Open learning is a relatively new concept, which has changed the traditional perceptions on higher education from ‘reserved ‘ to more ‘widely available ‘ learning resources.
In this movement Open Educational Resources are made available in public domains in order to promote accessibility of knowledge and resources to a wider global community.
Open learning is becoming more palatable to learners as the current trends are moving the learners to self-directed learning from teacher centric learning.
Open learning has multiple benefits for learners, educators and institutions. It promotes equity and accessibility of knowledge to both resource rich and resource poor settings . Also it allow learners to follow more than one introductory courses to select what suits the best. Educators get wider recognition , get to reach a wider audience and build up collaborations. Institutions increase the number of enrolments and wider recognition.
Particularly looking in the context of medical education ,where I come from, there are many online sources of knowledge including some extremely good open resources from universities and tertiary care institutions covering certain domains. But there is no comprehensive resource that covers all or most areas. Though modern revolutions in education has resulted in considerable proportion of medical education being delivered online , still it needs practical hands on experience . Though not entirely possible , still there is a lot of scope for online or open resources to be developed in the context of medical education. However there isn’t much initiatives into this currently. Its imminent that certain domains cant be open , but still open resources may be of benefit in certain domains. Particularly ,a significant amount of emerging medical research and publications are not freely accessible as they come through paid subscription. Some of such shared resources contain information which can be life saving and immensely help medical practice if early access is permitted. Initiatives should be taken in medical education to look into ‘ opening’ atleast such vital information.
Studies have shown many medical practitioners and students are not aware of the concept of OERs. Students had difficulty in selecting OER resources as they didn’t know which resources were reliable.
Summarizing my views, open educational resources and initiatives are quite limited in current medical education Developing open resources could benefit students , educators and practicing doctors to great extent.
Susan D’Antoni (2009) Open Educational Resources: reviewing initiatives and issues, Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 24:1, 3-10, DOI: 10.1080/02680510802625443
Brown JS, Adler RP. Minds on fire: open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educ Rev. 2008;43(1):1–19.