From Open Education to Open Science

Open Education 2016

Author: Willem van Valkenburg, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Fifteen years ago MIT took a big leap by introducing OpenCourseWare. In the intervening years, many universities have followed their steps in the world of Open Education. In 2007 the Delft University of Technology launched their OpenCourseWare website. In 2010 we shared our course materials through iTunesU, and in 2013 we joined edX to publish openMOOCs.

The first ten years were mostly focused on the creation of more open resources. Over the last five years, the focus has shifted towards adoption. We are concentrating on the move from Open Educational Resources (OER) to Open Educational Practice (OEP).

Converge and diverge

The adoption of OER has been slow and painful. Over the last two years, the US and Europe have adopted different strategies to adopt Open Education. Respectively, these two strategies are to converge and diverge. The US converged towards a specific part of OER, Open Textbooks, and has had a lot of success with this strong focus on cost savings for students. In Europe the focus is diverging towards open science, which is a much broader process of opening up universities.


Often OpenScience is defined as the combination of Open Source, Open Data, Open Access, Open Education and more. More importantly, it is the movement to make scientific research, data, and dissemination (including education) accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional (Wikipedia, 2016). OpenScience is much more of a change in behavior than the adoption of a tool. For the European Commission, OpenScience, along with Open Innovation and Open to the World, are priorities for the next couple of years (European Commission, 2016).

Merging strategies

Both strategies have their strong points. The US strategy will have the biggest impact in the short run, but doesn’t necessarily lead to a change in behavior. The EU strategy has more of a long-term focus, and will likely have a much broader impact on society.

Europe can learn a lot from the successes of the US strategy and should adopt them to fit into the European context. The US can learn from the long-term strategy of OpenScience.


Open Education has a bright future if it aligns with the broader movement of OpenScience to realize a cultural change in behavior which society at large can benefit from.



Willem van Valkenburg works for the Delft University of Technology. Since 2007, he has been involved in the Open Education projects of the university. Currently he is the manager of production and delivery at TU Delft Extension School for Open & Online Education. Since 2013, he has been a board member of the Open Education Consortium.

Creative Commons License
This work by Willem van Valkenburg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment