During the two weeks dedicated to open learning, our group discussed the subject from various angles. We spoke about the definitions of various open learning related terms (including the concept of openness, open education, open educational resources, and open educational practices). We touched upon a variety of what we called excuses for not going open. We thought about the benefits of openness and sharing. Finally, we considered various barriers that may be encountered in open learning.

Of all what we were talking about and diving into during those two weeks one subject resonated with me most—the role of open education in enablement of learners who may have limited access to education for whatever reason it may be. These reasons can be multiple, but one of the most obvious ones is socio-economic barriers in access to education. One of our group members lifted the issue up and shared with us a paper written by Sarah R. Lambert [1]. Prompted by this I decided to focus my reflections on this subject.

It is apparent that socio-economic factors will continue affecting the lives of people globally, shaping not only the future of children born into less favorable circumstances but also that of the society as a whole. This issue is complex and I am not at all an expert in this subject. It is intuitive though that quality education that reaches everyone could alleviate a lot of suffering and provide the necessary foundation for both children and adults to work through the complexities of life. 

I would like to also clarify that by quality education I do not mean a degree from a top-ranking school or university (though it seems this often is seen as a proxy for quality education), but rather a process leading an individual to being able to engage in higher-order thinking (I am expressing myself to the best of my current abilities and understanding).

Having only recently started teaching, I feel that during my lectures and seminars I learn more than my students do (though these are fundamentally different types of learning). I have not yet had an opportunity to create any open educational resources, but I am certain it is just a matter of time for me to start working on this. Now, however, having reflected on the question of what the ultimate aim of open education might be, I start seeing the issues of sharing and openness per se as trivialities—the bigger picture concerns me a lot more and I believe that the barriers such as those listed, for example, in a paper by Glenda Cox [2] can be overcome more easily than the core challenges such as making education truly open and accessible to those who would benefit from it most.

[1] Lambert SR. Changing Our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. 2018; 5: 225–244. 

[2] Cox G. Researching Resistance to Open Education Resource Contribution: An Activity Theory Approach. E-learning Digital Media 2013; 10: 148–160. 

Topic 2: Open Learning—Sharing and Openness