22 March – 4 April 2021

In this topic we will explore the benefits and challenges of openness in education and learning. First, we will consider the usual conceptions of openness and access and ask how this phenomenon may differ from the perspectives of the educator and the learner. Second, we will focus on open educational resources (OERs), and the consequent development of open educational practices (OEPs). Third, we will look at issues around copyright and in particular the open licensing of content (Creative Commons) and how this opens up new opportunities for collaborative learning and development. 

Activities for all learners   

Introduction podcast

Start investigating open education by listening to our podcast. Listen to the diverse voices from colleagues across the globe discussing on what openness mean to them. Some of them are involved in ONL and some are colleagues from other contexts.


In the first webinar, Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices on Tuesday 23 March, 11:00-12:00 (CET), our guest speaker will be Maha Bali, Associate Professor of Practice, Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo, Egypt. You can also, during the entire week, share your thoughts in the #ONL211 Twitter community about your own professional experience of open resources, tools and open courses. See the event page.

In the second webinar on Wednesday 31 March, 11:00-12:00 (CEST) you will get the chance to discuss open education, both in groups and all together with hosts Kiruthika Ragupathi and Alastair Creelman. See the event page.

Learning blog – reflection  

Suggested themes for reflection in your learning blog:

  • what openness means for your own practice
  • is technology the primary driver for openness in education
  • do you agree with the claim that knowledge should be considered a common good and be accessible as openly as possible
  • how to find and use openly licensed resources
  • advantages and disadvantages of open and closed technologies
  • implications of different open course and MOOC formats in relation to your learning experience on this course.

A reminder: If you are aiming for a certificate you need to both write reflective posts within a blog and comment on others (see how to participate).  

Activities in PBL groups

For guidance on PBL group work including the FISh design please see Learning activities.


I’m interested in opening up some of my courses and sharing the resources in a responsible way, but I don’t really know where to start. What options are there for offering courses that are open? How do I get support from my colleagues and how do I introduce the idea to my students? What are the opportunities and dangers of “going open”?

Optional activities

Get that experience!
ONL is a type of MOOC (Massive open online course), though not so massive as most of them. If you have no experience of a MOOC you may want to enroll in one, just to have a look. Class Central  is a good place to search for MOOCs from all the main platforms in the world. Browse the different courses and see what you can find (you may have to register in order to see the activity).  

During this second topic you are encouraged to continue to use your Twitter account. Are there, for example, any open resources (OER) that you have found useful that you can share? Remember to use the hashtag #ONL211 when tweeting.  


By the end of this topic, you will have had the opportunity to

  • discuss open resources, open/closed tools and open participation courses
  • reflect on different aspects of openness in your own context
  • review in groups open features of the chosen activity/resource
  • inquire into open educational practices related to a specific scenario


  Webinar 1:
Tuesday 23 March, 11:00-12:00 (CET). Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices  with Maha Bali.

See the event page.

  Webinar 2: Wednesday 31 March, 11:00-12:00 (CEST). Discussion webinar on open education with Kiruthika Ragupathi.

See the event page.


During this topic I have:

  • Attended PBL group online meetings
  • Contributed actively to the group work on the scenario
  • Contributed actively to the group discussion in #ONL211
  • Commented on some colleagues’ blog posts
  • Written my reflective blog post on topic 2
  • Studied the recommended resources for this topic.

Readings and other resources



Creative Commons guide. Nice short overview to CC-licensing by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand.

Open education and the future, Short TED-talk by David Wiley

What is a MOOC?  Short explanation by Dave Cormier, one of the people behind the first ever MOOC.


Oddone, K. (2016). PLE or PLN or LMS or OLN?  Blog post about the ONL course.

Ragupathi, K. (2020). Being open: drawing parallels with the Coffee House model.

Further viewing

Watson, K. (2014) Learning management system or the open web?, Learning to teach online UNSW.

Further readings

Bali, M., Cronin, C., & Jhangiani, R. S. (2020). Framing Open Educational Practices from a Social Justice PerspectiveJournal of Interactive Media in Education. 2020 (1), p. 10.

Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53.

Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.
(If you can, try to read all of this excellent overview of the whole question of openness but if you can’t, focus on Chapter 4, Open Educational Resources, and Chapter 5, MOOCs.)

Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning. (2nd edition)
(This is probably the best guide there is today to teaching in a digital context. Worth reading the whole book but for this unit you can focus on Chapter 11, Trends in open education.)