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The wicked problem to open education

Openness alone is not a virtue to better, improved education as it apart from benefits, entails risks as well. However, if combined and negotiated with different aspects it could lead to free, easily-to-access and flexible knowledge. In my view to open education and openness in general, I would like take a different approach, not only parallelizing benefits and risks, but also identifying trade-offs that manifest themselves.

Firstly, the biggest opportunity of open education is free access to educational resources. Being it cost free, it enables INCLUSION, in that everyone happens to have equal chances and opportunities to learn despite economic, political and cultural reasons.

Moreover, this means unfettered education, removing not only price barriers of subscription and licensing fees, but also technical, and legal barriers such as copyright and licensing restrictions. This I would translate into knowledge that it is legally, socially and technologically open.

Removing all these restrictions, we are left with freedom and flexibility to learning. Freedom to choose what to learn, at the preferred pace, independently of place and time (Schophuizen et al., 2018). At the same time, freedom to reuse knowledge in ways we would see fit, building on common knowledge and upon someone’s else effort. In this way, we would prevent what is usually happening in academic research with publications that are locked in behind subscription or pay-per-view fees, increasing the risk that people reinvent things without knowing. We could instead stand on the shoulders of other colleagues from other institutions and this will improve the technical and scientific advancement compared to the cases where everyone starts from the beginning.

What is the most interesting factor though, is the fostering connectivity via communities that strive for the same goal: to contribute to knowledge that is an open public right. But not to leave out also the joy of inspiring others and being inspired by different ideas and experiences and reflecting on each-others thoughts, shortcomings and doubts. I guess that will have to be the ultimate goal to look for in open education.

Without fading away my enthusiasm and ethos about the numberless opportunities of open education, I promised not to decouple those from risks and challenges.

What if opening for free can be at the cost of many other things such as quality, privacy or reputation, to name just a few. What if I will be harmed by openness? What if people misquote my work, make credit of my ideas, or my fear of being judged on the first place?

I guess the trade-offs would always win, I will need to negotiate openness continually (Cronin, 2017) throughout my journey, depending on the context. I will have to judge what form of openness will be adequate and for whom, while balancing privacy and share open.  


Cronin, C. (2017). Open Education, Open Questions. EDUCAUSE Review 52, no. 6 (November/December 2017)

Schophuizen, M., Kreijns, K., Stoyanov, S., & Kalz, M. (2018). Eliciting the challenges and opportunities organizations face when delivering open online education: A group-concept mapping study. The Internet and Higher Education36, 1-12.

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  1. Alastair Creelman April 18, 2022

    Once again there are so many aspects to this and no clear answers. One argument for the quality of OER is that you need to be sure that your resource respects others’ copyright, has clear references and is good enough to put on public view. If it fails on these counts you will be responsible, or your university depending on who is responsible for the publication.

  2. islem megdiche May 29, 2022

    OER is a weapon of double edges, It is true that it contributes to create equal opportunities, however at the expenses of quality assurance if students are guided to choose the appropriate materials.

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