’t understand the principles of creating OERs, which is easy once you read the definition of what an OER is:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation and redistribution by others.

For me, the problem lies in bridging the gap from the praise of openness to the reality of everyday. One of the most important parts of going open is the support for doing this. And not only the support from your university, but also from the funding instances. A lot of focus has been placed on publishing open access, but less on actually creating and measuring the amount of OER material. So as long as the incentive to go open is not that high, I fear this well be reflected in the amount of OERs, even if going open has more potential than remaining closed.

Weller, M. and Anderson, T., 2013. Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning16(1).
Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.

Topic 2: Going open