A University of Open

Open Education 2016

Author: Paul Stacey, Associate Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons, United States

Back in 2011, I started imagining a University of Open, synthesizing multiple related means of openness into a common core operating principle that defines what an open university is, along with the education it provides. I said the University of Open:

  • uses open source software for its administration and for teaching and learning
    involves students and faculty in research which is published in open access journals for all to see and use
  • operates in an open government/open data fashion, whereby the learning analytics and data about the institution are open and available
  • offers credential education through programs built using open educational resources, both those developed in-house and those reused from elsewhere
  • involves all students and faculty as active contributors in one or more of the open communities that open source software, open access, open government/data, and open educational resources rely on
  • expands on the traditional no-entry requirements, open-door policy of an “open university” to intentionally and strategically utilize new and emerging open pedagogies

I received a lot of feedback in response, with some suggesting I go even further to include teaching and learning taking place on “Open Networks.” Other feedback advocated a shift to more inclusive forms of credentialing via “Open Accreditation,” in which people and organizations outside the university have a say in whether credit is earned or not.

As I look back over the past five years, there has been progress made on each of these open strands. Larger and larger quantities of OER are available in almost all domains. Open textbooks have come to the foreground. Open practices have emerged, changing and adapting the means by which education is developed. Ideas around open pedagogy continue to emerge. Open policy is more prevalent, especially with regard to government grant programs. Open access research publication has become almost mainstream.

However, with a few exceptions, I’m still not seeing institutions embrace the entire spectrum of openness. Openness remains fragmented and disjointed, lacking the cohesion and impact of a more strategic and comprehensive approach. There is still so much potential untapped.

As I look to the future, the University of Open continues to be my vision of what open education can be. I hope to see institutions, educators, and learners embrace open principles across all dimensions of education, creating a new form of open learning that benefits us all.

Creative Commons License
This work by Paul Stacey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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