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Open Education

The way of the future:

Aspects of Open Education

UNESCO provides a succinct definition:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

OER can empower you as an educator and save your students' money and indirectly support their well-being.

Did you know?

Ontario educators, with gratitude to eCampusOntario, have free access to an intuitive platform and a community of support to adopt, adapt, and | or create OER. Pressbooks (functions like WordPress) allows you to create learning resources or modify those already in the open without learning additional tech skills. With tools like and H5P baked right in, your traditional text is taken to the next level and beyond for increased student engagement and interaction.

CARL | ABRC (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) defines Open Access as:

a model of scholarly communication that promises to greatly improve the accessibility of results of research. In general terms, scholarly research that is published in open access is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions (although it does require that proper attribution of works be given to authors).

Did you know?

As of May 1, 2015, The Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHERC) requires all federally funded, peer-reviewed research to be freely accessible within 12 months of publication. Improved access and dissemination of information is the goal.

This is the least familiar aspect of open education to most, likely because it is the most challenging in terms of changing practice. Open pedagogy has learners as active participants and co-creators of their own learning experiences. And while it can greatly assist in building important skills, it also involves a lessening of control on the side of the educator. This can be scary.

KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) an innovator in all things open, breaks down open pedagogy:

an access-oriented commitment to learner-driven education. It is also a process of designing architectures and using tools for learning that enable students to shape the public knowledge commons of which they are a part.

Open pedagogy can include creating, adapting, or updating OER with students, building course policies, outcomes, assignments, rubrics, and schedules of work collaboratively with students, or facilitating student-created and student-controlled learning environments.

Did you know?

You can start small. Co-create a rubric with your students; it's a great way in to open pedagogy. Two inspiring open practitioners, Robin DeRosa and Rajiv Jhangiani, created the Open Pedagogy Notebook to share ideas. It builds on the wonderful work of Terry Greene's Open Faculty Patchwork

The backbone, brain, and biceps of open

What allows the generous spirit and logic of open to grow is the additional licensing structure that overlays copyright, called Creative Commons. Rather than locking down a work, as Copyright automatically does, it allows the copyright owner to choose how the work is used. Creative Commons as an organization and its licences were established in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred.

Creative Commons licences communicate under four conditions and users of the work must, legally, abide by the requirements of the conditions. The brains behind Creative Commons covered and the conditions speak to the backbone. The reference to 'biceps' is the muscle behind the open licences. They are not simply wishes by the creator | owner, but legally enforceable conditions.


Creative Commons licences are very visible. Each of the four conditions has an easily recognized icon. Access a larger match up activity.

Combining and communicating conditions

Re-imagining the role of owner | creator makes OER possible. Copyright automatically locks use down; it is quite closed and controlled. A few decades ago, Creative Commons was created to work alongside copyright. Creative Commons, while still attributing the work to the owner, allows the owner | creator to also chose how their work is used.

See how the conditions combine to create different options for sharing. Open is a spectrum with some licences more open than others. It's the owner's | creator's choice.

Easily generate a licence to apply to the work communicating how it can be shared. (No knowledge of law lingo required!)


And now that you have an awareness of the four conditions for Creative Commons licensing, see how you combine them to communicate how you can use a CC-licensed work or how you would use a CC licence to communicate what others are allowed to do with your creations (if you are the owner).