Open education is key to the future of learning

open education Mar 3, 2020

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Education is the key to human development and social mobility. Education is also the engine that drives economic growth and social development. Thus, education is essential for human progress. Education, and the knowledge that it produces, builds on itself from one generation to the next, making the human knowledge base ever-expanding and self-reinforcing. However, fast changes in technology have created increasingly complex and uncertain social orders. All these factors, in turn, have put a premium on lifelong and lifewide learning and on the ability to respond to fast-moving economic and social conditions, such as rapidly changing career fields and labor markets.

Because lifelong and lifewide learning have become a reality of the modern era, news types of education have become available in recent decades, including open education. Open education operates along a spectrum with open universities (i.e., formal learning) at one end of the spectrum and open courseware (i.e., semiformal learning) in the middle of the spectrum and open education materials at the other end of the spectrum (non-formal learning). Examples of open education include Open University in Great Britain, MIT’s OpenCourseWare, and Khan Academy. Thus, today there exists many types of open education to address the diverse needs of learners.

Open education platforms and practices are based on a philosophy that every person has a right to learn throughout their lives. The driving force behind open educational practices is the democratization of knowledge, which, in turn, is based on the principles of equity and inclusion.

Thus, open education is based on the notion that educational materials should be freely accessible to the public without onerous copyright or reuse restrictions. These ideas are discussed in the book, Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education.

Open education provides learning beyond that provided by traditional time and place-based education systems. Because digital technology helps to eliminate time and place constraints, e-learning and distance learning is typically the provisioning mode of choice for open education. The key point is that educational systems should be more flexible in how they address the needs of learners. Since all learners have a right to learn during all phases of their lives, learning in the modern era needs to be flexible, accessible, and personalized.

Professor Blessinger's two previous posts on open education, visit: 'Enabling lifelong learning through open education' & 'Strengthening Democracy Through Open Education':

Patrick Blessinger

Patrick Blessinger is an adjunct associate professor of education at St John’s University in New York City, United States, and chief research scientist for the International Higher Education Teachi