Teaching in the Open

Open Education

Open education can trace its roots to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations in 1948, which states “everyone has a right to education.” The 2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration states that open education and the use of open educational resources (OER) contribute “to making education more accessible, especially where the money for learning materials is scarce. They also nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.” In 2012, the UNESCO Paris OER Declaration [pdf] recommended that governments “promote and use OER to widen access to education at all levels, both formal and non-formal, in a perspective of lifelong learning, thus contributing to social inclusion, gender equity and special-needs education.”

Open education encompasses a set of practices directed at making the process and products of education more transparent, understandable and available to all. Open educational resources are “teaching, learning and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use. Generally, this reuse permission is granted by use of an open (Creative Commons) licence which allows anyone to freely use, adapt and share the resource — anytime, anywhere.” Open educational resources create accessible learning opportunities on a large scale by eliminating cost barriers to educational resources and providing opportunities to adopt, reuse and adapt resources for sustainable use in classrooms.

The above information is adopted from Open UBC and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Brief History of OER

The open education movement is not new. Terms such as learning objects, open educational resources and digital educational learning materials have been around for the past twenty-plus years. The following timeline provides a brief history of open educational resources. To move through and view the information, hover over the right side of the presentation and then click on the arrow — or expand to full screen.

Throughout this module, we will explore the concept of open education and what that means for faculty, students and the institutions in which we learn and work. We will discuss strategies for implementing open educational resources — as well as examine the pedagogical benefits of integrating an open approach into teaching and learning.

What is Teaching in the Open?

Open UBC suggests that “teaching in the open means that you are making some or all aspects of your learning environment available and accessible to the public.” That said, it is important to note that embracing open isn’t so much about arriving at a particular destination as it is about the journey. Being open can include adopting an open textbook or other learning activity. It may mean contributing to the development of open educational resources in partnership with colleagues or students. For some, it may mean adopting a set of practices or philosophies that focus on open. In the Spectrum of Open Practice (below), Cindy Underhill applies a value of low-, medium- or high-touch to express the degree of interactions — as well as the effort and ongoing support required — for each element of open practice.

As you review the following image of the Spectrum of Open Practice, think about where you are in your open practice.



Spectrum of Open Practice
Spectrum of Open Practice, by Cindy Underhill is licensed under a CC BY-SA 3.0
“Spectrum of open practice” image long description


Below are more details for each stage of the spectrum. Select each section to view additional information.


Why Engage in Open Teaching? 

There is no doubt that using open educational resources such as textbooks and other learning activities saves students money. This benefits students in many ways. OER also provide a more level academic playing field — as all students can access course materials on the first day of instruction.

When educators engage in open educational practices (OEP), they have the opportunity to rethink how they provide instruction and/or share knowledge with their students. OER provide flexibility for educators to adapt existing resources to support their specific needs — ensuring that content and materials are relevant and up-to-date.

Builds digtial literacy, buildes connections, builds information literacy and learn by teaching
Adapted from Why Engage in Open Teaching by  Open UBC,  licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International.
“Why engage in open teaching” image long description



Extend Activity

Open education is a personal choice, the same as any other teaching-and-learning model. When shifting our educational philosophies, ideas and/or practices, it is important to consider the “why.”

Think about some of the benefits that engaging open education practices could include for you, your students and your institutions.

Now, brainstorm a list of “What’s in it for me?” from an instructor’s perspective — and add these to the Padlet below.

To add your comments, please double click anywhere on the Padlet below or select the plus (+) icon in the lower right-hand corner of the board. For a more accessible version of this activity, please use the web version of this “What’s in it for me?” Padlet [new tab].


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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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