1 Investigating an open landscape
In this opening section Anne Adams (Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Innovation at The Open University) discusses the benefits and drawbacks of an open versus a closed approach.
Open education is only one ‘flavour’ of openness which may influence your own activity. This section considers how shared, open and networked practice is influenced by other open practices at the boundaries of education.
The meaning associated with the word ‘open’ in education, training and professional practice has shifted. When The Open University was established in the 1960s the term ‘open learning’ emphasised an opening up of education through widening access to formal learning opportunities leading to relatively conventional qualifications (e.g. undergraduate and postgraduate degrees).
More recent uses of the term ‘open education’ refer to relaxation of the requirements constraining registration, assessment, fee-payment, progression and access to educational resources. In Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) there may be no fee, no registration process (or a simpler process with less commitment when compared to other forms of education), access to reuse and repurpose the content, optional assessment, and expectations that the majority of learners will not complete the whole course through their own choice.
This shift in opening up education by changing the way in which some courses are offered, resonates with wider shifts in an open landscape surrounding teachers, trainers, students, learners and educational institutions. This openness reflects wider political changes in priorities, particularly in reforming access to research and data where there has been public funding of the underlying work.