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Open education
Open education

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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: 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.