Open Educational Practices in the Asian Context

Growing up in a typical Asian family, these values were predominant:

 .. The more you give away, the less you have.

.. You’ve worked so hard, keep it for yourself.

.. There is no free lunch in this world. If someone gives you a gift, you should return it in some way and don’t owe a favour. 

There was much deterrence in sharing one’s thoughts and vulnerability openly for fear of losing “face”. There was probably a scarcity mindset because life was hard. This cultural context and legacy is fundamental in understanding the barrier to open educational practices (OEP) in this region. As with any cultural change, it will take decades for educators to incorporate open education in their pedagogical beliefs.

Implementing Open Educational Practices (OEP)

From our ONL group discussions, it seems to me that an institutional push would probably most effective in kickstarting these practices, for example, if trainings are provided on Creative Commons Licenses, time-off given to create open educational resources etc.

To encourage more educators to share their teaching resources, it may be helpful to provide them with more opportunities to collaborate and connect with other educators internally and globally, as well as to educate them on the benefits and best practices of sharing resources.

An institutional repository can be a good stepping stone to the next level of opening up to a wider audience.

To sustain these OEP efforts, findings in a study that surveyed five higher educational institutions in Canada had these in common:

  1. Advocacy (Benefits)
    • For the students — saving on textbooks
    • For the faculty members — enhanced teaching and learning; social justice; feedback from wider audiences; career advancements
    • For the institution — increased recognition and reputation
  2. Policy
    • Formulate guidelines as a foundation, governance and driver of the initiative
  3. Leadership
    • Visible support from senior administration
    • Develop faculty and student leadership to extend the support of the initiative
  4. Institutional Culture
    • Develop organisational structures for collaboration across units
    • Commitment of resources
    • Deeper conversations with people across the institution

In the longer term, there are suggestions that the government may need to step in with a national strategy and to continue providing funding and resources. Regardless, the intrinsic motivation of more faculty that embrace open education would be equipped to design shareable learning objects and hopefully continue their open educational practices.


Morgan, Tannis & Childs, Elizabeth & Hendricks, Christina & Harrison, Michelle & DeVries, Irwin & Jhangiani, Rajiv. (2021). How Are We Doing with Open Education Practice Initiatives? Applying an Institutional Self-Assessment Tool in Five Higher Education Institutions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning. 22. 125-140.

Pawlowski, J., Pirkkalainen, H., Gervacio, J., Nordin, N., & Embi, M. (2014). Contextualization of Open Educational Resources in Asia and Europe. In B. Kim (Ed.), Open Educational Resources in Lifelong Learning (pp. 99-140). Seoul: KNOU Press.

Bossu, C and Meier, M. 2018. Exploring Initiatives for Open Educational Practices at an Australian and a Brazilian University. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2018(1): 16, pp. 1–9. DOI:

Zhang, X.; Tlili, A.; Huang, R.; Chang, T.; Burgos, D.; Yang, J.; Zhang, J. A Case Study of Applying Open Educational Practices in Higher Education during COVID-19: Impacts on Learning Motivation and Perceptions. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9129.


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  1. Elisabeth Ahlinder

    I kept coming back to reading your reflections Wanyun, I love your concrete yet personal way of writing and the way you contextualise. The local customs and culture are definitely something to consider. From a Swedish context, the modus operandi of Swedes, generalized, is not to stick your shin out. We are sort of fostered to think collaboratively, community matters more than the individual. Strangely though, I believe that this too make people hesitant to share their work openly. The reason why people might be hesitant to share then rather comes from fear of others thinking that you think that you are more important and smarter than others. You shouldn´t lift your own knowledge, work etc.

    • Thanks Elisabeth for reading and your kind comments! Interesting to know that there are similar characteristics in the Swedish culture. Hopefully the newer generations who are highly exposed to social media and technologies have more open mindsets and sharing practices!

  2. A nice reflection, Wanyun, and interesting to read your personal experiences on how culture influences our willingness to share openly. I also think this influence how we think a lot. From my work experiences I have also found the culture on openness also to be influenced by the specific research communities that have been built up – if those are based on open sharing of research material then people share more, equally so cross nationalities, while groups with less openness tend to foster less sharing.

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