What is Open Education?

A very brief post today. I’ve lately heard some people express regrets that that the Cape Town Declaration focuses exclusively on open educational resources. In fact, it doesn’t. The “Cape Town Open Education Declaration” talks about “Unlocking the promise of open educational resources,” saying explicitly that:

Open education is not limited to just open educational resources. It also draws upon open technologies that facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues. It may also grow to include new approaches to assessment, accreditation and collaborative learning. Understanding and embracing innovations like these is critical to the long term vision of this movement.

If you ask me – which I realize you didn’t – open education is comprised of at least three things:

      1. open educational resources
      2. open learning support
      3. open credentialing

At a bare minimum, you need content (1) in the form of websites, podcasts, videos, simulations, and yes, even textbooks and lectures. You need help, answers, and explanations (2) from someone when the content is stumping you; it’s also quite useful if you have social interactions (2) with others to help contextualize and explore the local relevance of what you’re studying. Finally, you need assessments (3) that help you determine if you’re really “getting it” or “can do it” or not (studies of metacognitive abilities show that we’re actually awful at judging this ourselves), and you’d also like someone to attest to others that you actually “got it” and “can do it” (3).

Perhaps I’ll simply begin another flame war over terminology with this post, but that’s not the point. The point is that “education :: educational resources” as “open education :: open educational resources.” Content is not education, and of course open educational resources aren’t enough. But they’re a first step, and we need to continue pushing down this path while we also explore new models of open learning support and open credentialing.

1 thought on “What is Open Education?”

  1. Nothing really to disagree with here. Eventually the educational system will have to come to terms with open assessment.

    I will add one bit, about ‘open learning’, which is open access without respect to prior credentials or admissions. It’s a different type of ‘open’ but for some people (including me, in my early 20s) just as important as the cost-free typ of open.

Comments are closed.