20 – 31 March 2023

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 (OER), and the consequent development of open educational practices (OEP). Third, we will look at issues around copyright and in particular the open licensing of content (Creative Commons) and how it opens up new opportunities for collaborative learning and development. 

Today many universities publish course material (lectures, course modules, courses, textbooks) as OERs with Creative Commons licenses that allow anyone to reuse and even adapt the material under the terms of the license. Examples of such resource collections are OpenLearn, MIT OpenCourseware, Merlot and Open UBC. You can also search for millions of Creative Commons photos via CC Search and Wikimedia Commons. Thousands of free online university courses (MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses) are available in many languages via global or regional MOOC platforms such as edX, Coursera, FutureLearn, FUN (French), Miríadax (Spanish), Edraak (Arabic) and many more.

Activities for all learners   

Introduction podcast

Start investigating open education by listening to our podcast. Hear the diverse voices from colleagues across the globe discussing on what openness means to them. Some of these colleagues are from ONL while there are others from different contexts.


In the first webinar, Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices on Wednesday 22 March, 10:00-11:00 (CET), our guest speaker will be Maha Bali, Professor of Practice, Center for Learning and Teaching, American University in Cairo, Egypt. See the event page for details.

Be sure to share your thoughts in the #ONL231 Twitter community about your own professional experience on open resources, tools and open courses, over the course of the week.

In the second webinar on Wednesday 30 March, 10:00-11:00 (CEST) you will get the chance to discuss open education and your PBL work with the hosts Kiruthika Ragupathi and Lotta Fröjdfeldt. You will also be provided an opportunity to discuss your group work with ONL participants from other groups. See the event page.

Personal reflections  

Suggested themes for reflection in your personal reflection space:

  • openness: does it matter to you?
  • openness in your own personal practice
  • the emergence of AI tools and its impact on openness
  • the role of open educational resources in your own institution
  • the role of technology in open education
  • openness for greater inclusion and social diversity in education
  • finding and using 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 write the reflective post as well as  comment on other participants’ posts (see how to participate). 

Activities in PBL groups

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


The blending of in-person with online teaching and learning is taking centre stage in the higher education transformation. This is likely to further widen the expansion of online education. How do you think this will cause an increased interest to shift towards open education and sharing of open educational resources? Do consider how the emergence of AI tools will impact your course design. If you decide to open up your courses, what levels of openness would be appropriate from your own and from your institution’s perspectives? Does your university learning management system (LMS, e.g. Moodle, Canvas, etc) offer opportunities for openness? What support would colleagues need from the leadership? How would you introduce the idea of openness to your students? How would you engage students as partners in this open initiative? 

Optional activities

Get that experience!
ONL is a type of MOOC (Massive open online course) though not as massive as most of the MOOCs. If you have no experience with a MOOC, consider enrolling in one to have a feel of what it is to participate in a fully online course. Class Central  is a good place to browse for MOOCs from all the main platforms in the world.  

During this second topic you are still encouraged to continue tweeting. Use it to share examples of OERs and OEPs that you have found useful. Remember to use the hashtag #ONL231 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:
Wednesday 22 March, 10:00-11:00 (CET). Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices with Maha Bali.

See the event page.

  Webinar 2: Thursday 30 March, 10:00-11:00 (CEST). A chance to discuss with other PBL group members. Hosts Kiruthika Ragupathi and Lotta Fröjdfeldt

See the event page


During this topic I have:

  • Attended PBL group online meetings
  • Read and watched the recommended resources for the topic
  • Contributed actively to the group work on the scenario
  • Contributed actively to the group discussion in #ONL231
  • 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.


Cronin, C. (2017). Open Education, Open Questions. EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 6 (November/December 2017)

Guadamuz, Andres. (2023). Openness, AI, and the changing creative landscape https://www.technollama.co.uk/openness-ai-and-the-changing-creative-landscape

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

Further readings

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

Larson. David B. (2022). Openness and Transparency in the Evaluation of Bias in Artificial Intelligence: https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiol.222263?journalCode=radiology

OER starter kit. Open textbook on how to create and use open educational resources.

Go open: A beginner’s guide to open education. Dublin City University.

Hodgkinson-Williams, C. Arinto, P. (editors) 2017. Adoption and impact of OERs in the global south. African Minds.

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.)