Monday, February 13, 2012

Openness in Education

The following elements characterize openness in Education:
  1. Open source – much of the open source software movement had its foundations in higher education, and universities both develop and deploy open source solutions.
  2. Open educational resources – the term OER was coined in 2002 to describe the application of open source principles to the release of educational content, initiated by MIT's OCW project. 
  3. Open courses – as well as releasing content as OERs a number of educators have begun exploring the concept of open courses, which are delivered online, with various models for payment (or entirely free).
  4. Open research – researchers are using a number of approaches to perform research practices in the open, including crowdsourcing, open online conferences, open proposals and so on.
  5. Open data – as well as sharing data openly (e.g., there has also been a move to develop standards such as Linked Data, to connect and expose the vast quantities of data that are now available.
  6. Open APIs – the recent Web 2.0 approach saw an increase in the use of open APIs. These allow other software developers to build tools and code that interrogate the data in one application. For example, both Facebook and Twitter have open APIs that facilitate the development of services which build on top of these existing tools.
  7. Open access publishing – the ability to publish cheaply and quickly online has led to a movement around open access publishing, which is freely available and may use open peer review models. 
Openness has almost become a cliché in education now; after all, few people will argue in favour of a ‘closed’ education. It is a term which is loosely applied, and having gained currency, much like the ‘Web 2.0’, the term is now one that is being appropriated in many different sectors.

Digital and Networked

Open education can be realised in many ways like holding a public lecture, devising a mobile schools program and so on all could be deemed to be open education. While such approaches are important, and in many contexts appropriate, the concern in the current debates about open education is the changes in practices that are afforded and influenced by two technological aspects:
  1. It is based on digital content, where content can include debates, video, text, audio, forums and so on.
  2. Resources are shared via a global network, both technical and social.

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