Open education
Open education

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Open education

1.4 Flavours of openness

Figure 1

The Open University (OU) is arguably in a unique position to consider the nature of what ‘open’ means in higher education. When the OU was founded it defined ‘open’ as meaning open access, which was realised through not setting any formal educational qualifications for entry, and using a part-time, distance education model. But with the advent of the internet and digital technologies, what it means to be ‘open’ with regards to education has begun to change. In the remainder of this week’s materials, you will explore these different interpretations of openness, to set the scene for the remainder of the course.

Activity 3: Representing open education

Timing: 4–6 hours

The resources you have just accessed provide views on different aspects of what openness means in higher education.

  • Create a visual representation that defines openness in education by drawing on some of the concepts found in the resources on open education listed above (although it is not necessary to include all of them). You could use PowerPoint, an online tool such as Prezi, a concept mapping tool, or any other tool of your choice.

    The key is to provide a representation that draws together the key concepts of openness as you perceive them. Save it in a form that is shareable, e.g. an image, an embeddable file from elsewhere (such as Flickr, Prezi, etc.), or a link to a web-based resource (ensure these can be accessed without needing to sign up for the tool you have used).

  • Put your representation in a blog post, with a brief description of it. If you are content to use Twitter to share your thoughts, Tweet about your blog post, including the hashtags #h817open and #Activity2, and spend no more than 15 minutes browsing the existing Tweets that use those hashtags.


If you have difficulty with visual representations, then you can alternatively create a representation in another medium, including text lists, or audio.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus