11 – 24 March 2024

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. Finally we will consider the impact of GenAI on openness in education.

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 media via the Openverse 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 material

Start investigating open education by listening to a short podcast or watch the first 20 minutes of the following webinar:

Hear the diverse voices from colleagues across the globe discussing on what openness is and means to them. Some of these colleagues are from the ONL community while there are others from different contexts.

Common course events

In the webinar, Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices on Wednesday March 13, 11:00-12:00 (CET), our guest speaker will be Dr Maha Bali, Professor of Practice at the American University in Cairo. See the event page for details.

In the second live event of the topic on Wednesday March 20, 13:00-14:00 (CET) you will get a chance to dive deeper into Creative Commons licenses, the foundation of OERs and Open Access articles. See the event page.

Personal reflections  

Suggested themes for reflection in your individual 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
  • Openness for addressing the climate crisis
  • 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. The climate crisis is calling for collaborations for solutions. How do you think this will cause an increased interest to shift towards open education, collaborations and sharing of open educational resources? Do consider how the emergence of AI tools will impact your teaching. If you decide to open up your courses, and/or your practice, 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 a different experience – join a MOOC
ONL is a particular type of MOOC though not as massive as most of the MOOCs on the above mentioned plattforms. If you have no experience with those MOOCs, consider enrolling in one and compare the design, the onboarding experience and the digital learning environment to ONL. Class Central  is a good place to browse for MOOCs from all the main platforms in the world.  

Sharing is caring – Individual reflections and social media
During this second topic we encourage you especially to share your reflections broadly. Try to share a link of your reflection using social media like LinkedIN, Twitter or Mastodon. Remember to use the hashtag #ONL241 when posting whatever the choice of plattform.


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


Wednesday March 13, 11:00-12:00 (CET). Exploring Nuances of Open Educational Practices with Dr Maha Bali.

See the event page.

  Workshop: Wednesday March 20, 13:00-14:00 (CET). Workshop on Creative Commons licenses with Jörg Pareigis.

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 #ONL241
  • Commented on some colleagues’ reflections
  • Written my individual reflectionon topic 2

Readings and other resources



Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher educationInternational Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(5), 15-34. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i5.3096


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


Further optional readings and resources

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

Costello, Huijser & Marshall. (2019). Education’s many “opens”.

Farrell, O., Breen, E., Brunton, J., Cox, R., Costello, E., Delaney, L., Gallagher, E., Smyth, V. (2021). Go Open: A Beginners Guide to Open Education. Dublin: DCU. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4593103

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

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

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

Stacey, Paul. (2023). AI From an Open Perspective. 

Weller, M. (2014). Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press.
(Excellent overview of the whole question of openness.)

Encore project. https://encoreproject.eu/

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

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