Open Education: some thoughts

I had no idea what open education was , and Alan Levine opened my eyes to its potential. I was really enlightened to hear about this philosophy. In its simplest form, I now understand that open education advocates for everybody to have access to high-quality materials for free.

Sharing is caring. Isn’t that we are all taught?

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In their advocacy for open education resources, the Hewlett Foundation argues “that well-designed, customizable, openly licensed materials can engage students and energize educators in ways that enable more responsive teaching and better learning”.




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This resonates with me and aligns well with Alan Levine when he mentioned that making content available for many people to have access to is just going to make the resources better. The more people use it, the more eyes on it, the more adaptations can be made, and the better it gets. I see this as the ultimate form of collaboration, and that is where the magic happens.

I had some questions pop into my head about open education.

  1. Who benefits from this?
    • Literally everyone.
  2. Who is most directly affected?
    • Educators and their learners.
  3. What are the weaknesses?
    • Intellectual property/copyright concerns.
    • Difficulty accessing technology.
    • Potential for low quality resources.
  4. What are the strengths?
    • Eliminates barriers and expands access to resources.
    • Promotes equity and equitable opportunities.
    • Removes high-cost materials, making them affordable to literally everyone.
    • Promotes collaboration.
    • Takes the business out of education.
    • Opportunity to save money, removing the stress of loans/debt.

I think it’s clear that capitalism plays an important role in this.  If education opens all the doors, there needs to be a shift in thinking.  I just ordered 40 “new edition” textbooks for a colleague’s class, and that ended up costing our division over $1800.00. That may not seem like a lot of money, but if every course has to do this (and they do), think about how much that adds up.  Also, in order to offset some of that cost, students have to pay a fee to take that course.  This is just in high school.  If these textbooks were to be openly sourced, everybody would fare that much better.  Divisions would save money, which then allows them to put more funds into other areas of need like support workers, nutrition workers, or even, perhaps, pay for a license for teachers to access materials for free.

Some open education resources available right now by these respected institutions (source: Blink Tower’s “Why Open Education Matters”)

If education is supposed to be for all and we are here to support everybody having the best possible education available, the culture of sharing educational resources needs to shift. I think it’s time to move from philosophy into practice.

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  1. Raegyn Fulmek

    Very great post, Laura! I love how you posed questions to yourself and further explored them, I think this is very valuable. Further, your final words to wrap up your post make it very clear what your thoughts are. Do you think we will get to a point of open education amongst everyone, everywhere? What needs to occur for this shift to happen?

    • Laura Gaboury

      Thanks for the response, Raegyn. I’m not too sure if we CAN get to point of open education amongst everyone, everywhere. There are far too many stakeholders involved that hold a lot of power. There would have to be a mutiny of some sort for that power to shift. Hahaha. What do YOU think about the questions you posed? Is it, indeed, impossible?

  2. Mariah Mazur

    I am glad I’m not the only one who didn’t know what open education was prior to this class! I am a bit sad that I didn’t know about it before as I feel that I have missed so many oppritunies to incorporate valuable knowledge into my classroom. I think you pose some interesting questions, but your responses definitely highlight the importance and value of open education!

    • Laura Gaboury

      Thanks, Mariah. I guess it comes down to that old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know!”. This class has been really great to opening my eyes to a lot of valuable tools I can use with my students. I hope open education does become more of a practice instead of a philosophy. I mean, I’m always willing to share all the things I create, so let me know if you ever need anything. 🙂

  3. Janeen Clark

    Love this post Laura. I think this quote thumbs up how I feel as well: “If education is supposed to be for all and we are here to support everybody having the best possible education available, the culture of sharing educational resources needs to shift. I think it’s time to move from philosophy into practice.” There is just such a different mindset in the world we live in and it’s not a mindset of sharing. Even among educators, where raiding resources used to be both encouraged and a given, the sharing seems to be less of a given these days. that makes me sad for teachers just entering the profession. It’s exhausting enough without having to come up with every single lesson every day on your own.

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