Education is essential to advancing society. It’s how we pass down the wealth of human knowledge and equip the next generation of leaders, innovators and productive members of society. Our educational systems are built to provide every person the opportunity to build a better life—by turning children into citizens, learners into teachers, laborers into skilled workers.
Expanding educational opportunities is more possible now than it has ever been before. Through the Internet, learners can find information instantly on virtually any topic, teachers can share their knowledge with students on another continent almost as easily as in their own classroom, and educational materials can be disseminated to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost.
However, our systems for sharing information in education have not caught up with the potential of 21st century technology. Instead, the educational materials market is held captive by legacy publishing models that actively restrict the dissemination and innovative use of resources in a world that craves educational opportunities. Textbook prices have continued to rise rapidly, leaving too many students without access to their required materials. Digital offerings from traditional publishers come laced with access restrictions and expiration dates with little savings in return, and print editions are too often out of date by the time they hit the shelves.
For too long, our educational systems have operated with a fundamental disconnect between practices left over from the analog world, and the vast potential of technology and the Internet to support more affordable, effective teaching and learning. The movement for Open Education seeks to close this gap.
Open Education encompasses resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment.
The foundation of Open Education is Open Educational Resources (OER), which are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use. Generally, this permission is granted by use of an open license (for example, Creative Commons licenses) which allows anyone to freely use, adapt and share the resource—anytime, anywhere. “Open” permissions are typically defined in terms of the “5R’s”: users are free to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute these educational materials.
(from SPARC, Open Education, available at: http://sparcopen.org/open-education, accessed 9/28/16)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.