Open Communities

Explain: Open Sharing

Why is it Important to Share Openly?

The open sharing of information and knowledge not only allows for greater access, but also supports collaboration and innovation. The idea of free and open sharing in education is not new. In fact, education IS the sharing of information and ideas upon which new knowledge, skills and understanding can be built. Sharing information allows for greater retention as it becomes part of a collective repository that many can access. It helps to break down silos and allows for new ideas — or thoughts — to germinate.

Sapire and Reed’s (2011) study shows that sharing and collaboration in open education improves the quality and depth of learning resources. Those who engage in open collaborative projects are more likely to collaborate in the future (Petrides et al., 2011). Furthermore, educators who co-create OER are more likely to continue creating and sharing content online on a consistent and ongoing basis (Petrides et al., 2008). This suggests that once educators engage in a community, they see the benefits of it — which makes this process more sustainable.

The benefits of sharing are great and have an impact on all stakeholders in open education. Through open sharing, students have a richer and more engaging learning experience — as they have greater access to information, perspectives and materials to help them to succeed. Educators can draw on resources from all around the world — and researchers can share data and develop new networks. People can connect with others they wouldn’t otherwise meet to share ideas and information. Materials can be translated, mixed together, broken apart and openly shared again — increasing access and inviting fresh approaches. See the table below for a list of benefits experienced by all of those involved in open education.

Benefits of Sharing 


  • Applying knowledge in a wider context than their course would otherwise allow
  • Freedom of access and enhanced opportunities for learning
  • Support for learner-centred, self-directed and social/informal learning approaches
  • The opportunity to test out course materials before enrolling
  • Continued access to learning resource after the course ends


  • Student/user feedback and open peer review
  • Benefits to reputation; recognition
  • Efficiencies experienced when collaborating with others
  • Sharing of ideas and best practices with others
  • Reaching a wider range of learners

Educational Institutions

  • Recognition and enhanced reputation
  • Wider availability of their academic content (linking to widening participation agenda)
  • Efficiencies in content production
  • Increased sharing of ideas and practice within the institution
  • Increased understanding of intellectual property rights

Other Sectors (Employers, Government, etc.)

  • Access to re-purposable content
  • Input to scoping, development and endorsement of open content in their focus area
  • New potential partnerships with content providers and other sectors
  • Increased understanding of intellectual property rights, curriculum development and learning technologies

Why Share for Free?

“What greater impact, than having more people read your work” — Rajiv Jhangiani (2018) Open educational resources created with knowledge and expertise are considered intellectual property that are shared freely under open license. Why give knowledge for free when there are other more extrinsic motivations for publishing traditionally?

First, there is the altruistic argument where educators are creating and sharing for the overall greater good and benefit of their students from a learning perspective. As well, some may prioritize academic freedom and the ability to customize and control their teaching materials. Equity for students and the overall cost savings (among other benefits to the students) can also be a key motivation. In some cases, educators may be motivated to do this as part of a legacy to leave behind their knowledge as they move on to the next phase in their lives. Lastly, faculty may choose to share openly to allow for greater access to their work.

Explore Stories of Open Sharing

Click on these links to explore stories about why faculty choose to share openly.

Watch the video below for perspectives on why faculty chose to publish openly and share knowledge.


Watch “Why We Publish Openly” on Vimeo (captions and subtitle download available)


Extend Connections

Reflect on the motivations for sharing openly provided. If you have already or are thinking about sharing your work openly, what would your motivation be — and why?

What barriers to collaborating openly can you identify? Share your reflections with your personal learning network.


Jhangiani , R. (2018, March 9). Why we publish. [Video]. Vimeo.

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton-Detzner, C., Walling, J. and Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: Implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Vol. 26, Issue 1: 39.DOI: 10.1080/02680513.2011.538563 

Petrides, L., Nguyen, L., Jimes, C., and Karaglani, A. (2008). Open educational resources: Inquiring into author use and reuse. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Education, Vol. 1, No. 1-2: 98-117.DOI:10.1504/IJTEL.2008.020233 

Sapire, I. and Reed, Y. (2011). Collaborative design and use of open educational resources: A case study of a mathematics teacher education project in South Africa. Distance Learning, Vol 32, No. 2: 195-211.


Becoming an Open Educator – Why Openly Licensed My Own Materials?  by Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project is licensed under CC-BY 4.0 

Sharing and Promoting OER by SUNY OER Services licensed under CC BY 4.0

The Benefits and Impact of Open Education by Open Med Project is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The Learning Portal OER Toolkit – Collaborating  by Colleges Libraries Ontario is licensed under CC BY 4.0


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Extending Into the Open Copyright © 2022 by Paula Demacio; Alissa Bigelow; Tricia Bonner; and Shauna Roch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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