This topic had really provided me the chance to deeply reflect on what it means to go ‘open’ with teaching in my institution. To really understand the extent of openness that I am free to do, I realized that I must first chart out the boundaries that limits this openness. The starting point to chart such limitations was to know the policies guiding intellectual properties and licenses attributed to teaching materials and technology resources. Questions on whether as teachers can we really be open and share everything, and who owns the copyrights to our teaching resources and technologies were some of the major questions discussed in the group. We came to quickly realize that different institutions in different countries regulate ownership of teaching materials and resources differently. So, main lesson learnt, know that before one goes full on to engage in open teaching, he or she will need to start with having good knowledge of the policies surrounding teaching and pedagogy in the institution that he or she is teaching in.

Another significant thought that came to me as the group discussed and reflected on teaching via open courses dealt with the issue of incentives. I have always wondered whether the issue of ownership of online courses developed by researchers/educators represents a “danger” of courses going open online. Compared to open publication of research – where researchers get ‘rewards’ through timely communication and citation of research – the incentives from going open in developing and distributing online courses are much less clear. This represents a disparity and to some extent, a paradox between teaching and research in universities.

Another thought that came to my mind and discussed in the group was when ‘going open’ in university course teaching is the copyright issue of the materials/publications used in the open course? Do I need to clear copyright if I were to use third-party ‘openly-available’ course materials in an “open” online course that I have created, even if the online course I am creating is for educational purposes? Then again, what if I am making profits from the course – as an individual as compared to a university faculty? Will that matter? Will the students and participants in the open course matter also? These, I think are important questions that needs to be answered as universities around the world begin to seriously embark on distanced online learning and courses – especially post COVID-19.

Topic 2: Open Learning – Sharing and Openness