Open Education

Open Education Resources



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The term and movement of Open Education has been around since 2002 where it was “first coined at a UNESCO conference: Open Education Resources, OER is defined as the open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communications technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purpose” (McNally, 2012). Basically this means all course material is available to the general public via the internet and specifically designed OER websites. The movement is very exciting because it is making education available to everyone at basically no cost to the consumer. This is an exciting concept because it is altruistic by nature and allows an individual whether student or instructor to learn about a topic without having to pay tuition costs. One of the goals of the OER is to eliminate this barrier of tuition costs which can prevent some from learning and make resources available to everyone. I visualize this movement as an institution or university completely online and free to the general public. For a lifelong learner not interested in obtaining a specific degree or certificate this is very exciting! “Education is the most fundamental public resource we’ve ever had. And, over the last two generations, more and more people on more and more occasions have had to pay more and more money to get it. And suddenly, the glacier is melting. Suddenly the tide is receding. And education is being offered to larger and larger numbers of people for nothing, for everybody” (Bonk, 2009). This is a great way to sum up the exciting and promising effects of the OER movement.


Unfortunately the Open Education movement has some barriers. The most difficult challenge is the copyright licensing issues. The resources and materials are published on specifically designed OER websites and free to all, but copyright laws prevent the freedom to use this information freely! “Copyright inhibits both use of copying, modifying and publishing material and the creation (preventing others from copying, modifying and publishing)” (McNally, 2012). This is the biggest barrier for OERs. Creative Commons is a solution to the copyright licensing issues. “Creative Commons established in 2001 by Larry Lessig, is a nonprofit organization devoted not to just expanding access to online materials, but also to the creative use and mixing of them” (Bonk, 2009). The objective of Creative Commons is to provide a “share-a-like” environment whereby the use of the material is strictly for non-commercial use. “The creator assigns varying rights on use from reserving all rights to some rights to allowing free distribution” (Bonk, 2009).
The other barriers include the difficulty in finding the material or the specific website. For example, “such institutions as MIT have over 2000 courses online. The OER website must be easy to navigate in order to find the information. MERLOT Pedagogy is a website with a very advanced search engine that allows the individual to find specific OER websites” (McNally, 2012). Other barriers may include the fact that OER are now available to anyone who has internet access and would like to explore the information and material on the website. The course content is now not just available to a small number of students but it is now available for millions of others to criticize.

With the rising cost of tuition and the education reform of affordability and accessibility issues at a peak of awareness and concern, the Open Education Movement couldn’t come at a better time. The movement is promising and is fulfilling the overall need to make education more accessible and certainly more affordable!
The OER movement is worldwide. A great organization that addresses these open education issues globally is Open Education Consortium. The OCW Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of universities and associated organizations committed to advancing open education globally. The website is

The Open Education Resource is not just for students but or educators and instructors as well. My learning activity requires college students to design an academically inspirational video for the office of Academic Affairs. Honestly, OERs are new to me! I will consult the Merlot website in order to find more information about activities involving inspirational videos created as a learning tool. Instead of “reinventing the wheel”, I can turn to other colleagues or resources to learn the best steps to take for instructing students on my topic. The Open Education Resource is a great teaching and learning tool for everyone in education!

Is and Open Education Resource competing with the supply and demand effect? Now that the information and course material is so open and available could this diminish the value or cost of traditional tuition?

Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McNally, M. (2012, March 22). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open
educational resources (OER) have to offer. Podcast retrieved from

Merlot Pedagogy (1997-2014).


About deborahcrowley

I work as an Administrative Assistant in the Academic Affairs office at Becker College in Worcester, MA.
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2 Responses to Open Education

  1. egatison says:

    I think that that open education is keeping in line with society’s demands for readily accessible resources. In my opinion, I do not believe that OER will diminish the value of traditional education. The field of education has to evolve in order to keep with the needs of learners. Colleges and universities that create open resources could help to attract traditional students. If they see that their schools participate in open resource education, then they may decide to take a course that offers it because of its convenience later on.


  2. Hi Deborah,
    You raise a very great question that I have been wondering about all week. I really go back and forth wondering if the increase of Open Education Resources will lower the value, cost, and enrollment of traditional colleges. As Bonk (2009) mentioned, “As curricula and content are increasingly free or cheaply available, those who were left out of education in the past, either fully or in part, will now be more involved.” I think that we will see and increase of people who were left out of education in the past participating in the Open Education Movement. That being said I don’t think we will see a great difference in the value or cost of a traditional education simply because in order to obtain a job in many fields, employers look for a degree, or certification stating that the applicant is highly qualified. While Open Education Resources are helping many students learn new things and complete coursework there is no confirmation of a degree, which is often very desirable. Therefore, I think we will see an increase of students who did not have an opportunity at college using Open Education Resources, but I do not think it will vastly affect traditional education.

    Bonk, C.,J.,(2009), The World Is Open. How web technology is revolutionizing education. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.


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